In 2014, in South Korea, the year under review turned into a negative watershed for Park Geun-hye’s presidency. In part, this was not only the consequence of national disasters, but also of deep-rooted bad practices of South Korean political leadership, such as corruption, collusion between public and private officials and the failure of control mechanisms. In North Korea, one of the key events was represented by the elections of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the first since Kim Jong-un’s ascent to power. The elections were useful in evaluating the new power structures of the North Korean regime. Furthermore, considering their peculiar characteristics, with only one name in each ballot, they became a sort of political ‘census’ of the population, useful to test the level of loyalty to the regime. Regarding inter-Korean relations, these followed a pattern which, by now, has become usual: after a partial thaw marked by family reunions at the beginning of the year, they suddenly worsened. As for international relations, in the South a trend of very active diplomacy, already started in the first year of Park Geun-hye’s administration, was consolidating, and partly compensated for the difficulties on the domestic front. Among the various official visits made by the South Korean president − all of which had mainly economic goals – the one carried out in Central Asia was of particular relevance, helping to strengthen the ‘Eurasian initiative’ proposal, presented for the first time in October 2013, during the international conference on Global Cooperation in the Era of Eurasia. Meanwhile, Seoul continued to strengthen its cooperation with Beijing, marked in 2014 by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ‘historic’ visit, which, although successful, also highlighted some limitations in the China–South Korea partnership. Relations with Japan continued to be very tense, even if the year under review registered a few positive signs, to the relief of Washington. On December 29, an important agreement for the exchange of military information was signed by the United States and its two main Asian allies: Japan and South Korea. Interestingly, 2014 also witnessed North Korea’s unusual diplomatic activism, thanks especially to the newly appointed Foreign Minister, Ri Su-yong. There were basically two reasons behind this charm offensive or peace offensive, as some observers named it. First, Pyongyang needed to breach the international isolation which affected the country, especially after it was accused by the international community of serious human rights violations because of a report published in February by a UN investigation committee. Second, the new activism aimed at strengthening old alliances and building up new ones, to counterbalance the continuing deterioration of Pyongyang’s relations with Beijing. On the economic front, the year registered no major significant changes. The anticipated growth rate of South Korea’s GDP, fixed by the Bank of Korea at 3.8%, was fully respected, confirming the country’s place among the strongest Asian economies. As for North Korea, the positive trend of recent years continued, although the continuing deterioration in the country’s relations with Beijing puts in doubt whether, and for how long, Pyongyang will be able to sustain this positive trend.

Penisola Coreana 2014: Ombre all’interno e luci all’esterno

Marco Milani;
2015

Abstract

In 2014, in South Korea, the year under review turned into a negative watershed for Park Geun-hye’s presidency. In part, this was not only the consequence of national disasters, but also of deep-rooted bad practices of South Korean political leadership, such as corruption, collusion between public and private officials and the failure of control mechanisms. In North Korea, one of the key events was represented by the elections of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), the first since Kim Jong-un’s ascent to power. The elections were useful in evaluating the new power structures of the North Korean regime. Furthermore, considering their peculiar characteristics, with only one name in each ballot, they became a sort of political ‘census’ of the population, useful to test the level of loyalty to the regime. Regarding inter-Korean relations, these followed a pattern which, by now, has become usual: after a partial thaw marked by family reunions at the beginning of the year, they suddenly worsened. As for international relations, in the South a trend of very active diplomacy, already started in the first year of Park Geun-hye’s administration, was consolidating, and partly compensated for the difficulties on the domestic front. Among the various official visits made by the South Korean president − all of which had mainly economic goals – the one carried out in Central Asia was of particular relevance, helping to strengthen the ‘Eurasian initiative’ proposal, presented for the first time in October 2013, during the international conference on Global Cooperation in the Era of Eurasia. Meanwhile, Seoul continued to strengthen its cooperation with Beijing, marked in 2014 by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ‘historic’ visit, which, although successful, also highlighted some limitations in the China–South Korea partnership. Relations with Japan continued to be very tense, even if the year under review registered a few positive signs, to the relief of Washington. On December 29, an important agreement for the exchange of military information was signed by the United States and its two main Asian allies: Japan and South Korea. Interestingly, 2014 also witnessed North Korea’s unusual diplomatic activism, thanks especially to the newly appointed Foreign Minister, Ri Su-yong. There were basically two reasons behind this charm offensive or peace offensive, as some observers named it. First, Pyongyang needed to breach the international isolation which affected the country, especially after it was accused by the international community of serious human rights violations because of a report published in February by a UN investigation committee. Second, the new activism aimed at strengthening old alliances and building up new ones, to counterbalance the continuing deterioration of Pyongyang’s relations with Beijing. On the economic front, the year registered no major significant changes. The anticipated growth rate of South Korea’s GDP, fixed by the Bank of Korea at 3.8%, was fully respected, confirming the country’s place among the strongest Asian economies. As for North Korea, the positive trend of recent years continued, although the continuing deterioration in the country’s relations with Beijing puts in doubt whether, and for how long, Pyongyang will be able to sustain this positive trend.
Marco Milani; Barbara Onnis
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/776358
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