North Korea

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.
Cartoon: Heng Kim Song

ThinkCartoon (2 November)

Heng Kim Song has been the freelance editorial cartoonist

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.” 
US President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 leaders' summit in Bali, Indonesia, 14 November 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/Reuters)

Instead of seeking support from others, Xi and Biden must meet again

The world appears to be getting more fractured and polarised, with the US and its allies meeting at Camp David recently, and the BRICS summit in Johannesburg issuing invitations for admission to six countries. While both the US and China are building their own alliances and partnerships, now more than ever, they need to improve their direct communication with each other, says US academic Zhu Zhiqun.
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.
A handout picture shows a part of what is believed to be a space launch vehicle that North Korea said crashed into the sea off the west coast of the divided peninsula, and which the South Korean military had salvaged, at an unidentified location in South Korea, 15 June 2023. (The Defense Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

North Korea's failed launch of Kim Jong-un's 'No. 1' spy satellite

Japanese academic Atsuhito Isozaki examines North Korea's failed military reconnaissance satellite launch, noting how domestic media handled it quietly this time as compared to another failed launch in 2012. How is Kim Jong-un's regime evolving?