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…

South Korea Shipbuilding Industry Faces Crisis

South Korea Shipbuilding Industry Faces CrisisSouth Korea’s massive shipbuilding industry, the world’s leader, is facing a crisis, with the country’s three largest shipbuilding firms reporting combined losses of W6.4 trillion (US$5.5 billion) in 2015 alone in offshore plants as the shipping market has deteriorated and world oil prices have plunged, resulting in a fall in new contracts. The industry is…

Party Infighting Undermines Korean Democracy

Party Infighting Undermines Korean DemocracySouth Korea goes to the polls tomorrow (April 13) with the 300 seats of the unicameral National Assembly up for grabs. But the election itself has been overshadowed by the declining popularity of President Park Geun-hye and intense infighting within the ruling Saenuri (New Frontier) Party between pro- and anti-Park camps. Part of the malaise…

Opinion: Former US Ambassador Laments ‘Failures’ on North Korea

Opinion: Former US Ambassador Laments ‘Failures’ on North KoreaI often refer to North Korea as "the longest running failure in the history of US intelligence." I can say that because as a CIA officer, I fruitlessly pursued the North Koreans for many years. As a diplomat, I can also say that North Korea has been almost a total failure of our diplomacy. As…

South Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

South Korea and the Trans-Pacific PartnershipOn Oct. 5, 12 countries, making up 40 percent of the world economy and including Japan and the United States finally agreed after years of negotiation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the omnibus free trade bill being pushed by Washington, DC. The agreement was seven years in the making after the administration of US President Barack…