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?
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.
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.
Now ten years of active engagement between South and North Korea can be evaluated. Was it worth it? Is the relationship improving? Will North Korea dismantle its nuclear facilities and even give up any nuclear weapons it might possibly have