Corea del Sur

F-35A survolant la Corée du Sud. 2014. — © Keystone

L’Asie-Pacifique se militarise à une vitesse foudroyante depuis plusieurs années, et la tendance s’accélère. Le Japon transforme actuellement deux porte-hélicoptères en porte-avions pouvant transporter des F-35B américains, et son nouveau premier ministre envisage de doubler le budget de la défense; la Corée du Sud prévoit de déployer son propre porte-avions en 2033 et a testé son premier missile mer-sol balistique stratégique, lancé d’un sous-marin, en septembre dernier; l’Australie a décidé mi-décembre de renouveler sa flotte d’hélicoptères et, quelques jours plus tard, signe un contrat d’armement de plus de 700 millions de dollars avec… la Corée du Sud.

Sans surprise, la Chine et la Corée du Nord sont pointées du doigt comme sources principales de cette militarisation régionale: Pékin continue de moderniser ses forces armées, entretient des conflits territoriaux avec une dizaine de pays, dont le Japon et la Corée du Sud, et étend son influence dans le Pacifique Ouest, aux portes de l’Australie; Pyongyang persiste dans le développement d’armes nucléaires et de missiles balistiques, menaçant Séoul et Tokyo.…  Seguir leyendo »

File image of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un inspecting the Defense Development Exhibition on Monday Oct 11, 2021. EyePress News / EyePress via AFP

In the autumn months, the two Koreas put on something of a military show for the world. As they flexed their muscles – testing missiles and displaying new capabilities – commentators speculated about an accelerating arms race and wondered whether the peninsula might be headed for a crisis moment after several quiet years. Since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanged taunts in 2017, including Trump’s famous threat to rain down “fire and fury” if Kim crossed his red lines, the peninsula has been relatively calm. But while the possibility of a sudden escalation in tensions can never be fully dismissed, particularly given North Korea’s penchant for wilfully unpredictable behaviour, the autumn’s activity does not necessarily augur a spike in near-term instability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Biden and Moon Are Getting North Korea Wrong

The recent White House meeting between President Biden and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea produced a comprehensive and substantive joint statement emphasizing cooperation on climate change, global health, sustainable development, and democracy in Myanmar, among other issues.

Of course, the central task of this decades-long alliance remains to defend against the threat posed by North Korea. That country’s nuclear and long-range missile program is aimed at the United States, and recent reports suggest the regime of Kim Jong-un may have dozens of nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

But the lofty language that flowed from the White House meeting was worrisome, indicating that the United States and South Korea were on a path that could put both countries at greater risk from the North.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korean president Moon Jae-in places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetary, Virginia, during his trip to the USA. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images.

President Moon Jae-in’s five-day visit to Washington is a vital opportunity to offset his dwindling domestic popularity with just over 30 per cent of South Koreans supporting the beleaguered president, compensate for his lame-duck status in the final year of his presidency, re-energize diplomacy with North Korea, and find a solution for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic at home.

South Korea’s health concerns are likely to be highest on the agenda for the summit meeting with Joe Biden as Seoul pushes for a ‘vaccine swap’ agreement that will boost South Korean access to critical vaccine supplies from the US, and a possible domestic licensing production deal enabling it to accelerate vaccination roll-out-rates at home.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kim Jong Un, along with newly elected party leaders, in Pyongyang on Jan. 12. (Str/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did something none of his predecessors dared to do: He admitted that his country is in crisis. A grim reality may have left him little choice. The hermit kingdom is reeling from sanctions, natural disasters, famine and the covid-19 pandemic. And since life in North Korea looks likely to get even worse in the months ahead, the regime is doubling down on its efforts to prevent the flow of outside information into the country.

At the end of 2020, North Korea passed a slew of new laws to rein in what it calls “reactionary ideology and culture.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Why My Father Fled Seoul´s Lockdown

Turning Point: In February, Daegu, South Korea, became the site of the first major coronavirus outbreak outside China.

My father felt marooned.

He had done manual labor his whole life, working in construction. At 70, he became a security guard. Then, when he was too old to work, he passed the time at a city-run senior center. He played janggi with other men, read at the public library and took walks in a neighborhood park. But with the outbreak of Covid-19, facilities closed in unison, taking with them every avenue of socialization. My father was forced to spend the winter confined to the small room he’d been living in for 20 years in his son and daughter-in-law’s home in Seoul, reduced to few words and fewer square feet.…  Seguir leyendo »

Aprender de Corea del Sur

Con 50 millones de habitantes, casi como España, Corea del Sur ha tenido hasta ahora unos 25.000 contagios por Covid-19 y alrededor de 400 muertos hasta finales de octubre. Al ser este país una democracia y una sociedad abierta, esas cifras son fiables y se pueden comparar con las de regímenes similares como Estados Unidos o Francia. Además, Corea del Sur es un país urbanizado, pues el 80 por ciento de su población vive en grandes ciudades, y su clima es similar al de Europa o Norteamérica. ¿Cómo se puede explicar la espectacular diferencia entre Corea del Sur, Europa y EE.UU.?…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past an advertisement for K-pop boy band BTS in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 18. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Hell hath no fury like a legion of loyal K-pop fans scorned.

This month, K-pop group BTS accepted the Korea Society’s James A. Van Fleet Award, which recognizes the group’s role in developing goodwill between South Korea and the United States. By all accounts, it was a harmless event focusing on diplomacy. But then band leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made a comment about the tragedies of the Korean War, saying “we need to always remember the history of pain shared by the two nations, and sacrifices of many men and women.”

This immediately triggered the paranoia of the Chinese propaganda machine, which bizarrely interpreted the remark as an insult because there was no mention of Chinese lives lost during the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

To outsiders, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea is a flashpoint, a scar, and a reminder that, 70 years after it began, the Korean War is not actually over.

But for some of us, the DMZ is also home.

Resolving tensions along the border and creating an environment where two countries can peacefully co-exist is an opportunity within our reach.

I am the Governor of the Gangwon Province -- a region cut in half by the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Our northern border marks the boundary between the two Koreas. Perhaps no other region of South Korea is more aware of the dangers of war -- or more open to possibilities for peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

Durante una pandemia se pone en evidencia más que nunca la importancia de contar con un sistema de salud confiable y ampliamente accesible. Hoy en día ha quedado dolorosamente claro que los países no pueden ir tras el logro del desarrollo económico y, a su vez, asumir que el sistema de salud se desarrollará de manera paralela. En cambio, deben hacer lo que hizo Corea del Sur: concebir estrategias específicas para una prestación eficaz de servicios de salud que vayan de la mano con esfuerzos más amplios de desarrollo social y económico.

A lo largo de la última década, la moderna y robusta infraestructura sanitaria de Corea del Sur ha permitido que este país enfrente múltiples e importantes crisis sanitarias.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kim Hye-jeong, deputy head of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, holding up a sign Monday declaring solidarity with the accuser of Seoul’s mayor, Park Won-soon. Credit Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock

An elaborate public funeral was held on Monday in Seoul, South Korea, in honor of the city’s mayor, Park Won-soon, a prominent human rights lawyer and confidant of President Moon Jae-in. Mr. Park was found dead last week, by suicide, hours after a personal assistant in his office filed a claim of sexual abuse and harassment against him.

In his suicide note, Mr. Park said nothing about the accusations, but wrote, “I’m sorry to everyone.”

This news, in its painful complexity, has shocked the Korean people, a fifth of whom live in Seoul. Mr. Park, a third-term mayor, was known to his constituents as a friend to the poor and homeless; a man who, as an activist and lawyer, had successfully litigated the nation’s first sexual harassment case and won accolades from feminist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korean women stage a protest against hidden-camera pornography in Seoul on August 4, 2018. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Son Jong-woo is the creator of “Welcome to Video,” once the world’s largest known child pornography website. In 2015, when he was 19, he started the website in the dark web, warning its members, “Do not upload adult porn.” Over the next three years, the site would balloon to more than 1 million downloads worldwide, trading in cryptocurrency and trafficking videos featuring the sexual assault, including rape, of minors. One of the site’s most popular searches was for “2-year-olds.” By the time Son was arrested and the website shut down in 2018, the 32-nation investigation had caught more than 300 suspects (the majority men from South Korea) and rescued at least 23 children in the United States, Britain and Spain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Officials from the South Korean Central Election Management Committee and election observers in Seoul count votes cast for the April 15 parliamentary election. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

South Korea was the first country to hold national elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The election drew a high level of global attention, as other countries no doubt wondered how the pandemic would affect their own upcoming elections.

Defying predictions that fears of the coronavirus would discourage participation, the April 15 parliamentary election instead had a remarkably high voter turnout. Media coverage took note of the government’s comprehensive disinfection regimen and social distancing at polling places, a system designed to reduce the possibility of infection.

The ruling Democratic Party’s landslide victory became a cautionary tale to other leaders — voters rewarded the government’s coronavirus testing and tracing efforts.…  Seguir leyendo »

A diagram from the CDC site shows the floor plan of the 11th floor of a building in Seoul, South Korea, that was the site of a coronavirus disease outbreak in 2020. The blue shading shows the seating locations of people who became infected.

The most complicated issue in America right now is how, when and where to reopen the cities and towns that have been sheltered in place. Everyone wants resumption of the mobile life of social proximity we enjoyed a few months ago but balancing this against the competing need to assure both individual safety and -- because this is a contagious disease -- societal safety remains a substantial challenge.

Fortunately, a new study from South Korea has just been published in "early release" form (it is final and peer-reviewed, just early) in the CDC medical journal, Emerging Infectious Disease.

Titled "Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea," it describes how South Korea dealt with an outbreak in a high-rise building in the busiest part of Seoul with an early, decisive intervention that included closing the entire building, extensive testing and quarantine of infected people and their contacts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Election officials work at a ballot counting station in Seoul on Wednesday. (Kim Hee-Chul/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

South Korea’s legislative elections, held Wednesday, would not normally attract much attention in the United States outside of the foreign policy community. But this year might be different. The plucky South Koreans have just shown the world how to hold an election and protect public health simultaneously.

Covid-19 hit South Korea in early February. The number of cases rose rapidly, climbing to nearly 1,000 new cases per day by the end of the month. Despite this, there was never any plan to postpone the April 15 election. Instead, the nation focused on making in-person voting safe.

The system the South Koreans devised protects voters and poll workers.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korea, the US and the UK all reported their first Covid-19 cases around the same time: on January 20, January 21, and January 31, respectively. How things unfolded from there, unfortunately for the US and UK, has been strikingly different.

Today, South Korea is reporting less than 100 new cases a day, the UK is reporting around 4,000 new cases a day, and the US is reporting around 30,000. But while numbers in South Korea have fallen, in the US and UK they have been rising exponentially (around 20,000 new cases a day a week ago, about 8,000 new cases a day a week before that).…  Seguir leyendo »

El coronavirus se desató en Corea del Sur a finales de enero, cuando Yoo Yoon-sook cumplía seis meses en su nuevo trabajo. Ella se acababa de mudar de Seúl, donde pasó tres décadas trabajando en la misma farmacia, para abrir la Farmacia Hankyeol (“confiable”) en la ciudad de Incheon, cerca del aeropuerto internacional. Yoo aún no conocía bien el vecindario que rodeaba su nueva farmacia “antes de que todo esto ocurriera”, me dijo. Todo se centraba en el coronavirus, todo el tiempo.

Las 1100 farmacias de Incheon, incluida la de Yoo, comenzaron a vender las mascarillas KF-94, equivalentes a las N95 estadounidenses, hasta que se agotaron.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una calle en Seúl, Corea del Sur. Aunque al principio estuvieron escasas, las mascarillas estuvieron más disponibles luego de que el gobierno compró una proporción sustancial de la producción nacional.Credit...Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The coronavirus erupted in South Korea in late January, six months into Yoo Yoon-sook’s new job. She had just moved from Seoul, where she spent three decades working in the same pharmacy, to open the Hankyeol (“Steadfast”) Pharmacy in the city of Incheon, near the international airport. Ms. Yoo hadn’t really gotten a sense of the neighborhood around her new pharmacy “before this all happened,” she told me. It became all coronavirus, all the time.

Incheon’s 1,100 pharmacies, including Ms. Yoo’s, began to sell out of KF-94 face masks, the equivalent of the American N95. So did corner stores and large retail chains like E-Mart.…  Seguir leyendo »

Corea del Sur ha conseguido controlar la pandemia de coronavirus en un tiempo récord de solo una semana gracias al diagnóstico masivo de su población. Parte de la estrategia ha consistido en distribuir una aplicación para móviles en la que, aportando los datos personales (domicilio, edad, sexo y teléfono o correo electrónico de contacto), se gestionaba la información sobre la enfermedad.

En caso de que el diagnóstico fuese positivo, al usuario se le ofrecía una cita para realizar el test. La prueba se llevaba a cabo en un punto de encuentro al que el usuario se desplazaba en coche, y donde los sanitarios hacían el test sin necesidad de salir del vehículo, de forma rápida y bastante segura.…  Seguir leyendo »

Workers from a building where 46 people were confirmed to have the coronavirus wait in line for testing at a temporary facility in Seoul on Monday. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

Some commentators are arguing that China’s coronavirus response attests to the superiority of its authoritarian brand of governance and crisis management. In reality, it turns out that democracies are better suited to protect public health — at least, when they take advantage of their inherent strengths. One country is showing how it’s done: South Korea.

“The advantages of the Chinese system have once again been demonstrated,” the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship paper said in a recent commentary — one that was approvingly quoted in the Wall Street Journal: “China’s battle against the epidemic showed that the CPC, as China’s ruling party, is by far the political party with the strongest governance capability in human history.”…  Seguir leyendo »