As an ethnically homogenous and already divided nation, Korea might seem to be immune from all the fragmentation that seems to be happening around the world today. Far from the Korean peninsula, the European Union is negotiating the British exit and facing a possible withdrawal by the Spanish region of Catalonia. The Middle East is… Continue reading Korea and the Geopolitics of Division
The most aggressive nationalist in Donald Trump’s administration has been kicked to the sidelines. Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist, left the White House in mid-August after giving a candid interview to a liberal U.S. magazine. After a career of outrageous statements, Bannon finally said something in this interview that was completely unacceptable… Continue reading Regime Change in Washington?
James Mattis visited Asia this month on his first foreign trip as the new head of the Pentagon. It was less a get-acquainted visit than a damage control tour. His boss, President Donald Trump, had threatened to escalate tensions with China and prevent North Korea from launching a nuclear-capable ICBM. He’d accused Japan of currency… Continue reading Will Trump Complete the Pivot to Asia?
As the world focuses on the war in Syria, the refugee crisis in Europe, and the primary slugfest in the United States, the two Koreas are heading toward a catastrophe in the Far East. Although relations on the Korean peninsula have been deteriorating for the better part of eight years, the last six months have… Continue reading Darkness at High Noon
Americans don’t care about East Asia. That’s a strong statement. So, let me make a few qualifications. First, Americans love Chinese, Japanese, and (increasingly) Korean food. They like to visit East Asia. They will, on occasion, watch a Hong Kong action film or the latest from Park Chan-Wook. But when it comes to the pressing… Continue reading East Asia Is Invisible
Liam Neeson recently donated $1,515 toward Korean reunification. The actor, who will be playing General Douglas MacArthur in an upcoming movie about the Korean War, wanted to do something to signal his support for improved inter-Korean relations. Along with his donation, Neeson predicted that the two Koreas will reunify within the next five years. Everyone… Continue reading The Reunification Guessing Game
Reunification, for Koreans, has a mythic quality, like the Promised Land or the Holy Grail. Most Koreans dream of reunification, of a time in the future when the North and the South will join together to recreate the Korean whole that existed before division and Japanese colonialism. It’s a lovely idea, but no one has… Continue reading Reunification: The View from the North
Everyone on the Mall near the Washington Monument was looking up at the sky. I was there, too. But I wasn’t looking up, at least not that far up. On May 8, I was playing Ultimate Frisbee during the noontime game on a stretch of level grass behind the Holocaust Museum. This time we were… Continue reading Celebrating Destruction
Imagine an international event sometime in the near future known as the Apology Games. It is held every four years and features teams of professional diplomats, politicians, and conflict resolution specialists (with a few actors thrown into the mix). There are many rules in this Olympics, but one trumps all the others: contestants can only… Continue reading The Apology Olympics
NORTH KOREA IS NOT the information black hole it’s so often made out to be. It’s more like Alpha Centauri, a star several light years from Earth. We can remotely acquire a wealth of information about this distant location, even though there’s always a frustrating time lag. It’s not the speed of light, but the… Continue reading Strange News from Another Star