1H2017 Review: Korea

1H2017 Review: KoreaSouth Korea’s long-running political upheaval ensured that 2017 kicked off amid controversy. The very first day of the year saw president Park Geun-hye denouncing her impeachment by the National Assembly. However, on March 10, the Constitutional Court upheld the ruling, ending a presidency mired in controversy since Park’s election in 2012. Park was then arrested…

US, South Korean Presidents Meet to Confront the Pyongyang Quandary

US, South Korean Presidents Meet to Confront the Pyongyang QuandaryNorth Korean success in test-firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4 puts the new South Korean government in the difficult position of having to appear tough while still looking for dialogue with its northern rival. With that launch ringing in his ears, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in had already laid the groundwork for…

Reducing Tensions Over THAAD

Reducing Tensions Over THAADThe deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea has prompted strong opposition from China and has become a new and significant destabilizing factor on the Korean Peninsula and for the security of the region. Managing and resolving the issue is not only important to improving and stabilizing the…

Korean Presidential Favorite’s Historic Chance…

Korean Presidential Favorite’s Historic Chance…Anything can happen in Presidential politics – take, for instance, the United States – but it is all but certain that Moon Jae-in, a persistent anti-government foe, will be elected South Korea’s president Tuesday to succeed the acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, standing in for the impeached Park Geun-Hye. In the seventh presidential election since adoption…

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…
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