Korean Democracy: Alive and Well

Korean Democracy: Alive and WellSerious concerns have been raised about the erosion of democracy in Korea under two successive conservative governments and, in particular, the current Park Geun-hye administration, which has just been booted from office. The critics have cited party infighting, history textbook controversy, Park’s uncommunicative leadership style, passage of an anti-terror law, a clampdown on street protest,…

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim Killing

Caught Between Two Koreas, Malaysia Dithers on Kim KillingSouth and North Korean diplomats are battling to persuade Malaysian authorities of diametrically different versions of the February 13 Kuala Lumpur International Airport assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, who had exiled himself out of a well-founded belief he could be murdered. One result may have been to stall the investigation,…

Korea’s Samsung: Too Big to Jail

Korea’s Samsung: Too Big to JailAs Samsung's hereditary boss Jay Y. Lee, looking dapper in a coal-black business suit, entered the criminal court in Seoul on Jan. 18, any notion that he might emerge in pale green prison garb seemed far-fetched. Indeed, the Seoul South Central District Court rejected an arrest warrant. Much as critics of the power of Korean chaebol,…

South Korea’s Park Isn’t Going Easily

South Korea’s Park Isn’t Going EasilyThe struggle to get South Korea's President Park Geun-hye out of the Blue House and into jail while unifying behind a single liberal to replace her looms as the hard part after her impeachment last week by a lopsided 234-56 vote in the National Assembly The populist protest against Park’s rule, far from having been…

Trump’s Korean Conundrum

Trump’s Korean ConundrumWhen President-elect Donald Trump met with Barack Obama in his first conversation since the US election, the outgoing president warned him that one of the biggest crises he faces is on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s penchant for nuclear adventurism could flare up during the US Presidential transition. It’s difficult to say, however, which…

South Korea’s Park Faces Existential Question of Survival

South Korea’s Park Faces Existential Question of SurvivalThe spectacle of protesters against President Park Geun-hye in central Seoul merely carrying candles in paper cups may appear a peaceful protest, but they have a far greater chance of success than enraged crowds in other countries.  The crowds are calling for nothing less than Park’s resignation. She is targeted in one of the worst…

South Korea’s President Faces Crisis over Spiritual Mentor

South Korea’s President Faces Crisis over Spiritual MentorHillary-gate was never like this. The Democratic presidential candidate may have got rid of more than 30,000 emails, but was she beholden to a spiritual mentor, and did she make off with untold millions? That's the story revolving around South Korean President Park Geun-hye's close friend , Choi Soon-sil, on suspicion of having siphoned off…

Can South Korean Agriculture Survive Free Trade?

Can South Korean Agriculture Survive Free Trade?Two views exist on South Korean agriculture –a pessimistic one that argues it will collapse in the face of opening markets, and an optimistic one that argues it will become more competitive once South Korea reforms a structure in which the majority of farmers are insignificant and small. Since the agreements in the Uruguay Round…

Donald Trump Says the Korea FTA is a Disaster. Not True.

Donald Trump Says the Korea FTA is a Disaster. Not True.Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the United States presidency, said on Aug. 8 that the four-year-old free trade agreement between South Korea and the US was a “perfect example of broken promises and that it “doubled our trade deficit with South Korea and destroyed nearly 100,000 American jobs.” That is not true. According to…

Brexit and Korea: Pandora’s Box?

Brexit and Korea: Pandora’s Box?Many who observed the Brexit decision consider Pandora’s box now to be open. Was the Brexit ballot box indeed Pandora’s box? Were the Brexit decision and the “Trump phenomenon” flares of erupting distrust and frustration with the establishment, anti-immigrant sentiments, xenophobia, animosity toward international institutions, and isolationism, as many have noted? The world has prospered…
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