2008: Ups and downs in Korea

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January 12, 2009 - 09:42 -

 by Geir Helgesen, Senior Researcher, NIAS

Last year in Korea was, as was previous years, filled with ups and downs, hopes and doubts, surprises and shocks, mystical occurrences and wild speculations, political shrewdness and political stupidity, conflict and thaw, tragedies and hope, fear and forgiving. All in all probably not so different from previous years, so what can be said about the recent past and the possible future on the Korean peninsula?

Reform without reform, or how to add another stone to the bridge of understanding – still under construction – between East and

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September 15, 2008 - 02:55 -

If there is one country in the world that resists understanding despite globalization, world wide webs and information overload, it must be North Korea. Confined in self-imposed seclusion added by internationally imposed isolation, the Northern half of the Korean peninsula proceeds in the footsteps of ancient regimes known to the West as Hermit Kingdoms.

South Korea, 25.02.08: a new president is sworn in

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February 24, 2008 - 19:06 -

A personal comment by Geir Helgesen, Senior Researcher, NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies

A change of leader in South Korea: does it matter much? Is it not, after all, the institutions and rules that characterize democratic governance while the president is more of a figurehead? Well, yes and no. South Korea is a democracy, as is the USA, but in both countries the president plays a decisive role, in Korea even more so than in the USA.