South Korea’s ruling party suffered a crushing defeat in the Seoul and Busan by-elections. Will this rebuke by voters change the political calculus for President Moon Jae-in ahead of the 2022 presidential contest?
South Korea’s soft power reached new heights in 2020, driven by everything from its model pandemic response to cultural staples like chart-topping BTS albums. But Seoul must use this rising political capital wisely to build lasting influence beyond its borders.
But Seoul’s positioning is not all bad. As South Korea and other Asian countries step gingerly with one eye on the superpowers’ rivalry, there are also opportunities to be found.
The recently released Korea Net Assessment addresses the gap between strategic realities and political assessments on the issues most important to Korean security: North Korea’s military threat, the health of the alliance, and South Korean relations with China and Japan.
As South Korea ponders the future of inter-Korean ties and the prospects for unification, one abiding reality is that core security choices are going to become increasingly difficult and politically charged.
The most striking feature of the security environment on the Korean Peninsula is the gap between assessments made by political leaders and the growing array of asymmetrical threats emanating from North Korea.