Korea

Makgeolli, usually served in a shallow bowl and downed with gusto. (iStock)

East Asian literati, Korean rice wine and writhing octopus tentacles

Sampling makgeolli or Korean rice wine with friends from the academic community in Seoul, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai is transported back in time to the world of ancient literati in China and Korea — would they also have exchanged a story or two over a bowl of makgeolli?
A worker makes finishing touches to a signage for 5G mmWave at the MWC Shanghai exhibition in Shanghai, China, on 23 February 2021. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Has China surpassed the US in the 5G race?

In the development of 1G to 4G technology, the US, Europe and Japan took turns to dominate. When it comes to 5G, China says that it has built the largest 5G network globally with other 718,000 5G base stations throughout the country, which is at least ten times the network in the US. China is also strong in 5G chip design and is making inroads in setting global standards for wireless networks. Is China getting a leg up in the tech race? 
In a photo taken on 8 February 2021, a Korean People's Army (KPA) soldier walks past a poster displayed on a street in Pyongyang marking the 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People's Army. (Kim Won Jin/AFP)

Japanese academic: Will Northeast Asia work with Biden on North Korea?

A survey in Japan shows that Japanese foreign policy decision-makers are most concerned with “US-North Korea denuclearisation negotiations and North Korea’s status as a nuclear power” in Northeast Asia. The Biden administration is likely to work with its allies to tackle the issue, but it is enmeshed in a web of complex geopolitical relationships. Japanese academic Shin Kawashima considers the deliberations of the key players involved.
In a photo taken on 20 November 2020, divisions of returning elite party members attend a meeting to pledge loyalty before the portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, upon their arrival at Kumsusan palace in Pyongyang, following their deployment to rural provinces to aid in recovery efforts amid damage caused by a September typhoon. (Kim Won Jin/AFP)

To lead the world, Biden's US will need China's help with North Korea

Hong Kong-based commentator Zheng Hao notes that the Trump administration’s high-profiled meetings with North Korea established communication at the very least, even if long-term peace in the Korean peninsula is still out of reach. Will the Biden administration be able to do any better, with China’s help?
A clown interacts with people at a main shopping area in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 6 December 2020. (Aly Song/REUTERS)

China has entered the 'gilded cage' of RCEP and is considering the CPTPP. What's next?

With the recent signing of the RCEP and China’s comment that it will “favourably consider” joining the CPTPP, are prospects looking up for greater domestic reform and regional economic integration across the board, and will dreams of a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific have a higher chance of eventually taking shape? Japan-based academic Zhang Yun looks at the potential outlook.
People watch a television news programme reporting on the US presidential election showing images of US President-elect Joe Biden (right) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, at a railway station in Seoul on 9 November 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP)

South Korea and America’s Indo-Pacific strategy: Yes, but not quite

Like many ASEAN member states, South Korea has sought to avoid choosing sides between China and the US. It has adopted an uneasy equidistance between the two great powers and their respective Indo-Pacific Strategy and Belt and Road Initiative power plays.
A screen grab taken from Vietnam Host Broadcaster's 15 November 2020 live video shows China's Premier Li Keqiang (L) clapping as Chinese Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan (R) holds up the agreement during the signing ceremony for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact at the ASEAN summit that is being held online in Hanoi. (Handout/Vietnam host broadcaster/AFP)

RCEP affirms ASEAN’s irreplaceable East Asian centrality

The signing of the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is significant, and not only due to the fact that the trade deal will cover a third of the world’s population and GDP. The RCEP also affirms the power of the East Asia concept and ASEAN’s centrality within it.
ASEAN leaders are seen on a screen as they attend the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit as part of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, 15 November 2020. (Kham/REUTERS)

Why China is rejoicing over the RCEP

With the signing of the RCEP yesterday, the largest economic community in the world is very much in the making. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan examines what the RCEP means for China and the world, not least the US, which is not a member of the RCEP.
In a photo taken on 18 October 2020 people wearing face masks walk on a street in the Hongdae district of Seoul. (Ed Jones/AFP)

South Korea can do more in Southeast Asia

South Korea’s economy was one of the best-performing economies this year. Its GDP grew 1.9% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter. ISEAS academic Victor Teo observes that with its considerable soft power and economic weight, South Korea is well-positioned to become a more important power for Southeast Asia and ASEAN.