Corea del Sur

Lee Jin-ho, 85 años, diseñador de interiores jubilado, en la estación Changdong. “En casa, estaría simplemente aburrido, dando vueltas sin hacer nada”, dijo Lee.

Viajar en metro es un trámite de la vida diaria para millones de personas. Una forma de llegar de un punto A a un punto B con relativa facilidad y a un precio razonable.

En Corea del Sur el metro es, además de un modo de transporte, una forma de distracción para miles de personas de la tercera edad que no pagan pasaje.

Les dicen Jigong Geosa (un término derivado de la frase “metro gratis” en coreano) y representan el 15 por ciento de los pasajeros que usan el metro cada año en Seúl. Victoria Kim y Chang W. Lee, periodistas del Times, recorrieron 76 estaciones del metro de la capital surcoreana para conocer a estos pasajeros.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea, right, greeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan after a meeting in Seoul in May. Pool photo by Jung Yeon-Je

Historical grievances between America’s two closest Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, have loomed as a potential Achilles’ heel for U.S. security interests in the region for far too long. Lingering Korean resentment over the legacy of Japan’s colonial occupation and Tokyo’s perceived reluctance to own up to that past have undermined American attempts to present a united allied front in the Pacific.

This is no longer tenable. The security situation in the region has worsened, with Beijing’s massive military buildup, expansive territorial claims and threatening behavior toward Taiwan and its neighbors, as well as the growing nuclear and missile threat posed by its ally North Korea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Corea del Norte y Corea del Sur se distancian cada día más

Cuando las fuerzas norcoreanas cruzaron el paralelo 38 en junio de 1950, que comenzó la Guerra de Corea y duró tres años, mi abuelo Kang Yeon-gu era un estudiante adolescente en sus vacaciones de verano.

Tuvo suerte. Su aldea agrícola, en el extremo sureste de la península coreana, se encontraba muy lejos del estallido inicial de los combates. Millones de personas acudían a la zona en busca de seguridad. Uno de sus vecinos de Busan huyó con la vaca de la familia. El abuelo, que cumplió 90 años este año, sobrevivió a la guerra. Tras millones de muertos y miles de familias divididas, el 27 de julio de 1953 se firmó un armisticio.…  Seguir leyendo »

North and South Korea Drift Farther Apart Every Day

When North Korean forces surged across the 38th parallel in June 1950, starting the three-year Korean War, my grandfather Kang Yeon-gu was a teenage student on summer break.

He was lucky. His farming village on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula was about as far from the outbreak of fighting as you could get. Millions of people were streaming south to the area seeking safety. One of his neighbors today in Busan had fled there with the family cow in tow. Gramps, who turned 90 this year, survived the war. After millions of deaths and thousands of divided families, an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.…  Seguir leyendo »

A TV screen at a railway station in Seoul shows an image of a North Korean missile launch during a news program on Thursday. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Seventy years ago, on July 27, 1953, military commanders from the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement that ended the hostilities of the Korean War. The two sides used diplomacy to end a bloody conflict that cost 3 million lives.

A renewed commitment to diplomacy is urgently needed to keep that peace today — even if it requires a unilateral concession of some kind by the United States to get it started.

The war itself did not end in 1953. A state of hostilities still exists on the Korean Peninsula, and the security situation right now looks increasingly dire.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, June 2018 Leah Millis / Reuters

Seventy years ago this week, the armistice that froze the Korean War was signed. During a year of savage battlefield maneuvering and two more of bitter stalemate, nearly 40,000 American troops gave their lives. Several thousand more allied troops also died, as did millions of Koreans, many of them heroically in combat against communist aggression, and even more as its civilian victims. The southern half of the Korean peninsula, now a thriving democracy, took decades to recover. The northern half never has, remaining impoverished, oppressed, and a source of instability.

The median age of surviving U.S. Korean War veterans is around 90.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘South Korea’s government has given its citizens the gift of youth.’ Hong Suk-min poses with a whiteboard showing his international age (45) and his Korean age (47). Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Imagine someone offered you the chance to take a couple of years off your age – no catch, no need to hide your passport or cross your fingers that no one checks up on your LinkedIn claim to have graduated in 2008.

You’d jump at it, wouldn’t you? The people of South Korea certainly have: their government has just given its citizens the gift of youth, making them all a year or two younger overnight.

This is because South Korea is scrapping the eccentric system it previously used to count the age of its population. At birth, a baby was deemed to be one, and then a year was added every 1 January, regardless of their actual birthday.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Korea Model

In the middle of August 1952, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai traveled nearly 4,000 miles to Moscow to meet with the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Zhou was acting as an emissary for the leader of China, Mao Zedong. The two Communist powers were allies at the time, but it was not a partnership of equals: the Soviet Union was a superpower, and China depended on it for economic assistance and military equipment. Two years earlier, Mao and Stalin had embarked on a joint venture of sorts, giving their blessing to the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung when he invaded South Korea.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. President Joe Biden, left, and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol depart following a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 26. Win McNamee/Getty Images

On April 26, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to a “Washington Declaration”. The declaration reconfirms South Korea’s participation in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a nonnuclear weapons state, following a spike of discussion in South Korea (formally called the Republic of Korea, or ROK) about going nuclear. This declaration ends, for the moment, any ROK effort to push further.

In exchange, the United States pledged to consult South Korea more closely over nuclear contingencies, including through a new “Nuclear Consultative Group”. It is unclear just how much ‘nuclear sharing’—regarding planning, deployment, or command decisions—this group will permit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Currency dealers in Seoul, South Korea, March 2023 Kim Soo-hyeon / Reuters

Much of South Korea’s modern history is a record of a spectacular economic and social success. The country rose from the ashes of the Korean War to become an industrial powerhouse. It successfully transitioned to liberal democracy. Names like Hyundai, LG, and Samsung are shorthand for its technological dominance, and K-pop has become a global cultural phenomenon.

But the impressive façade is showing cracks. Long before the pandemic and the current inflation spike, the country’s economy was sputtering and socioeconomic fractures were deepening. It is no accident that another of its recent breakout cultural hits was Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s dark-humored thriller on the inequities of modern South Korean society: The gap between the country’s rich and poor is now among the widest in industrial countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘South Korean culture places strong emphases on both conformity and competition.’ Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Before I moved to South Korea, 12 years ago, I hadn’t really come across suicide in my social life. Now, every year I hear of friends, or friends of friends, taking their own lives. The recent suspected suicide of K-pop star Moonbin has focused minds yet again on this problem – one which is far from limited to the entertainment industry, but is a full-blown social crisis affecting Koreans of all ages and backgrounds. However, it is young people in particular who are bearing the brunt.

So what is going on?

Korea, after all, is a dynamic country whose global reputation is remarkably positive.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Trsut” is much touted in diplomatic speeches. But at the frontlines of diplomacy, questioning the real intentions of others is a constant part of the work, even among friendly neighbours and close allies. So it is not surprising that, as was recently revealed, the United States has not given up its habit of secretly wiretapping many of its allies, including South Korea. The safe bet would be to assume that all governments with the ability to wiretap must be doing so—not that that makes it right.

In South Korea, the revelation of American wiretapping has added fuel to fiery partisan politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watching a news report on North Korea firing a ballistic missile, Seoul, South Korea, April 2023. Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

In January, the U.S.–South Korean alliance was rocked by President Yoon Suk-yeol’s surprising suggestion: his country, a law-abiding member of the international system and a key U.S. ally, might need its own nuclear deterrent. In the United States, many foreign policy experts were aghast. A South Korean nuclear arsenal was unnecessary, they argued, because Seoul enjoys U.S. protection. Moreover, a South Korean nuclear program would violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), destabilize East Asia, and expose South Korea to crippling economic sanctions. A few days later, Yoon backpedaled, declaring that the country did not need nuclear weapons after all. The furor appeared to have subsided.…  Seguir leyendo »

College students in Seoul bowing to a statue symbolizing Korean laborers forcibly sent abroad to Japan during a rally to oppose the visit to Japan by the president of South Korea. Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

When I was a boy growing up in South Korea in the early 1990s, my mother gave me a 60-volume set of biographies. Half of them profiled eminent global figures — the Buddha, Abraham Lincoln, Marie Curie — the rest were Koreans, many of whom were renowned for one thing: resisting Japan.

I asked why there weren’t more Koreans worth remembering, perhaps for other reasons. “That’s what our history is about, I guess”, she replied. “Fighting Japan”.

For decades Koreans have been unable to move on from Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula — its rapacious rule, the conscription of laborers and “comfort women” sex slaves.…  Seguir leyendo »

A rally for unification of the Korean Peninsula in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, last year. Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press

Not many people know how to wage nuclear war. I’m one of them.

As a young U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in the late 1970s, I was trained to carry out nuclear strikes in a rigorous process designed to ensure that no contingencies — mechanical or ethical — deter your mission. Certain things remain burned into my memory: maps and photos of my target and the realization of the Armageddon I would leave in my wake. Training culminated with a sworn pledge to vaporize that target without hesitation.

Much of my 33-year career was spent as a nuclear warrior — I later oversaw the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a Cabinet meeting in Seoul on Tuesday. (Im Hun-jung/Yonhap/AP)

Politics offers few profiles in courage — which is why John F. Kennedy could write a whole book on some notable exceptions. On Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol moved to add a new chapter by taking a brave step toward resolving a long-festering, historical dispute with Japan.

During World War II, in the last phase of a brutal colonial regime that began in 1910, Japanese forces conscripted nearly 750,000 Korean men as forced laborers and 200,000 women as “comfort women” (i.e., sex slaves) to serve Japanese soldiers. Though Japan and South Korea resumed diplomatic ties in 1965, the relationship has been a tense one — a cold peace more akin to the Israeli-Egyptian relationship after Camp David than the close German-French cooperation since 1945.…  Seguir leyendo »

Después de los cañonazos de Ucrania vendrán los de Taiwán. De hecho, estamos de lleno en ese periodo que los libros de historia titulan "antecedentes" para explicar quién disparó el primer tiro en una guerra.

Tranquilos, lo leeremos con relativa erudición en la Wikipedia del futuro.

El próximo gran conflicto mundial, oficializado cuando China lance sus garras sobre la acorazada isla, tendrá una magnitud bélica aún desconocida. Pero ya sabemos que participarán multitud de actores. Desde el invasor pekinés y sus palmeros habituales hasta Estados Unidos y sus aliados.

Y en este grupo hay uno que suele pasar desapercibido, oculto detrás de la unión de americanos, australianos, europeos y japoneses, y que se ha revelado como pieza fundamental: Corea del Sur.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las mujeres en edad reproductiva en Corea del Sur tienen menos bebés que cualquier otro país del mundo. JeongMee Yoon para The New York Times

Después de llevar más de un año intentando persuadir a las mujeres surcoreanas de tener hijos, Chung Hyun-back dice que hay una razón que destaca de su fracaso: “Nuestra cultura patriarcal”. Chung, a quien el gobierno anterior encomendó la tarea de revertir la caída en picada de la tasa de natalidad del país, sabe de primera mano lo duro que es ser mujer en Corea del Sur. Ella, en lugar de casarse y tener hijos, optó por su carrera profesional. Como Chung, millones de mujeres jóvenes han rechazado colectivamente la maternidad con la llamada “huelga de natalidad”.

En 2022, una encuesta reveló que hay más mujeres que hombres —el 65 por ciento frente al 48 por ciento— que no quieren tener hijos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women of reproductive age in South Korea are having fewer babies than any other country in the world. JeongMee Yoon for The New York Times

After trying for over a year to persuade more South Korean women to have babies, Chung Hyun-back says one reason stands out for her failure: “Our patriarchal culture”. Ms. Chung, who was tasked by the previous government with reversing the country’s plummeting birthrate, knows firsthand how tough it is to be a woman in South Korea. She chose her career over nuptials and children. Like her, millions of young women have been collectively spurning motherhood in a so-called birth strike.

A 2022 survey found that more women than men — 65 percent versus 48 percent — don’t want children. They’re doubling down by avoiding matrimony (and its conventional pressures) altogether.…  Seguir leyendo »

El terreno geopolítico en el noreste de Asia está cambiando y, afortunadamente, las dos grandes democracias de la región, Japón y Corea del Sur, avanzan en una dirección similar. Si se impone un liderazgo prudente y estratégico tanto en Tokio como en Seúl, la enemistad histórica entre los dos países tal vez quede, finalmente, relegada al pasado y quizá mejore la seguridad en toda la región del Indo-Pacífico.

El catalizador para reducir la fricción diplomática bilateral -un problema que data de los tiempos de la Segunda Guerra Mundial- fue la investidura de Yoon Seok-yul como presidente de la República de Corea en mayo pasado.…  Seguir leyendo »