High stakes for presidential hopefuls in South Korean election

Lee Sung-hun, a candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Woo Sang-ho, a candidate of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, shake hands after registering for the general elections at a district election committee office in the south eastern city of Daegu, South Korea, 24 March 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Fiona Yap, ANU

General elections are around the corner for South Korea, scheduled for 13 April 2016. The road to the polls has been rocky, beginning with the delayed approval of electoral boundaries. The redrawn electoral map was finally passed on 2 March, more than four months past the deadline.

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Where’s South Korea’s democracy headed?

South Korean President Park Geun Hye attends a New Year's press conference in Seoul on 12 January 2015. A growing rift between President Park and her ruling Saenuri Party has dominated the upcoming elections for South Korea’s National Assembly. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Editors, East Asia Forum

On 13 April South Koreans will elect the 300 members of the country’s unicameral National Assembly. Since making the switch from military dictatorship to democracy in 1987 and announcing itself on the world stage at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea has undergone a remarkable political transformation. Read more…

Party infighting undermines Korean democracy

Election posters of 376 candidates for Seoul's constituencies in the 13 April general elections are hung on string over the Cheonggye Stream in Seoul, South Korea on 4 April 2016. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

South Korea goes to the polls on 13 April. Up for grabs are the 300 seats of the unicameral National Assembly. But the election itself has been overshadowed by the declining popularity of President Park Geun-hye and intense infighting within the ruling Saenuri (New Frontier) Party between pro- and anti-Park camps. Read more…

Will low oil prices grease the engine of South Korean growth?


Author: Kim Nam-Yll, KEEI

The global energy situation is changing rapidly. The shale revolution has led to plunging oil prices that have remained around US$30 a barrel since OPEC’s failure to reach a consensus to cut oil production at its November 2014 meeting. Read more…

South Korea’s demographic dilemma

Elderly Koreans reunited in North Korea. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Lee Sang Ok and Tan Teck Boon, RSIS

South Korea is undergoing rapid demographic ageing. Only 551,000 Koreans or 2.9 per cent of the population were aged 65 or above when the Korean War broke out in 1950. But according to the United Nations World Population Prospects (UNWPP), 6.4 million Koreans, or 12.7 per cent of South Korea’s population, were aged 65 or above in 2014. By 2026 an astounding 10.7 million Koreans — 20.5 per cent of the population — are expected to be aged 65 or above.

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Why South Korea should reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex

Korean People's Army Lt. Col. Nam Dong Ho is silhouetted against the truce village of Panmunjom at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, North Korea. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Jean Lee, New York University School of Law

On 11 February the South Korean government abruptly shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a joint inter-Korean industrial zone located just 10 kilometres north of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), as a punishment for North Korea’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch. Read more…

The ever-shifting sands of Japanese apologies

Protestors gather in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on 17 February 2016, after Japan told the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women that it has found no documents confirming that so-called ‘comfort women’ were forcibly recruited by military or government authorities. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU

On 16 February, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida signed a ‘Strategy for Co-operation in the Pacific’, in which both countries emphasised their shared values of ‘democracy, human rights and the rule of law’. Read more…