South Korea’s president was removed: What’s going to happen now?
The removal of South Korean President Park Geun-hye is a turning point in South Korean politics, but it represents an interesting dilemma in terms of geopolitical interests in the region.
She was impeached and removed over various corruption charges. Corruption has always occurred in politics regardless of time and location.
The country has had many dictators, including Geun-hye’s father. The most well known, though, was Syngman Rhee, a key ally for the United States and the United Nations when he led the country during the Korean War (1950- 1953).
Geun-hye’s removal shows that the democratic process works within a stable government.
A corrupt politician can be removed if he or she violates a nation’s laws. I can not be certain that the transition will be peaceful in the next few months (mainly because I can’t predict the future), but if her removal is a sign, it may be a simple peaceful transition.
The only issue is how the incident will affect the balance of power in Asia.
According to the New York Times, the transition of power will go to the opposing political party which is more in favor of negotiating with North Korea. While negotiating is certainly not a problem because it can prevent open warfare, negotiations will never end the goal of the North Korean government: the reunification of Korea under their system.
South Korea needs to maintain that its military is prepared to deal with any challenges, even during the current political turmoil.
North Korea definitely sees their neighbor as more vulnerable with the current president — who is considered more of a hawk compared to her opposition — removed from office.
The United States should definitely be wary about this current turn of events in South Korean politics.
North Korea has been firing missiles to test the United States. We are not the main targets, but they see us as major enemy simply because we can intervene in affairs in the region.
Her removal also posses a quandary regarding Japan.
If the new government decides to take a less bullish stance with North Korea, Japan may be a larger target for the North Koreans. However, Geun-hye was also not friendly with the Japanese.
Although she never created any large-scale incidents with Japan, she had anti-Japan views due to the Japanese control of Korea during World War II and in the post-war period.
There is potential that the new government may be more friendly with Japan at least in terms of forgiving old wounds.
However, the main concern for the countries should be what the Chinese do with the Koreas.
North Korea has been a thorn in the side for the Chinese. They pledge their support, but North Korea also takes many aggressive actions that the Chinese deem unwise. If the next government attempts to establish friendlier relations with the North, then those two countries may be less of a concern for China.
If Korea becomes less of a concern for China to manage, they may shift more of their efforts to other regions.
Military action will most likely not occur between the Koreas and the other countries.
Any minor incident will develop into a large-scale conflict that will at least involve all countries stated above.
South Korea, Japan, China and the United States want to avoid any war simply over economic reasons.
North Korea would like to fight their southern half and Japan, but they will simply be overpowered by the two and the United States.
I haven’t included Russia in any of those possibilities. Their main focus is not in Asia, and every one of those countries has already taken a side within the Chinese and American spheres of influence. However, Russia can still intervene just to cause chaos among the various sides.
The only concern between the powers is who will gain geopolitical influence and who will lose some of theirs.
While the democratic process succeeded in South Korea, regional power may be altered.