Scott Snyder


South Korea’s New President Park Geun-hye Takes Oath

February 27, 2013


South Korea’s new President Park Geun-hye took the oath of office [on February 25] as South Korea’s first female president, the first Korean president to have previously lived in the Blue House, and the first Korean president to have visited North Korea prior to her term in office.


A New Opportunity for China-South Korea Relations Under Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping?

January 23, 2013


Following an early ambassadorial visit and a courtesy call on President-elect Park Geun-hye from China’s special envoy Vice Minister Zhang Zhijun, Park has decided to reciprocate by sending her first special envoys to Beijing during the transition.


South Korea’s New Missile Guidelines and North Korea’s Response

October 10, 2012


The DPRK (North Korea) National Defense Commission responded with predictable bravado (“DPRK NDC Reiterates Its Stand to Fight It Out against U.S. and S. Korean Regime”) to Sunday’s announcement by the government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) that it had secured U.S. agreement…


Inter-Korean Tensions and the Risks of ‘Friendly Fire’

June 22, 2011


Two South Korean marines guarding an island near the West Sea demarcation line that has been the site of several inter-Korean incidents in recent years last Friday mistakenly shot their K-2 rifles at a Korean civilian airliner traveling from Chengdu with 119 passengers on board…


Blowout in Inter-Korean Relations

June 3, 2011


North Korea’s National Defense Commission yesterday released a rare public statement on inter-Korean relations in response to Lee Myung-Bak’s May 9 Berlin speech inviting Kim Jong Il to attend next year’s Nuclear Security Summit.


A Human Rights Envoy to Assess North Korea’s Food Situation

May 25, 2011


At a State Department briefing earlier this week, the spokesman stated that U.S. Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea Ambassador Robert King may be tasked to lead a food assessment mission to North Korea. This announcement comes following a round of consultations…


The North Korea Food Aid Debate

May 11, 2011


There has been a protracted debate over whether the United States should give food assistance in response to North Korea’s appeals for assistance from earlier this year, with an exchange between Stephan Haggard and Lee Jong Cheol as the most recent example.


Springtimes of Political Reform: Looking to East Asia for Clues to Democratic Consolidation

May 4, 2011


Journalist David Ignatius recently wrote on Foreign Policy’s website that the “Arab Spring” may be part of a “global political awakening,” a concept he borrows from former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.


U.S.-South Korean Nuclear Relationship: After Fukushima

March 30, 2011


I was a last-minute substitute speaker this week on the U.S.-South Korean nuclear relationship at the Carnegie Endowment’s 2011 Nuclear Policy Conference.The focus of our panel on “U.S. Nuclear Cooperation: How and With Whom?” was on issues surrounding a new U.S.-ROK nuclear cooperation…


The “Libya Model” and What’s Next in North Korea

March 23, 2011


While the events of the past weekend have shifted the world’s attention to Libya, there are clearly reverberations for North Korea, especially given that Muammar Qadhafi pursued, then gave up in 2003, a nuclear weapons capability as part of what seemed then like a step toward normalcy with the rest of the world. Qadhafi’s strategic decision to give up Libya’s nuclear program in return for rapprochement with the United States was held up to North Koreans as a model for pursuing diplomatic normalization with the United States.


A Rising Need for U.S.-Japan-China Trilateral Dialogue

February 16, 2011


Coinciding with Chinese President Hu Jintao’s official state visit to Washington last month, The Asia Foundation held a two-day dialogue in Tokyo with the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) and the China Institute for International Studies (CIIS) to examine the state of U.S.-Japan-China relations.


Shaky Restart to Inter-Korean Talks

February 9, 2011


Less than three months after North Korea’s shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island, North and South Korea opened preliminary, colonel-level talks yesterday to set an agenda and date for ministerial-level defense talks. However, the talks adjourned without reaching an agreement, raising questions about prospects for renewed diplomacy…


Hu-Obama Summit: Implications for Managing North Korea

February 2, 2011


Both North and South Koreans appear to have had disproportionately high expectations in the run-up to last week’s Hu-Obama summit, judging from their reluctant willingness to edge toward tension reduction and dialogue following the November 23rd Yeonpyeong Island artillery shelling…


China’s Rise and the U.S.-ROK Security Alliance

January 5, 2011


The East Asia Institute has just published my critique of an earlier paper by Dong Sun Lee and Sung Eun Kim, which concludes that ratification of the KORUS FTA will not “markedly reinforce” the U.S.-ROK security alliance. I agree with that conclusion, but I think that the KORUS FTA provides an important strategic message of psychological support fo… Read more


China’s Call for Six Party Talks: Cynical or Naïve?

December 1, 2010


China’s response to North Korea’s artillery shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last week has been relatively rapid compared to the slowness of its response to the sinking last March (it took three weeks for the Chinese government to express its condolences in response to the sinking of the Cheonan). But, as underscored in Sunday’s New York… Read more


Obama in Seoul: Underscoring the Sino-U.S. Gap on North Korea

November 17, 2010


Although the main stories of the Obama visit to Korea revolved around the gap between the United States and China on global rebalancing issues at the G-20 and the failure of Presidents Obama and Lee to tee up the KORUS FTA, a third issue arose that dramatizes Sino-U.S. differences over the Korean peninsula. At a Veterans’ Day event with U.S. troops… Read more


UN Sanctions and their Impact on North Korea

October 27, 2010


The Office of Senator Richard Lugar has released the latest Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, along with a statement that “the findings include a stark reminder that U.S. and China interests regarding North Korea are largely incongruent. While the United States presses for elimin… Read more


Apparent Heir: Kim Jong Un’s Ascension and the Challenge to South Korea

October 13, 2010


Having spent the past week in Seoul in the aftermath of the September 28 Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) conference and on the eve of the unprecedented 65th anniversary celebrations of the WPK’s founding, I was struck by just how few facts South Korean analysts (and the rest of the world!) yet have at their disposal in analyzing the latest North Kore… Read more


YaleGlobal: North Korea’s Succession Poses New Challenges

October 6, 2010


Ten years ago, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, snubbed China’s defense minister on the 50th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese people’s volunteers into the Korean War: Instead, Kim Jong Il hosted the first-ever visit by a U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. A mirror image of that snub was recently delivered… Read more


The Cheonan Incident and its Impact on Regional Security

September 1, 2010


I spent last week at several meetings in Tokyo, Seoul, and Jeju that revolved around the Cheonan incident and its implications for regional security. The Lee Myung-Bak administration got high marks for its handling of the immediate aftermath of the incident. It is important to remember that in the hours following the Cheonan’s sinking on March 26th… Read more


No Winners from the Sinking of the Cheonan

August 4, 2010


Two months ago, the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan appeared to mark a turning point in inter-Korean relations. The South Korean interim investigation identified a North Korean torpedo as the cause of the sinking, providing South Korea and the United States with a strong case to take the issue to the UN Security Council and hold North… Read more


The Cheonan Investigation: Interim Results and South Korean Policy Options

May 19, 2010


The Washington Post reports that interim results of a South Korea-led international investigation into the March 26th sinking of the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan near Baek-ryong Island are due to be released by the South Korean government on Thursday morning (Wednesday evening EST). The report, which concludes on the basis of strong circumstantial fo… Read more


Northeast Asian Public Views: Isolated North Korea; Good Vibes Between Japan and South Korea

April 21, 2010


The latest BBC/World Service Poll conducted in January and released earlier this week has some results in Northeast Asia that offer some food for thought—at least for anyone who thinks that public views are a potentially decisive influence on foreign policy. The two most notable results in Northeast Asia are the precipitous rise in negative Chinese… Read more


South Korea’s Emerging Global Security Role

March 24, 2010


The government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has adopted the catchphrase “Global Korea” to signify its desire to play a more assertive role as a contributor to the international community. The same aspiration is reflected in South Korea’s emerging approach to global security issues as reflected in its 2008 Defense White Paper, which state… Read more


Korea-U.S. FTA: A Strategic Opportunity for Bipartisanship

February 17, 2010


In an interview with Bloomberg Business Week last Thursday, President Obama stated that he would like to complete pending trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia, and Panama, but there’s a catch. Although his State of the Union Address provided a potentially powerful strategic rationale for passing these free trade agreements (FTAs) as part of… Read more


North and South Korean New Year’s Resolutions

January 13, 2010


North Korea has traditionally utilized the new year to set priorities and provide guidance to its people. Under Kim Jong Il, this guidance has come out in the form of a combined New Year’s editorial published by three major media outlets. South Korean presidents have also used a New Year’s speech outlining major priorities. North Korea’s joint edit… Read more


North Korea’s H1N1 Watch: Isolation Vs. Contagion

December 16, 2009


For a country that appears to be so isolated from the outside world, North Korea seems to have been on edge for months regarding the possible impact of swine flu (H1N1) on its population. These rumors of North Korean anxiety have been underscored by an unusual admission last week of nine confirmed cases of swine flu in Pyongyang and Sinuiju (the WH… Read more


Dispatch from Pyongyang: An Offer You Can’t Refuse!

December 9, 2009


Every North Korean seems to have been mobilized for an all-out push to mark their country’s arrival as a “strong and powerful nation” in 2012, which marks the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, Kim Jong Il’s 70th birthday, and the 30th birthday of Kim Jong Il’s third son and reported successor, Kim Jong-Eun. Pyongyang citizens have cleaned u… Read more


Korea’s Challenge and Opportunity as Chair of the G20

November 18, 2009


South Korea is highly motivated to play the roles of host and chair of the G20 in 2010, following Britain’s chairmanship in 2009. This is a historic moment since it will be the first time that a non-G7 country has been engaged in leading global financial coordination efforts. There is much at stake for Korea and for the international community prec… Read more


Wen Jiabao Gets the Red Carpet Treatment From Kim Jong Il

October 7, 2009


Days following the conclusion of China’s 60th anniversary celebration of its founding, Premier Wen Jiabao brought a high-powered delegation to Pyongyang to mark the 60th anniversary of Sino-DPRK ties and to facilitate a dialogue on North Korea’s nuclear issues with Kim Jong Il. This exceptionally large delegation of Chinese senior officials receive… Read more


Korean Leadership in the G20 and the U.S.-ROK Alliance

September 23, 2009


As global leaders convene in Pittsburgh to address the global economic crisis for the third time in less than a year, there is cause for both optimism and a heavy sense of responsibility to sustain early signs of a global recovery. Follow-up measures from Pittsburgh within the G20 will fall primarily to South Korea as the chair and host of G20 meet… Read more


The Challenge of Preparing for Instability in North Korea

September 16, 2009


In North Korea’s totalitarian system, political stability depends on the health of the leader more than on any other factor. For this reason, Kim Jong Il’s rumored health problems have drawn careful scrutiny since he failed to appear almost exactly one year ago at public events marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s… Read more


Clinton to Pyongyang

August 5, 2009


Bill Clinton’s dramatic mission to secure the release of two American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee following North Korea’s harsh verdict regarding their unauthorized entry into North Korea has succeeded on multiple fronts, based on criteria for success I offered yesterday: 1) the visit secured the release of the two journalists, 2) the visit… Read more


What if North Korea Says No?

July 22, 2009


“The premise underlying the question of what do we do if North Korea says no is that we are still waiting for a North Korean answer…. It is North Korea’s pursuit of escalation that has foreclosed dialogue possibilities for now as Pyongyang, for a variety of domestic and international reasons, attempts to lock in its nuclear status as a fait accom… Read more


From Nuclear Talks to Regional Institutions: Challenges and Prospects for Security Multilateralism in Northeast Asia

June 24, 2009


North Korea’s nuclear aspirations have served as the driving force for the development of ad hoc security multilateralism in Northeast Asia. This development has occurred in stages, with each successive phase in responding to the North Korean crisis resulting in strengthened regional cooperation, despite persisting underlying strategic mistrust amo… Read more


“North Korea’s Nuclear and Missile Tests and Six-Party Talks: Where Do We Go From Here?”

June 17, 2009


Snyder on The Six Party Process: A Regional Framework for North Korea’s Denuclearization: “North Korea’s unilateral pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities over the last two decades has ironically been a primary catalyst for strengthened regional cooperation in Northeast Asia. But this cooperation has thus far been insufficient to deter North Korea… Read more


Second Nuclear Test: North Korea Does What it Says

May 27, 2009


North Korea did exactly what it said it would do on May 25, 2009, when it conducted a nuclear test as promised in its April 28 statement in response to UN sanctions imposed on three North Korean firms in accordance with an April 13 UN Security Council Presidential Statement condemning North Korea’s April 5, 2009, missile test. The test furthers Nor… Read more


South Korea’s Roh Moo-hyun: An Impossible Idealist

May 27, 2009


The death of Roh Moo-hyun, the 16th president of the Republic of Korea (2003-2008), is a huge shock to South Korea’s political world. A human rights lawyer with no college degree, Roh campaigned to revolutionize Korean politics and society by promoting clean politics, fighting corruption, and challenging personal and elite ties as the basis for adv… Read more


North Korea’s “Never-Never” Land: Prospects for Getting Diplomacy Back on Track

May 13, 2009


Within hours following an April 14, 2009, United Nations Security Council presidential statement condemning North Korea’s missile launch, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) foreign ministry responded by stating that “six-party talks have lost the meaning of their existence, never to recover,” and that the “DPRK will never participate… Read more


Obama and North Korea: First 100 Days

April 29, 2009


The Obama administration was a political target of North Korea’s April 5, 2009, missile test in addition to the targets of internal political consolidation, exploiting China’s DPRK dilemma, and the exploitation of possible divisions within the UN Security Council. North Korea’s strategic objective has been to secure its position as a nuclear weapon… Read more


A Comprehensive Vision for the U.S.-Korea Alliance

April 22, 2009


The conventional wisdom among Asia specialists on both sides of the aisle has been that there would be little need for change in a new administration’s policy toward Asia. At the same time, there is no question that America’s preoccupation with Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East has prioritized the question of how America’s Asian allies might m… Read more


UN Security Council Response to North Korea’s Missile Test: Washington’s Policy Debate

April 15, 2009


North Korea’s efforts to exploit divisions among members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in its response to its April 5, 2009 test of a multi-stage rocket has proven to be a slightly harder political target than some in Pyongyang may have anticipated…read more. Scott Snyder is The Asia Foundation’s Senior Associate and Director of the… Read more


North Korea’s Missile Test: Off-Target?

April 8, 2009


North Korea’s launch of a multi-stage rocket has been assessed by international experts as a technical failure, but the test has been at least a partial success in hitting four political targets: North Korea’s domestic audience, exploitation of international divisions among members of the six party talks, testing of the newly-established Obama admi… Read more


Awaiting the New Secretary of State in South Korea

February 18, 2009


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Seoul today on her first visit to South Korea in her new post. South Koreans have anticipated her arrival—and the establishment of the Obama administration’s policy toward the Korean peninsula—with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. This mood has been fed by a rapid deterioration in inter-Korean rel… Read more


Obama and North Korea

November 19, 2008


There’s a lot of speculation about how President-elect Obama will organize his administration to address a truly daunting list of security challenges, including a global economic crisis, Iraq, and Afghanistan. On the list of potential crises that the Obama administration will inherit come January 20th will be the task of achieving the denuclearizat… Read more


Post-Olympic Hangover: New Backdrop for Sino-Korean Relations

October 29, 2008


The XXIX Beijing Olympiad, an event that had preoccupied Chinese leaders for almost a decade as they sought to utilize the games to project to domestic and international audiences China’s accomplishments on an international stage, has framed many issues in Sino-Korean relations, especially given the many resonances between the 1988 Olympics in Seou… Read more


Memo to Prime Minister Aso: Build Trilateralism

October 1, 2008


Japan’s new prime minister, Aso Taro, takes office facing many difficult if not intractable problems, not least of which is securing a ruling coalition for his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Beyond politics, the situation is equally bleak, given Japan’s moribund economy, global financial volatility, and a pervasive gloom that has descended over th… Read more


North Korea: Waiting, for Kim Jong Il

September 17, 2008


Since there have been periodic rumors about the state of Kim Jong Il’s health over the years, it’s easy for North Korea-watchers to become skeptical about unattributed reports from capitals outside of Pyongyang regarding the pulse of the Dear Leader. It has long been the case that rumors about the stability of North Korea are inversely proportional… Read more


Recovering The Potential of the U.S.-South Korea Relationship

August 7, 2008


President Bush’s stop to Seoul en route to the Beijing Olympics is a reminder that a once-firm security alliance with South Korea faces continuing difficulties over North Korea’s nuclear development, American beef imports to South Korea, and ratification of a Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. But despite these difficulties, there is potential to ref… Read more


North Korea’s Nuclear Disclosures and the Six Party Talks

July 9, 2008


This week in Beijing, the Six Party Talks are set to reconvene after a nine month hiatus. The hiatus began October 3, 2007 with China’s release of a joint statement that anticipated a series of concrete measures that would be completed by the end of 2007 to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. During the hiatus, the U.S. and North Korea negotia… Read more


Inauguration of Lee Myung-bak: Grappling with Korea’s Future Challenges

February 20, 2008


On February 25, Lee Myung-bak will be inaugurated as the tenth president of the Republic of Korea. President-elect Lee is a member of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP or Hannara-dang), and his inauguration ends ten years of rule by progressive presidents; it is the second transition in power from the ruling party to the opposition since S… Read more


Korea and US: A Roadmap for Two New Administrations

January 16, 2008


The January 25th inauguration in South Korea marks the beginning of a transition to a potentially new era in US/Korea relations. According to conventional wisdom, the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance has been on shaky ground. Five years ago, amidst a wave of anti-American sentiment following a traffic accident in which a U.S. military vehicle killed… Read more


The Denuclearization Dilemma

October 3, 2007


The following opinion article was originally printed in the Korea Herald: An inter-Korean summit meeting by its nature provides Korean leaders with a powerful opportunity to shape the future of the peninsula and to create new opportunities for peace and co-prosperity. It is a step toward solving “the question of the country’s reunification independ… Read more


Kim Jong Il’s Calculation

September 26, 2007


The following opinion article was originally printed last week in the Korea Times. Many doubts have been expressed in Washington about the wisdom of holding an inter-Korean summit in the waning months of a presidential term, but there is little reason to be surprised. There is inherent unpredictability in a meeting between a high-stakes gambler (Ro… Read more


Prospects for U.S.-North Korea Bilateral Relations

July 25, 2007


Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill’s sudden visit to Pyongyang in late June and renewed implementation of the February 13, 2007 agreement among the six parties has stimulated speculation about how far and how fast North Korea and the United States can go toward a “big deal” involving North Korea’s denuclearization in return for the diplo… Read more


U.S. Strategy for Implementing a Peace Framework on the Korean Peninsula

June 6, 2007


This entry is a summary of a presentation given at an international conference sponsored by the Korea Institute for National Unification titled, “The June 15 Summit and the Building of a Peace Regime on the Korean Peninsula,” held on June 7, 2007. The history of the American security role on the Korean peninsula is well-known. Despite dramatic chan… Read more


North Korea & the Formalization of a Regional Security Dialogue in Northeast Asia

April 25, 2007


The second North Korean nuclear crisis initiated a new chapter in efforts to promote security and stability in Northeast Asia. It also marked a new phase in efforts to develop regional multilateral dialogue to address regional security issues. Although the North Korean stand-off has often been cited as the primary obstacle to the promotion of regio… Read more


In South Korea: “A Litmus Test for Presidential Contenders”

April 4, 2007


An opinion piece written on April 2nd for the South Korean newspaper, JoongAng Daily, discusses how South Korean voters should examine how the presidential candidates are positioning themselves on inter-Korean relations. “A Litmus Test for Presidential Contenders ” can be read by clicking here. Scott Snyder is a Senior Associate at The Asia Foundat… Read more


North Korea: Assessing Prospects for Denuclearization

March 7, 2007


This week, DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan made his first visit to the United States in almost two years. The visit occurred as part of a series of concrete actions foreshadowed in a February 13th “Initial Actions” Agreement as part of the Six Party Talks. That agreement decided specific actions that the United States and North Korea would… Read more