ROK and Inter-Korean relations
Return to Asian Geopolitics indexpage
Return to ROK and Inter-Korean relations page
China, Japan and South Korea can marshal a collaborative response to COVID-19
13 April 2020
Author: Choong Yong Ahn, Chung-Ang University
With the spread of COVID-19 triggering global economic disruptions and threatening a repeat of the 2008 financial market meltdown, it’s time for high East Asian economic performers like China, Japan and South Korea (CJK) to marshal their experience and resources to fight the pandemic.
Faced with the collapse of cross-border supply chains, the CJK countries might lose their position as a global manufacturing hub. They are also suffering from the devastating halt of intra-regional tourism. There has never been a better time to test the underlying spirit of the December 2019 Chengdu Trilateral Summit. There, the three CJK leaders jointly issued the Trilateral Cooperation Vision for the Next Decade to realise a ‘free, non-discriminatory, transparent, predictable and stable trade and investment environment’ in Northeast Asia.
At the end of February, China and South Korea recorded the first and second-largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world respectively. China has since managed to control its domestic spread, but it still has cases imported from overseas. In South Korea, the infection curve has flattened somewhat, but there are still cases of imported infections. Japan is now showing a rising infection curve.
In the two to three months since the pandemic broke out, each CJK country has taken a different approach to fighting the virus. China has relied on sealing its border, mass testing and enforcing regional lockdown. Japan kept its borders open, had targeted testing and loose social isolation. And South Korea also kept borders open but imposed mass testing and loose social isolation.
The CJK countries, as the early ‘whipping boys’, now possess a big database that could be used for improving collective preventive measures, and in much-needed global vaccine development.
2nd anniversary of Panmunjom Declaration
Warm greetings from Pyongyang!
April 27th marks the 2nd anniversary of announcement of the historic "Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula".
On this meaningful day in 2018, north-south summit meeting and talks were held in Panmunjom for the first time in the history of national division of Korea, and it led to the announcement of the Panmunjom Declaration thanks to the bold decision and noble intention for national reunification of Comrade Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
[Panmunjom Anniversary] [Detente]
Ruling Party Sweeps to Landslide Victory
By Hwang Dae-jin
April 16, 2020 09:36
The ruling Minjoo Party and proxies swept to victory in a landslide in Wednesday's general election to secure more than 180 seats in the National Assembly.
President Moon Jae-in has gained solid parliamentary support on the strength of the government's response to the coronavirus epidemic.
Minjoo Party lawmakers look at a board showing their winning seats at the National Assembly in Seoul on Wednesday. /Newsis
The Minjoo Party won 163 out of 253 constituencies across the country, while the main opposition United Future Party took only 84.
Adding about 17 to 20 proportional representation seats won by proxy minor parties like the Together Citizens' Party and Open Democrats, the ruling party won about 180 seats to achieve a clear majority for the first time in 16 years.
Minjoo weathered the corruption scandal surrounding fly-by-night Justice Minister Cho Kuk as well as the government's dismal economic record, winning over 100 out of 121 constituencies in the Seoul metropolitan area, while the UFP won fewer than 20 as it was routed everywhere except the affluent Gangnam and Yongsan areas.
It was the biggest victory by the ruling party since 1987.
The UFP held on to its traditional strongholds of South Gyeongsang and Gangwon provinces, but in a devastating blow both party leader Hwang Kyo-ahn and party heavyweights Oh Se-hoon and Na Kyung-won lost their seats to Minjoo challengers who are relative newcomers.
Hwang saw his presidential ambitions wiped out by losing against former prime minister Lee Nak-yon in the bellwether Jongno constituency in the heart of Seoul.
He resigned as party leader soon after his defeat.
Coronavirus May ‘Reactivate’ in Cured Patients, Korean CDC Says
By Kyunghee Park
9 April 2020, 4:25 pm NZST
The coronavirus may be “reactivating” in people who have been cured of the illness, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 51 patients classed as having been cured in South Korea have tested positive again, the CDC said in a briefing on Monday. Rather than being infected again, the virus may have been reactivated in these people, given they tested positive again shortly after being released from quarantine, said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korean CDC.
“While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” Jeong said. “There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.”
A patient is deemed fully recovered when two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval show negative results.
Social Distancing Crumbles Amid Slowdown in Infections
By Bae Jun-yong
April 07, 2020 12:27
Korea reported 47 more coronavirus infections on Monday, raising the total to 10,284.
It was the first time in 46 days that the number of new cases dropped below 50, but increasing numbers of people were caught violating self-quarantine orders last weekend.
Across the country, 13.54 million people headed outdoors last weekend to enjoy the warm weather, up 290,000 compared to two weeks ago when the government started a stringent social-distancing campaign.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said Monday, "I don't even want to imagine it, but if we see a surge in infections in the capital region, we might experience the kind of crisis that is happening in many Western countries."
The warning came two days after the government set a goal of keeping the number of new infections below 50 a day.
S. Korea records 51 cases of COVID-19 reinfection
Posted on : Apr.7,2020 17:33 KST Modified on : Apr.7,2020 17:33 KST
Individuals tested positive in short time after being released from quarantine
Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul’s Seongbuk District holds an on-site service on Apr. 5, despite government advisories against religious gatherings amid the COVID-19 epidemic. (Yonhap News)
South Korean government figures show that there are 51 cases of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 again after ostensibly recovering from the disease. The disease control authorities, who think these are likely cases of the coronavirus returning to a high level of activity inside the patient’s body, have dispatched epidemiological investigators to Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province to look into several such examples of a second diagnosis.
Public health authorities told the media on Apr. 6 that seven people, including residents and staff, at Pureun Nursing Home in Bongwha, North Gyeongsang Province, had tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time on Apr. 4. They’d already been given a clean bill of health following an earlier COVID-19 diagnosis and had been returned to the nursing home in batches between Mar. 26 and Apr. 1. This is the first time a group of recovered individuals have been rediagnosed with the disease.
S. Korea’s COVID-19 death toll tops 200; fatality rate veers toward 2%
Posted on : Apr.9,2020 17:01 KST Modified on : Apr.9,2020 17:01 KST
Experts reiterate importance of continuing social distancing
A medical worker at Seoul Medical Center puts on a protective suit before tending to COVID-19 patients. (Yonhap News)
As the number of deaths from the coronavirus in South Korea exceeds 200, the case fatality rate (the percentage of confirmed cases ending in death) is approaching 2%. Deaths are also occurring at a faster rate. Even though the number of new cases in the country has fallen, it would be rash to assume this crisis will wind down anytime soon. The government and experts reiterated the importance of social distancing and urged the public to remain alert.
On Apr. 8, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced that, as of early that morning, 200 people had died of COVID-19 in the country. While 30 days passed between the first death, on Feb. 20, and the 100th, on Mar. 21, it took only 18 days to reach the 200th death. In short, deaths are occurring at a progressively faster rate. As of Apr. 8, South Korea’s case fatality rate stood at 1.93%.
Most of the deaths have occurred among those who are advanced in age or who had underlying medical conditions. “There has only been one fatality reported thus far in which no underlying conditions could be confirmed,” KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook said during the daily press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
Press Release : Academic Exchange Program for North Korean and Unification Studies
As part of “Academic Exchange Program for North Korean and Unification Studies,” the Ministry of Unification and Kyungnam University are calling for applications from foreign scholars and students (master’s degree/doctorate) for scholarship/fellowship in North Korean and Unification Studies.
Starting this year, “Academic Exchange Program for North Korean and Unification Studies” aims to expand the base of experts on unification of the Korean Peninsula and North Korea following continuous increase in the importance of the public diplomacy for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula.
The program is designed to provide scholarship to pursue a master’s degree/doctorate or long term fellowship program for scholar on issues relevant to North Korea and Korean unification. This year, the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of Kyungnam University and the University of North Korean Studies are designated as the institution to operate this program.
The “MOU-UNKS North Korean Studies Scholarship” will provide scholarships to applicants of the master’s degree or doctorate in North Korean and unification studies at the University of North Korean Studies for up to three years.
The “MOU-IFES North Korean Studies Fellowship” provides numerous programs for scholars including opportunities to work with prestigious experts on North Korean issues, attend special lectures by current and former government ministers and policy makers, and participate in academic exchange, field trips and other activities and events for six months to one year at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of Kyungnam University.
Around ten scholars/students will be selected from the program and the application will be open between 1st April to 20th May this year. Applications will be reviewed by the committee composed of the Ministry of Unification, Institute for Far Eastern Studies/University of North Korean Studies of Kyungnam University and experts in the field.
* Announcement: check IFES website (ifes.kyungnam.ac.kr) Application: E-mail(email@example.com)
Through this program, the Ministry of Unification aims to discover and train scholars who can look through peace and unification issue of the Korean Peninsula issue from the Korean Peninsula’s point of view. This will create favorable condition for the peace and unification of two Koreas.
Annex: Announcement for the “Academic Exchange Program for North Korean and Unification Studies”
Return to ROK and Inter-Korean relations page