As North Korea's economy continues its free fall, President Kim Jung-Il is trying something new: capitalism. But despite gradual trade and market reforms, Kim's commitment to the new path is uncertain, and his regime's involvement in international crime and money-laundering is growing.
The Bush administration says it may take a new tack in nonproliferation negotiations with North Korea, offering a formal peace treaty as an inducement to further talks. As with many U.S.-North Korean issues, however, the details of the approach reportedly under discussion remain shrouded in nuance and laden with mutual distrust.
Japan's military spending is not rising nearly as quickly as that of its neighbor, China, or of its closest ally, the United States. Yet political and military moves by the Japanese are raising neighbors' wariness about a remilitarized Japan.
Talks aimed at defusing North Korea's nuclear arsenal disintegrated into name-calling after the last round ended in September. While negotiations halted, proliferation has not. So what will it take to move the process forward?
South Korea, which since the Korean War has relied heavily on its security alliance with the United States, is now trying to define a new role for itself in Asia. Seoul's growing economic relationship with China and its decision to engage North Korea are setting it at odds with U.S. policy goals in the region.
Where’s Kim Jong-Il? The whereabouts of the reclusive North Korean leader prompted intense speculation this week, and reports placed him from Shanghai to Manchuria to Siberia. He turned up finally in Beijing.
Micah Zenko argues, "routine and unchallenged assertions highlight what is perhaps the most widely agreed-upon conventional wisdom in U.S. foreign and national security policymaking: the inherent power of signaling."
"The complex evolution of the Obama administration's policy toward North Korea during its first term and the characteristics of President Obama's world view together provide a framework for considering what the administration is likely to do in a second term," says Scott A. Snyder.
On the upcoming South Korean presidential election, Scott A. Snyder says the determining vote will be "South Korea's bulging forties cohort" that played a critical role in South Korea's transition from authoritiarianism to democracy and also has the greatest stake in its economic stability.
Despite an ongoing threat from North Korea, South Korea has emerged as a producer rather than a consumer of international security goods. As a newly elected member of the UN Security Council, South Korea has the opportunity to use these investments as a "middle power" and responsible leader in the international community, says Scott A. Snyder.
Sheila A. Smith examines the way in which the 2010 crisis emerged between Japan and China, arguing that a crisis management initiative between Beijing and Tokyo rather than an overall reconciliation agenda may be what is now needed.
Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun observe that while the twenty-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea may provide a pretext for more active diplomacy to meet a growing list of potential disputes in the relationship, high-level contacts between China and North Korea have stalled, dampening China's hopes for regional engagement.
Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun say that uncertainties regarding a new North Korean leadership will create the context in which China, South Korea, and the United States must grapple with their future options for preserving stability in Northeast Asia.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.