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Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
September 2012

South Korean Election and U.S.-ROK Relations

L. Gordon Flake, executive director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, analyzes the upcoming 2012 South Korean presidential election and its implications for U.S.-ROK relations.

In recent years, the pendulum swing of democratic power transitions between conservative and progressive forces in the United States and South Korea has posed particular challenges for policy coordination between Washington and Seoul. Given the near simultaneous occurrence of presidential elections in both countries this year, the election results are potentially quite significant for U.S.-ROK relations. In particular, the new South Korean president and winner of the U.S. election will have to work together to address diverging approaches to North Korea, the negotiation of a revised nuclear cooperation agreement, and deteriorating relations between South Korean and Japan. Read the Report ยป


U.S. Policy Toward the Korean Peninsula

Americans Want Continued Deterrence and Diplomacy with North Korea

Despite fiscal constraints on the ability to invest in forward deployment, most Americans support a continued presence on the Korean peninsula. This majority, while advocating a strong alliance to deter North Korean aggression, also supports continued diplomacy with the DPRK, states Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott A. Snyder. Read the Article on the Chicago Council Survey »

North Korea Says A Hostile United States Must Choose

North Korea, under Kim Jong-un, while moving toward limited economic reform and legitimization of its nuclear status, has announced that the United States must choose peace or hostility. This poses serious challenges for U.S. policy coordination with both South Korea and China, explains Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

Potential Challenges for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

The passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, a U.S.-ROK consensus on policy toward North Korea, and an expanded scope for nontraditional security cooperation have broadened U.S.-ROK relations under the Obama and Lee Myung-bak administrations. Still, there exist some notable challenges that, if managed poorly, will likely test recent advances in the alliance, argues Snyder Read the Article on JIIA »

South Korea's Leaders and Foreign Policy

"Small Think" from a "Big Think" Administration

President Lee Myung-bak has demonstrated "big thinking" on issues of national security and South Korea's place in the world. However, his unprecedented visit to Dokdo/Takeshima, an island claimed by both South Korea and Japan, was a disproportionate emphasis on a single, limited issue at the expense of South Korea's broader regional and global interests, argues Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

Remembering Ambassador Kim Kyung-won

Promoting ROK interests and managing relations with the United States during South Korea's authoritarian leadership in the 1970s and 1980s, Kim Kyung-won, former South Korean ambassador to the United States, was a leading foreign policy intellectual and practitioner of his generation. His efforts to build and hold together the alliance during one of its most difficult periods deserves our appreciation, says Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

A New or Nuclear North Korea

World Distracted, North Korea Asserts Nuclear Status

North Korea's nuclear program continues unchecked, but the media's preoccupation with North Korea's "new look," including speculation about both leadership and potential economic reforms, obscures this fact. However, a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists article and Institute for Science and International Security report, outlining scenarios for a third nuclear test by North Korea, are firm reminders that North Korea's nuclear program and uranium enrichment efforts continue regardless of whether they are in the headlines, asserts Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

CFR's Korea Program in the News

Korea Times: "82% of Americans Back Diplomacy on North Korea Survey" (September 14, 2012)

The Atlantic: "Sun Myung Moon's Groundbreaking Campaign to Open North Korea" (September 6, 2012)

Washington Post: "In Authoritarian North Korea Hints of Reform" (September 3, 2012)

Korea Times: "Obama, Romney Share Common Ground on Korea" (August 28, 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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