Korea Chair Monitor | Vol 4 Issue 7
April 22, 2016
The Korea Chair team takes a biweekly look back at events of interest in Washington, Seoul, and the region from April 7 - April 20, 2016.
U.S.-ROK RELATIONS | First U.S.-ROK Civil Nuclear Commission Meeting
On April 14, the High-Level Bilateral Commission, established as part of the new U.S.-ROK “123 Agreement” (2015), held its inaugural meeting. U.S. deputy secretary of energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and ROK second vice minister of foreign affairs Cho Tae-yul cochaired. There were four working groups, focused on spent fuel management, assured fuel supply, export cooperation, and nuclear security. Both sides also agreed to explore new projects related to the management of spent fuel, and the ROK’s desire to produce low-enriched uranium for a stable fuel supply for power plants. Sherwood-Randall also had a chance to sit down with ROK minister of foreign affairs Yun Byung-Se, where they discussed the meaningfulness of the message sent to North Korea through meetings on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. On April 15, ROK minister of trade, investment, and energy Joo Hyung-hwan exchanged views with Sherwood-Randall on the reduction of greenhouse gases and cooperation on clean energy.
DOMESTIC POLITICS | 2016 General Election Results
On April 13, the general election for the 20th ROK National Assembly was held. The Minjoo Party won 123 seats, the Saenuri Party 122 seats, the People’s Party 38 seats, the Justice Party 6 seats, and the independent candidates gained 11 seats. This is the first time in 16 years that there is a three-party system in the National Assembly.
REGIONAL RELATIONS | ROK-U.S.-Japan Trilateral Vice-Ministerial Talk in Seoul
On April 19, the United States, ROK, and Japan held vice-ministerial talks in Seoul. ROK first vice minister Lim Sung-nam, U.S. deputy secretary of state Tony Blinken, and Japanese vice-minister Akitaka Saiki held the third trilateral diplomatic consultation to discuss issues regarding DPRK denuclearization and enforcement of sanctions. Blinken announced the United States, ROK, and Japan would increase military intelligence sharing to boost cooperation on security issues. Blinken and Cho Tae-yong, ROK deputy chief of the Blue House’s national security office, met for bilateral talks. On the same day, the ROK and Japan held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines to discuss issues regarding ROK-Japan relations.