What a Park Presidency Means for South Korea’s Foreign Policy
South Koreans used to joke that their country was a “shrimp among whales” because it is flanked by the giants China and Russia, as well as Japan and, of course, the other and more bellicose Korea to the north. Today, however, South Korea is an emerging power. It is the world’s 11th biggest economy, sixth biggest exporter and on track to become the eighth biggest trading nation. And because it lies in a geopolitical hotspot, with an economy dependent on exports, the new President’s direction of foreign policy will matter. “[South] Korea is one of the most connected countries in the world,” says Troy Stangarone of the U.S.-based Korea Economic Institute of America. “Both its role in Northeast Asia and globally will probably be shaped by the next administration.”
Park’s foremost challenge when she takes office in February will be North Korea. The outgoing government of President Lee Myung-bak, a no-nonsense former corporate CEO, reversed 10 years of so-called sunshine policy — a conciliatory approach to Pyongyang that saw two summits, the South’s investments in the North and reunions of family members separated by the Korean War. Lee adopted a stern approach, cutting off dialogue and humanitarian aid over Pyongyang’s unwillingness to drop its nuclear-weapons program.
Inter-Korean relations likely to change under Park presidency
South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye’s election promise to mend fences with North Korea is spurring a mood of optimism for a turnaround in the frozen inter-Korean relations, but analysts said that the two Koreas may take some time before resolving long-standing issues, which stymied their ties under the outgoing government.
The first South Korean woman elected to the five-year presidency has pledged to depart from outgoing President Lee Myung-bak’s hard-line North Korean policy, in which the government has refused to engage with the North without the communist country’s apologies for the deadly 2010 attacks on the South Korean Navy vessel Cheonan and the border island of Yeonpyeong.
Did a Tantrum Kill Kim Jong Il?
Wall Street Journal
A year after the death of Kim Jong Il, little information has emerged about the circumstances of his reported heart attack other than the official narrative that he died from overwork at 8:30am on Dec. 17 aboard his personal train while heading out on another “field guidance” trip.
Doubts about parts of that account have been raised, including skepticism about whether Mr. Kim was actually on the train given his apparent habit of sleeping in late, and satellite images showing the train still in Pyongyang.
N. Korean leader to purge more of the old guard in new year: expert
As North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wraps up his first year in power, marked by the reckless purging of several old guard elites, he may replace the country’s No. 2 leader, Kim Yong-nam, and some other top officials next year, according to a North Korea expert here.
“Who replaces Kim Yong-nam may tell us about the future direction of the restructuring of the political system,” said Alexandre Mansourov, a specialist in Northeast Asian security. He now works as a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
He said Kim Yong-nam will likely “honorably retire,” rather than being purged.
Largest Korean-American Bank Seeks to Become Regional Player After Deals
American Banker (subscription req’d)
BBCN execs took a difficult path to build the largest Korean-American bank, but a successful merger in L.A. and a deal in Seattle have put it on course to become a West Coast player — and maybe more.
Check out our story on BBCN from the October 2012 issue of KoreAm.
Honey Pig Korean BBQ Opens In Irvine
OC Weekly (Calif.)
As Shuji reported a long while ago, Honey Pig, the Korean BBQ joint that specializes in samgyeopsal (pork belly), is coming to Irvine. It has finally opened. There are other Honey Pigs in LA’s Koreatown, in La Palma, and a Wako Honey Pig in Buena Park.
Some are related to the other by loose familial ties and they all have that specialty in common, as well as the domed cooking surface on which you sear and render your fatty pork slices into crispness.
Photo studio pervert does something unusual
A pervert in his 40s who ran a photo studio did something unusual; he would use a timer when taking photographs of female college students.
What he would do is rush to the back of his clients and drop his pants when the camera clicked. He would take the regular photographs but keep the pornographic shots in his computer.
The man was finally caught for what he was up to since the beginning of the year and was indicted last May under laws for the protection of youths. However, the court ruled that he was innocent of the crime.
Top ten Asian players of 2012
3. Koo Ja-cheol (South Korea and FC Augsburg)
The young midfielder ticked all the boxes in 2012 – impressive for the South Korean national team, very impressive with FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga and inspirational in leading his country to the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. The game for the bronze medal between Japan and Korea was perhaps the high point of 2012 on the pitch for Asia, and for Koo it was just the latest in a string of high-class performances.
While his spectacular strikes from the edge of the box have been catching the eye in Germany – as well as his contretemps with Franck Ribery – back in East Asia, fans know that Koo is developing into a fine driving midfield player who is set to be at the heart of the South Korean team for years to come. 2013 could be the year in which he makes it really big.
Korea drops Major Leaguer Choo Shin-soo from WBC roster
Yonhap via Korea Times
Choo Shin-soo, outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds in Major League Baseball (MLB), on Thursday was dropped from Korea’s roster for the World Baseball Classic next spring.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Choo had asked to be left off the national team for the March 2-19 tournament so that he can prepare for his first season with the Reds. He was recently traded from the Cleveland Indians to the National League club.
Lydia Ko, John Huh Named Among Year’s Top Breakout Golfers
Korean-New Zealander Lydia Ko and Korean-American John Huh were named among the top 10 breakout players of the year by the Golf Channel on Wednesday.
7 Questions With … Hines Ward of “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off”
Channel Guide Magazine
He’s the legendary Pittsburgh Steeler who broke records (and one opponent’s jaw) on the field, then broke hearts in the Dancing With the Stars ballroom before retiring from the NFL last May to become an NBC football analyst. Now Hines Ward is testing his game in a whole new arena — the kitchen — as a contestant on Season 2 of Food Network’s Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, battling Johnny Weir, Kathy Najimy, Carnie Wilson, Gilbert Gottfried and others for celeb-chef supremacy.