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  • Author: Eui-Gak Hwang
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This article will describe the recent status of the North Korean economy and its external trade as well as the derailed North-South economic interaction. Despite several attempts by North Korea to introduce change involving the term 'economic reform', North Korea has not yet advanced during the last thirty years. Its economic deadlocks are owed, first, to its very principles in which economic reform must be permissible only within the set of basic values held by the monoparty about "juche (self-reliant)" socialism. In other words, even partial decentralization is itself being centrally directed and eyed with military-first targets. Second, the North Korean leadership and its supporting elites, the final arbiters deciding how far it is permissible to open its system, are apprehensive that a change in its system would actually lead to the collapse of their established power structure. The fear of reform arbiters regarding a revolutionary bottom-up movement has played a role in inhibiting action. North-South economic cooperation as well as the resistance to North's external openness must also be considered for its potential positive and negative effects on the people in the monarchic hermit kingdom. North Korea is likely to remain little changed as long as Kim's family continues its current rule. The only chance for real change may occur if the young and liberal Kim Jung-eun wakes up and agrees to unite with South Korea.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Yoon-Shik Park
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Four and a half years after the agreement between the U.S and Korean governments, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA or KORUS) was finally approved by both the U.S. Congress and the Korean Parliament in late 2011 and has been in effect since March 15, 2012. KORUS is the most important free trade agreement for the U.S. since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that came into force in 1994. Korea has become an important trade partner of the United States, for which Korea is the 7th largest trading partner, 5th largest export market for agricultural products, 2nd largest market for U.S. services in Asia, and 10th largest market for information technology products. The total U.S.-Korea trade volume tripled over just two decades between 1990 and 2011. However, the relative importance of two countries' bilateral trade has declined in recent decades. This trendline decline is expected to be reversed in the coming years because of the KORUS. Several studies have been conducted to estimate the potential effects of KORUS. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) study in 2007 estimated that U.S. GDP would increase by $10 to $12 billion (about 0.1%) and U.S. exports would rise by $9.7 billion to $10.9 billion, if KORUS were fully implemented. A University of Michigan study, commissioned by the Korea Economic Institute, estimated that U.S. GDP would increase by $25 billion (0.14% of GDP). This estimate was larger than the US ITC result, in part because the study included the effects of liberalization in services trade. The Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) estimated the potential economic impact of KORUS on Korea's economy. The study concluded that KORUS would lead to an increase of 0.42% to 0.59% in Korean GDP according to a static analysis and 1.99% to 2.27% according to a dynamic analysis. A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 found that America would suffer a net loss of more than 345,000 jobs, $35 billion in lost export sales and U.S. GDP failing to grow by $40 billion, if KORUS were NOT implemented while the European Union and Canada moved forward to implement FTAs with Korea.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Korea
  • Author: Bruce Klingner
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S.–South Korean security alliance has been indispensable in achieving Washington's strategic objectives and maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia. A confluence of developments, however, is forcing changes in the alliance. These factors include a changing threat environment, an evolving U.S. military strategy, and South Korea's desire for greater autonomy as a result of its improving military and economic capabilities. It is important that the alliance begin the evolution from a singularly focused mission to a more robust values-based relationship that looks beyond the Korean Peninsula. Without substantial and sustained involvement by the senior political and military leadership, the alliance may not be sufficiently adapted to the new threat environment, including as a hedge against Chinese military modernization. The U.S. and South Korean administrations must also provide a clear strategic vision of the enduring need for the alliance and implement a robust public diplomacy program to prevent the erosion of public and legislative support. The plan to develop a U.S.–South Korean strategic alliance is a testament both to the successes of the long-standing military relationship and to the shared values of the two democracies.
  • Topic: Economics, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Sung-Hee Jwa
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the first six months of MBnomics - its strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments and failures, along with suggestions for improvement. Throughout, the paper stresses the unevenness and lopsided nature of economic development which is viewed as the result of economic resources joining and concentrating towards competent, viable economic entities. Such an evolutionary process not only makes economic activity possible, but also leads to individual agents' and national economic development. After reviewing Korea's developmental experience over the past 4 decades, I argue that Korea needs to move away from the egalitarian policies of the past 15 years (the so-called “Egalitarian Trap”) by learning from the earlier decades of high growth and economic development when the flow of resources to economically competent agents and regions was encouraged under highly discriminatory policies. In the past 6 months, so-called MBnomics which intended to establish a regime of “big markets and small government” has clearly underperformed with respect to what was originally anticipated, often being misguided and inconsistent in various areas. This paper argues that economic policy remained in line with its original intentions and focused on instilling the developmental spirit of self-help, diligence, and cooperation throughout all aspects of society by putting into place discrimination policies that “help those that help themselves.” MBnomics must not shy away from the lopsidedness created by the development process and should promptly do away with those policies establishing equality at the expense of the economically viable agents.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Author: Eui-Gak Hwang
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines inter-Korean economic cooperation and trade. It reviews the political background and current status of the idiosyncratic determinants of inter-Korean economic cooperation and trade, followed by its resultant impacts as well as policy suggestions for future directions. Over the last 20 years, inter-Korean trade increased by about 90-fold from 20 million US dollars in 1989 to 1.8 billion US dollars in 2007. Since 1999, in particular, inter-Korean economic cooperation has expanded significantly. Its share of North Korean total trade accounted for 13 % in 1999, 26% in 2005 and jumped to 61.2% in 2007. Such an increase is due mostly to increasing aid and investment from the South. While the economic gap between the North and South is still widening, the North's brinkmanship strategy shows no sign of ending. The increase in aid and investment from the South owes largely to non-economic factors to help the deteriorating economy and appeasement policy to lure North Korea out of isolation. The success of this lopsided policy by the South is yet to be seen, but a reciprocity principle would likely work better by encouraging the autarchic North to move toward a selfsustaining market economy.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Korea