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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
Korea Update March 2014

Kerry’s Diplomatic Dead End With North Korea

Washington may hope that Beijing will pressure Pyongyang into denuclearization, but Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visit to Asia calls that goal into question. Confronted by an uneasy Japan-South Korea relationship, evidence that North Korea continues to develop its nuclear program, and cautious but warming relations between the two Koreas, Scott A. Snyder, CFR senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy, concludes that the United States may need new ideas for denuclearizing North Korea. Read the post on Asia Unbound »


Northeast Asia Relations

China Declares Air Defense Identification Zone

China stirred up controversy last November by unilaterally declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, including the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Snyder and Sheila Smith, CFR's senior fellow for Japan studies, analyze the implications for the South Korean and Japanese zones. Listen to the media call on »

Overcoming the Japan-South Korea Identity Complex

Territorial disputes, divergent interpretations of history, and fractious domestic politics are all commonly cited causes of tension between South Korea and Japan. But Snyder and Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Pacific Forum, in a piece published at Asia Unbound and on CSIS' PacNet, identify a less-discussed sore spot: how each nation's conceptions of national identity impact their relations. Read the post on Asia Unbound »

The World Next Week: UN Commission of Inquiry and Other Korea Issues

James M. Lindsay, senior vice president and director of studies at CFR, and Bob McMahon, editor of, discuss a variety of issues confronting North and South Korea in their podcast, "The World Next Week." Topics include China's and North Korea's reactions to the UN human rights report released last week and Kerry's recent trip to Asia. Listen to the podcast on »

Inter-Korean Relations

The Politics of Reuniting Separated Families

Fueled by parallel resolutions by South and North Korean leaders last month, North Korea has lived up to pledges to set aside slander so that inter-Korean family meetings can go forward. However, Snyder argues that North Korea may see the reunions as more than a purely humanitarian effort; North Korea's primary objective may be to divide South Korea and the United States through appeals for national unity and Korean reunification—a task North Korea views as for Koreans to deal with alone (uri minjok kkiri). Read the post on Asia Unbound »

South Korea's Economy

On Fostering a “Creative Economy” in Korea

Outlining Park Geun-hye's "creative economy," East-West Center's Japan studies fellow Sean Connell advocates supporting innovation to overcome the structural problems facing South Korea's economic development. In an economy dominated by conglomerates, small and medium enterprises also require a culture more open to the risks associated with innovation. Read the post on Asia Unbound »

South Korea: The Backwater That Boomed

In a discussion moderated by Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose on new emerging markets, Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, explains that, despite being a model of development success, South Korea now faces slowing growth. In order to spur development, Seoul has shifted its focus toward meeting domestic demand, supporting the creative and service sectors, and addressing the disadvantages that result from the prevalence of large conglomerates. Listen to the discussion on »

CFR's Korea Program in the News

Military Times, "U.S.-South Korean War Games Loom Over Korean Reunions" (February 23, 2014)

Agence France-Press, "For United States, Tricky Path Pressing North Korea Rights" (February 19, 2014)

Guardian, "China Rejects UN Report on North Korea's Crimes Against Humanity" (February 18, 2014)

Yonhap News Agency, "Koreas Agree to Hold Family Reunions as Scheduled" (February 14, 2014)

Christian Science Monitor, "Rare Dialogue Between Divided Koreas Set for Wednesday" (February 11, 2014)

South China Morning Post, "Novel North Korean Tours, Courtesy of Your Hong Kong Schoolteacher" (February 9, 2014)



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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