The Korean Peninsula is pivotal to the security of East Asia. Few issues have greater inherent potential to shape politics, economics, and security within the region than the North Korean nuclear issue.

While South Korea has become an economically vibrant democracy with considerable “soft power,” North Korea’s people suffer under a totalitarian regime that has failed to deliver prosperity except to the small political elite class. The Korean Peninsula is also mired in a decades-old crisis over North Korea’s drive to deploy nuclear-armed missiles.

The anachronistic Pyongyang regime presents human-rights, humanitarian, and economic-development problems, as well as posing a strategic threat to its adversaries—South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Furthermore, the bitter rivalry between the two Korean governments in Seoul and Pyongyang obstructs the fulfillment of the nationalistic yearnings of Koreans on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone and prevents the full integration of northern Korea into the regional economy.

South Korea struggles to maintain its security against its weaker but often violent neighbor while managing tensions between its ally, the United States, and its trading partner, China, that often reach a focal point on the Peninsula. South Koreans also harbor lingering fears about a resurgence of Japanese militarism and anxieties about attempted Chinese domination. Analysis by East-West Center staff, participants, and visiting researchers including POSCO Fellows delves into the challenges facing the two Koreas in their economic, social, and political development along with their relations with the other Asia-Pacific countries.

The POSCO Visiting Fellowships focus on the following issues:

  • The current state and prospects of the North Korean economy
  • Social and political development within South and North Korea
  • North Korea’s survival strategy including military and foreign policy
  • Strategic problems of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program
  • North Korea’s reform and opening
  • Inter-Korean relations, including implications for the US-South Korea alliance and the regional security order
  • U.S.-North Korea relations

Related to Staff

Denny Roy