Sign up for GZERO Media's global politics newsletter

{{ subpage.title }}

GZERO Media

What We're Watching: K-pop in China, US ends Remain in Mexico, China vs. porcupine

South Korea’s top diplomat visits China

South Korea's Foreign Minister Park Jin traveled to China this week for meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi – the first such high-level visit since Yoon Suk-yeol became South Korea’s new president earlier this year. They had plenty to discuss. China wants Yoon to keep his predecessor’s promises not to expand the use of a US missile defense system, not to join a US-led global missile shield, and not to create a trilateral military alliance that includes Japan. China also wants South Korea to stay out of a computer chip alliance involving Taiwan and Japan. South Korea, meanwhile, wants China to understand that it values Beijing as a top trade partner and wants to build stronger commercial ties. Yoon notably refused to meet US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her uber-controversial trip through Asia last week. But he’s also made clear that his predecessor’s commitments to Beijing are not binding on his government. The long-term economic and security stakes are high, but we will also be watching to see if South Korea has persuaded China to relax restrictions on the access of Chinese citizens to K-Pop, the South Korean pop music phenomenon. Seoul needs durable commercial relations with Beijing, and millions of Chinese music lovers need their South Korean boy bands.

Read Now Show less

A South Korean soldier walks past a TV in Seoul broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing a missile.

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

What We're Watching: South Korea dangles Kill Chain, frozen Afghan funds thawing

South Korea dusts off "Kill Chain" vs. North

We think a potential nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula would be sparked by a first strike from the North. But what if the South launched a preemptive strike instead? Since Yoon Suk-Yeol was elected South Korea’s president in March, Seoul has been paying more attention to its decade-old “Kill Chain” program, which calls for a series of rapid strikes against key North Korean targets when South Korean intelligence believes Pyongyang is about to attack — possibly also taking out the supreme leader and top generals. Why is Yoon considering this? It’s likely in response to Kim Jong Un developing hypersonic missiles that would give the South less time to respond. Also, Yoon may want a plan B in case the US waivers on its long-term security commitment to South Korea — former US President Donald Trump, for instance, threatened to force Seoul to pay a bigger bill. But it’s a catch-22: knowing that the South Koreans have “Kill Chain” in place could deter Kim from attacking, or it could prompt him to do something drastic while he still thinks he has the upper hand over Seoul.

Read Now Show less

North Korea's Kim Jong Un walks away from what state media report is a "new type" of ICBM.

KCNA via REUTERS

Will standing up to North Korea work?

North Korea has engaged in an aggressive spate of missile testing this year. In response, the US and South Korea are changing tack and pushing back against Pyongyang with a more muscular show of force. Washington and Seoul’s robust replies are designed to push Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table, furthering their quest to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

But it’s a risky gamble. The fresh approach could convince an isolated and broke North Korea to talk shop, or Kim could double down and conduct his first nuclear test since 2017.

Read Now Show less

Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk-youl in Seoul.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In Asia to fix imbalance, Biden talks both guns and butter

In his first presidential trip to Asia, where he is visiting South Korea and Japan as well as huddling with Quad partners, Joe Biden isn’t expected to sign any major trade deals or defense agreements. But America’s commander-in-chief is going to be in China’s neighborhood, shoring up new and old alliances in the region, reminding Beijing that checking the PRC is very much on Washington’s agenda, despite the administration’s attention being taken up by domestic politics and the war in Ukraine.

Read Now Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

Latest