Two weeks ago, North Korea surprised the world by sending three of its top leaders to the South to attend the closing ceremony of the 17th Asian Games in Incheon. The visit occurred in the midst of growing speculation that North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un, was seriously ill, or even that he had been removed from power.
Perception can often trump facts in politics, and the topic of security in East Asia isn’t exempt from this reality, exemplified by the dominance of China’s “rise” and Japan’s “ramped up” defense posture in current policy debates. Yet, those dynamics create a need as well as an opportunity for increased multilateral engagement, says Thomas Fingar, the Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
Seoul faces challenges that are not very different from other global cities, said Mayor Park Won Soon, the public figure who leads the South Korean city of over 10 million people, concluding that the key to solving them is by better engaging and empowering citizens.“We tore down the silos,” said Park, speaking to a Stanford audience about his efforts to improve Seoul’s bureaucracy and access for citizens.
The 40-day disappearance from public view of North Korea's young leader Kim Jong Un and his sudden reappearance on Monday, walking with a cane but otherwise apparently well, made headlines around the world. International media ran countless reports that Kim was either seriously ill or had even been deposed. Why was this such a big story, and why did so many get it wrong?