South Korea. According to Countryaah, the newly elected President Park Geun Hye was sworn in in February and promised economic recovery and tough security issues. Just two weeks before, North Korea had tested a nuclear weapon, for the third time since 2006.
Park had some problems with appointing her government when several of the candidates she appointed were withdrawn following interrogations in the National Assembly or after revealing media irregularities. By the end of March, the new government was ready.
The North Korean test blast deteriorated an already tense situation and was followed by sharp condemnations from the outside world. South Korea increased its military preparedness and conducted a military exercise with the United States, after which North Korea sharpened the already tightened tone and threatened with attack.
In addition, in April, North Korea closed the Kaesong industrial zone, where over 800 South Koreans and over 50,000 North Koreans worked in 123 South Korean companies. Kaesong was the only joint project the two countries ran. Several fruitless rounds of negotiations were held before the industrial zone was reopened in September.
Former intelligence chief Won Sei Hoon was charged in June with trying to influence the outcome of the December 2012 presidential election, in Park’s favor. This should have happened by ordering a disinformation campaign against her opponent. The opposition party Democratic United Party (DUP) requested a parliamentary inquiry into the charges.
During a visit by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in October, South Korea and the United States signed a military pact to coordinate against North Korea’s threats. An annual military parade held was reported to be the largest in a decade, and President Park spoke of a “serious threat” from the neighbor.
Freedom of expression is still limited in the country due to the «National Security Act». In the first 8 months of 2014, 32 people were charged under the law. There was a decline in 2013, in which 129 people were charged under the law, but alarming.
The country has an important export of equipment to suppress popular protests. Following sharp criticism from, among other things, Amnesty International stopped the country in January 2014 exports of tear gas to the dictatorial state of Bahrain.
In November 2015, 80,000 in Seoul’s streets protested against the president demanding her resignation. It came after a series of legislative changes that made it easier for employers to lay off their employees, and the decision that middle school and high school students from 2017 must have replaced their history books with state-approved texts. The protesters were met with tear gas and water cannons.
Relations with the old occupying power and war crimes state of Japan continued to be strained, and South Korea was reminded every year of the war crimes when Japanese prime ministers visited Japanese war memorials. In December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and South Korea’s President Park signed an agreement to settle the dispute over the Qur’an war whores. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, the occupation force forced over 100,000 Korean women into prostitution, serving soldiers of the occupying force. Japan now agreed to pay $ 8.3 million US $ for a fund for surviving victims. In turn, South Korea pledged to no longer criticize Japan for these crimes, and to remove a statue commemorating the victims located in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
In February 2016, South Korea closed the Kaesong free trade zone, which was a South Korean economic zone with North Korean workers operated on the border between the two countries. The occasion was North Korea’s missile testing earlier this month.
The April 2016 parliamentary election was a staggering defeat for President Park, whose conservative coalition went back 24 seats to 122, while the Socialist-Liberal coalition went 21 seats up to 123. Parliament’s two smaller parties also prospered. The consequence was that President Park and her party no longer had a majority in parliament, and therefore politically relied on the opposition’s support for bills. This was a political double-power situation that weakened the president.
In July, South Korea and the United States decided to deploy the THAAD missile system. The decision sparked protests from both China and North Korea, which saw the decision as an offensive move. The locals in the areas where it was to be set up also protested against the decision.