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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
January 2013

A New Chapter in China-South Korea Relations?

CFR Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott A. Snyder analyzes the opportunities for and limits of Sino-South Korean relations under new leadership in Seoul and Beijing.

South Korean and Chinese presidents-elect Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping are acutely aware of the importance of the relationship between their two countries. The dispatch of special envoys to their respective capitals reflects the mutual desire to improve bilateral relations. However, the issue of North Korea and the tendency to frame ROK relations with China and the United States in zero-sum terms still pose challenges to their efforts. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »


Northeast Asia: New Leadership

Park and Xi Face a Challenging Agenda

ROK-China economic ties, North Korean provocations, and regional tensions over territorial and historical disputes comprise the complex agenda facing Park and Xi. In this Pacific Forum article, Snyder and See-won Byun review the leadership transitions in Seoul and Beijing and the expected policies of and challenges facing Park and Xi. Read the Article »

Pyongyang Looks to Seoul After Recent Election

The North Korean leadership reiterated its conditions for stabilizing inter-Korean relations, and is now watching whether the Park Geun-hye transition team meets the North Korean criteria of a friendly administration. While improving relations is in the interest of both Koreas, it may be difficult for Park to satisfy Pyongyang's desires without defying her previously articulated principles or alienating her conservative base, explains Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

Park's Victory Sets Precedents

The eighteenth ROK presidential election and Park Geun-hye's victory set precedents and defied expectations. Park is not only South Korea's first female president, but also the first president to have been elected by a majority of South Korean voters. She also defied expectations that a high voter turnout would result in her loss. Snyder, Abraham Kim of KEI, Victor Cha of CSIS, and former special envoy to the Six Party Talks Joseph DeTrani analyze the results and implications of this historic election at a CFR/CSIS/KEI event. Watch the Video »

Leadership Transitions Bring Uncertainty to Northeast Asia

Despite the return of Abe Shinzo as Japanese prime minister, the political environment in Japan has shifted as the Liberal Democratic Party that he leads has become more conservative. While the new leaders of the Chinese government have been identified, their decision-making process and policy priorities remain unclear. Understanding of the situation in North Korea and its leadership is also lacking. Ultimately, uncertainty seems to be the defining characteristic of Northeast Asia at present, argues Snyder in an NPR interview. Listen to the Interview »

East Asian Community

Despite many visions for a cooperative framework for pursuing collective security in East Asia, the region has yet to develop such a regime. Until there is broadened Sino-Japanese and Sino-U.S. strategic understanding and a rationalization of the relationship between East Asian and Northeast Asian cooperative security approaches, multilateral security cooperation in East Asia is likely to be fragmented, ad hoc, and issue driven, argues Snyder in Korea and East Asia: The Stony Road to Collective Security. Read the Chapter »


Publications on Korea

North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society

Global Korea: South Korea's Contributions to International Security

The U.S.-South Korea Alliance: Meeting New Security Challenges


2013–2014 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellowship Applicants

The 2013–2014 Edward R. Murrow Press Fellowship is open to applicants who have distinguished credentials in the field of journalism and who have covered international news as a working journalist for print, broadcast, or online media widely available in the United States. The application deadline is March 1, 2013. For online application instructions and more information, please contact


CFR's Korea Program in the News

The Guardian: "China May Block Korean Unification, Says U.S. Report" (January 22, 2013)

The Wall Street Journal: "Statistical Diplomacy in North Korea" (January 18, 2013)

ABC News: "Schmidt Joins Elite Few to Glimpse Net in NKorea" (January 10, 2013)

PBS: "Analysts: South Korean Election May Trigger North Korean Provocation" (December 21, 2012)



The Program on U.S.-Korea Policy

The program on U.S.-Korea policy was established at the Council on Foreign Relations in September 2011. It aims to strengthen the U.S.-Korea relationship by providing relevant policy recommendations and promoting dialogue on sensitive bilateral, regional, and global issues facing the two countries. The program acknowledges the generous support it has received from the Smith Richardson Foundation, Korea Foundation, and South Korean private sponsors, including Hyundai Motors, Korea International Trade Association, and the Federation of Korean Industries. It also acknowledges with thanks additional support received from individual donor Sandor Hau.

Scott A. Snyder, Director
Follow @snydersas on Twitter

Darcie Draudt, Research Associate


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