Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un looks on as a rocket carrying a spy satellite Malligyong-1 is launched, as North Korean government claims, in a location given as North Gyeongsang province, North Korea in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on 21 November 2023. (KCNA via Reuters)

The world will see a more provocative North Korea

Academic Kang Jun-young examines the recent rhetoric by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, especially comments relating to the prospect of nuclear war. How likely is that, and how will continuing US-China tensions and upheavals in this year of elections around the world affect the stability of the Korean peninsula?
People wearing face masks wait at an intersection in Beijing's central business district in China, on 1 November 2023. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

The China factor behind several Indo-Pacific hotspots

US researcher Wei Da gives a threat assessment of potential hotspots in 2024, from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Strait, the Korean peninsula and the Ukraine war, with the China factor in mind.
North Korea and Russia are drawing increasing international attention as they grow closer. (Illustration: Teo Chin Puay)

[Big read] North Korea and Russia’s growing military cooperation is unsettling

As North Korea continues with its efforts in developing its military weapons — the latest being the launch of a reconnaissance satellite — attention is on Russia’s involvement and assistance, much to the protest of some countries. What are the implications of such cooperation and close relations? Lianhe Zaobao executive translator Mak Cor Sin speaks with academics and experts to find out more.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un visit the Vostochny Сosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia, on 13 September 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov/Sputnik/Pool via Reuters)

South Korean academic: China must not join the North Korea-Russia alliance

South Korean academic Kang Jun-young notes that North Korea’s recent inclusion of its nuclear weapons policy into its constitution — coupled with its friendliness with Russia — is making the region nervous, and can only raise doubts among its neighbours, including China. However, he cautions against overreacting, as that would in turn escalate the situation further.
A shot of the USS America (LHA-6) taken on 15 September 2023. (Chung Sung-Jun/Reuters)

US, China militaries flex muscles in Yellow Sea

Amid the ongoing US-China rivalry, both powers have been sending their navies on exercises in the Yellow Sea, as a signal to each side, stopping just short of actual engagement. This mirrors earlier near-confrontations. Is this all just military posturing ahead of a possible Xi Jinping-Joe Biden summit before the end of the year?
This pool image distributed by Sputnik agency shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un shaking hands during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia on 13 September 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov/Pool/AFP)

US's 'axis of evil' narrative could escalate tensions on Korean peninsula

With North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia recently, observers worry that North Korea and Russia, together with China, are drawing closer, forming a greater “axis” of nuclear threat. But academic Jin Kai sees the sense of a greater “alliance” forming as all part of the US and its allies’ “geopolitical imagination”, which could see them taking steps that escalate the situation in the Korean peninsula.
In this pool photo distributed by Sputnik agency, Russia's President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia on 13 September 2023. (Vladimir Smirnov/Pool/AFP)

Why Kim Jong-un’s first trip after the pandemic was not to China, but Russia

The solidarity between North Korea and Russia based on an “anti-imperialist” or anti-American mindset can be said to be a strategic and simple construct: “An enemy’s friend is an enemy.” 
Yoon Suk-yeol, President of South Korea, attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 12 July 2023. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

China needs to change its understanding of South Korea’s stand

With South Korea working on bilateral and multilateral international relations, especially with the US and Japan, it is perhaps unsurprising that China is not quite at ease with South Korea’s stand. Recent comments by Chinese ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming implying that South Korea’s pro-US stance will not lead to a good outcome has raised hackles in South Korea. Academic Kang Jun-young tells us more.
This picture taken on 25 April 2023 and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 26 April hows soldiers and civilians offering attending a wreath-laying ceremony at the bronze statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang to mark the 91st founding anniversary of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KPRA). (KCNA via KNS/AFP)

China can do more on the North Korean nuclear issue

With North Korea declaring itself a nuclear state and indicating that it would only enter negotiations in its position as one, the situation in the Korean peninsula is getting more unstable. Among the global stakeholders in the issue, China is in a position to do more. Trilateral cooperation between the US, South Korea and China is even possible if China changes its perceptions and long-held approaches.