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The New Face of Northeast Asia

Courtesy Reuters

RUMBLINGS IN THE EAST

Northeast Asia, specialists have long argued, is among the most dangerous places on earth. Only there are the world's three principal nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, and China) and the two largest economic powers (the United States and Japan) still politically and geographically engaged -- their interests entwined in a volatile arc surrounding Japan. It was in that region that three years of bitter Korean conflict half a century ago shaped the Cold War for two generations. As other global hot spots moved fitfully toward peace, Korea remained locked in conflict. To this day, Northeast Asia lacks a regional security framework analogous to NATO or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and there is still no peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula, where more than a million troops from opposing sides remain deployed within miles of each other.

Yet when Kim Dae

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