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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
October 2013

Challenges to an Expanded U.S.-ROK Alliance

The United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are expanding their alliance beyond North Korea to address trade issues, investment opportunities, and nontraditional security challenges. Scott A. Snyder, CFR senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy, writes that despite these developments, the relationship faces significant difficulties: the renegotiation of a nuclear-cooperation agreement; the U.S. rebalancing policy; the effect of North Korea's provocations; and U.S. policy toward Korean reunification. Yet the U.S.-ROK alliance remains one of the indisputable bright spots in Northeast Asian regional security, even as these challenges both test and testify to the necessity of the alliance. Read the paper from Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies »


North Korea and the World

Anniversary of Six Party Talks: Commemoration, Wake, or Revival?

The Chinese government commemorated the tenth anniversary of the Six Party Talks last month, and North Korea called for a resumption of talks without preconditions. Although North Korea's claim of "legitimate status" as a nuclear weapons state must be reckoned with—even if other countries do not recognize it—Pyongyang's expanded nuclear capacity and louder threats have not made the regime safer, as Washington has responded by redoubling attention to U.S. and allied defenses. This response is a powerful argument for a return to the status quo ante, says Snyder, during the last round of Six Party Talks in December 2008, when North Korea's implementation of tangible steps toward denuclearization was winning it rewards instead of threats. Read the post on Asia Unbound »

The China-Korea Relationship

How Does China Solve a Problem Like North Korea?

Relations between China and North Korea entered an active phase this summer, following the latter's satellite launch and nuclear test, and the passage of UN Security Council resolutions condemning them. While North Korea's provocations generated renewed debate in China on North Korea's strategic value, Beijing has reaffirmed its commitment to bring Pyongyang back to multilateral talks through revived bilateral exchanges. Snyder, along with See-won Byun of George Washington University, argue that although China has agreed to include denuclearization of North Korea as a shared policy objective with the United States and South Korea, differences remain regarding long-term strategic interests and how to pursue them. Read the article from Comparative Connections »

The Two Koreas

Are North and South Korea Back in Business?

After threatening the United States and South Korea with the possibility of a nuclear war, North Korea now seems ready to reinvigorate trade with South Korea. Marcus Noland, director of studies and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, explains North Korea's behavior as an effort to pursue "parallel development of nuclear weapons and economic expansion." Noland writes that while North Koreans could face economic disadvantages from the country's credibility problems, they can probably "get away with more" politically, due to constant pressure in South Korean politics to engage with North Korea. Read the interview »

Call for Fellowship Application

CFR 2014–2015 International Affairs Fellowship in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd.

The program provides a selected group of mid-career U.S. citizens the opportunity to expand their professional horizons by spending a period of research or other professional activity in Japan. The program is intended primarily for those without substantial prior experience in Japan. Knowledge of the Japanese language is not a requirement. The application deadline is October 31, 2013.

Program details, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found online at For more information, please contact or 212.434.9740. Read more »

CFR's Korea Program in the News

National Interest, "North Korea's Chemical Shop of Horrors" (September 13, 2013)

Diplomat, "Attacking Syria Won't Deter North Korea" (September 11, 2013)

Voice of America, "Top US Envoy to Seek Freedom for Citizen Jailed in N. Korea" (August 28, 2013)

China Daily, "US Envoy to Visit DPRK to Secure Prisoner's Release" (August 28, 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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