Sheila Smith argues that while recent tensions between Japan and South Korea over territorial issues are deeply worrisome for the U.S. government and for regional stability, the reality is that a stronger bilateral relationship can only come about if it is the Japanese and Korean people that lead the effort on reconciliation.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's visit to Washington is likely to see passage of the Free Trade Agreement and coordination on strategies for pushing North Korea toward denuclearization, says CFR's Scott Snyder.
A South Korean security expert says it is likely that North Korea will ratchet up pressure over the summer through threats and possible missile tests if Washington refuses to engage Pyongyang in direct talks.
Washington has reassured Seoul of continued U.S. support for South Korean security, but CFR's Scott Snyder says some aspects of South Korean policy toward North Korea and the United States could become divisive in South Korean domestic politics.
Don Oberdorfer, an expert on the two Koreas, says the recent street protests ostensibly against the import of U.S. beef are much more political protests against the new conservative government in Seoul.
Don Oberdorfer, an Asia expert who has written a history of North and South Korea, says the latest developments on North Korea indicate that “for once on the Korean peninsula, the stars are in alignment.”
Authors: Geoff Dyer, Demetri Sevastopulo, and Simon Mundy
"The U.S. has been particularly frustrated at the deterioration in relations between Tokyo and Seoul, as it believes that relationship is important to help check the rise of China in the region, which is one reason that some high-profile Asia experts in the US have been urging Mr Obama to visit South Korea."
"Samsung's sales are equal to about one-quarter of South Korea's economic output. Samsung Electronics, the flagship, posted $190 billion in sales last year—about the same sales as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook combined."
This report from Amnesty International argues that migrant workers inSouth Korea are at risk of a range of human rights violations. In August 2003 the Korean National Assembly passed the Act Concerning the Employment Permit for Migrant Workers (EPS Act). The Act prohibits discrimination against foreign workers and was intended to give migrant workers legal status and to put an end to human rights violations against them. By passing the Act, South Korea became the first labour importing country in Asia to attempt to protect the rights of migrant workers through legislation. Despite the recognition of their rights contained in the EPS Act, in reality migrants continue to have little protection and very limited possibilities for obtaining redress for abuses, argues Amnesty.
South Korea can best influence the global agenda by committing sufficient resources to sustainable development, financial stability, nuclear governance, and green growth, argues Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Korea studies, in the introduction to a new report, Middle-Power Korea: Contributions to the Global Agenda.
The United States will "increasingly seek partnerships with other like-minded countries [in the region] to ensure global stability, security, and prosperity." In a new volume of collected essays, CFR Senior Fellow Scott Snyder writes that one of the strongest partners for the United States is South Korea.
The Japan-South Korea relationship steadily improved in advance of parallel ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the normalization of their diplomatic relations on June 22. In recent weeks, ministerial-level bilateral contacts resumed between economic and defense ministers, and the top leaders made positive remarks about prospects for the relationship.
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