Return to   |   Subscribe to the Korea Update

Council on Foreign Relations Korea Update
December 2012

Image Dominates Voter Choice

Ahead of the South Korean presidential election, CFR Senior Fellow for Korea Studies Scott A. Snyder analyzes the likely factors to determine voter choice.

Both of South Korea's major candidates in the December 19 presidential election, ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye and opposition party candidate Moon Jae-in, have crafted overlapping platforms as they compete for the center of the Korean electorate. Although Park has held the front-runner status for weeks, the polls are converging, making this one of South Korea's closest races. This convergence of platforms and polls has brought image to the forefront of the election. With Park's political legacy as the daughter of authoritarian leader Park Chung-hee and as a figure in South Korea's democratic era, her image will prove to be the dominant factor that influences voter choice. Read the Article»


South Korea: Presidential Election

Campaigns Overlap on Foreign Policy

Both Park and Moon's campaigns have focused on domestic economic issues, obscuring their foreign policy differences as they converge to the center. This reflects South Korean public consensus on foreign policy fundamentals, such as a strong commitment to the alliance with the United States, support for renewed dialogue with North Korea to stabilize inter-Korean relations, growing concern about the impact of a rising China, increasing discomfort with the direction of politics in Japan, and support for sustaining South Korea's contributions to the global agenda, says Snyder. Read the Expert Brief on »

Three Factors Determine Victory

As polls predict one of the closest presidential races in the ROK's history, candidates Park and Moon are making last minute efforts to secure votes. Ultimately, their ability to unify their respective bases, maximize on their demographic advantages, and mobilize voters will determine the winner, argues Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

North Korea: Provocations and Transition

Satellite Launch an Opportunity for Cooperation

How to respond to North Korea's December 12 satellite launch, which reveals the DPRK's long-range missile capability, poses an immediate challenge to the DPRK's neighbors, all of which are in midst of leadership transitions. The satellite launch exposes the failure of the international community to respond to North Korean provocations, but may provide the basis for strengthened regional cooperation, argues Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

North Korea Tests Region’s New Leaders

The North Korean satellite launch provides an early political test to all parties in the region who are undergoing simultaneous leadership transitions. North Korea is challenging these new leaders, and the world will soon see which of them are willing to counter Pyongyang's provocations, says Snyder. Read the Post on Asia Unbound »

The Collapse That Hasn’t Happened

The DPRK surviving two decades of predictions that it would collapse illustrates just how poorly external observers understand what makes North Korea tick. The country is in transition. But what this means for its future is debated amongst even the most experienced of North Korea experts. Snyder and Kyung-ae Park of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia bring together the world's leading experts to analyze the challenges North Korea faces and its prospects for the future in North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society. Read the book »

CFR's Korea Program in the News

AP: "NKorea Rocket Launch Shows Young Leader as Gambler" (December 13, 2012)

AP: "NKorea Policy in Seoul to Soften Despite Rocket" (December 12, 2012)

Asahi Shinbun: "NKorea Risks Iran-like Sanctions if it Launches Rocket" (December 7, 2012)

Yonhap: "U.S. to Mull 'Appropriate Actions' if North Korea Fires Rocket" (December 4, 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


Connect with CFR

cfr on facebook Facebook
cfr on twitter Twitter
cfr on youtube YouTube
cfr on youtube Mobile
cfr on youtube Join the conversation at»