Home » Publications

Korea Chair Publications

The KF-VUB Korea Chair issues a number of topical briefs and explainers on a regular basis.
Time for the EU to Rethink ‘Critical Engagement’

Time for the EU to Rethink ‘Critical Engagement’

November 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Ramon Pacheco Pardo

EU’s ‘critical engagement’ policy towards North Korea needs to make way for a credible engagement policy suited to strategic partners South Korea’s and the US’ current approach. To move towards its key aims, the EU should continue to implement engagement activities, such as North Korea – United States dialogue facilitation by Sweden.  It can restore suspended activities such as educational and cultural exchanges, and make bold moves such as supporting private sector engagement with Pyongyang. It can further raise its profile in Korean Peninsula and Asian security affairs by appointing an advisory committee and even a special envoy for Korean Peninsula security. The renewal of three of the EU’s key institutions and bodies, coupled with a trend towards greater Europeanisation of the bloc’s foreign policy, offers a unique opportunity to rethink Brussels’ policy towards North Korea. Read more…

Time for the EU to Rethink ‘Critical Engagement’

President Moon’s North Korea policy: mid-term results

October 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Young-hun Kim

When Moon Jae-in’s government first took office, the situation on the Korean Peninsula was overcast with dark clouds of war. President Moon has dedicated many efforts towards his North Korea policy for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and a restoration of inter-Korean relations. As a result, there has been quite a number of changes and developments in inter-Korean relations. First, the Moon government has worked to remove the actual military threat on the peninsula and has prepared a turning point for peace and improvements in inter-Korean relations. Second, the Moon government had led North Korea into inter-Korean and international dialogue. Third, various channels of dialogue between the two Koreas were created and inter-Korean communication was normalised. Fourth, ethnic homogeneity was restored and inter-Korean exchange and cooperation was initiated. Although inter-Korean relations show a momentary lull as of now due to the recent missile tests by North Korea, more developments and results are expected in inter-Korean and North Korea-US relations in the second half of the Moon government. Read more…

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

September 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Riccardo Villa

The Republic of Korea and NATO have had an Individual Cooperation Programme (IPCP) in place since 2012 which mainly focuses on security. It is a relationship in an environment where competing great powers, the United States, China, and Russia, are attempting to cast a sphere of influence in East Asia. The ROK is carefully navigating these competing diplomatic spats during a time where the threat of a nuclear North Korea is ever more dangerous. This policy brief recommends that the ROK should deepen its relationship with NATO due to the benefits both parties could offer each other. This includes having a strategic ally in the Northeast Asian region and the backing of and access to resources of the 29 members of the military alliance. Read more…

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

South Korea’s Cybersecurity and International Cooperation

July 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Rasmus Eriksson

Prompted by the exposed vulnerability of its highly connected society after North Korea’s cyberattacks in recent years, South Korea has set out to improve its cybersecurity infrastructure. Whilst important steps have been taken to outline a national cybersecurity strategy, a further risk assessment shows that a considerable threat remains and that South Korea stands to benefit from integrating cybersecurity into its international security cooperation agenda. Improving intelligence sharing and organization should be prioritized considering the country’s omission from the Convention on Cyber Crime, and the common international incentive of curbing North Korean offensive cyber capabilities makes such policy highly feasible. Read more…

 

 

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

1 July 2019 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo

On Sunday, President Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to step into North Korea. In a historic move, Trump crossed over the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas across the DMZ and into the North Korean side. After a brief chat with Chairman Kim Jong-un, they joined President Moon Jae-in on the South Korean side for a trilateral meeting. In what was also a remarkable moment, a US president and a North Korean leader, thus, held talks on the southern side of the DMZ. Regardless of the theatrics that come with Trump’s actions, these extraordinary scenes are further proof that diplomacy still dominates Korean Peninsula affairs for the time being. Read more…

One year after the Singapore summit: an analysis of the views of the publics of the US, China, Japan and Russia about the situation in the Korean Peninsula

One year after the Singapore summit: an analysis of the views of the publics of the US, China, Japan and Russia about the situation in the Korean Peninsula

21 June 2019 | REPORT
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr Tongfi Kim, Linde Desmaele, Maximilian Ernst

On the first anniversary of the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, the KF-VUB Korea Chair published the results of a survey on American, Chinese, Japanese and Russian views of US-North Korea and inter-Korean relations (available here). We wanted to know what the publics of these four countries think about the situation in the Korean Peninsula twelve months after this historic event. In this report, we analyse the reasons behind their views of the current situation in the Korean Peninsula.

US: Up to Donald Trump to solve the North Korean conundrum
by Linde Desmaele

China: The Chinese are optimists
by Maximilian Ernst

Japan: the two Koreas’ distant neighbour
by Dr. Tongfi Kim

Russia: the Koreas have a friend
by Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

Download the full report here.

Injuries in the DPRK: The Looming Epidemic

Injuries in the DPRK: The Looming Epidemic

19 June 2019 | REPORT
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr Kee B. Park, Mr. Maximilian Ernst, Ms. Eliana Kim

Mass casualty incidents such as building collapses and bus crashes are perhaps just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the injury burden in the DPRK – only the worst cases of injury are highlighted in the media. Current economic and geopolitical developments within and surrounding the DPRK point towards more future activity in sectors such as construction, traffic, and tourism. Thus, it is not unreasonable to anticipate a surge in accidents and injuries inside the DPRK. In this context, it is necessary to understand the North Korean healthcare system and its needs to be able to deal with the current and anticipated injury burden.

In this study, we seek to assess the current burden of traumatic injuries in the DPRK and analyze the injury care capacity in place to manage them. Furthermore, we also estimate the projected surge in injuries in the DPRK and its economic con- sequences in the near future. Finally, we propose a road map for multilateral assistance for strengthening the injury care system in the DPRK.

Download the full report here.

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Getting Back to Singapore, US-North Korea Relations on the Anniversary of the First Trump-Kim Summit

June 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF

Getting Back to Singapore (Issue 2019/06)
Dr. John Delury

If Singapore opened the door to real progress, why do we find ourselves, a year later, seemingly stuck once again in the all-too-familiar quagmire of frustrating negotiations with North Korea? Since Singapore, Trump frequently comes back to the refrain of doing a deal with Kim, and when he talks about “the relationship”, he refers to his personal relationship with Kim Jong-un. For Kim Jong-un, on the other hand, the relationship in need of transformation is not with the person of Donald Trump, but with the United States of America. Kim has to look beyond Trump and beyond a “deal”. Trump is trying to negotiate what is, essentially, a business deal whereby the United States buys out North Korea’s nukes, at an acceptable cost, by leveraging the pressure of sanctions and promise of foreign investment. But Kim is not looking for a deal in that sense. Kim is trying to navigate a new relationship wherein the United States views and treats North Korea as a friend. Changing the relationship takes time—it cannot be done in a meeting or two. Read more.

 

US-North Korea Relations on the Anniversary of the First Trump-Kim Summit (Issue 2019/07)
Dr. Robert E. Kelly

A year after the first summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, little has changed in the strategic situation in Korea. The North has retained its nuclear weapons, missiles, and forward conventional force structure, while the US has similarly given up nothing substantial. The Korean status quo is deeply enduring and not simply subject to presidential whim. The stalemate is due to both sides’ refusal to make genuinely painful concessions. The US has repeatedly demand complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament upfront for vague future guarantees. The North will not foolishly do that, but Pyongyang’s offers have been similarly fanciful. Engagement boosters will argue that talks curtailed war in 2017 and are progress in themselves. But Trump ginned up that crisis unnecessarily, and talking to the North is just process not substance. On substance, very little has changed since Trump entered office, no matter the war-threats of 2017 and flattery of 2018. This will persist as long the political and strategic gaps between the two sides are enormous. It would be better to resume talks at the expert working level to forge small, manageable deals in the place of all-or-nothing summits. Read more.

Survey analysis: One year after the Singapore summit

Survey analysis: One year after the Singapore summit

12 June 2019 | REPORT
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr Tongfi Kim, Linde Desmaele, Maximilian Ernst

One year has passed since the historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North KoreanChairman Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore. The summit marked the first meeting between the sittingleaders of both countries. There were also three inter-Korean summits between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim last year; only two had been held before since the end of the Korean War. Twelvemonths after the Singapore summit, however, diplomacy in the Korean Peninsula seems to have stalled following the failure of Trump and Kim to reach an agreement during their February 27-28 summit in Hanoi.

In this context, what do the publics of the US, China, Japan and Russia think about the situation in theKorean Peninsula? After all, these four powers have a keen interest in its geopolitics and Northeast Asia more generally. And public opinion has the potential to influence foreign policy decisions. With this survey, we shed light on the views that the publics of these four countries hold regarding the present and futureof the Korean Peninsula. The focus of the survey is inter-Korean relations, US-North Korea relations and policy towards North Korea.

The survey by Ipsos Mori was carried out in the period from 24th May – 4th June. It involved 1004 interviews in China, 1000 in Japan, 1099 in Russia and 1096 inthe United States, respectively.

Download the full report here.

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

The global 5G race: South Korea speeds ahead

May 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Paula Cantero Dieguez

South Korea has become the first country in the world to launch commercial 5G services on 3 April. 5G economic benefits are estimated to include worldwide revenues of €225 billion by 2025 and a wealth of job creation. The US, China, South Korea and the EU are economic powerhouses vying to lead the unfolding global 5G market. US and China are strongly positioned in the current telecom market, but their growing 5G competition is spilling over into geopolitical competition.  Wary of being swept up in US-China rivalry, the Moon government is banking on building strong 5G market competitiveness and doubling down on the IT sector which represents a critical economic growth engine domestically.

Read more

 

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Can Donald Trump save South Korea-Japan relations?

April 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Tongfi Kim

President Trump is reportedly planning to demand payment from host countries of U.S. troops covering the entire cost of stationing plus 50 percent. Seoul and Tokyo should treat this so-called “Cost Plus 50” as a wake-up call to deal collaboratively with the threats their U.S. alliances are facing. South Korea and Japan need to coordinate their Special Measures Agreement negotiation strategies, not just to save money, but to preserve the long-term viability of U.S. alliances in East Asia. Above all, they must avoid buying U.S. favor at the expense of each other and appeasing U.S. adversaries such as China and Russia.

Read more

 

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

US Forces Korea in the balance: Time to go home?

March 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Linde Desmaele

Since entering office, US President Donald Trump has been determined to withdraw US troops from South Korea. In May 2018, he reportedly ordered the Pentagon to prepare options to draw down US Forces Korea (USFK). He also pledged to halt US-South Korea war games, and on his watch, the Pentagon replaced existing military drills with smaller, less expensive ones. US foreign policy pundits and lawmakers have expressed concern about these actions, citing them as another example of Trump’s lack of geopolitical insight and a dangerous concession to Pyongyang and Beijing. But albeit for reasons slightly different than those put forward by the White House, there is a case to be made that removing US troops from South Korea could be an important step in reaffirming Washington’s leadership over the region.

Read more

Ask Europe’s Korea Experts: the second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi

Ask Europe’s Korea Experts: the second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi

6th March 2019 | ASK EUROPE’S KOREA EXPERTS
Ramon Pacheco Pardo & Tongfi Kim

In the aftermath of the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, we asked a group of leading Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia security experts based in Europe for their assessment of the outcome (the responses were collected before 4 March 18:00, Central European Time). A total of sixteen experts participated in the survey. Overall, the experts are optimistic about the continuation of diplomatic engagement between the United States and North Korea, as well as between both Koreas. However, their assessments of the two sides’ bargaining positions vary. While there is an agreement that the US is at least partially responsible for the lack of a deal in Hanoi, there are divisions regarding who is in a stronger position following the summit. View the experts here.

Download here

 

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

Hanoi Summit Explained: the Key Players’ Views

28 February 2019 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr Tongfi Kim, Linde Desmaele, Maximilian Ernst

This edition of Korea Chair Explains offers the views of South Korea, the US, Japan and China on the Hanoi Trump-Kim Summit of 27-28 February 2019.

The lack of agreement in the Vietnam summit is a significant but not unsurmountable bump in the road towards inter-Korean reconciliation, which remains South Korea’s key goal. Seoul had prepared to commemorate the 100thanniversary of the Korean Independence movement with a US-North Korea peace declaration wrapped. This would have been hugely symbolic, since it would have allowed President Moon to confidently declare the start of a new era in the Korean Peninsula. Nonetheless, the fact that both the US and North Korea have indicated their willingness to continue negotiations is a relief for Seoul. It means that the diplomatic process continue.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Doi moi and the February 2019 Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi

February 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Maximilian Ernst

Over recent months, speculations about the venue for the next Trump-Kim summit were ubiquitous. On February 6th, President Trump announced during the State of the Union Address that the summit would take place on February 27-28 in Vietnam and, on February 9th, he confirmed Hanoi as the venue via Twitter. The other candidate in Vietnam was the coastal city Da Nang. The advantages of Vietnam are that the country has stable diplomatic relations with both Washington and Pyongyang and that it can be reached by Kim’s own airplane. In addition, media commentary emphasises the symbolic value of Hanoi and Vietnam for North Korea’s future. Vietnam, a former adversary of the US, has become a partner with shared interests in the South China Sea. In the mid-1980s, Vietnam underwent drastic yet successful economic reforms, called Doi Moi, which can be seen as an alternative to the Chinese model of reform and opening. Vietnam’s key lesson for North Korea is that reforms, economic development, and integration into international organisations represented a path for Vietnam to fundamentally improve relations with neighbouring countries and the United States.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Moon’s Quest for Permanent Peace

January 2019 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

The goal of inter-Korean reconciliation and eventual peace is within reach. But the process to get there will take time. President Moon Jae-in understands that the road to end over sixty years of inter-Korean hostility and achieve ‘permanent’ peace is a long one. This is why his focus is on creating the conditions for inter-Korean diplomacy to continue beyond his five-year term in office. The military and economic engagement measures that Seoul has put in place, as well as those that the Moon government hopes to launch, are meant to create the conditions for the next South Korean president to have no option but to continue them. Furthermore, President Moon hopes that his quest for eventual peace will make the US accept diplomacy as the de facto option for its North Korea policy. For his government believes that ending US-North Korea hostility is a prerequisite to permanent peace.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

North Korea’s Nuclear Problem: A More Pragmatic Approach Will Help

December 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Yoon Young-kwan

Despite the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in June, little progress was made on denuclearizing North Korea due to the clash between the U.S. and North Korea on the formula of denuclearization. Both sides are demanding the other to do its work upfront. Due to the inability to resolve this dilemma, North Korea’s nuclear problem has gotten worse during the last three decades. In order to make a breakthrough, North Korea needs to come to the table as soon as possible recognizing that the political momentum for a negotiated solution in the U.S. may not last long due to President Trump’s domestic problems. The U.S. needs to take a more pragmatic approach. While keeping the pressure with economic sanctions, it needs to take concrete measures of political engagement toward North Korea. This would contribute significantly to raising mutual trust and providing a more favorable political environment for negotiating a solution.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Moon and South Korea’s Global Role: Evolution Not Revolution

November 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

South Korea’s foreign policy has a global dimension, with priority given to development assistance, green growth and multilateralism. Taking a page from his two predecessors, President Moon Jae-in is focusing the global component of his foreign policy on these three issues. In the area of development assistance, South Korea emphasizes knowledge sharing. It serves as an example to developing countries across the world. But Seoul also strives to become an agenda-setter in this area, building on the Busan Principles of Aid Effectiveness and Busan Global Partnership. When it comes to green growth, South Korea self-styles as a global leader. The Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute and South Korea’s leading role in the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 are central to the Moon government’s policy in this area. As for multilateralism, the Moon government wants both Koreas to bid together to host the 2032 Olympic Games. Seoul also remains supportive of the UN, WTO and other multilateral institutions.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

EU-ROK relations: Leveraging ASEM in uncertain times

October 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Steven Everts

As Brussels is preparing itself for the 12th ASEM Summit and the EU-ROK Summit that will take place on 18- 19 October, this is a good moment to take stock of the partnership and see how the EU and ROK can optimise their cooperation in the ASEM framework. At a time of accelerating global change and threats to the rules-based international system, the EU and South Korea have a massive joint interest to step up their cooperation and maximise the opportunities of the ASEM framework.

Read more

EU-ROK Relations: Putting the strategic partnership to work

EU-ROK Relations: Putting the strategic partnership to work

15 October 2018 | REPORT
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Linde Desmaele, Maximilian Ernst

The strategic partnership between the European Union and the Republic of Korea is strong and solid but is yet to reach its full potential. This is understandable considering bilateral relations were only upgraded to a fully-fledged strategic partnership in 2010, with agreements covering the political and security pillars entering into force, respectively, in 2014 and 2016. In this report, we identify nine areas in which cooperation between the ROK and the EU could and, we believe, should be strengthened in the near future to help safeguard both parties’ interests at the global level.​

Read the full report here or the executive summary here.

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

Inter-Korean Summit in Pyongyang Explained: The Key Players’ Views

20 September 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr Tongfi Kim, Linde Desmaele, Max Ernst

This edition of Korea Chair Explains offers the views of South Korea, Japan, the US and China on the third Inter-Korean Summit of 18-20 September 2018.

  • South Korea’s views: Another step forward towards inter-Korean reconciliation
    By Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo
  • Japan’s views: Getting ready to make the best of it?
    By Dr Tongfi Kim
  • America’s views: The ball is in the US court 
    By Linde Desmaele
  • China’s views: Promising opportunities but also challenges to stay relevant
    By Max Ernst

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

The more things change…

September 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Victor Cha

What is both amazing and depressing about the diplomacy following the Singapore Summit are the constants that have re-emerged following a period of the most dramatic change on the peninsula in decades. North Korea still pursues its byungjin strategy while the US still pursues CVID. China undercuts economic pressure on the North through commerce, while South Korea presses ahead with an inter-Korean cooperation agenda ahead of denuclearization. And no one seems to care about human rights abuses propagated by the regime. It’s unclear whether a second Trump-Kim summit can break this deadlock but policymakers must consider some innovative changes in our approach going forward, as well as focus on the most important variable for change in North Korea – the proliferation of markets.

Read more

Negotiating the peace: Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula

Negotiating the peace: Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula

12 September 2018 | REPORT
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr John Hemmings and Dr Tat Yan Kong

The KF-VUB Korea Chair, Henry Jackson Society and London Asia Pacific Centre for Social Science launched a new report yesterday on “Negotiating the peace: Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula”, co-authored by Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr John Hemmings and Dr Tat Yan Kong. It presents the outcome of a two-panel round table that was hosted by the School of Oriental and African Studies, Kings College London and the Henry Jackson Society earlier this year. As both Koreas meet for a third time next week and North Korea and the USA discuss to continue to meet bilaterally in an attempt to resolve the nuclear issue, it is important to understand what every member of the Six-Party Talks – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), the USA, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), China, Japan and Russia – wants to gain from the negotiations and their negotiating strategies.
 
This new country-by-country analysis assesses each player’s negotiating aims and objectives and, in this way, reveals where opportunities and challenges might lie in the process of North Korean peace-bargaining. It identifies that the Libya Model won’t work and any process will involve step-by-step disarmament for sanctions relief. If incentives are right, North Korea could be willing to swap nukes for cash. A peace regime and substantial economic support will probably come near the end of the process. Thus, full-scale economic development will have to wait for sanctions-relief to be close to completion.

Dr John Hemmings is Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society and an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
Dr Tat Yan Kong is Reader in Comparative Politics & Development Studies at SOAS, University of London and Co-Director of the London Asia Pacific Centre for Social Science.
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo is the KF-VUB Korea Chair at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Reader in International Studies at King’s College London.

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

Europe and the Potential Dismantlement of North Korea’s Nuclear Warheads

20 August 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo

South Korean media report that the US has proposed to North Korea the possibility of shipping half of its nuclear warheads to the United Kingdom, where they would be dismantled. Reports also state that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has requested the United Kingdom to provide technical support to North Korea during the dismantlement process. Indeed, discussions taking place in Europe regarding the potential role that European countries could play if and as North Korea takes step towards denuclearization include this very same matter. Technical assistance with the dismantlement of nuclear warheads is one of the areas where Europe could play a significant role.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Foreign Policy Looks South: Seoul’s ‘New Southern Policy’

July 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is in the middle of a trip to India and Singapore. This visits fits within Seoul’s ‘New Southern Policy’, an effort by the Moon government to strengthen economic and diplomatic links with ASEAN and India. On the economic front, President Moon seeks to increase trade and investment between South Korea and its southern neighbours. Previous South Korean governments signed free trade agreements with both ASEAN and India, but increasing protectionism in the US and trade sanctions from China in 2017 convinced Seoul that it should further diversify its economic links. As for diplomacy, South Korea sees ASEAN, especially, and India as key partners to bring North Korea in from the cold. They can provide diplomatic support for President Moon’s engagement efforts, and Vietnam can serve as a model if and as North Korea continues to implement economic reform.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Kim Jong-un’s Tools of Coercion

June 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Jung H. Pak

Last fall and winter, the world was tense with the real possibilities of a military conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula as a result of Kim Jong-un’s testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the North’s sixth and largest nuclear test, and the rhetorical war with U.S. President Donald Trump. While the threat of another Korean war seems to be in the rear-view mirror, for now, we have to remember that Kim has been expanding, sharpening, and demonstrating other tools of coercive diplomacy, including selective engagement, cyberattacks, and chemical weapons. He has been deploying these tools to suppress criticism of the regime, sow division within South Korea and among U.S. allies and regional stakeholders, and shape an external environment favorable for reinforcing Kim’s legitimacy and North Korea’s claimed status as a nuclear weapons power.

Read more

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

U.S.-North Korea Summit Explained: the Key Players’ Views

13 June 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr Tongfi Kim, Dr Janka Oertel, Linde Desmaele

This edition of Korea Chair Explains offers the views of South Korea, the U.S., Japan and China on the U.S.-North Korea Summit of 12 June 2018.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called yesterday’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the ‘summit of the century’. From a South Korean perspective, the Trump-Kim meeting was indeed a make-or-break moment. Had the summit failed, inter-Korean rapprochement would have continued but it would also have been significantly slowed down. But the fact that the summit declaration, and subsequent press conference by Trump, make clear that US diplomacy will continue provides the Moon government with the necessary back-up to carry on with its rapprochement policy. Seoul is indeed pleased with this.

Read more

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

The Second Moon-Kim Summit: the Koreas Decide to Take Control

28 May 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their second summit on Saturday. It is no exaggeration to state that this meeting was as, if not more, significant than their first summit that took place less than a month before. Saturday’s meeting was the first-ever inter-Korea summit that did not require weeks if not months of preparation. Instead, it was quickly arranged in a few hours following a conversation between Moon and Kim using their recently-established hotline. The two Koreas thus sent a message to the rest of the world – they can meet any time they wish and at short notice if necessary, and they will meet regardless of the state of relations between North Korea and the US. In other words, the two Koreas have decided to openly take control of developments in the Korean Peninsula, and to push for engagement.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Jobs, Fairness and Peace: the First Anniversary of the Moon Government

May 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

One year from his election, Moon Jae-in is a very popular president with approval ratings hovering around 80 per cent. The reason for his popularity is, to an extent, fairly simple: he has followed the promises that he made during last year’s election campaign. This refers both to domestic affairs and inter-Korean relations. With regards to the former, President Moon has been implementing a series of job boosting measures. He wants to address a perceived lack of good-quality jobs. Furthermore, his government is seeking to improve social equality. President Moon is thus addressing one of the major grievances among many South Koreans – namely the perception that those in power play by a different set of rules. On inter-Korean relations, President Moon is implementing an engagement policy that has helped to ease tensions in the Korean Peninsula and put South Korea in the driving seat.

Read more

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

Inter-Korean Summit Explained: the Key Players’ Views

27 April 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Dr. Tongfi Kim, Linde Desmaele, Dr. Janka Oertel

This edition assess South Korean, Japanese, American and Chinese views of the Inter-Korean Summit in April 2018.

  • South Korean Views of the Inter-Korean Summit: Hope for Peace but also Caution by Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo
  • Japanese Views of the Inter-Korean Summit: Left Out in the Cold? by Dr. Tongfi Kim
  • American Views of the Inter-Korean Summit: The tone is set, but the real work has yet to begin by Linde Desmaele
  • Chinese Views of the Inter-Korean Summit: Back on Track – for Now by Dr. Janka Oertel

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

From Nuclear Threats to Nuclear Talks: a Big Win for President Donald Trump?

April 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Linde Desmaele

U.S. President Donald Trump surprised the world by accepting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s invitation to talk, thereby setting the scene for potentially the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president. A Trump-Kim summit, which American officials say will take place this coming May or June at a location yet to be determined, would mark a turning point in US-North Korea relations. After a year of escalating tensions and insults between the two leaders, the prospect of talks seems like a welcome development. Americans have looked at North Korea as the land of lousy options for several decades now, so why not try the unprecedented? Yet, Trump’s diplomatic gamble is not without risk. Previous rounds of negotiations have not led to a major breakthrough and have left both sides disappointed. Meanwhile, the increased sophistication of North Korea’s nuclear program is forcing the US to come up with answers. Therefore, if Trump does not play his cards right and the summit is perceived as a failure, he may well provide further excuse for the US to turn to military options to achieve what diplomacy could seemingly not.

Read more

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

North Korea’s High-Level Delegation China Visit: a Necessary Step

27 March 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

The announcement that a high-level delegation from North Korea, perhaps including its leader Kim Jong-un or his sister Kim Yo-jong, is currently in China suggests a necessary thaw in relations between both countries. The relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing has been strained since Kim took power in December 2011. But Pyongyang needs the support of Beijing before the first inter-Korean summit in over ten years and a potential summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump. Any agreements coming out of these summits would need Beijing’s acquiescence if not active support for them to be successfully implemented.

Read more

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

The Potential Trump-Kim Summit: History in the Making

9 March 2018 | KOREA CHAIR EXPLAINS
Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo

The announcement of a potential summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is truly historic. No sitting US president has ever met with North Korea’s leader. Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter only did years after leaving office. But the highest-ranked official to ever meet with North Korea’s leader was then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright when she travelled to Pyongyang for a summit with then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in October 2000. A meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un would thus be unprecedented.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces of North Korean Threat on the U.S.-Japan-ROK Cooperation

March 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr. Tongfi Kim

The shared threat emanating from Pyongyang creates a centripetal force that binds Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul because the three partners need mutual assistance. On the other hand, however, the high stakes involved in the North Korea policy of these states also intensify discord over the means to address the threat, thereby producing a centrifugal force. Policies that hurt each other’s fundamental security interests have to be pursued only with careful consultation with the partners, for both the policies’ effectiveness and for the maintenance of the partnerships. For effective cooperation, the U.S., Japanese, and ROK governments must all embrace the centripetal force of the North Korean threat while being mindful of the centrifugal force.

Read more

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

From Pyeongchang to Pyongyang

February 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games have already served one very important purpose: helping to thaw inter-Korean relations. Since engagement is a key element of President Moon Jae-in’s North Korea policy, it is highly likely that Seoul will continue to seek exchanges with Pyongyang. It is thus up to the Kim Jong-un regime to accept Seoul’s olive branch and contribute to improving inter-Korean relations. With Pyongyang continuing to support – or at least accept – domestic economic reform and marketization, economic and technical support from Seoul is crucial. Indeed, the goodwill that most South Koreans still seem to hold towards their poorer Northern neighbour and the funding that South Korea can provide cannot be matched by any other country. For Seoul, engagement can serve to ease inter-Korean tensions, make it ever-more difficult for Pyongyang to reverse reforms, and put South Korea in the driving seat of Korean Peninsula affairs. Read more…

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

Candlelight, Moonlight, Olympics: Korea in Transition

January 2018 | KF-VUB KOREA CHAIR POLICY BRIEF
Dr Michael Reiterer

The surprising readiness of Kim Jong-un to re-open lines of communications and to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics could strengthen President Moon who needs to change course from announcement of policies to their implementation to live up to his promise to provide jobs through income and innovation lead growth with the aim of establishing a just and fair society for all Koreans. Enhanced EU-Korean cooperation could contribute to economic and political stability and security providing substance to the 55 years’ jubilee.

Read more

© Korea Chair – Vrije Universiteit Brussel – 2018