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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
March 2013

South Korea Confronts Regional Security Challenges

Seoul National University professor Jae-Ho Chung says the current security and political environment in East Asia has implications for President Park Geun-hye's diplomatic initiatives. Despite optimism that new leadership and administrations in China, Japan, South Korea (ROK), and the United States may allow for greater regional cooperation, challenges remain for a fresh start in ROK foreign relations. North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, China's likely support of Pyongyang, and Japan's rightest drift are among the regional dynamics that limit President Park Geun-hye's policy choices. Read the Essay on ยป


President Park Geun-hye's Agenda and Prospects

Park Faces Domestic and International Obstacles

As President Park Geun-hye begins her tenure, CFR Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott A. Snyder, Stanford University's Korean Studies Program associate director David Straub, and Yonsei University professor John Delury assess her administration's prospects. They identify challenges to her administration, which include resolving the domestic economic divide, coping with an increasingly provocative North Korea, and managing relations with China. Watch the Discussion »

North Korean Provocations and Repercussions

U.S. Extended Deterrence is Questioned

North Korea's third nuclear test in March unleashed a South Korean debate on nuclear weapons acquisition along with calls for the reintroduction of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. The United States has since sought to simultaneously signal an enhanced deterrence posture to North Korea, provide positive assurances to South Korea, and show China that Beijing's policy of enabling North Korea's provocative behavior carries tangible costs to regional stability, explains Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

Brinkmanship Facilitates Change in U.S. Policy Perception

UN Security Council Resolution 2094 builds on prior resolutions in opposing North Korea's drive to expand its nuclear and missile capabilities. Although it authorizes states to enforce a combination of financial measures against Pyongyang, the resolution remains tactical, designed to deter and punish, not strategic, designed to stifle or end the North Korean regime. Each new North Korean provocation is providing momentum to those in Washington who argue that a policy aimed at regime change is the only way to solve the problem of North Korea's nuclear defiance, argues Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

Diplomacy May Still Have a Chance

Nearly ten years have passed since the first round of Six Party Talks. During that time, North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests and undergone a leadership transition. Now analysts in Washington question whether the Kim Jong-un regime considers improved relations with the United States a central foreign policy objective, and experts in China debate whether and when Beijing should honor its security commitment to North Korea, explains Snyder. Listen to the Podcast »

Future Dialogue Depends on Pyongyang and Agenda

Given the likely costs of a North Korean military response, the United States and South Korea are unlikely to attempt a forced regime change in Pyongyang. Nevertheless, resumption of diplomacy will only be possible when North Korea signals it is ready to resume dialogue and all parties agree on an agenda that includes both tension-reduction and denuclearization, says Snyder. Read the Post on Ask CFR Experts »

The Future of the U.S.-ROK Relationship

Beginning A New Era of the Alliance

The evolving environment in East Asia presents an opportunity to continue advancing the U.S.-ROK alliance as a global partnership. Refashioning the relationship in this direction and finding a sustainable way to address challenges from North Korea will be the greatest opportunities and challenges the new Park and Obama administrations face, argues Korea Economic Institute of America's director of congressional affairs and trade Troy Stangarone. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

China's New Domestic and Global Leadership

Xi Jinping Presents New Opportunities to Cooperate

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd observes that Xi might be genuinely open to new initiatives in U.S.-China relations and a more global Chinese role in the international community. This Xi-led Chinese globalism will likely contribute to moving Beijing along the continuum of attitudes toward Pyongyang, away from unconditional support toward more closely aligning with the mainstream international public opinion. Listen to the Conference Call on »

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


CFR's Korea Program in the News

Foreign Policy: "What In the World Does North Korea Still Have Left To Threaten?" (March 11, 2013)

The Diplomat: "UN Sanctions Hit North Korea... Again" (March 9, 2013)

NPR: "Add 'North Korea Expert' to Dennis Rodman's Resume" (March 1, 2013)



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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