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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update



North Korea’s Human Rights Debate Heats Up

CFR hosted two meetings on North Korean human rights issues last month. On October 20, Jang Il Hun, ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (ROK) to the United Nations, joined Donald P. Gregg, chairman of the Pacific Century Institute and former U.S. ambassador to Korea, to discuss human rights in North Korea. On October 22, Michael Kirby, former chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea, discussed the commission's recommendations for addressing systematic crimes against humanity in North Korea, including religious repression. Watch the Kirby event and the Jang event on

Who Should Worry About Kim Jong-un’s Absence?

The North Korean leader's long absence from public appearances earlier this fall led to much speculation on possible instability in Pyongyang. Perhaps the most notable takeaway from this episode is that the international media seems to need Kim Jong-un more than North Korea's domestic media. The absence may also reveal some vulnerabilities if North Korea faces a fourth-generation succession, writes Scott A. Snyder, CFR senior fellow for Korea Studies and director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy. Read the post on Asia Unbound »


New Dynamics in U.S.-ROK-China Relations

South Korea faces important choices between the United States, its security guarantor, and China, its main economic partner. Many South Korean firms deal with both nations. In a panel in Seoul hosted last month by the Korea Society with Yonsei University's John Delury and Tsinghua University's Chu Shulong, Snyder discussed the challenges of bridging business and policy among the three nations. Listen to the conference on »

Multiculturalism and the Next Step in Civic Nationalism

South Korea, a country that is virtually homogenous ethnically, faces a demographic challenge: how to incorporate 1.57 million foreign-born residents into its social, economic, and political landscape. This phenomenon necessitates careful consideration of political and national identity challenges, writes Darcie Draudt, research associate for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read the post on Asia Unbound »

South Korea’s Response to Ebola

Foreign pressure on South Korea to rein in the initial, panicked response of some citizens to the Ebola crisis underscores the high expectations placed on the government. Seoul's response to the criticism demonstrates an understanding that an isolationist stance is no longer a viable option, writes Maxine Builder, research associate for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read the post on Asia Unbound »


A Look at North Korea From Its Neighbors

At a CFR Meeting on October 21, Bonnie S. Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and CFR Fellow Sheila A. Smith joined Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discussed Chinese and Japanese perceptions of North Korea since the death of Kim Jong-il. Topics included China's concern with maintaining the status quo, fear of changes such as Korean reunification, and Japan's diplomatic isolation in the region since information sharing among Japan, China, and South Korea dwindled in 2012. Watch the panel at »

Strategic Rebalancing and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Obama administration's rebalance to Asia has been greeted with mixed responses from China and among U.S. allies. New security arrangements have evolved, but the biggest missing piece to date is the prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In a panel at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars on October 30 with Gilbert Rozman of the Asan Forum and Vincent Wang of the University of Richmond, Snyder discussed the implications of the TPP for U.S. relations in Asia. Watch the panel at »

Prospects for Japan-North Korea Rapprochement

In May 2014, North Korea agreed to reopen investigations into the abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. In exchange Japan loosened sanctions against some North Korean travel and trade. In an October 22 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace panel with Junya Nishino, professor at Keio University, and James L. Schoff, senior associate in the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment, Snyder provided commentary on prospects for improving Japan-North Korea relations. Watch the panel at Carnegie Endowment »


Defense One, "The Way Americans Fell About a US Pivot to Asia Might Surprise You" (October 29, 2014)

Chosun Ilbo (Korea), "No Progress in Nuclear Enrichment and Reprocessing- Nuclear Power Plant Export is Likely to be Easier" (October 27, 2014)

Munhwa Ilbo (Korea), "U.S. Experts Response: 'Maintaining the OPCON Status-Quo was a Wise Decision'" (October 24, 2014)

Kookje Ilbo (Korea), "U.S. Experts Predicted the OPCON Transfer Delay" (October 24, 2014), "Who is Jeffrey Fowle, the American Just Freed From North Korea?" (October 21, 2014)

Strategist, "North Korea: Kim Jong Un, Authority, and a Debilitated King" (October 15, 2014)

Diplomat, "Nature or Nurture: What Makes a Person 'Korean'?" (October 14, 2014)

YTN (Korea), "U.K. Ambassador to North Korea says, 'Kim Jong-un's health is in a good condition'" (October 14, 2014)

Yonhap (Korea), "N.K. Leader's Fate a Matter of Regime's Viability: U.S. Expert" (October 14, 2014)

Nocut News (Korea), "Kim Jong-un's Safety is Linked to the North Korean Regime's Continuity" (October 14, 2014)

Japan Times (Japan), "North Korea's Kim Jong Un Resurfaces After Weeks Out of Public Eye" (October 14, 2014)

Washington Post, "While Kim Jong Un is Absent, North Korean Diplomats Are Working Overtime" (October 10, 2014)

Business Insider, "This is the Biggest Sign Yet That There Hasn't Been a Coup in North Korea" (October 13, 2014)

New Yorker, "Where is Kim Jong-Un?" (October 10, 2014)

Yonhap News (Korea), "Washington Welcomes the New Guidelines for the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation--No More Concern about the Remilitarization of Japan" (October 9, 2014)

Lowy Interpreter, "China and Unification of the Korean Peninsula (Part 2): A Rising Cost for Beijing" (October 8, 2014)

CC Daily News (Korea), "Inter-Korean Relations Signals Improvement-U.S. Welcomes with Vigilance" (October 6, 2014)

Herald Kyungje (Korea), "'Timely Visit by North Korea'-U.S. Emphasizes U.S.-South Korea Cooperation" (October 6, 2014)

Asia Today (Korea), "Highest-Level North Korean Official Visits the South: What is the U.S. Reaction?" (October 6, 2014)

Yonhap News (Korea), "Inter-Korean Relations Signals Improvement- U.S. Welcomes with Vigilance" (October 6, 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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