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  • Author: Clara Gillespie
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Under President Moon Jae-in, South Korea has set an ambitious target to move from being “first in the world” in the race to 5G to “first in global quality.” Yet, while a range of industry and government stakeholders are investing heavily in making this vision a reality, a number of factors are likely to weigh on whether or not these efforts yield significant results. These include uncertainties about how to further accelerate development in ways that lead to better returns on investments, and about how to navigate complex geopolitical considerations, including ongoing debates about Huawei’s involvement in 5G network infrastructure. Each of these areas will, in turn, require domestic stakeholders to make complex assessments about potential tradeoffs and risks. Thus, this paper assesses South Korea’s emerging 5G era at the one-year mark, and highlights key successes, setbacks, and ongoing challenges. Building on these findings, the paper concludes by offering several potential scenarios for future development, and suggestions for ways forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, 5G
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • 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: Liudmila Zakharova
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The New Northern Policy, proclaimed by the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok in September 2017, is designed to boost economic cooperation between Russia and South Korea. However, two years after a special presidential committee was created to plan and coordinate joint economic efforts, few results have been achieved. Bilateral trade has continued to increase with limited change to its structure: Russia mostly sends its mineral resources to South Korea and receives industrial products in return. New ROK investment in the Russian Far East has yet to occur, despite South Korea’s efforts to assist its businesses in finding profitable Russian projects. Seoul tried to convince Moscow that concluding a free trade agreement in the near future is necessary for intensified cooperation, but Russia prefers a more gradual approach to trade liberalization. InterKorean rapprochement in 2018 laid a foundation for further progress in the implementation of multilateral economic projects involving Russia if the international sanctions against North Korea were to be eased. Therefore, bilateral relations between Russia and the ROK can also be viewed from the perspective of promoting regional cooperation with North Korean participation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Darcie Druadt
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: South Korea’s deliberate liberalization of migration controls has facilitated the entry and stay of new types of residents from various ethnic, political, and national backgrounds. With this demographic shift comes new questions for the South Korean polity in terms of its expectations of rights and duties of residents in the country. South Korean citizenship has, until the past decade, been largely premised on belonging in two fields: shared ethnic descent and contributions to the nationstate development project. However, new residents, who are ethnically diverse and who contribute to the national project, are seeking greater rights and social welfare provisions just as Korean nationals are ambivalent about their inclusion in the democratic body politic. As a result, the migrant policies bring into sharper relief the contours of democratic discourse in South Korea today. Drawing from six months of immersive fieldwork conducted in South Korea, this paper analyzes the relevance of migrant rights and expectations in understanding the broader democratic challenges in South Korea. Examining the government’s institutionalization of certain migrant “categories”—namely, temporary labor migrants and so-called “marriage migrants”— the paper argues that South Korea’s treatment of diversity and the protection of individual rights should be analyzed more deeply to understand current trends in South Korean civil society and democracy.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Demographics, Migration, Immigration, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jiwon Nam, Kristin Vekasi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Tensions between South Korea and Japan are frustratingly persistent. Despite the shared interests of both countries, such as economic development in Southeast Asia, and keeping a robust alliance with the United States, South Korea and Japan maintain a bellicose relationship because of unresolved historical misunderstandings and territorial disputes. Inconsistent diplomatic policies and lack of strong leaders have made it difficult to prevent unnecessary hostility between South Korea and Japan. Fear of losing support has prevented politicians from pursuing friendly policies towards each other. Businesspeople, too, have been reluctant to pursue friendly policies towards each other, because of preconceived risks of being targeted for backlash. An examination of economic data shows these risks are minimal, and political tensions do not affect business or consumer behavior. Current efforts from both Korean and Japanese business organizations to improve cooperation include student exchange programs, recruitment processes, and public diplomacy. We urge the business community to advocate more to improve bilateral relations. Economic relations alone are insufficient to handle the task of improving a difficult relationship; there is also a need for leadership. In South Korea-Japan relations, the business community should step in and provide that role.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Business , Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Théo Clément
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: While North Korea has developed Special Economic Zones for several decades now, these zones have attracted little attention from foreign investors, due to a mix of lack of economic reforms in the DPRK, the tense geopolitical situation, and China’s peculiar economic engagement towards North Korea. With the denuclearization process and North-South dialogue moving forward, this situation could change as South Korea’s announced policy of economic engagement with the North could provide Pyongyang the opportunity to play Beijing against Seoul to maximize its interests and attract foreign investment in Special Economic Zones from partners keen to maintain close ties with the DPRK.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Investment, Trade, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: June Park
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper examines the impacts of global competition in solar panel production and the conflict of domestic interests among solar-related industries in the U.S. on South Korea’s solar-focused renewable energy policy. Examining the Moon Jaein administration’s energy policy amid the impact of the U.S. safeguard on South Korean solar panels, the paper argues a) the U.S. safeguard is a hindrance to South Korea’s path forward on solar panel production, and b) Moon’s sole focus on sustainability and his ambitious solar energy target will result in further adoption of lower-cost Chinese solar panels, foregoing the opportunity to upgrade South Korean panels. As South Korean firms announce their decisions to relocate to the U.S. to avoid U.S. safeguard tariffs, the paper recommends the destinations of South Korean solar panel exports be diversified and the goals of South Korean energy policy be centered on balancing cost, stability, and sustainability. The paper does not necessarily recommend a full-fledged drive on expanding solar energy use in South Korea; rather, it calls for the strategic reevaluation of energy policy upon which a clear and sound strategy for solar energy should be formulated.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Bilateral Relations, Trade Wars, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Mark Tokola
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: With an outbreak of diplomacy under way for the Korean Peninsula, a review of North Korea’s approach to negotiations is timely. A summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in was held on April 27. President Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un.1 The secretive nature of the North Korean state makes it difficult to assess how it will engage with and what it expects to gain from talks with the international community—not just with the United States and South Korea, but with China, Japan, Russia, the EU, and others. However, its past behavior, official statements, the testimony of defectors, and the expert opinion of North Korea watchers can provide helpful insights. This chapter presents a brief history of talks and agreements with North Korea prior to the inauguration of Trump, followed by an overview of North Korea’s diplomatic outreach in 2018 to date. It then presents indicators as to what North Korean diplomacy may look like through the rest of the year based on assessments of its stated and implicit objectives—ends it would wish to attain in any event, either through diplomacy or by coercion. I conclude with a list of key upcoming dates and scenarios describing how North Korean diplomacy may play out for the remainder of 2018. North Korea’s recent diplomatic moves mark an abrupt policy change. During 2017, it carried out in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions three test flights of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); conducted its fifth and sixth underground nuclear tests, the latter being the most powerful to date and almost certainly thermonuclear; threatened an “unimaginable attack” against the United States;2 and officially announced that it would “never give up its nuclear weapons.”3 If North Korea is indeed now willing to negotiate denuclearization with the United States and South Korea, its diplomacy can at least be described as agile.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Eun A Jo
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Tension on the Korean Peninsula had reached a boiling point by the time Kim Jong-un delivered his New Year’s address—a tradition set by his grandfather that he had revived in 2013. Beyond the talk of a “nuclear button,” which triggered another round of fiery exchanges with Donald Trump, Kim devoted a considerable segment of his speech to calling for improved inter-Korean relations. Though signaling an ambiguous friendly overture to the South has become an annual exercise for Kim, this year’s speech was uncharacteristically specific in that he offered to send a delegation to South Korea’s highly anticipated Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. But sports diplomacy is hardly new to Kim; an avid sports fan himself, Kim is acutely aware of its propaganda value and utility as a channel for diplomacy. For Kim, the Pyeongchang Olympics presented a timely opportunity to remake the regime’s flailing image at home and abroad. In this chapter, the Pyeongchang Olympics are used as a case study to understand Kim’s public relations strategy. Before exploring the strategic intentions behind Kim’s diplomatic campaign, both the old and new features of his image-making efforts are examined, focusing in particular on his use of sports diplomacy. How Kim’s charm offensive in Pyeongchang is communicated internally and received externally is then analyzed, yielding important insights about the prospects of reconciliation between the two Koreas post-Olympics.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Weapons , Public Relations, Olympics, Kim Jong-un
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Korea