In 2015, in South Korea, President Park Geun-hye’s decline in popularity, which had begun in the previous year, further accelerated. In particular, the outbreak of the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) crisis between May and June contributed, once again, to show the government’s inability to act quickly and effectively. The already difficult situation worsened in Autumn, following the vehement protests organized by different sectors of the South Korean civil society against the school history textbooks reform and the new labour legislation. North of the 38th parallel, President Kim Jong Un moved quickly to definitively strengthen his power. A new series of purges hit the members of the political and military leadership. At the same time, there was the consolidation of the new Kim-inspired political line. Part of it can be considered the announcement that the Seventh Plenary Congress of the Party was to be held for the first time after 36 years in 2016. In May and June, a severe drought affected North Korea. However, the limited 2013 agricultural reforms, avoided the outbreak of a real famine. A major crisis in inter-Korean relations was triggered by the explosion, in August, of two landmines in the southern side of the de-militarized zone. However, the two parts reached an agreement that, besides solving the landmines issue, paved the way for a new round of family reunions and a new series of high-level inter-governmental talks. 2015 saw the consolidation of the excellent relationship between Seoul and Beijing, highlighted both by the participation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye – the only US ally – in the military parade that took place in early September in Tiananmen square, and by the signature, in December, of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. Also the relations between South Korea and Japan improved significantly after almost three years of diplomatic freeze. The rapprochement materialized with a bilateral summit between the leaders of the two governments, in November, and with a historic agreement on the vexed issue of the «comfort women», signed on 28 December. This was welcomed by the US, which had made significant efforts to favour this result. There were also positive repercussions on the relations among the three Northeast Asia powers. 2015 was the year of North Korea President Kim Jong Un «missed debut» on the international scene. Although Kim was expected to take part in several important international events, this did not happen. Nonetheless Pyongyang further deepened the already positive relations with Russia. On the contrary, the difficult Sino-North Korean relations, after a moment in which they seemed headed for an improvement, remained strained. Regarding the relations with Japan, the deadlock on the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean secret agents in the 1970s and 1980s put an end to a timid improvement in the Tokyo-Pyongyang relations.

Korean peninsula 2015: one step forward and two steps back

ONNIS, BARBARA;MILANI, MARCO
2016

Abstract

In 2015, in South Korea, President Park Geun-hye’s decline in popularity, which had begun in the previous year, further accelerated. In particular, the outbreak of the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) crisis between May and June contributed, once again, to show the government’s inability to act quickly and effectively. The already difficult situation worsened in Autumn, following the vehement protests organized by different sectors of the South Korean civil society against the school history textbooks reform and the new labour legislation. North of the 38th parallel, President Kim Jong Un moved quickly to definitively strengthen his power. A new series of purges hit the members of the political and military leadership. At the same time, there was the consolidation of the new Kim-inspired political line. Part of it can be considered the announcement that the Seventh Plenary Congress of the Party was to be held for the first time after 36 years in 2016. In May and June, a severe drought affected North Korea. However, the limited 2013 agricultural reforms, avoided the outbreak of a real famine. A major crisis in inter-Korean relations was triggered by the explosion, in August, of two landmines in the southern side of the de-militarized zone. However, the two parts reached an agreement that, besides solving the landmines issue, paved the way for a new round of family reunions and a new series of high-level inter-governmental talks. 2015 saw the consolidation of the excellent relationship between Seoul and Beijing, highlighted both by the participation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye – the only US ally – in the military parade that took place in early September in Tiananmen square, and by the signature, in December, of a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. Also the relations between South Korea and Japan improved significantly after almost three years of diplomatic freeze. The rapprochement materialized with a bilateral summit between the leaders of the two governments, in November, and with a historic agreement on the vexed issue of the «comfort women», signed on 28 December. This was welcomed by the US, which had made significant efforts to favour this result. There were also positive repercussions on the relations among the three Northeast Asia powers. 2015 was the year of North Korea President Kim Jong Un «missed debut» on the international scene. Although Kim was expected to take part in several important international events, this did not happen. Nonetheless Pyongyang further deepened the already positive relations with Russia. On the contrary, the difficult Sino-North Korean relations, after a moment in which they seemed headed for an improvement, remained strained. Regarding the relations with Japan, the deadlock on the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean secret agents in the 1970s and 1980s put an end to a timid improvement in the Tokyo-Pyongyang relations.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
KoreanPeninsulaAM2015.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: versione editoriale
Dimensione 767.97 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
767.97 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/191601
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact