Tag Archive | "elections"

Poll of Polls: South Korean Presidential Polls April 18-24

By Juni Kim

The start of the South Korean general election campaign on April 17th marked the final stretch of the shortened election season. With absentee voting set to start this week, voters have until Election Day on May 9th to make their final decisions and fill the presidential vacancy created by the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. The race, which was largely led by liberal candidate Moon Jae-in for much of the election season, tightened in recent weeks with a surge in support for People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo.

Our aggregate poll, which is an average of national polls conducted between April 18th and 24th, shows little overall change for candidate support compared to polls from the previous week, with the notable exception of a 3.9% decrease in support for Ahn Cheol-soo. All other candidates experienced a gain of support of 1.2% or less.

An interesting trend to keep watch on is Hong Joon-pyo’s small but steadily increasing support in recent weeks. In early April, Hong was polling consistently in the mid-single digits, but some recent polls show his numbers cracking double digits. His poll numbers are still a far cry from the two leading candidates, but increasing support for Hong may be to the detriment of Ahn Cheol-soo, who will need to consolidate the conservative vote to win the election.

Poll Average Graph

Although Election Day is two weeks away, overseas voters will be casting absentee ballots this week and how the overseas vote tilts will be an important factor to consider. Nearly 300,000 Koreans overseas have registered for the upcoming election, and if polls tighten in the coming weeks the overseas vote may have a determinant impact on the election outcome. Last week’s polls and prior election results indicate a favorable overseas vote for Moon Jae-in. He had performed noticeably better overseas compared to the overall South Korean vote when he ran for the presidency in 2012, and his party similarly earned a larger share of the overseas vote in last year’s National Assembly elections compared to the general vote.

The polls included in our aggregate poll are from listings on the South Korean National Election Commission’s website. For more information, you can visit this page and see the polling data (in Korean) from each research organization. Our aggregate poll includes polls conducted by Realmeter, Gallup Korea, ResearchView, Research & Research, EMBRAIN, Hankook Research, R&Search, KSOI, Kantar, Joongang Ilbo, JoWon C&I, and Time Research.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI). The views expressed here are the author’s alone. Gwanghyun Pyun, an intern at KEI, also made contributions to this blog.

Image created by Juni Kim. Photo from Ji-ho Park’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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The Realignment of Korean Politics

By Thomas Lee

In the wake of the 20th legislative elections on April 13th, the Minjoo Party edged out the conservative Saenuri Party to win the slimmest possible majority of one. This has been hailed as a revolution as this was the first instance in South Korean history of a ruling party with a sitting president in power losing the majority in the National Assembly. Add to the mix the liberal split and President Park Geun Hye’s reputation as the “election queen,” and this loss is even more stunning for the Saenuri Party.

The Saenuri Party lost its strongholds of Seoul, Daegu, Busan, and Ulsan. Seoul in particular was lost to the Minjoo while the others were split between Minjoo, independent, and former Saenuri representatives. The People’s Party in turn swept the Minjoo out of Honam (Gwangju and the Jeolla Provinces). Discontent with the ruling party, especially with young voters, who surged to the ballot box, denied the Saenuri the predicted gain in seats. At the same time, with the Minjoo spending most of its time attempting to win the capital and the southeast, discontent likewise evicted the Minjoo from its own former regional stronghold. Although the Minjoo Party gained in the National Assembly, people voted for it not because they suddenly favored the Minjoo, but because they were voting against the Saenuri Party. This was a painful setback for both the conservative and opposition parties.

Chart Korean Voters

NA Voting Map

The idea of a third party that operates beyond the traditional framework of the entrenched two-party system resounds within South Korea’s electorate. Nearly doubling its number of seats to 38, the People’s Party has gained considerable power and has set the Party up as a potential kingmaker, as the number of seats between the two traditional parties are almost neatly split.

That is not to say that the People’s Party won. Yes, this was a major victory and the Party became an undeniable force, but looking at the spread of seats that it holds, the People’s Party cannot claim to be a centrist party as Ahn Cheol-soo desired, but a Homan faction. Ahn’s plans called for a wave of support from citizens at the ballot booth who identified with equality, justice, and a fresh start. This would have translated into support from people all over the nation who were tired of traditional regionalism. This simply did not materialize.

This shows that although the South Korean electorate would like to see the values that Ahn himself personally came to represent materialize on the political stage, they believe that he would have been unable to bring about this change and that his party is not the  vehicle to do so. His party’s success has stemmed more from disapproval of the Minjoo party than zeal for his party’s values.

While the 20th National Assembly is beginning afresh, Ahn Cheol-soo found himself wedged between a plummeting Party approval rating and allegations of corruption involving some of Ahn’s closest aides. From an internal struggle on whether to merge with the Minjoo Party or not, to remarks about allying with the Saenuri Party to deny the opposition party the speakership, to controversial statements made by Ahn himself, the People’s Party was struggling to gain a foothold and now the resignations of Ahn Cheol-soo and party co-founder Chun Jung-bae put its future in doubt. The party’s difficulties should have been expected, taking into account that the southwest region has detested conservative factions since the 1960s, and that a number of lawmakers in the National Assembly harbor a shady past.

With the Minjoo Party regaining ground in the Honam region and President Park’s  approval rating rising  due to her achievements in international relations and diplomacy any third party would have an uphill battle ahead of it.  In the meantime, whether and how United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon enters the race for the Presidency is the biggest question in Korean politics.

Thomas Lee is a former intern at the Korea Economic Institute of America and a graduate of American University. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from daumdna’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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And Then There Were Two: What Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said about Korea

With the Democratic and Republican presumptive nominees now identified, here is our comprehensive list of what the two candidates have said about the Korean peninsula since the beginning of the race.

Hillary Clinton

  • June 2, 2016 – “Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States. When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours. Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it. And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it. That’s the power of allies.”
  • June 2, 2016 – “And it’s no small thing when he [Trump] suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – ‘If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.’ I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.”
  • June 2, 2016 – “And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength. He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.”
  • May 26, 2016 – “Because look at what Trump has said in recent days. He has attacked our closest ally, Great Britain. He has praised the dangerous dictator of North Korea. Now, this is a little funny though, he praised Kim Jong-un, and the North Korean ambassador to the UN came out yesterday and said they don’t want to talk to Donald Trump. I mean, I don’t attribute a lot of good sense to that regime but that’s probably the right decision.”
  • May 8, 2016 – “Being a loose cannon means saying that other nations should go ahead and acquire nuclear weapons for themselves — when that is the last thing we need in the world today…Being a loose cannon is saying we should pull out of NATO — the strongest military alliance in the history of the world, and something that we really need to modernize, but not abandon.”
  • February 4, 2016 – “We do have to worry about North Korea. They continue to develop their nuclear weapons capability, and they’re working very hard on their ballistic missile capability. And, I know that some of those plans could very well lead to a missile that might reach Hawaii, if not the West Coast. We do have to try to get the countries in the region to work with us to do everything we can to confine, and constrain them.”
  • February 4, 2016 – “I did help to renegotiate the trade agreement that we inherited from President Bush with Korea. We go the UAW on board because of changes we made. So there are changes that I believe would make a real difference if they could be achieved, but I do not currently support it as it is written.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “I strongly condemn North Korea’s apparent nuclear test. If verified, this is a provocative and dangerous act, and North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan. Threats like this are yet another reminder of what’s at stake in this election. We cannot afford reckless, imprudent publicity stunts that risk war. We need a Commander-in-Chief with the experience and judgement to deal with a dangerous North Korea on Day One.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “If verified, this is a provocative and dangerous act, and North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan,” Clinton said. “North Korea’s goal is to blackmail the world into easing the pressure on its rogue regime.”

 

Donald Trump

  • May 27, 2016 – “I watched her [Clinton] last night and she lies so much, and she was saying last night, ‘Donald Trump wants to see Japan get nuclear weapons. He wants to see South Korea arm themselves and get nuclear weapons. I never said that.”

QUESTION: “This past week a lot of people are confused because you’re talking about, sounding like Obama, saying you would go to North Korea, you’d talk to the North Koreans…”

TRUMP: “I wouldn’t go to North Korea, Joe, I wouldn’t go there. The last thing I’d do is go – I would never go to North Korea I don’t know who would say I would go there.”

QUESTION: “Ok you won’t go there, you’ll talk to the North Korean leader.”

TRUMP: “Yes I would.”

TRUMP: “As far as Japan and South Korea are concerned, all I’m saying is, we defend them. They are paying us a tiny fraction of what it’s costing. I want them to pay—I would love to continue to defend Japan, I would love to continue to defend South Korea, we have 28,000 soldiers on the line between North and South Korea right now, it is costing us an absolute fortune which we don’t have, we’re a debtor nation. I would like them to pay up. They have a lot of money, both of those nations. We take in Japan’s cars by the millions, South Korea sells us, every time you buy televisions –

QUESTION: “So you don’t have a problem with the troops staying there, you just want Japan and South Korea to pay us for our presence.”

TRUMP: “I want them to pay up. This isn’t 40 years ago and 20 years ago. We are not a country that can afford to defend Saudi Arabia, Germany, the NATO nations, 28 NATO nations, many of which are not paying us and they’re not living up to their agreement, Japan, South Korea, we’re like the dummies that protect everybody. All I’m saying is, we have to get reimbursed because we can’t afford it.”

  • May 17, 2016 – “I would speak to him [Kim Jong Un], I would have no problem speaking to him.”
  • April 28, 2016 — “You tell them [China], we are going to – either you are going to have to straighten out this North Korea problem or we are not going to be doing so much business with you…Here is what we do. China has tremendous power over North Korea, tremendous, beyond anybody. Now they do not tell us that. They like to tweak us and say, well, we do not really. They have total control. China cannot even survive without us because economically they have been ripping us for many years to come. They have been sucking our blood… They do not do so much business with us, they would have a depression the likes of which you have ever seen. We have tremendous power, economic power over China. I want to get along with China. We are going to get along with China. But China can strangle because it comes in through China. And China is powerful. China can strangle North Korea. It can make them – bring them to the table.”
  • April 27, 2016 – “President Obama watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression and expands even further with its nuclear reach. Our president has allowed China to continue its economic assault on American jobs and wealth, refusing to enforce trade rules – or apply the leverage on China necessary to rein in North Korea.”
  • April 2, 2016 – “I would rather have them [Japan and South Korea] not arm, but I’m not going to continue to lose this tremendous amount of money. And frankly, the case could be made that let them protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick… If they fight, you know what, that’d be a terrible thing. Terrible. But if they do, they do.”

QUESTION: “You want them [Japan] to have a nuclear weapon?”

TRUMP: “We spend a fortune on defending South Korea. Now I order thousands and — thousands of television sets here, they come from South Korea. They make so much.  They’re making a fortune.  They’re a behemoth.  So is Germany.  Why are we defending them? Why aren’t they reimbursing us?  Why aren’t they paying a good portion of the costs? They’re going to get it because it’s in their best interest. If we have to walk, we have to walk.”

QUESTION: By the way, you said the other day about South Korea and Japan maybe having to develop their own nuclear weapons capabilities?”

TRUMP: “No, what I said is, ‘I’ll keep it the way it is but they have to pay their fair share.’ Just so you understand, South Korea is a behemoth.  They make so much.  The ships of the world, the great ships of the world — you can’t buy televisions anymore unless you go to South Korea  — other than Sony which is in Japan.”

QUESTION: “But you know what, the last time we pulled troops of the 38th parallel, we had a problem, it’s the Korean War.  So I really want to – we shouldn’t be pulling troops…”

TRUMP: “I’ll tell you — I’ll tell you — I’ll tell what — the Korean War.  OK, so we compete with South Korea — I have buildings in South Korea, I get along great with the people in South Korea.  Do you know that the top people cannot believe — of course, they didn’t know I was going to be running for president — they used to tell me — they don’t tell me that anymore — they cannot believe they get away with what they get away with.”

QUESTION: “You said you worried about the proliferation of nuclear weapons…You also said, though, that you might support Japan and South Korea developing nuclear weapons of their own.  Isn’t that completely contradictory?”

TRUMP:  No, not at all.  Look, you have North Korea has nuclear weapons.  And he doesn’t have a carrier yet but he has got nuclear weapons.  He soon will have.  We don’t want to pull the trigger.  We’re just – you know, we have a president, frankly, that doesn’t – nobody is afraid of our president.  Nobody respects our president. You take a look at what’s going on throughout the world.  It’s not the country that it was.

QUESTION:  But if you’re concerned about proliferation, letting other countries get nuclear weapons, isn’t that proliferation?

TRUMP:  No, no.  We owe $19 $trillion, we have another $2 trillion because of the very, very bad omnibus budget that was just signed.  It’s a disgrace, which gives everything that Obama wanted.  We get nothing.  They get everything.

So that’s going to be $21 trillion.  We are supporting nations now, militarily, we are supporting nations like Saudi Arabia which was making during the good oil days which was a year ago, now they’re making less but still a lot, $1 billion a day.

We are supporting them, militarily, and pay us a fraction, a fraction of what they should be paying us and of the cost.  We are supporting Japan.  Most people didn’t even know that.  Most people didn’t know that we are taking care of Japan’s military needs.  We’re supporting Germany.  We’re supporting South Korea.  I order thousands of television sets because I am in the real estate business, you know, in my other life, OK.

QUESTION:  “It has been a U.S. policy for decades to prevent Japan from getting a nuclear weapon. South Korea as well.”

TRUMP:  “Can I be honest are you?  Maybe it’s going to have to be time to change, because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it.  You have so many other countries are now having it…”

QUESTION:  “So some proliferation is OK?”

TRUMP:  “No, no, not proliferation.  I hate nuclear more than any.  My uncle was a professor was at MIT, he used to tell me about the problem.”

QUESTION:  “But that’s contradictory about Japan and South Korea.”

TRUMP:  “Excuse me, one of the dumbest I’ve ever seen signed ever, ever, ever by anybody, Iran is going to have it within 10 years.  Iran is going to have it.  I thought it was a very good interview in The New York Times.

QUESTION:  “So you have no problem with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons.”

TRUMP:  “At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself, we have…”

QUESTION:  “Saudi Arabia, nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP:  “Saudi Arabia, absolutely.”

QUESTION:  “You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP:  “No, not nuclear weapons, but they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us. Here’s the thing, with Japan, they have to pay us or we have to let them protect themselves.”

QUESTION:  “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?”

TRUMP:  “Can I be honest with you?  It’s going to happen, anyway.  It’s going to happen anyway.  It’s only a question of time.  They’re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries, Russia, you have so many countries right now that have them. Now, wouldn’t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?  And they do have them.  They absolutely have them.  They can’t – they have no carrier system yet but they will very soon. Wouldn’t you rather have Japan, perhaps, they’re over there, they’re very close, they’re very fearful of North Korea, and we’re supposed to protect.”

QUESTION: “So you’re saying you don’t want more nuclear weapons in the world but you’re OK with Japan and South Korea having nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP: “I don’t want more nuclear weapons.  I think that – you know, when I hear Obama get up and say the biggest threat to the world today is global warming, I say, is this guy kidding? The only global warming – the only global warming I’m worried about is nuclear global warming because that’s the single biggest threat.  So it’s not that I’m a fan – we can’t afford it anymore.  We’re sitting on a tremendous bubble.  We’re going to be – again, $21 trillion.  We don’t have money.”

QUESTION:  “So you have no security concerns about Japan or South Korea getting nuclear weapons?”

TRUMP: “Anderson, when you see all of the money that our country is spending on military, we’re not spending it for ourselves; we’re protecting all of these nations all over the world.  We can’t afford to do it anymore.”

QUESTION: “But isn’t there benefit for the United States in having a secure Europe.  Isn’t there benefit for the United States in having a secure Asia.”

TRUMP:  “There’s a benefit, but not big enough to bankrupt and destroy the United States, because that’s what’s happening.  We can’t afford it.  It’s very simple. Now, I would rather see Japan having some form of defense, and maybe even offense, against North Korea.  Because we’re not pulling the trigger.  The bottom line on North Korea is china, if they wanted to, they’re a tremendous supplier of North Korea.  They have tremendous power over North Korea.  If they wanted to, if they weren’t toying with us, Anderson, China would be the one that would get in and could make a deal in one day, okay.”

  • March 26, 2016 – “Well, you know, at some point, there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this anymore. And, I know the upsides and the downsides. But right now we’re protecting, we’re basically protecting Japan, and we are, every time North Korea raises its head, you know, we get calls from Japan and we get calls from everybody else, and “Do something.” And there’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore. Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear. It’s a very scary nuclear world. Biggest problem, to me, in the world, is nuclear, and proliferation. At the same time, you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have money. You know, when we did these deals, we were a rich country. We’re not a rich country. We were a rich country with a very strong military and tremendous capability in so many ways. We’re not anymore. We have a military that’s severely depleted. We have nuclear arsenals which are in very terrible shape. They don’t even know if they work.”

QUESTION: “The Japanese view has always been, if the United States, at any point, felt as if it was uncomfortable defending them, there has always been a segment of Japanese society, and of Korean society that said, ‘Well, maybe we should have our own nuclear deterrent, because if the U.S. isn’t certain, we need to make sure the North Koreans know that.’ Is that a reasonable position? Do you think at some point they should have their own arsenal?”

TRUMP: “Well, it’s a position that we have to talk about, and it’s a position that at some point is something that we have to talk about, and if the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway with or without me discussing it, because I don’t think they feel very secure in what’s going on with our country, David. You know, if you look at how we backed our enemies, it hasn’t – how we backed our allies – it hasn’t exactly been strong. When you look at various places throughout the world, it hasn’t been very strong. And I just don’t think we’re viewed the same way that we were 20 or 25 years ago, or 30 years ago. And, you know, I think it’s a problem. You know, something like that, unless we get very strong, very powerful and very rich, quickly, I’m sure those things are being discussed over there anyway without our discussion.”

QUESTION: “And would you have an objection to it?”

TRUMP: “Um, at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now. And you have, Pakistan has them. You have, probably, North Korea has them. I mean, they don’t have delivery yet, but you know, probably, I mean to me, that’s a big problem. And, would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case. In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem. You very well may have a better case right there. We certainly haven’t been able to do much with him and with North Korea. But you may very well have a better case. You know, one of the things with the, with our Japanese relationship, and I’m a big fan of Japan, by the way. I have many, many friends there. I do business with Japan. But, that, if we are attacked, they don’t have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force. You understand. That’s a pretty one-sided agreement, right there. In other words, if we’re attacked, they do not have to come to our defense, if they’re attacked, we have to come totally to their defense. And that is a, that’s a real problem.”

QUESTION: “Would you be willing to withdraw U.S. forces from places like Japan and South Korea if they don’t increase their contribution significantly?”

TRUMP: “Yes, I would. I would not do so happily, but I would be willing to do it. Not happily. David actually asked me that question before, this morning before we sort of finalized out. The answer is not happily but the answer is yes. We cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars on all of this. We just can’t do it anymore. Now there was a time when we could have done it. When we started doing it. But we can’t do it anymore. And I have a feeling that they’d up the ante very much. I think they would, and if they wouldn’t I would really have to say yes.”

QUESTION: “So we talked a little this morning about Japan and South Korea, whether or not they would move to an independent nuclear capability. Just last week the United States removed from Japan, after a long negotiation, many bombs worth, probably 40 or more bombs worth of plutonium or highly enriched uranium that we provided them over the years. And that’s part of a very bipartisan effort to keep them from going nuclear. So I was a little surprised this morning when you said you would be open to them having their own nuclear deterrent. Certainly if you pull back one of the risks is that they would go nuclear.”

TRUMP: “You know you’re more right except for the fact that you have North Korea which is acting extremely aggressively, very close to Japan. And had you not had that, I would have felt much, I would have felt differently. You have North Korea, and we are very far away and we are protecting a lot of different people and I don’t know that we are necessarily equipped to protect them. And if we didn’t have the North Korea threat, I think I’d feel a lot differently, David….I think maybe it’s not so bad to have Japan — if Japan had that nuclear threat, I’m not sure that would be a bad thing for us.”

QUESTION: You mean if Japan had a nuclear weapon it wouldn’t be so bad for us?

TRUMP: Well, because of North Korea. Because of North Korea. Because we don’t know what he’s going to do. We don’t know if he’s all bluster or is he a serious maniac that would be willing to use it. I was talking about before, the deterrent in some people’s minds was that the consequence is so great that nobody would ever use it. Well that may have been true at one point but you have many people that would use it right now in this world.

QUESTION: For that reason, they may well need their own and not be able to just depend on us…

TRUMP: “I really believe that’s true. Especially because of the threat of North Korea. And they are very aggressive toward Japan. Well I mean look, he’s aggressive toward everybody. Except for China and Iran.

See we should use our economic power to have them disarm — now then it becomes different, then it becomes purely economic, but then it becomes different. China has great power over North Korea even though they don’t necessarily say that. Now, Iran, we had a great opportunity during this negotiation when we gave them the 150 billion and many other things. Iran is the No. 1 trading partner of North Korea. Now we could have put something in our agreement that they would have led the charge if we had people with substance and with brainpower and with some negotiating ability. But the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea is Iran. And we did a deal with them, and we just did a deal with them, and we don’t even mention North Korea in the deal. That was a great opportunity to put another five pages in the deal, or less, and they do have a great influence over North Korea. Same thing with China, China has great influence over North Korea but they don’t say they do because they’re tweaking us. I have this from Chinese. I have many Chinese friends, I have people of vast wealth, some of the most important people in China have purchased apartments from me for tens of millions of dollars and frankly I know them very well. And I ask them about their relationship to North Korea, these are top people. And they say we have tremendous power over North Korea. I know they do. I think you know they do.”

QUESTION: “They signed on to the most recent sanctions, more aggressive sanctions than we thought the Chinese would agree to.”

TRUMP: “Well that’s good, but, I mean I know they did, but I think that they have power beyond the sanctions.”

QUESTION: “So you would advocate that they have to turn off the oil to North Korea basically.”

TRUMP: “So much of their lifeblood comes through China, that’s the way it comes through. They have tremendous power over North Korea, but China doesn’t say that. China says well we’ll try. I can see them saying, “We’ll try, we’ll try.” And I can see them laughing in the room next door when they’re together. So China should be talking to North Korea. But China’s tweaking us. China’s toying with us. They are when they’re building in the South China Sea. They should not be doing that but they have no respect for our country and they have no respect for our president. So, and the other one, and this is an opportunity passed because why would Iran go back and renegotiate it having to do with North Korea?But Iran is the No. 1 trading partner, but we should have had something in that document that was signed having to do with North Korea as the No. 1 trading partner and as somebody with a certain power because of that. A very substantial power over North Korea.”

QUESTION: “Mr. Trump with all due respect, I think it’s China that’s the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea.”

TRUMP: “I’ve heard that certainly, but I’ve also heard from other sources that it’s Iran…Well that is true but I’ve heard it both ways. They are certainly major arms exchangers, which in itself is terrible that we would make a deal with somebody that’s a major arms exchanger with North Korea. But had that deal not been done and they were desperate to do it, and they wanted to do it much more so than we know in my opinion, meaning Iran wanted to make the deal much more than we know. We should have backed off that deal, doubled the sanctions and made a real deal. And part of that deal should have been that Iran would help us with North Korea. So, the bottom line is, I think that frankly, as long as North Korea’s there, I think that Japan having a capability is something that maybe is going to happen whether we like it or not.”

  • February 26, 2016 – “I think that we are now in a position — are $19 trillion dollars because of the horrible omnibus budget that was approved six weeks ago, it’s going to be $21 trillion dollars. We can no longer defend all of these countries, Japan, Germany, South Korea. You order televisions, you order almost anything, you’re getting it from these countries. Whether it’s a Mercedes-Benz, or whether it’s an air conditioning unit. They’re coming out of these countries. They are making a fortune. Saudi Arabia, we are defending Saudi Arabia. Before the oil went down, now they’re making less, but they’re making plenty. They were making $1 billion dollars a day. We defend all of these countries for peanuts. You talk about budgets. We have to start getting reimbursed for taking care of the military services for all of these countries.”
  • February 10, 2016 — “I would get China to make that guy [Kim Jong Un] disappear in one form or another very quickly…Well, you know, I’ve heard of worse things, frankly. I mean this guy’s a bad dude — and don’t underestimate him. Any young guy that can take over from his father with all those generals and everybody else that probably wants the position, this is not somebody to be underestimated.”
  • February 10, 2016 – “China has control, absolute control of North Korea. They don’t say it, but they do, and they should make that problem disappear. China is sucking us dry. They’re taking our money, they’re taking our jobs and doing so much. We have rebuilt China with what they’ve taken out. We have power over China. China should do that…I wouldn’t leave it up to [the Chinese]. I would say, ‘You gotta do it. You gotta do it.”
  • February 10, 2016 – “The closest partner of North Korea is Iran. Why didn’t we put something in there when we’re making a deal, and we’re giving them $150 billion — why didn’t we do something with Iran where Iran gets in, and we force Iran to get in and do something with North Korea? We don’t do anything. We should have, when we made that deal. That deal is a horror show. It’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen.”
  • February 6, 2016 – “China says they don’t have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time. I do tremendous — the largest bank in the world is in one of my buildings in Manhattan. I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country — they’re rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That’s what we should do with North Korea.”
  • January 10, 2016 – “I mean, you’ve got this mad man (Kim Jong-un) playing around with the nukes and it has got to end. He’s certainly — he could be a total nut job, frankly.”
  • January 10, 2016 – ‘If you look at North Korea, this guy, I mean, he’s like a maniac, OK? You’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys – he was like 25 or 26 when his father died – take over these tough generals. How does he do that?’
  • January 6, 2016 –“China has total control, believe me, they say they don’t, they have total control over North Korea, and China should solve that problem, and if they don’t solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult with China. Because we are, believe it, we are holding China up. They’re taking so much money. They’re training our country, and they’re toying with us with North Korea. So, North Korea is totally under the control, without China, they wouldn’t eat.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “I’d get South Korea — that’s making a fortune, they’re our trading partner, if you want to use the word ‘partner,’ “We get almost nothing for what we do. We defend the world. We defend so many countries. We get nothing. They get everything. We get nothing. South Korea’s going to have to start ponying up, OK? And we’ll do it in a very nice manner. They’ll like us even more than they like us now.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “It’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time. You have this madman over there who probably would use it,” Trump said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “And nobody talks to him, other than of course Dennis Rodman,” he said. “That’s about it.”
  • November 10, 2015 – “We worry about Iranian nukes but why not North Korean nukes? It’s not only Russia [that we’re having trouble with]. We have problems with North Korea where they actually have nuclear weapons. You know, nobody talks about it, we talk about Iran, and that’s one of the worst deals ever made. One of the worst contracts ever signed, ever, in anything, and it’s a disgrace. But, we have somebody over there, a madman, who already has nuclear weapons we don’t talk about that.”
  • September 16, 2015 – “And nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea. And Ted and I have spoken. We’ve — a lot of us have spoken. We’re talking about Iran. They are bad actors, bad things are going to happen. But in the meantime, you have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, I’m ready to use them. And we don’t even mention it.”
  • August 23, 2015 – “You know it’s heating up again, so, we send our ships. I think South Korea’s great. I think it’s wonderful. I just order 4,000 television sets for a job that I’m doing, right? And guess what? Between Samsung, and LG, and Sharp, they all come from South Korea…They’re making a fortune. So, we send our troops, we’re getting ready to go in there and defend them. And we get nothing! It’s like crazy. We get nothing. Why are we getting nothing? Why aren’t they helping us, okay? We help them.”
  • August 23, 2015 – “And you know, we have this mad guy [Kim Jong Un], I guess he’s mad, either he’s mad or he’s a genius, one or the other, but he’s actually more unstable, even than his father, they say. They said the father was a pleasure by comparison to him, in North Korea.”
  • July 23, 2015 – “How long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment? When will they start to pay us?”

Photos from Gage Skidmore’s photostream on flickr Creative Commmons.

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The Death of Regionalism in Korean Politics?

By Thomas Lee

The 1987 presidential election marked the first free national election in Korea since Park Chung-hee’s coup d’état in 1961. This election saw three contentious candidates: Noh Tae-woo, Kim Dae-jung, and Kim Young-sam. Due to a dispute between Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, the unified opposition ticket collapsed and they ran against each other, splitting the opposition vote, and enabling Noh to win the election.

This political episode is seen by many to be one of the intensifying factors of South Korean regionalism in which provinces tend to vote for favorite sons. As Kim Young-sam was from Gyeongsang Province and Kim Dae-jung was from Jeolla Province, they carried the southeast and southwest respectively. Three years later, Kim Young-sam unexpectedly merged his party with the ruing party to create the Grand National Party (GNP). This strengthened a trend in which the southwest mainly voted for opposition parties while the southeast voted for the party in power. The memory of the Gwangju Massacre further entrenched this trend as no one from the southwest would vote for the GNP, which was seen as the remnants of the previous military dictatorships. Park Geun-hye’s Saenuri Party, the most recent incarnation of the GNP, has won one seat in Jeolla Province since the 1990s.

Candidates have been trying to break South Korean regional politics for years. In the 2014 race, opposition parties reasoned that even if they lost local elections in cities such as Busan and Daegu, traditional strongholds of the ruling party, if they managed to pull 40% of the vote, it would be seen as a political victory. Representatives Lee Jung-hyun of the ruling Saenuri party and Kim Boo-Kyum of the opposition Minjoo party were two of the current challengers who attempted to secure seats in their districts of South Jeolla Province and Daegu to challenge this deep-rooted nationalism. Regaining support from Busan in particular has been important to opposition parties as it was the historic seat of Kim Young-sam.

Over the past few decades, this deep-rooted regionalism has been channeled by politicians and parties alike who have manipulated popular sentiment in their favor by parachuting candidates in who hail from that particular area. This recent national election has been particularly significant as the electorate in both liberal and conservative strongholds cast their ballots for candidates running across the regional divide, providing for many unforeseen upsets. It shows that the electorate may no longer blindly follow party lines but rather start actively voting for candidates who favor their own interests.

Factionalism, rebellion, and defections were prevalent in both major parties during the run-up to the recent National Assembly election. Park’s Saenuri Party in particular was deeply divided into pro-Park and anti-Park factions, while the Minjoo Party suffered from the defection of Ahn Cheol-soo and his circle. As history demonstrated many times before, the conservative ruling party was expected to benefit from this liberal split. However, the ruling party instead lost its majority in the National Assembly, the first instance to happen with a sitting president in power. Even more surprising is the success of Ahn Cheol-soo’s fledging People’s Party, which won 38 seats to create a multi-party legislature.

This does not mean that regionalism is dead. Looking closely at the data and election maps, we can still see the heavy effect of regionalism on South Korean voting behaviors. The peculiar election result that we have seen is due in part to three factors: demographic shift, population shift, and economic discontent.

The South Korean voting populace is split between three sections: the elderly (60-70+), the middle-aged (45+), and the young. The elderly are the ones who vote for the ruling party in droves while the middle-aged, who were raised under the dictatorship and witnessed the transition, are split down the middle. As demographics continue to shift, in the short-term, the Saenuri Party will lose their core constituency and the battle to win over these middle-aged voters will become even more fierce in the coming years. Aside from that, with voter turnout increased to 58% this election, bolstered by hordes of young voters, this election clearly shows the declining influence of the Saenuri Party at the polls. Dubbed the ‘Three-No Generation’ – no job, no housing, no marriage prospects, these young voters effectively passed judgement on policies that have not produced stronger economic growth and provided them with greater economic prospects.

Voters tend to become more conservative as they age, so the Saenuri Party may only face a medium-term demographic challenge. Due to this, the Saenuri Party could recoup and even expand their power base as the population ages. While public opinion data showed an increase among young Koreans who have decided to cast their ballot along with heightened voter turnout, this trend will become overshadowed by Korea’s rapid aging. In thirty years, the elderly will make up 40% of South Korea’s population.

A population shift has also not been in the Saenuri Party’s favor. With all of the top ranked colleges in Korea, with the exception of POSTECH and KAIST, in the Seoul-metro area, more people have been moving to the capital. Now over half of the South Korean population lives in Seoul and the larger Gyeonggi Province. These migrants have brought their regional allegiances with them into the capital, but as more Koreans grow up in the Seoul metropolitan area, regional preferences will disappear.

A handful of candidates overcame traditional boundaries to secure surprise victories, but the Saenuri Party suffered many losses in its traditional strongholds of Daegu, Busan, and Ulsan cities, South Gyeongsang Province, and the Gangnam and Bundang areas of the capital. Myongji University Professor Shin Yul determined that instead of the demise of regionalism playing a large role, the residents of Gangnam chose the liberal candidate in accordance to their economic interests. With regional allegiances clashing in Seoul and citizens beginning to discard traditional voting behaviors, it will be harder for any one party to stake a claim to Seoul from here on out. In the future, politicians and parties will no longer be able to effectively secure seats based on geographical location, but will have to appeal to the wants and desires of the people.

Perhaps this is why President Park has been held under higher public scrutiny. What we see here is not regionalism in its death throes, nor was it genuine support of the opposition, but discontent towards the ruling party and government.

How then to explain the success of Ahn’s People’s Party? With the Minjoo party spending much of its time and energy to win over the capital and the southeast, we can see regionalism in play as it lost most of the Jeolla Provinces to Ahn’s People’s party as the voters there felt taken for granted, yet were still unwilling to vote for the ruling party. There was also hope as Ahn Chul-soo has come to symbolize widespread disillusionment with the two major parties as well as with equality and justice. As both major parties have been brushing aside voters in favor of factional feuds and political agendas, nowhere was this more felt than in the Jeolla Province, home of the opposition. But with the People’s Party’s new floor leader floating the idea of being willing to form a coalition government with the conservative Saenuri Party, the party’s approval rating dropped from 50% to 38% in favor of the Minjoo Party.  This shows that regionalism is not dead, although it is declining.

Thomas Lee is an intern at the Korea Economic Institute of America and a graduate of American University. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Keith Cuddeback’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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U.S. Presidential Candidates on North Korea’s Missile Test

Shortly before the 8th Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire North Korea conducted its second successful satellite launch. North Korea was also topic of discussion at the 5th Democratic presidential debate a few days earlier. Here is what the candidates had to say about the satellite launch in the Republican debate and more generally about North Korea in the Democratic debate.

Republican Candidates

Jeb Bush

  • This relates to the strategic patience of the Obama administration. They come up with these great marketing terms, and what they do is they pull back, and voids are filled, and they’re now filled by asymmetric threats of terror, as well as nation-states on the run.
  • The next president of the United States is gonna have to get the United States back in the game, and if a preemptive strike is necessary to keep us safe, then we should do it.
  • Well, first of all, it’s interesting that that happened literally days when this hostage release took place in Iran. A day or two days afterwards, North Korea took a — held an American student hostage. I think it’s when we send a signal of weakness, when we are negotiating to release people that committed crimes in our country for people that didn’t commit crimes that are held hostage in Iran.
  • We saw the shameful treatment of our sailors, that this creates weakness — sends a signal of weakness around the world. The next president of the United States is going to have to get back in the game. Where the United States’ word matters. Where we back up our allies, where we don’t send signals of weakness. We need to use every — every influence possible to get this student back.
  • And I think John is right about this, there are crippling sanctions that are available, as it relates to the two or three banks that North Korea uses to — to — use it — illicit trade. We ought to re-establish sanctions, not just because of the student, but because of their actions that they’re taking right now, as it relates to building this missile capability.

Chris Christie

  • Let’s make something very clear. I learned seven years as a federal prosecutor in dealing with types of situations like we’re talking about in North Korea, where criminals take people hostage. You never pay ransom to the criminals. Ever. You never pay ransom to the criminals. Everyone out at home watching tonight understands that principle.
  • And so, what you need to do is to engage in a much different way with these folks. They do not understand anything but toughness and strength, and we need to engage the Chinese to deal with the North Koreans, but we also need to make sure that they understand there’s a commander-in-chief who will not pay ransom for any hostage.
  • This president and his former secretary of State are for paying ransom for hostages. When [you] do that, you endanger even more Americans around the world to be the subject of this type of hostage taking and illegal detention. You need a strong commander-in-chief who will look these folks in the eye and say, we will not put up with this and we will take whatever actions we need to take, not only to get our people home safely, but to swiftly and surely punish those who believe they can violate the law and violate American’s sovereign rights to travel the world freely and safely.

Ted Cruz

  • Well, I would note, initially the fact that we’re seeing the launch, and we’re seeing the launch from a nuclear North Korea is the direct result of the failures of the first Clinton administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. Billions of dollars flowed into North Korea in exchange for promises not to build nuclear weapons. They took those billions and built nuclear weapons.
  • And, I would note also the lead negotiator in that failed North Korea sanctions deal was a woman named Wendy Sherman who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promptly recruited to come back to be the lead negotiator with Iran. So, what we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing of where we will be with Iran.
  • With respect to North Korea and what we should do now, one of the first things we should do is expand our missile defense capacity. We ought to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea. South Korea wants them. One of the real risks of this launch, North Korea wants to launch a satellite, and one of the greatest risks of the satellite is they would place a nuclear device in the satellite. As it would orbit around the Earth, and as it got over the United States they would detonate that nuclear weapon and set of what’s called an EMP, and electromagnetic pulse which could take down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, potentially killing millions.
  • We need to harden the grid to defend ourselves, and we need missile defense to protect ourselves against North Korea.
  • I haven’t gotten the intelligence briefing tonight on what North Korea’s doing because I’m here in New Hampshire. When you’re responding to an immediate incident, you need to know the intelligence of what’s occurring.
  • But what I was saying — look, it is qualitatively different dealing with a country once they have nuclear weapons. It’s why you prevent them from getting nuclear weapons in the first place — because your hands are somewhat tied once they have nukes.

John Kasich

  • Well, we’ve got to step up the pressure. …Look, in terms of North Korea, Martha, we have to make sure that we intercept both the ships and their aircraft, because what they’re trying to do is to proliferate this very dangerous material, along with the — with the technology, the instruments that can be used for mass destruction.That’s what I worry about the most, frankly, is non-state actors, people who don’t have a uniform, people don’t have a country, who can spread this, who are not subject to the — to the mutual assured defense. In other words, you strike us, we strike you. Some of these radicals, they don’t care about that. That’s what I worry about, for my children, and for their children, going forward. So, we have to be very tough.
  • And we should tell the Chinese, look, if you’re not going to do this ballistic missile defense to the Koreans, ballistic missile defense to Japan — and by the way, we should impose the same kind of sanctions on North Korea that we imposed on Iran, because they’re able to shift money. They’re able to send money and receive money.
  • We’ve gotta to be very tough on this. And frankly, I think we could have — I think we could have let the Japanese know that if you want to take action on that — on that missile that’s rising, you want to take action — you will have our support, if that’s what you think is the best thing to do. We cannot continue to be weak in the face of the North Koreans, or, frankly, in the entire rest of the world.

Marco Rubio

  • …it is standard procedure of the United States to shoot down those missiles once launched if they pose a threat to civilians, land and ships.…I think it’s important to note that it is — and Senator Cruz, I think, was alluding to this, as well — it is the standard procedure of the United States, if those missiles pose a threat to land, civilians, our allies or any of our assets, to shoot down that missile in mid-flight.
  • I understand your question was about a preemptive strike, but my point is that there is in place now contingencies to avoid any sort of that strike from going errant and destroying any — any assets of the United States, or implicating or hurting any of our allies or any of our assets in the region.
  • This is a president that views this country as a country that’s been too powerful in the world and we create problems around the world.
  • For example, it’s one of the reasons why he had betrayed Israel, because he believes that if we create separation from Israel, it will help our relations in the Islamic world. The same is happening in the Asia-Pacific region with accommodations to North Korea. North Korean should be back on that list of terrorist nations, as an example.
  • And Donald’s absolutely right. China does have a lot of influence over North Korea and he should be leveraging our relationship with the Chinese to ensure that North Korea no longer has access to the resources that have allowed them — a country that has no economy to develop long range missiles already capable of reaching the west coast of the United States potentially.

Donald Trump

  • China says they don’t have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time. I do tremendous — the largest bank in the world is in one of my buildings in Manhattan. I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country — they’re rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That’s what we should do with North Korea.

Democratic Candidates

Hillary Clinton

  • We do have to worry about North Korea. They continue to develop their nuclear weapons capability, and they’re working very hard on their ballistic missile capability. And, I know that some of those plans could very well lead to a missile that might reach Hawaii, if not the West Coast. We do have to try to get the countries in the region to work with us to do everything we can to confine, and constrain them.

Bernie Sanders

  • Clearly North Korea is a very strange situation because it is such an isolated country run by a handful of dictators, or maybe just one, who seems to be somewhat paranoid. And, who had nuclear weapons. And, our goal there, in my view, is to work and lean strongly on China to put as much pressure. China is one of the few major countries in the world that has significant support for North Korea, and I think we got to do everything we can to put pressure on China. I worry very much about an isolated, paranoid country with atomic bombs. I think, clearly, we got to work closely with China to resolve the serious problems we have, and I worry about Putin and his military adventurism in the Crimea and the Ukraine.
  • North Korea is a very, very strange country because it is so isolated, and I do feel that a nation with nuclear weapons, they have got to be dealt with. Dealt with effectively.

 

The views expressed here are the candidates’ alone.

Photo from Gage Skidmore’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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U.S. Presidential Candidates Comments on the Korean Peninsula

This year will see the election of a new U.S. president. As the primary season for both political parties begins to heat up with the Iowa Caucuses approaching, KEI has gathered comments by contenders for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations on North and South Korea.

Republican Candidates

Jeb Bush

  • February 18, 2015 – “America again needs to lead and we can’t do it alone we need to strengthen NATO. Our relationship with Asian and Pacific allies like Japan and Korea and Australia as well as the Asian countries…”Bush
  • January 6, 2016 – If they (North Korea) have long-range missile capability to deliver, that is a direct threat to the U.S. and there is nothing more to say about it. However we need to make sure it’s been confirmed.
  • January 6, 2016 – “It’s an example of a withdrawn America in the world. We need to be serious if we’re going to deal with these challenges.” Further, said Bush, the United States needs to “challenge China to deal with its client state,” and re-impose sanctions “across the board if it’s been confirmed they are violating sanctions and testing a hydrogen bomb.” He said that “…this is a huge danger. If they have the long range missile capability to deliver that weapon,that is a direct threat to the United States.”
  • January 6, 2016 – North Korean nuke test   shows danger of continuing feckless Obama/Clinton foreign policy.
  • January 21, 2016 – “You want to keep the peace, you need to rebuild the military,” Bush said during his speech, insisting that occupational forces worldwide is not war-mongering, but rather lifts countries with U.S forces in them up. Bush used the example of South Korea, saying that in 1950, it was the poorest country on the planet. Today, it is a first-world country with the highest literacy rate on the globe, he said.
  • January 23, 2016 – Jeb Bush pointed to reports last week of an alleged hydrogen bomb test in North Korea. Bush said he would keep all options open for dealing with North Korea, but stopped short of calling for a pre-emptive strike against it. However, he said he would consider reinstating sanctions on North Korea that were lifted under his brother’s presidency. “With North Korea, we should make sure they understand this rogue status that they seek won’t yield a good result. It will be an ugly result for the regime,” he said. “If people believe we’re serious about engagement, and they know we’ll use that kind of force, it will deter the kind of aggression that requires it.”

Ben Carson

  • CarsonDecember 30, 2014 -. “It was extremely encouraging to see the United States and Sony eventually stand up to the cyberbullying of the North Koreans by allowing the movie ‘The Interview’ to be released in theaters around the country despite threats of retaliation.”
  • August 23rd, 2015 – “I think it highlights the necessity of us taking a very strong stance for our allies.  South Korea is our ally.  There should be no doubt about that in anybody’s mind, including North Korea, that we will stand with our allies, no matter what is going on.”
  • December 15, 2015 – “Well, I definitely believe that he is unstable, and I do, in fact, believe that China has a lot more influence with him than we do. But we also recognize that North Korea is in severe financial straits, and they have decided to use their resources to build their military, rather than to feed their people and to take care of the various humanitarian responsibilities that they have.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “In order to keep [Jong-Un] under control I think we need to work with China.”

Chris Christie

  • ChristieJanuary 6, 2016 – “Three out of the four nuclear detonations that the North Koreans have done have happened under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s watch. They have just not acted strongly at all around the world. This is just another example — piled on top of Iran, on top of Syria, on top of Crimea and Ukraine. This is what weak American leadership gets you.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “The fact is that we’ve allowed North Korea, while the President’s been playing footsie with the Iranians, we’ve allowed the North Koreans to get further and further down the nuclear road.”
  • January 14, 2016 – The first thing is we have to strengthen our alliances around the world. And the best way to do that is to start talking to our allies again and having them be able to count on our word.

Ted Cruz

  • CruzJanuary 6, 2016 -“When we look at North Korea, it’s like looking at a crystal ball. This is where Iran ends up, if we continue on this same misguided path. It’s worth remembering, we’re here because of the Clinton Administration. The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. They used the billions of dollars that flowed into North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Now we’re facing a megalomaniac who may potentially have a hydrogen bomb.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “North Korea has a nuclear weapon because of the Clintons,” Cruz said in Rock Rapids, Michigan. “The Clinton Obama Clinton foreign policy…consistently makes the same mistakes over and over again.”
  • January 6, 2016 – We ought to be working with regional allies. We ought to be working with Japan, with South Korea, we ought to be working with Taiwan, and we ought to be working with China to continue to isolate North Korea, to continue to cut off North Korea. To continue to raise the cost of their belligerence… the most important tool I believe now is getting China to cut off their client state.

Carly Fiorina

  • FiorinaJanuary 6, 2016-“Of course North Korea would conduct a nuclear test after watching Iran willfully violate an agreement they just made without consequence of any kind from this administration. North Korea is yet another Hillary Clinton foreign policy failure. America cannot lead from behind.”
  • December 15, 2015 – “Well, first, Kim Jong-Un is a dangerous leader, without a doubt. And both Republican and Democrat administrations have been completely ineffective in dealing with him. So we must continue to isolate him. We will need China as part of that strategy…We cannot let them control the disputed islands, and we must work with the Australians, the South Koreans, the Japanese and the Filipinos to contain China. And then we must ask for their support and their help with North Korea. Because believe it or not, China is as concerned about Kim Jong-Un as we are.”

Jim Gilmore

  • GilmoreJanuary 12, 2016 – “North Korea’s claimed detonation of a hydrogen bomb dramatically underlines how dangerous our world has become and demonstrates how badly our nation needs strong, steady presidential leadership.” “What we have is a very dangerous provocation by North Korea that increases the threat to South Korea, Japan, America and the rest of the world,” Gilmore said.  “This North Korean escalation at a time when instability and terrorism are increasing in many places in the world shows very clearly the importance of electing a new President of the United States who will provide the responsible leadership necessary to keep Americans safe.”
  • January 12, 2016 – “This isn’t something that can lightly be explained away or ignored as the Obama Administration tends to do and it isn’t something that calls for the trademark shoot-from-the-hip bluster of some of the candidates for president,” Gilmore said.  “What we need in this country is rock solid, forceful leadership that can guide our nation to a safe prosperous future.”

John Kasich

  • KasichJanuary 6, 2016 – “Here’s the situation, this problem has been brewing for multiple presidencies, and we have been kicking the can down the road,” Kasich said. Kasich is advocating for more collaboration with China to halt North Korea’s nuclear efforts, but admitted there’s no easy answer on North Korea. “Anybody that says they have a great answer on North Korea, I’m all ears,” he told reporters. “I mean, just bellicose language is not going to get it done.” Kasich noted that while China isn’t always a reliable ally, they can’t be an enemy when it comes to stopping North Korea. He said the Chinese have some of the “greatest leverage over this crazy guy in North Korea,” referring to the nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un. He’s also calling for stronger ballistic missile defense programs in Asia. Beyond North Korea enhancing its own nuclear capabilities, Kasich said it’s worrisome to think of nuclear materials falling into the hands of non-state actors, such as the Islamic State.
  • January 7, 2016 – “If they’re on the sea, we’ve got to stop the ships.” “Oh yeah, well, they’re supposed to have been doing this. I don’t know how robust it is. You stop them, right on the sea,” Kasich answered. “If we suspect they are flying things out, then we’re going to have to intercept aircraft. We just don’t have any choice on this. The easiest way to deal with this is on the sea. The easiest way to intercept is on the sea. And we were supposed to be doing it.”
  • December 9, 2015 – To deal with the ever present conventional and nuclear threats posed by North Korea, I would work with the Republic of Korea, Japan and our other regional allies to revitalize joint allied counter-proliferation activities and to build ballistic missile defenses.

Rand Paul

  • PaulOctober 15, 2013 – “North Korea sits atop a stockpile of weapons in close proximity to tens of thousands of US troops. If Pyongyang ever used these weapons against our troops, they would see a massive response from the US. The American people would be united, and Congress would declare war in a heartbeat. For anyone to think otherwise — be they a hawkish American pundit or a North Korean despot — is crazy.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “What I’m saying is there are no easy solutions. What I’m pointing out is that it is so important that we understand what went wrong with the negotiations and maybe there was too much leeway in the negotiations,” Paul said on CNN. “Some of the same people who negotiated the North Korea agreement are the same people who have recently negotiated the Iran agreement and this is one reason I objected to the Iran agreement because I don’t want to get to a situation where we are with North Korea where your options are somewhat limited.”

Marco Rubio

  • RubioApril 2, 2013 – “We must remember that our concerns with North Korea extend well beyond the country’s nuclear program…The real solution to this challenge will come only once all concerned parties realize that this odious regime is the problem and join the United States in pressuring China to change its policy of supporting Pyongyang…I also call on the Obama administration to relist North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
  • December 21, 2014 – Look, the North Koreans, it’s not even a government. It’s a criminal syndicate that controls territory and need to be treated as such. Now, unfortunately, they possess nuclear weapons and are led by an irrational leader. North Korea is going to be a growing problem for the foreseeable future. You have a person running that country that is mentally unstable, but also someone that is fully capable of overestimating his own strength and ends up miscalculating and creating a real catastrophe, not just vis-a-vis South Korea, but also Japan and the United States. This is a very serious threat. It’s not just a cyber-threat. I think North Korea has the potential to become a source of huge instability.
  • September 16, 2015 – “There is a lunatic in North Korea with dozens of nuclear weapons and long-range rocket that can already hit the very place in which we stand tonight. The Chinese are rapidly expanding their military. They hack into our computers. They’re building artificial islands in the South China Sea, the most important shipping lane in the world.”
  • September 16, 2015 – If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel, in South Korea, and Japan. They know we stand with them. That America can be counted on.”
  • October 15, 2015 – “As we work to deter North Korea’s threat, I also applaud President Park’s vision for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula under democratic rule. We should work closely with South Korea to realize this noble objective,” Rubio said in a statement marking Park’s visit to Washington. “A reunified, democratic Korea would provide all Koreans with the peace, prosperity, and freedom they seek,” the Florida senator said.
  • January 6, 2016 – “I have been warning throughout this campaign that North Korea is run by a lunatic who has been expanding his nuclear arsenal while President Obama has stood idly by,” Rubio said. “Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama’s weakness. We need new leadership that will stand up to people like Kim Jong Un and ensure our country has the capabilities necessary to keep America safe.”

Santorum

Rick Santorum

  • October 25, 2011 – “And now they (North Korea) are in the process of developing nuclear weapons and it appears obvious to me that the administration is doing little to none…”

Donald Trump

  • July 23, 2015 – “How long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment?…“When will they start to pay us?”
  • August 23, 2015 – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is either “mad” or a “genius” on a US radio show. Mr. Trump was speaking about the US Government’s commitment to aid South Korea if the neighboring Korean countries enter another full-blown war as talks continue. “You know it’s heating up again,” Mr Trump told presenter Mick Murphy. “So, we send our ships. I think South Korea’s great. I think it’s wonderful. I just order 4,000 television sets for a job that I’m doing, right? And guess what? Between Samsung, and LG, and Sharp, they all come from South Korea.” The presidential candidate questioned why America is not receiving compeTrumpnsation for protecting South Korea from attack. “They’re making a fortune. So, we send our troops, we’re getting ready to go in there and defend them. And we get nothing! It’s like crazy. We get nothing. Why are we getting nothing? Why aren’t they helping us, okay? We help them,” he said.
  • September 16, 2015 – “And nobody ever mentions North Korea where you have this maniac sitting there and he actually has nuclear weapons and somebody better start thinking about North Korea and perhaps a couple of other places. But certainly North Korea. And Ted and I have spoken. We’ve — a lot of us have spoken. We’re talking about Iran. They are bad actors, bad things are going to happen. But in the meantime, you have somebody right now in North Korea who has got nuclear weapons and who is saying almost every other week, I’m ready to use them. And we don’t even mention it.”
  • October 10, 2015 – The price Seoul pays for the upkeep of American troops is “peanuts” compared with what the US spends, US Republican candidate Donald Trump was quoted by South Korean media as saying. He made the comments during his campaign speech in New Hampshire on Monday. “It’s peanuts compared to what it’s costing. It’s peanuts,” Trump said.
  • November 10, 2015 – We worry about Iranian nukes but why not North Korean nukes? It’s not only Russia [that we’re having trouble with]. We have problems with North Korea where they actually have nuclear weapons. You know, nobody talks about it, we talk about Iran, and that’s one of the worst deals ever made. One of the worst contracts ever signed, ever, in anything, and it’s a disgrace. But, we have somebody over there, a madman, who already has nuclear weapons we don’t talk about that.
  • January 6, 2016 –“China has total control, believe me, they say they don’t, they have total control over North Korea, and China should solve that problem, and if they don’t solve the problem, we should make trade very difficult with China. Because we are, believe it, we are holding China up. They’re taking so much money. They’re training our country, and they’re toying with us with North Korea. So, North Korea is totally under the control, without China, they wouldn’t eat.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “I’d get South Korea — that’s making a fortune, they’re our trading partner, if you want to use the word ‘partner,’ “We get almost nothing for what we do. We defend the world. We defend so many countries. We get nothing. They get everything. We get nothing. South Korea’s going to have to start ponying up, OK? And we’ll do it in a very nice manner. They’ll like us even more than they like us now.”
  • January 6, 2016 – “It’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time. You have this madman over there who probably would use it,” Trump said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “And nobody talks to him, other than of course Dennis Rodman,” he said. “That’s about it.”
  • January 10, 2016 – “I mean, you’ve got this mad man (Kim Jong-un) playing around with the nukes and it has got to end. He’s certainly — he could be a total nut job, frankly.”
  • January 10, 2016 – ‘If you look at North Korea, this guy, I mean, he’s like a maniac, OK? You’ve got to give him credit. How many young guys – he was like 25 or 26 when his father died – take over these tough generals. How does he do that?’

Democratic Candidates

Hillary Clinton

Clinton

  • January 6, 2016 – “I strongly condemn North Korea’s apparent nuclear test. If verified, this is a provocative and dangerous act, and North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan. Threats like this are yet another reminder of what’s at stake in this election. We cannot afford reckless, imprudent publicity stunts that risk war. We need a Commander-in-Chief with the experience and judgement to deal with a dangerous North Korea on Day One”
  • January 6, 2016 – If verified, this is a provocative and dangerous act, and North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan,” Clinton said. “North Korea’s goal is to blackmail the world into easing the pressure on its rogue regime.”

Bernie SandersSanders

  • October 12, 2011 – “Workers in North Korea are the most brutalized in the world, have virtually no democratic rights, and are at the mercy of the most vicious dictator in the world.”
  • January 6, 2016 –“We’ll have to lean on China,” Sanders said of the U.S. strategy on Good Morning America. “China is North Korea’s closest ally. They’ll have to push North Korea to start adhering to international agreements. … When you have a hydrogen bomb, if that’s true, you are a threat to China, as well.”

Martin O’MalleyOmalley

  • April 20, 2015 – “I’m not opposed to free trade if it’s fair trade. But I am opposed to bad trade deals. I have supported some trade deals in the past myself. I’ve supported the Korean trade deal. And that one had protections for workers, protections for wages, protections for the environment and it was entered into with the people of South Korea who are our friends and are very much a stable democracy in this world that understands a stronger middle class is a universal cause.”

Quotes collected with the help of Thomas Lee, Intern, Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the candidates’ alone.

Main photo from Nicolas Karim’s photostream & all candidate photos from Gage Skidmore’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons

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12 Things on the Korean Peninsula to Watch for in 2012

By Nicholas Hamisevicz, Sarah K. Yun, Chad O’Carroll, and Troy Stangarone

Last year saw significant changes on the Korean peninsula. While 2011 ended with the surprise death of Kim Jong-il and the beginning of succession to Kim Jong-un, last year also saw Korea become one of only nine nations to surpass $1 trillion in total trade, the passage of the KORUS FTA, and a surprise election for the mayor of Seoul. With even more change set for 2012 in both Northeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula, here are twelve economic and foreign policy issues that are worth following in the coming year:

1.      The Transition and Public Events in North Korea: Kim Jong-un has been declared the successor to his father. The North Korean government is working hard to illustrate the unity of the nation and the loyalty of the elites to Kim Jong-un. There will likely be a formal meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea where titles and positions will be made and adjusted. Kim Jong Un possibly has an advantage with the early schedule of public events where his new leadership will continue to be highlighted, such as the one hundred year anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth in April and the start of North Korea’s development as a prosperous and powerful nation. However, after those events, there could be more room for maneuvering if other North Korean elites do not like the direction of the country.

2.      Political Change in South Korea: While North Korea may have got the jump on political change in 2012, South Korea will conduct elections for both the National Assembly and the presidency this year. With South Korean presidents limited to a maximum term of five years, Lee Myung-bak will be ending his term in December.  Lee’s Grand National Party (GNP) has Park Geun-hye at the forefront of potential presidential candidates. However, she will likely face a significant challenge from Ahn Cheol-soo, founder of anti-virus software company AhnLab.  Although yet to declare his candidacy, there are growing signs that he will run as the opposition candidate – and recent polls suggest that he has strong support polling at 49.7 percent, some 7 percent more than rival Park Geun-hye.

Additionally, in April, all 299 seats of the National Assembly will be up for vote, with 245 in single-member districts and 54 seats determined through proportional representation. The ruling GNP has fared poorly in local elections recently and developments indicate that progressives may be uniting under a unified banner for the April elections that could seriously compound difficulties for the GNP.

3.      Kim Jong-un and China: In the early days of the transition, China has thrown its support behind Kim Jong-un. Who from China visits North Korea, and especially if Kim visits the new leadership in China, will likely provide clues to the relationship between Pyongyang and Beijing, as well as how secure the new regime feels in its position. Given that China will undergo its own leadership transition this year, 2012 will likely set the tone for both sides going forward.

4.     The Role of Social Media in South Korean Politics: Social media, including Twitter, are playing an increasingly prominent role in Korean political discourse. A recent Hankyroreh and Korea Society Opinion Institute poll showed politics to be one of the most retweeted topics by users in South Korea this year. This suggests that the conversations that take place on Twitter in 2012 will play a significant variable in this year’s presidential election.  South Korea’s Twitter community has an active user rate that is some two times higher than the world average, with nearly 10% of the nation signed up.  The important role Twitter plays in politics can be seen in a campaign that was credited with a higher than expected voter turnout among young voters during the during the April 2011 by-elections.

The team behind the one of the world’s most listened to podcast, Naneun Ggomsuda, may have a key role in determining the outcome of elections in South Korea this year.  Specializing in political satire, their podcast has to date taken a vehemently anti- Lee Myung Bak and Grand National Party position.  They have also developed a number of investigative stories that have attempted to highlight mis-steps by the ruling government, often with significant media interest.  Their feature on Na Kyung-won’s alleged visits to a luxury skin care clinic is said to have contributed to her loss of support in recent Seoul mayoral elections.

5.   The Euro Crisis: Strictly speaking, this isn’t about Korea, but with Korea heavily dependent upon trade for growth and Europe a major trading partner, the euro zone matters for Korea. If Europe is unable to restore market confidence and avoid a deepening of its debt crisis, a steep economic decline in Europe or the unraveling of the euro could hit the global economy hard. While Europe has managed to consistently fail to address the debt crisis in a comprehensive manner, there may be some tell tale signs early in the year regarding whether Europe has turned the corner or not. If France is able to maintain its AAA credit rating and Italy and Spain are able to roll over nearly $200 billion in debt in the first quarter of the year, Europe will likely have passed the most immediate dangers. When it comes to Korea, the stats to think about are this, the EU accounted for 10.2 percent of Korea’s exports and 9.6 percent of its total trade through the first 11 months of 2011.

6.    U.S. Defense Budget Cuts: The U.S. Department of Defense budget is expected to cut $260 billion over the next five years and more than $450 billion over the next decade. In the new budget strategy announcement on January 5, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta presented a revamped U.S. military strategy with an emphasis on Asia and space and cyber capabilities, and preservation of missions in the Middle East.

With a reduced defense budget, partner relationships will become more important. Although the 5% increase in the 2012 South Korean defense budget may offset the potential challenges in the U.S.-Korea military alliance, uncertainties continue as both countries enter an election year. Despite reassurances from Obama and Panetta, the future shape of United States presence in Korea and Asia is still to be determined. With both nations preparing for op-con transfer in 2015, how the budget and strategy changes in the U.S. play out could play a role in the future force structure of the alliance.

7.    North Korea’s Interaction with the United States and South Korea:  Despite its current turn inwards, North Korea will likely turn its attention outwards at some point in 2012. North Korea and the United States seemed to be on the verge of a deal over food aid and possibly moving forward on nuclear talks before Kim Jong-il’s death, and there are early indications these may start back up at some point. As for South Korea, Pyongyang has said that it will not deal with the current administration in Seoul, but 2012 will also bring fresh elections for the National Assembly in April and the presidency in December, key points to watch for in North-South relations.

8.    Seoul Nuclear Security Summit: Seoul will be hosting the second Nuclear Security Summit in March with participation from over 50 national leaders. The agenda will consist of mainly three issues: international cooperation against nuclear terrorism, prevention of illicit transaction of nuclear materials, and protection of nuclear materials, nuclear power plants and other nuclear related institutions.

The appointment of Korea as the chair of the second NSS is both practical and symbolic – practical in that Korea is a close ally of the U.S., enabling smooth coordination; and symbolic in that Korea has been an active member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with advanced nuclear energy capabilities, yet facing a serious nuclear threat from North Korea.

Whereas the hosting of the G-20 in 2011 elevated Korea’s status as a world economic power, the Seoul NSS will elevate Korea as a world security leader. The NSS will be even more significant in light of Kim Jong-il’s death. President Lee Myung-bak had previously extended an invitation to Kim Jong-il to attend. It will be interesting to see how the new regime responds to the summit.

9.    The Implementation of the KORUS FTA: Now that the United States and Korea have passed the KORUS FTA the two governments are looking to implement the agreement. The agreement should come into force early in the year, but might slip until after National Assembly elections in Korea for political reasons.

10.  The Politics Around the KORUS FTA and U.S.-Korea Relations: Speaking of the politics of the KORUS FTA, prior to the death of Kim Jong-il, the opposition in Korea was turning the FTA into a major campaign issue, calling on Korea to renegotiate certain provisions such as those relating to investor-state dispute settlement. Some had gone so far as to suggest Korea should withdraw from the agreement. Korea’s relationship with the United States is a complex one, and anti-Americanism has played a role in previous elections. While North Korea is now likely to become the major campaign issue, look for the FTA and Korea’s broader relationship with the United States to remain caught up in domestic politics for the time being.

11.  South Korea-China FTA: China has become South Korea’s largest trading partner by a significant margin, with the two countries doing more than $200 billion in trade in the first eleven months of 2011. With the EU and KORUS FTA now concluded, Korea will look to start negotiations with its biggest trading partner in the next few months.

12.  World Expo 2012 – Yeosu, Korea:From May to August, Korea will host the 2012 Expo in the port city of Yeosu. Under the theme of “The Living Ocean and Coast,” the Yeosu Expo will share knowledge in maritime cooperation, marine science, and the proper use of ocean and coast. Korea is anticipating an international recognition of Korea as a leading maritime nation.

Hosting the Expo can be seen as a completion of Korea’s campaign as a world leader – the 2011 G-20 on economic issues, the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on security issues, and the 2012 Expo on cultural and soft power issues.

Nicholas Hamisevicz is the Director of Research and Academic Affairs, Sarah K. Yun is the Director of Public Affairs and Regional Issues, Chad 0Carroll is the Director of Communications, and Troy Stangarone is the Senior Director for Congressional Affairs and Trade for the Korea Economic Institute. The views expressed here are the authors alone.

Photo from Rachael Towne’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in Inter-Korean, North Korea, slider, South KoreaComments (1)

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The Peninsula blog is a project of the Korea Economic Institute. It is designed to provide a wide ranging forum for discussion of the foreign policy, economic, and social issues that impact the Korean peninsula. The views expressed on The Peninsula are those of the authors alone, and should not be taken to represent the views of either the editors or the Korea Economic Institute. For questions, comments, or to submit a post to The Peninsula, please contact us at ts@keia.org.