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South Korea faces growing headwinds at home and abroad

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Significance

Professing fury at the exercises, Pyongyang insulted South Korean President Moon Jae-in and says it will no longer talk to Seoul. The South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers met today in Beijing, amid worsening bilateral relations. South Korea’s presidential office said today that it will review “until the last moment” whether or not to renew the bilateral General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo, set to expire on August 24.

Impacts

  • With 'face' at stake and populist passions aroused, palpable economic pain may be necessary before Japan and South Korea de-escalate.
  • Pyongyang’s recent flurry of missile tests indicates impatience; longer-range missiles might dent the US president’s professed indifference.
  • A recent top-level North Korean military visit to China signifies a new field of cooperation.
  • North Korea’s army may be regaining political heft in Pyongyang.
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