Peaceful demonstrations that gathered momentum last fall show how far the young democracy has advanced since bloody protests in 1987 helped end military dictatorship. They became a source of inspiration to similar movements, and to Koreans like Joseph Kim.
Seen as China's most powerful leader in decades, President Xi could secure his hold for years to come at the next Party Congress. In the South China Sea, a potential flashpoint, Beijing has already signaled its dominance.
On the campaign trail, President-elect Trump repeatedly challenged the status quo regarding key US allies, including NATO, Japan, and South Korea. But his actual intentions are unclear.
Kim Jong-un's regime gave South Korea 48 hours to stop broadcasting anti-North loudspeaker messages across the demilitarized zone.