Dear Friends of the Korea Policy Institute,
This past year, we have continued to witness the disproportionate impact of the U.S. “pivot” on Korea. U.S. military and economic designs on Asia have triggered defensive measures on North Korea’s part, resulting in a speed-up of its nuclear weapons development and missile testing, as well as mass uprisings in South Korea where people have taken to the streets protesting President Park Geun-hye’s undemocratic policies and actions in numbers exceeding those in the era of U.S.-backed military dictatorships.
Engagement, a byword of the Obama administration toward historic Cold War U.S. foes, including Cuba and Iran, has been signally lacking in his Korea policy. In spite of offers by North Korea to halt nuclear testing should the United States agree to suspend its annual joint war games with South Korea, these war games, which simulate first-strike nuclear attacks on the peninsula, not only persist but also have escalated into unabashed dress rehearsals for the “decapitation” of the North’s leadership.
U.S. foreign policy has taken aggressive form south of the DMZ, as well. Aimed at monitoring China’s defenses yet rhetorically justified as a means of curbing “the North Korean threat,” the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea and the signing last month of an intelligence-sharing agreement between Seoul and Japan, at the prodding of the United States, have increased tensions between North and South Korea, and placed South Korea in the cross-hairs of China’s missile systems.
Animating the massive anti-Park Geun Hye protests in South Korea are long-simmering grievances over her scandalous conduct, repressive domestic policies, undemocratic embrace of a renewed U.S.-led cold war in Asia, and alliance with a ruling elite intent on fostering neoliberalism in South Korea. Under her disastrous policies and Obama’s destabilizing “pivot” policy, the prospects for peace in Korea have withered. We are now confronted with the Trump factor and have little sense of what tack he will pursue.
During these opaque times, the Korea Policy Institute is committed to providing news and timely analyses. We will highlight key trends in U.S. Korea policy as well as developments on the ground in Korea, including labor struggles for economic justice, protests against militarization, the ongoing movement for self-determination and genuine security, in addition to the shifting prospects for peace in Asia and the Pacific region and for the peaceful reunification of Korea.
In 2017, KPI will expand its online coverage of developments in U.S-Korea relations. We will sponsor teach-ins around the country in collaboration with educational institutions and peace organizations. We are able to continue our work only with your support. Please join us in advocating for a redirection of U.S. policy from militarism to diplomacy in Asia and in supporting the struggles of the Korean people for democracy and peaceful reunification.
Best wishes for peace in the New Year,
Korea Policy Institute Board of Directors
Marty Hart-Landsberg, Christine Hong, Haeyoung Kim, Paul Liem, Juyeon Rhee, JT Takagi, Ji Yeon Yuh
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