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  • Author: Chun In-bum
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: As the focus shifted from North Korea’s military advances in 2017 to its diplomatic offensive in 2018, we should not lose sight of the strategic thinking behind gaining the maximum time to develop the capacity to extend its military threat. At present North Korea needs time to perfect its nuclear strike capability. It has been very successful in developing missile capabilities, but it needs additional time to achieve its goals. Starting with high-level North-South talks on March 5, 2018, the DPRK has just gained what it needs most: time. Whenever the first talks begin with the United States and the DPRK, there should be no surprise if the DPRK comes with an improved capability to threaten the alliance. Thus, for an extended period in 2018, as diplomacy proceeds, we should expect a subdued North Korean approach: not flaunting its nuclear weapons and missiles, while striving to boost capabilities for the struggle ahead. In the seven years since Kim Jong-un officially inherited the leadership of the DPRK, his stated policy has been byungjin ( 병진, 竝進), the pursuit of both economic and military development. In conjunction with purges and efforts to eliminate rivals, byungjin may, in part, derive from Kim’s efforts at the outset of his tenure to consolidate political power. Through it, Kim displayed moderate economic flexibility, thereby gaining favor with the North Korean people through facilitating an improvement in living standards. It is tempting to see byungjin as a sign of the regime’s weakness, or as an indication of moderation, either of which would prompt the eventual collapse of the Kim regime. Correspondingly, one might see it as a reflection of Kim’s immaturity, inexperience, and lack of political and strategic acumen. These viewpoints reflect mirror imaging more than a sophisticated understanding of North Korea. Byungjin may be more of a political device and a strategic communications element of a grand strategy, as opposed to the regime’s strategy. It may be a significant instrument in the regime’s effort to maintain elite cohesion and focus the energies of the North Korean people toward productive pursuits that likewise add to the regime’s legitimacy and staying power. It by no means suggests any diminishing of the priority of making advances in nuclear and missile development in order to pose a more serious threat. Since taking power, Kim’s regime has fired close to one hundred missiles of wide variety and range compared to thirty-one for his father and grandfather combined. He has also conducted four nuclear tests, boasting of a thermal nuclear capability. During his 2018 New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un proclaimed that the DPRK had perfected its nuclear and intercontinental missile capabilities, supporting North Korea’s constitutional claim to be a nuclear power. Despite an upsurge in diplomacy after this address, we should keep our eyes on its military advances.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Security, Military Strategy, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: William B. Brown
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This chapter takes the perspective of North Korea’s leadership as it confronts difficult economic problems in the remaining months of 2018. The major current and potential issues are listed and prioritized. Short and longer-term remedies are presented, each with trade-offs that affect other economic and policy issues. Given the absence of direct reporting from North Korea, the issues and debates presented are speculative, designed to give the reader a more comprehensive understanding of North Korea’s current problems than is ordinarily presented in western media. Kim Jong-un’s recent diplomatic offensive, reaching out to South Korea, China, and the United States is, in this view, suggestive of these internal economic troubles in addition to the nuclear security issues. The troubles are both short-term—the collapse in trade with China in just the past few months—and long-term, the slow-motion collapse of the communist country’s “command” economy. And much more than in the past, the problems relate to the regime’s unusual and dangerous monetary system, money being a normal issue for most governments but a relatively new one for this still partially rationed, or planned, oriented system. The leadership may have little choice but to let the domestic economy move further from the plan—allowing decentralized market and private activities more sway—than ever before. This would help cushion the central government from losses due to the sanctions and open the door to a much more prosperous future. Without major moves in this direction, inflation and unemployment may cascade into social crisis. It should be noted, that the recent Assembly Meetings, which annually focus on the economy, gave little official indication of policy changes, only a sense of digging in further to protect the regime from outside forces. But just a week later, Kim may have telegraphed an upcoming sea change when, in his address to the Party Central Committee plenum, that he is instituting a new Party Line, socialist economic construction, as the total focus of the Party and the country. Major changes, if they are to occur, will likely come after the upcoming important summits with South Korea and the U.S.1 There is little doubt that the economy in 2018 is in very poor condition, delivering one of the worst productivity rates—productivity in terms of labor and of capital—in the world, but it is important to recognize that this is due not to natural circumstances but to decisions the government has made over the years, and trade-offs it has already made. This suggests that astute government policy can create solutions and restore growth. Remedies of the sort expressed here, for example in liquidating, that is selling or leasing state assets to private buyers, raising fixed prices for state delivered electricity and for water and other utilities, and giving large pay raises to the millions of state workers who now rely on rations, while culling their numbers, would require difficult economic and social trade-offs; one might say there is no free lunch for Kim and his regime although no doubt they are looking for one, even in these summits. The chapter discusses just what kinds of decisions might be made and the likely consequences. Negotiations being set with South Korea and with the United States, and likely more discussions with China, may weigh heavily in how far Pyongyang will be willing to go in these respects. In my view the regime will be looking for: outright aid, payments for pushing back the nuclear weapons program, and premature relief from sanctions, which would only give the regime time to avoid the hard choices needed to permanently fix the broken economic system.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Sanctions, Services, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea, Korea
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: What does North Korea seek at a time of unprecedented sanctions and pressure against it and suddenly developing opportunity, as South Korea and four great powers explore diplomatic overtures? This set of four chapters completed at the height of anticipation for summits in 2018 approaches Pyongyang’s strategy from diverse angles: public relations—how it is striving to shape images of itself, beginning by taking advantage of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics; diplomacy—how it is engaging one state after another to forge an ideal diplomatic environment for securing maximum concessions; economy— how it is coping with sanctions and preparing to realize byungjin by boosting the economic side while deriving credit from the military side; and military—how it continues to develop threat capacities and prepare for contingencies. There is a lot that is unknown about what is driving Kim Jong-un’s behavior with some accentuating the strength achieved by building his threat capacity and others emphasizing the weakness exposed by draconian sanctions. These chapters explore the drivers behind his moves through the lens of strategic objectives, recognizing that the North Korean leader sees a mix of opportunities. This volume covers well into the spring of 2018—including the New Year’s Day address by Kim Jong-un that opened the door to a public relations blitz, the delegations sent to South Korea to kick-start “smile diplomacy” against the backdrop of the Winter Olympic Games, the personal diplomacy by Kim with South Korean officials followed by his outreach to Donald Trump and then a hurried visit to Beijing to meet Xi Jinping, and finally the Panmunjom summit with Moon Jae-in in the last week of April. This whirlwind of public relations and diplomacy against diverse interpretations of their economic and military background captured the world’s attention. Yet, Kim’s strategic intentions largely remain a mystery. Does he expect to retain his missiles and nuclear weapons and be recognized as one of the nuclear powers on essentially equal footing with the world’s great military powers? Does he seek to cut a grand bargain, eliminating these threatening weapons in return for acceptance in the international community with guarantees of security and bountiful economic assistance? Is Kim Jong-un playing a multi-stage game with long-term objectives hidden as he capitalizes on differences among five countries to maneuver in ways still difficult to fathom? Much remains unknown, as we delve into his strategic choices.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Affairs, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Yun Sun
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Since being applied to U.S.-Soviet-China trilateral relations after the Sino-American rapprochement in the early 1970s, the notion/theory of “strategic triangles” has been widely used to examine many trilateral relations. The model of “U.S.-China plus one” is popular among students of U.S.-China relations and, consequently, the policy community has witnessed an increasing amount of scholarship on triangles among U.S.-China-India, U.S.-China-Japan, U.S.-China-Russia, and even U.S.-China-Taiwan. Unsurprisingly, this begs the question whether a strategic triangle could be construed and constructed among the United States, China, and South Korea. Generally speaking, despite the trilateral nature of U.S.-China-ROK relations, the Chinese policy community rarely subscribes to the existence of a strategic triangle among the U.S., China, and South Korea. This is not necessarily because South Korea does not carry the same strategic weight as the two great powers, but more importantly is because China does not see South Korea as possessing the strategic autonomy to act as an independent player in the trilateral relations. Although arguably such autonomy might exist in economic and trade relations, on key political and security issues, the Chinese see South Korea as invariably constrained by the U.S.-ROK military alliance and unable to form its own independent national security policy. In writing about the post-Cold War period with an emphasis on geopolitics, Chinese authors do not often treat South Korean policy or Sino-ROK relations as autonomous. Given the great weight given to the U.S. role, it is important, therefore, to take a triangular approach in assessing these writings centered on South Korea. I do so first explaining in more detail why the “strategic triangle” framework does not apply, then examining views on how this triangle has evolved in a period of rising Chinese power relative to U.S. power and fluctuating U.S.-ROK relations as the leadership in Seoul changed hands, and finally returning to the triangular theme to grasp how this shapes China’s understanding of Seoul’s policies with emphasis on the ongoing Moon Jae-in era.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kirk W. Larsen
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: In July 2014, Ambassador Qiu Guohong in preparation for Xi Jinping’s visit to Seoul stated that the “relationship between South Korea and China couldn’t be any better.”1 Among the many reasons for this—economic, geostrategic, cultural—was a shared sense of history. China and Korea, officials and commentators in both nations claimed, were close because of their agreement regarding the significance of their experiences as victims of foreign, particularly Japanese, imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. History, that constellation of memories, stories, and notions about the past, has often been deployed to reinforce conceptions of identity, to support certain courses of action, and to demarcate between the in-group and the other. But history is ever malleable and protean. Not only do individuals, institutions, and ideas change but so does the understanding of them. When one draws on the past, one inevitably focuses on a limited set of events or narratives that best serve one’s interests—to the exclusion of potentially equally valid candidates. Their utility can vary over time; one need only think of how figures such as Zheng He or Confucius have been imagined and re-imagined over the last century. This has been the case with the history of relations between China and Korea from the latenineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. For many Chinese, Korea has served first as a subject of contestation as China’s position in Korea was challenged by both Western and Japanese powers. Then, when it became increasingly clear that China (or the Qing Empire) was losing this contest, Korea became an omen of China’s own fate absent significant course changes. As Japan’s growing empire engulfed Korea and subsequently threatened parts of China, resistance served to bring China and Korea closer; many in China celebrated what they saw as courageous resistance to Japan—such as when An Chunggun assassinated Ito Hirobumi in 1909. Shared status as victims of Japanese imperialism in an age of “humiliation” brought the two closer, and the mutually shared memory of “humiliation” has been deployed by contemporary Chinese and South Korean leaders—Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye—to foster greater levels of cooperation. However, past conceptions of China, Korea, and the Sino-Korean relationship have sometimes ranged far afield from the cherished tropes of humiliation and the struggle for independence. Even seemingly universally agreed upon symbols, such as An’s heroic 1909 assassination, find themselves subject to changing interpretations such as recent emphasis by some on his pan-Asian vision of Sino-Korean-Japanese cooperation rather than his bold anti-Japanese act. As interests and priorities change, so does the utility of any particular historical narrative.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Imperialism, History
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Sheila A. Smith
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Once more, the United States, South Korea, and Japan have confronted a crisis with North Korea. The pattern is now well established. First, there is a provocation—a missile test, a nuclear test, and even worse, the use of force. Next, the United States and its allies in Northeast Asia muster their forces, strengthen their trilateral policy coordination, and sanction the belligerent Pyongyang. The three nations advocate for the accompanying effort by the United Nations Security Council to condemn North Korea’s behavior. Setting aside their political differences, Seoul and Tokyo intensify their military cooperation and Washington calls for greater trilateral unity in confronting a shared security challenge. In 2017, policymakers in Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo found themselves in a similar cycle but with the threat of war ever more real. The dramatic escalation of tensions between President Donald J. Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seemed to bring the region to the brink of a second Korean conflict. But today, just as dramatically, an accelerated series of high-level summits suggests that the Korean Peninsula could be on the brink of peace. President Moon Jae-in met with Kim at Panmunjom, and both Kim and Moon stepped across the line of demarcation at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. The two leaders have embraced a “new era of peace,” with the promise of ending the state of war on the peninsula. Trump has also said he is willing to meet Kim to discuss denuclearization. CIA director Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang on April 1 to test out that proposition, and as secretary of state, Pompeo had the lead in setting the stage for a meeting in Singapore. The Moon-Kim meeting set up the premise of a negotiated denuclearization process. Trump and Kim will define the contours of that path forward.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Peace
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Chung Jae Ho
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Pertinent literature abounds on how East Asian states have struggled to position themselves vis-à-vis a rising China over the past two decades. Due to its geographical proximity and cultural similarities with China, as well as its strategic importance to both the United States and China, South Korea’s tightrope-walking has been more pronounced than anyone else’s.1 Given the crucial strategic issues regarding U.S.-China relations and the North Korean conundrum, how the Seoul-Beijing relationship is to evolve undoubtedly constitutes a key variable in regional security dynamics. This chapter asks what is Seoul’s recipe for dealing with a China that is becoming more “assertive,” examining its changing strategic and diplomatic stance over the years of the Park Geun-hye administration and the first year of the Moon Jae-in government. Of the six sections, the first offers a brief overview of the complex relationship since diplomatic normalization in 1992. The second outlines key features of an era of overoptimism during the first three years of the Park administration (2013-15). The third delves into the issue of THAAD (terminal high-altitude area defense) deployment and how that utterly shattered the Park-Xi honeymoon in 2016. The fourth offers a discussion on China’s narrowly-focused sanctions during 2016-17. The fifth is devoted to the first year of the Moon administration, focusing on envoy politics, the “three-noes controversy,” and Moon’s state visit to China. The final section provides concluding assessments of the factors critical in shaping Moon’s policy toward China and where the room for mending relations remains.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Leif-Eric Easley
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The U.S.-ROK alliance faced a quickening pace of North Korean provocations in 2016-17, with Pyongyang violating UN Security Council resolutions dozens of times. Those violations included a fourth nuclear test in January 2016, fifth in September 2016, and sixth in September 2017, as well as numerous missile tests of various trajectories from different platforms. North Korea tested intermediate-range missiles overflying Japan and missiles of intercontinental range on lofted trajectories, while developing road-mobile and submarinelaunched ballistic missiles. As policymakers in Seoul and Washington coordinated responses to those provocations, changes in national leadership and domestic political preferences brought into question the bilateral trust the alliance needs to deter conflict, reassure publics, and promote regional cooperation. Elections have consequences, even before votes are cast. Enduring international security alliances are based on shared national interests and a track record of diplomatic commitments and military cooperation. For allies with highly integrated defense policies, such as the United States and South Korea, it is natural for policymakers and citizens to keenly observe the national elections of the other country. Will the next government be a reliable partner, or will it fail to honor existing agreements? Will the incoming leadership improve relations, or will it downgrade cooperation? These questions were being asked before Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in were elected. The search for answers inevitably involves speculation, feeding expectations that are often overly optimistic or pessimistic. Ahead of Trump’s election, his campaign rhetoric questioned the terms and intrinsic value of the alliance to an extent not seen since Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign promise to withdraw U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula. President Moon came to power on the heels of conservative president Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and removal for corruption. Moon’s politics are notably more progressive than Park’s or Trump’s, including a record of pro-engagement policies toward North Korea. Against this backdrop, Kim Jong-un delivered his 2018 New Year’s Day address claiming that North Korea has the ability to hit any U.S. city with a nuclear-armed missile, but that Pyongyang is ready to re-engage Seoul via participation in the Winter Olympics.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Alliance, Olympics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: During his first year as president, Moon Jae-in faced a challenging strategic environment and divergent advice on how to manage it. He could cater to his progressive base and act in accord with his political lineage by renewing the Sunshine Policy toward North Korea. Alternatively, he could strive for consensus at home by reconciling the differences with conservatives in foreign policy. In diplomacy with the great powers, he also had important choices to make. He could double down on the U.S. alliance or, going further, he could agree to trilateralism with Japan. Yet, he also could be tempted by the option of balancing dependence on the United States with a closer relationship with China. Impacting all of his choices was the question of how Kim Jong-un would focus in 2018, shifting from provocations aimed at military leverage to diplomacy linked to his outlook on Moon’s policies. In the following five chapters authors explore each of these options. This introduction reviews some of their findings and points to linkages among them as part of an overall assessment of how Moon has navigated among the choices he was facing. The following chapters set forth the options that Moon Jae-in has before him. Chapter 1 by David Straub seeks to grasp the appeal of a renewed Sunshine Policy to Moon, while spelling out the implications of taking that route, warning of a breach in trust with the United States if not a temporary welcome from Donald Trump eager for a Nobel Peace Prize. Leif Eric-Easley’s analysis in Chapter 2 assesses the prospects of Moon doubling down on the ROK alliance with the United States and argues that, so far, trust between allies has been sustained, including in 2018 as diplomacy intensified with summitry on the agenda. In Chapter 3 John Delury examines the domestic political environment, pointing to the impact of the Candlelight movement, which offers opportunities for Moon as well as constraints on policies he might adopt. Chung Jae Ho in Chapter 4 explores Sino-ROK relations and the prospects of Moon drawing closer to China with consequences for relations with the United States. A fifth chapter by Sheila Smith focuses on Japan-ROK relations, newly strained by different approaches to diplomacy with Kim Jong-un. Each chapter views Moon’s policies and proclivities in the context of the dynamics of bilateral ties, while following closely what has been happening to those ties during the tumultuous course of Moon’s first year in office, notably in the first third of 2018 as diplomacy intensified.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: At the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), we foster connections to advance United States-Republic of Korea ties. Through bringing together people with an interest in topics of importance to this relationship, KEI works to further mutual understanding between our two countries. With a whirlwind of new developments in the region, sharing ideas now is of even greater importance. Our 2018 Academic Symposium, through which we endeavor to bridge the academic and policy communities, contributes to understanding crucial questions in the Asia-Pacific. KEI held parts of our Academic Symposium at two conferences this year for the first time. We were pleased to return to the International Studies Association (ISA) annual conference for two panels in San Francisco, California. The conference featured over 6,000 international affairs scholars from around the world with a wide range of research interests and regional specializations to present papers and hold discussions on contemporary issues. We were also pleased to contribute a panel presentation to the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) conference in Washington D.C., which included nearly 4,000 researchers from various disciplines focusing on Asia throughout history. And, for the third year as part of our Academic Symposium, KEI hosted a fourth panel in our own conference room. Marking seven years of collaboration, KEI again turned to the skills and insights of Dr. Gilbert Rozman, the emeritus Musgrave Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, to serve as the Editor-in-Chief for this Joint U.S. - Korea Academic Studies volume and as an advisor to KEI’s programs at the ISA and AAS conferences. This partnership has once more brought together an excellent group of scholars and practitioners. The experts in this volume have thoughtfully addressed themes that are pervasive throughout Asia and are timely for the U.S.-Korea alliance. South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May 2017 with ambitious plans for diplomatic initiatives, but faced challenges from both home and abroad in implementing them. How President Moon has pursued his foreign policy options so far is explored in the first section. As China looks ahead to playing a larger role in region, the second section reminds us of how Beijing’s past relationships on the Korean Peninsula play a pivotal role in its outlook towards Seoul and Pyongyang. The penultimate section examines how key regional stakeholders are seeking to advance their trade interests in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s break with international economic policy norms. In the final section, the authors attempt to make sense of North Korea’s outreach in 2018 by each analyzing its possible strategies. Whether our connection with you is new or continuing, we hope you enjoy the 29th edition of the Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies volume.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Marco Milani
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: In recent years the North Korean nuclear program has increasingly become a major concern for East Asian security. Pyongyang has repeatedly demonstrated its advancements in both missile and nuclear technology, with the final goal of acquiring a credible nuclear deterrent. To achieve this goal, the regime has committed a vast amount of state resources and has jeopardized relations with neighboring countries and major powers. This dangerous situation has created instability in the region and has hindered the possibilities of inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation. The traditional interpretation of the North Korean nuclear program focuses on the survival of the regime and emphasizes the military aspect of security. While these factors play a significant role, over the last twenty-five years new roles have emerged for the nuclear program. Survival remains the priority, but in addition to the military level of nuclear deterrence this paper introduces two different aspects directly connected to the security of the regime: economic security and domestic ideological legitimization. The development of nuclear weapons has been repeatedly used by Pyongyang as leverage in negotiations and to strengthen its political legitimacy. Understanding the complexity and the different factors behind this strategy is crucial to design and implement a viable and effective strategy aimed at limiting or eliminating the North Korean nuclear threat.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: East Asia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Olga Krasnyak
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Science diplomacy is becoming increasingly popular in foreign policy. Branching out of public diplomacy, science diplomacy is a sophisticated and knowledge-based toolkit to secure and promote foreign policy objectives. Unlike the U.S., the best example of how effective science diplomacy can be, South Korea does not recognize science diplomacy as a source of soft power. This paper looks at ways to incorporate science diplomacy into Seoul’s foreign policy agenda, the benefits from which will further its goals in advancing South Korea’s image as an attractive, cooperative, and influential country. Building South Korea’s reputation as among the core of scientifically developed countries will not only enhance commercial benefits, but also help address the current security dilemma, shape future geopolitical outcomes in a multi-polar world, and accelerate Korea’s participation in emerging scientific endeavors such as space exploration.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea