Korea Chair Monitor | Vol 4 Issue 5
March 25, 2016
The Korea Chair team takes a biweekly look back at events of interest in Washington, Seoul, and the region from March 10 - March 23, 2016.
U.S.-ROK RELATIONS | United States Passes Unilateral Sanctions
On March 16, President Obama issued executive order 13722, “Blocking Property of the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea, and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to North Korea,” leveling new sanctions in response to the January 6 nuclear test and February 7 missile launch. The new sanction regime blocks the property and interests of the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea; bans the exportation of goods, services, and technology to North Korea; prohibits new investment in North Korea; and sets out criteria for new sanctions designations. These criteria will help facilitate the designation of entities engaged in North Korean human rights abuses, cybersecurity threats, censorship, earning of revenue from overseas labor, and trade in metals, graphite, coal, or software.
DOMESTIC POLITICS | General Election Nomination Processes Conclude
ROK political parties have concluded their respective nomination processes for the upcoming general election with the candidate registration closing on March 24–25. They will begin campaigning starting on March 31, with the general election to take place on April 13. A total of 253 National Assembly representatives will be directly decided through a plurality of votes, while the other 47 representatives will be decided through a proportional representation system.
ECONOMICS AND TRADE | South Korea Works Arduously on Regional Trade Agreements
From March 14 to 18, the second round of Korea-Ecuador Strategic Economic Cooperation Agreement (SECA) meetings was held in Seoul. On March 17, South Korean minister of trade, industry, and energy Joo Hyunghwan and Chinese minister of commerce Gao Hucheng met in Beijing for the first official meeting since the Korea-China free-trade agreement (FTA) was ratified to discuss its implementation and the initiation of a second-level services and investment negotiation. On March 21, South Korean director-general for FTA negotiations Yoo Myunghee and New Zealand ministry of foreign affairs and trade divisional manager Martin Harvey met in Wellington for the first FTA Joint Committee to discuss FTA enforcement. On March 22, South Korean minister of strategy and finance Yoo Ilho and Thai deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs Somkid Jatusripitak held the first Joint Economic Cooperation Committee in Seoul and agreed to further economic cooperation in four sectors and signed 11 memoranda of agreement.