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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
May 2012

A Changing East Asia and U.S. Foreign Policy

Choi Kang

President of the Institute of Foreign Policy and National Security at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy Choi Kang analyzes changing dynamics in East Asia and U.S. policy toward the region.

East Asia has been experiencing a power transition, structural changes, and a rise in the number of disputes that may serve as a source of conflict. The changing region is best characterized as "iAsia"—an Asia of inequality, integration, innovation, investment, and instability. Against this background, the Obama administration has announced its Asia-Pacific "pivot." Most East Asian states have welcomed the U.S. pivot as a stabilizing development. However, the United States must undergird the reliability of its regional policy by forging a deeper collective vision. Read the Report »


North Korea: Current Conditions and Prospects for Change

Information Penetration and Regime Survival

Information penetration is changing North Korea, but the result has been an evolutionary transformation of circumstances, rather than an uprising or revolution. The United States and South Korea should provide more study-abroad opportunities for North Koreans to facilitate greater reform, argues Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott A. Snyder. Read More on Asia Unbound »

Botching the Bomb

Weak institutions in would-be nuclear states have permitted political leaders to unintentionally undermine the performance of their nuclear scientists, engineers, and technicians. The United States and its partners must take care not to adopt policies that resolve these management problems, argues University of Southern California professor Jacques E.C. Hymans. Read More on Foreign »

Politics and Security After Kim Jong-il

To bolster Kim Jong-un's credentials and establish his credibility, North Korea is likely to pursue further provocations. The fundamental dilemma is that while these actions help Kim secure legitimacy domestically, they cost him legitimacy internationally, argue Snyder, Georgetown professor Victor Cha, and Center for Naval Analyses senior fellow Michael McDevitt. Watch the Video on »

Crisis or Opportunity?

The February 29 U.S.-DPRK agreement was not a reset of North Korea's policies, but a replay of its actions from 2009. The United States and South Korea should work to alter the known track and cycle of provocations and sanctions, by offering a means for the Kim regime to secure both domestic and international legitimacy, and change crisis to opportunity, argues Snyder. Watch the Video »

Leadership and the Future of the Korean Peninsula

U.S. Foreign Policy Toward the Two Koreas

Despite overlapping interests and policy priorities between the United States and South Korea, the allies face uncertainty on the Korean peninsula. In addition to the ongoing transition in Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul have their own leadership changes in 2012. Snyder, Cha, BBC correspondent Lucy Williams, Korbel School of International Studies dean Christopher Hill, and Heritage Foundation senior fellow Bruce Klingner discuss the critical factors that will shape future U.S. foreign policy toward the Korean peninsula. Watch the Video »

China's Post–Kim Jong-il Debate

The twenty-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and South Korea may provide a pretext for more active diplomacy between the two countries. Presidents Hu Jintao and Lee Myung-bak have held two summits this year and there has been increased interaction among other senior leaders as well. Meanwhile, high-level contact between China and North Korea has stalled, say Snyder and See-won Byun. Read More in Comparative Connections »

2012 South Korean Parliamentary Elections

Surprise Results and Implications

The unexpected victory of the Saenuri Party was a result of conservative Park Geun-hye's leadership and the failure of liberals to implement an effective campaign strategy. The results enhance the likelihood of continuity in South Korea's foreign policy, but they do not necessarily give conservatives a strong position going into the December presidential election, argues Asan Institute for Policy Studies research fellow Woo Jung-yeop. Read More on »

Lessons for the Presidential Election

Two factors likely to shape the next ROK presidential election are an issues agenda focused on social welfare policies and efforts to capture the middle voting block rather than simply mobilizing political bases, argue Snyder, Cha, and Klingner. Watch the Video »

CFR's Korea Program in the News

Asia-Pacific Business and Technology: "Third Son Inherits North Korea's Dynasty After His Father's Death" (April 23, 2012)

Global Security Newswire: "China Supporting North Korean Missile Effort: Panetta" (April 20, 2012)

Washington Times: "Chinese Mark on North Korean Military" (April 19, 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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