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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), with the generous support of the Korea Foundation, organized six “Vision Group” roundtable conversations with leading American scholars and commentators to discuss the United States’ relationship with the Republic of Korea. The first was held in December 2019, the last in November 2020. The intent was to consider the future of relations during a time of change. The Vision Group comprised a wide range of expertise and opinion. This record conveys some of the insights and recommendations that arose during the conversations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Maximilian Ernst
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper examines South Korea’s foreign policy towards China before, during, and after the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense dispute to investigate the limits of South Korea’s public diplomacy and soft power. South Korea’s official public diplomacy has the objective to “gain global support for Korea’s policies,” following Joseph Nye’s narrow definition of soft power. South Korea furthermore ranks high in the most relevant soft power indices. Based on the case of Chinese economic retaliation against South Korea in response to THAAD deployment, this paper argues that public diplomacy and soft power only work in the absence of traditional security contentions, but fail in the presence of such security contentions. The THAAD case also demonstrates the utility of traditional diplomacy, based on high-level summits and negotiations, to solve the very disputes that South Korea’s latent public diplomacy and soft power were unable to alleviate.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Weapons
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Andrew Yeo
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper addresses the U.S.-South Korea alliance in the context of Asia’s evolving security architecture. At the crux of the issue is the Biden administration’s desire to uphold the rules-based international order by reinforcing the network of inter-Asia alliances and multilateral institutions, on one hand, and the Moon government’s relative reluctance to deepen and expand security ties linked to an Indo-Pacific strategy that counter-balances China, on the other hand. Leveraging the existing alliance relationship, the Biden administration should encourage Seoul to coordinate with other like-minded countries committed to sustaining a rules-based regional order while assisting Seoul in mitigating potential strategic vulnerabilities. Conversely, as a middle power, South Korea must not shy away from the region’s security architecture, but instead actively coordinate with other actors in shaping the region’s strategic environment. By working in concert with other countries in the Indo-Pacific, Seoul can reduce its geopolitical vulnerability while advancing its national and regional interests.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Prashanth Parameswaran
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy (NSP)—the most recent effort by Seoul to boost relations with Southeast Asian countries and India and diversify its relationships beyond four major powers: China, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Yet, at the same time, less of a focus has been placed on how to advance the security aspect of the NSP despite some of the inroads that have been made, as well as the underlying convergences of concerns and interests between South Korea and the countries of Southeast Asia. This paper addresses this gap by providing insights into South Korea’s security ties with Southeast Asia, based on a close analysis of South Korean and Southeast Asian accounts as well as conversations with officials and scholars on both sides. It makes three arguments. First, while South Korea’s efforts to advance security ties with Southeast Asian states as well as with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a bloc may have been met with mixed results so far, the inroads made still deserve attention and are rooted in several domestic, regional, and global drivers. Second, though these security ties create opportunities for Seoul’s relations with ASEAN countries, they also pose challenges that should not be ignored. Third and finally, advancing security relations between South Korea and Southeast Asian countries will require actions not just on the part of Seoul or ASEAN nations, but also other actors.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Troy Stangarone, Juni Kim
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: KEI’s 2021 Report on American Attitudes on the U.S.-ROK Alliance and North Korea Policy summarizes results from a survey commissioned by KEI and conducted by YouGov on May 6th to May 10th, 2021 in advance of the U.S.-ROK summit on May 21st, 2021. The survey asked Americans their views on the U.S.-South Korea relationship, North Korea policy, and the U.S.’ role in the East Asian region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Yuki Tatsumi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Abe Shinzo is the longest-serving prime minister in post-World War II Japan. Having occupied the office since December 2012, Abe has attempted to leverage his stable tenure to increase Japan’s international presence. In particular, Abe has tried to reshape the way Japan conducts its foreign policy, from being responsive to proactive. “A proactive contribution to peace with international principle” or chikyushugi o fukansuru gaiko (diplomacy that takes a panoramic view of the world map) symbolizes his government’s approach, part of an earnest attempt to remain relevant on the international scene even as the country grapples with irreversible trends including population decline and aging.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Choong Yong Ahn
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: India and South Korea, Asia’s third- and fourth-largest economies, respectively, established a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010 and upgraded their relationship to a special strategic partnership in 2015. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “New Southern” policy and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy share important objectives and values through which Korea and India can maximize their potential to pursue high tech-oriented, win-win growth. Both countries face the great challenge of diversifying their economic partners in their respective geo-economic domains amid newly emerging international geo-economic dynamics as well as rapidly changing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Given the two countries’ excessive dependence on the Chinese market and potential risks and uncertainties involved in the U.S.-China trade war and related security conflicts, South Korea and India need to deepen bilateral linkages in trade, investment, and cultural contacts. South Korea-India cooperation is crucial in promoting plurilateralism, prosperity, and harmony in East Asia. This paper suggests a specific action agenda to fulfill mutual commitments as entailed in the “Special Strategic Partnership” between these two like-minded countries of South Korea and India.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Industry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Both India’s and South Korea’s strategic choices are deeply influenced by the rapidly evolving Indo-Pacific construct, particularly amid a mounting U.S.-China rivalry. With India’s “Look/Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” offering a perfect stage for deepened mutual cooperation, both nations need to further their relations to build Asia’s future while advancing their respective national interests. With both countries following stringent foreign policies as a result of the actions of their immediate neighbors, they present a geopolitically strategic complementarity for their relationship to prosper and emerge as one of the most important relationships in the region. Seoul’s hesitation to overtly embrace the “Indo-Pacific” concept is not really a barrier; rather a geo-political overture to discard the balance of power politics and pursue an autonomous foreign policy. India’s preference for the “Indo-Pacific” is equally based on strategic autonomy, imbibing universal values and an inclusive regional order. Both countries emphasize a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific and have immense potential to establish security and connectivity partnerships as the keystone of their bilateral ties. With India and South Korea understanding the economic importance versus security ramifications of China, and with Japan’s reemergence as a key regional, if not global actor, both countries need to bring serious strategic intent to their relationship. Making use of the ASEAN platform and bilateral dialogues, South Korea and India have the potential to become one of the strongest Indo-Pacific partners of the 21st century
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Scott W. Harold
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: North Korea’s ballistic missile program has long been a concern for the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Foreign researchers have increasingly leveraged advanced open source intelligence technology and cooperated across countries to track the North’s developments over the last 25 years. But one country has been left out – China. Are there open source Chinese analyses of DPRK ballistic missiles, do they align with U.S. assessments, and is there anything for other researchers to gain from reading these analyses? This report examines Chinese assessments of North Korean ballistic missile capabilities between 1998 and 2017. We find that Chinese analysts have paid growing attention to the North’s missile capabilities but are still not as attentive as Western observers, from whom they draw most of their information and analytic insights. Chinese analyses broadly mirror Western experts’ conclusions about the state of North Korea’s missile capabilities, most notably that North Korea has a functional, if not fully perfected, intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the United States with a nuclear weapon. However, there is little original Chinese analysis that would enhance foreign experts’ preexisting understanding of DPRK missiles.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons , Research
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Kitti Prasirtsuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The rise of China generally presents both opportunities and challenges, particularly in economic terms. In the past several years, new kinds of challenges have been emerging and are looming larger in ASEAN countries. While ties with Beijing are, by and large, cordial, there are several signs that relations below the state level are increasingly worrisome. First, Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) is largely not oriented towards manufacturing. A considerable amount tends to be in non-real sectors, such as real estate and casinos, which may not generate much employment and can be unhealthy to local economies. Second, the way Chinese businesses expand tends to be predatory, as demonstrated in tourism-related businesses and the acquisitions of fruit businesses in Thailand. As a consequence, new Chinatowns are emerging as more Chinese are moving into the region. Third, even business expansion through the Chinese government, e.g., the train projects, is far from smooth. ASEAN countries find themselves in uneasy deals – including onerous loan terms, undue requests for land usage along the train lines, stringent technology transfers, and imported Chinese labor. Moreover, the recent COVID-19 outbreak reveals not only the fragility of economic overdependence on China, but also public resentment towards the Chinese. Overall, the relations at the level of business and the people are far from promising, which can become a risk factor in state-to-state relations. The situation apparently demands good management from both Beijing and the counterpart governments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, ASEAN, COVID-19, Real Estate
  • Political Geography: China, Malaysia, Asia, Vietnam, Southeast Asia