The Late, Great Korean Peninsula Security Report
With North Korea sailing off into uncharted waters, the SERI management picked a bad week to announce that it was terminating the Korean Peninsula Security Report, a project that it had run since 2005. It would have been interesting to see how the KPSR panel assessed the implications of Jang Sung-taek's execution for internal stability and external relations.
Because up until that point, the survey respondents saw North Korea's prospects trending up, making for six months of improvement since the third nuclear test and the bellicosity of the spring. Internal stability sub-indices (political (57), military (52), and socio-economic (57)) crossed into positive territory for the first time since the death of Kim Jong-il. Assessment of North Korea's relations with South Korea improved relative to the score in the third quarter, and the score with Russia exceeded 50, signaling an improvement in relations.
In contrast, expert assessment of South Korea's relationship with the US fell into negative territory over concerns about uncertainties regarding the transfer of wartime operational control, defense cost burden-sharing, and South Korea's participation in the US missile defense system.
Predictably, scores on Japan-China relations (23) and Japan-South Korea relations (24) remained in the dumps. Notable was that Japanese analysts had a more positive outlook than counterparts from both China (42 v. 35) and South Korea (38 v. 29).
However both Japan-US relations (64) and the outlook for Japan-US relations (60) remained among the most positive indicators in the whole survey.