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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: 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: Sonali Chowdhry, Gabriel Felbermayr
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: In 2011, the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (EUKFTA) entered into force. With its focus on non-tariff barriers (NTBs), it is a leading example of a deep new generation agreement. Using detailed French customs data for the period 2000 to 2016, we investigate how exporters of different size have gained from the agreement. Applying a diff-in-diff strategy that makes use of the rich dimensionality of the data, we find that firms with larger pre-FTA sizes benefit more from the FTA than firms at the lower end of the size distribution, both at the extensive (product) and the intensive margins of trade. The latter finding is in surprising contrast to leading theories of firm-level behavior. Moreover, we find that our main result is driven by NTB reductions rather than tariff cuts. In shedding light on the distributional effects of trade agreements within exporters, our findings highlight the need for effective SME-chapters in FTAs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Treaties and Agreements, Tariffs, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Korea, European Union
  • 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: Gilbert Rozman, Mark Tokola, Gilbert Rozman, Dmitri V. Trenin, Yuki Tatsumi, Kathryn Botto, Rush Doshi, Scott W. Harold, See-Won Byun, Cheol Hee Park, Brad Glosserman, Charles W. Boustany Jr., Matthew Goodman, Wonho Yeon, Kitti Prasirtsuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The experts in this volume have thoughtfully addressed themes that are pervasive throughout Asia and are timely for the U.S.-Korea alliance. With the future of Northeast Asia in flux, political leaders are hoping to transform their respective visions into the path forward for the region. Authors in the first section analyze the frameworks of U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discern the currents underlying geopolitical developments in the region. The second section examines the role of national identity in key bilateral Indo-Pacific relationships where geopolitical fault lines have become clearer. Chapters in this section cover the India-China, U.S.-China, South Korea-China, and South Korea-Japan dyads. The final section provides insights into how several of China’s neighbors and the United States are responding to its economic rise, which, of course, are also guided by strategic concerns. Considering how COVID-19 has exacerbated the rivalry between Washington and Beijing as well as the influence this relationship carries in shaping the future of the region, the contributions here are particularly relevant and timely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Wonho Yeon
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper reviews China’s technological rise and assesses whether it poses a threat to the South Korean economy. In terms of comparative advantage between the two countries, many experts have long believed that China’s strength is low-cost labor and Korea’s is technology and capital. However, this has changed as China’s economy grows. Now China has enough capital to invest in its economy. Some scholars even argue that China has the potential to meet its “innovation imperative” and emerge as a driving force in innovation on a global level.1 This paper examines the Korea-China economic relationship from the innovation productivity perspective, organized into sections: briefly introducing the Korea- China economic relationship; describing the technological rise of China, based on recent data; developing the model to analyze the innovation productivity of China and report the estimation results; evaluating the concern of the South Korean semiconductor industry; and presenting conclusions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have experienced periods of conflict and cooperation since officially forging “partnership” relations in 1998. From a historical perspective, Korea was among the most willing participants of the Sinocentric tribute system and its underlying cultural hierarchy. Yet the 2003-2004 dispute over the ancient Koguryo kingdom’s identity marked the first major downturn in the China-ROK relationship since normalization. The rapid expansion of trade, at an average annual rate of 18 percent since 1992, has not prevented the two sides from fighting over political grievances. Most notably under the current Xi Jinping leadership, Beijing’s assertions of unprecedented friendship quickly turned into accusations of betrayal requiring economic punishment. Why and how did China’s policy toward South Korea shift so drastically after two decades of diplomatic normalization? To answer, we must focus on the expectations raised by China’s national identity for ties with South Korea. This study examines the evolution of Chinese views of South Korea with a focus on elite and popular narratives since 2013. Despite increased interdependence, these narratives point to China’s increasingly fragile political ties with Asian partners. Most importantly, China’s growing weight facilitates its strategic combination of economic and discursive tools of diplomacy framed by national identity. Recent tensions over the U.S.-ROK military alliance displayed Beijing’s denial of direct economic retaliation under the cover of public hostility, conveniently blurring the lines between state-led and voluntary actions. By hardening the identity dimensions of conflict, such strategies may only have long-term counterproductive effects of constraining Beijing’s political influence at home and abroad. The four sections below proceed as follows. First, I review two decades of China-ROK relations since the establishment of partnership ties in 1998. I identify two related trends: the intensification of political disputes despite trade, and China’s growing economic leverage in managing those disputes, keeping an eye on the role of national identity. Second, I assess the pessimistic turn in China’s domestic discourse on South Korea in the Xi Jinping period, using official, academic, and media sources. Third, I trace the interaction of elite and popular narratives, focusing on the 2016-2017 dispute over a U.S. missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). I briefly extend the discussion to public clashes over Hong Kong in 2019 to underscore the enduring impact of China’s major power and domestic political identities on China-ROK relations. To conclude, I consider the trajectory of bilateral relations under the leadership of Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in, including the domestic and foreign policy implications of nationalist discourse.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Public Opinion, Elites
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Bama Dev Sigdel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The main objective of this article is to assess the effect of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in terms of economic interrelations between Asian countries mainly China, Korea, India and Nepal. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious economic strategies in modern times that alters the economic, political and social relationship between Eastern and Western societies. It not only improves transport networks and facilitates trade, but also raises GDP of many economies. For China, BRI manifests its intention to become the next global power through bigger market access and economic opportunities. Although South Asia is less developed economically, it has high strategic utility for the BRI, which has drawn attention from China to deepen its relations in the region. On the other hand, South Korea has also emerged as a soft power in Asia. It has been playing a significant role in Asia by contributing the majority of its aid, i.e., 35 per cent in Asian economies and a major share of its FDI, i.e., 34.1 per cent. With the rapidly increasing growth of South Korea, it also has a growing relationship with ASEAN and other South Asian economies such as India to reduce its dependence on traditional trade allies. Moreover, for least developed economies like Nepal, the BRI can bring improved infrastructure, needed technology, managerial talents and greater connectivity to the world. South Korea can yield higher benefits through its relation with South Asia and especially Nepal through expansion of export and market access, access to cheap workable manpower to cope with its rising aging population, and less dependence on traditional allies through its investment in South Asian region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Asia, South Korea, Nepal
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Kaesong Industrial Complex, closed since 2016, was the most successful joint economic venture undertaken by North and South Korea. Reopening the manufacturing zone, with improvements to efficiency and worker protections, could help broker wider cooperation and sustain peace talks on the peninsula. What’s new? In 2016, South Korea shuttered the Kaesong Industrial Complex, breaking a modest but productive connection between the two Koreas. Crisis Group’s analysis sheds new light on the economic performance of firms operating at the Complex, demonstrating that the benefits for the South were greater than previously understood. Why does it matter? Beyond helping restart the stalled peace process, a deal to reopen the Complex in exchange for a proportionate step toward denuclearisation by North Korea could produce mutual economic benefits that help sustain South Korean support for talks and encourage Pyongyang’s commitment to peaceful relations. What should be done? As part of any deal to reopen the Complex, Seoul and Pyongyang should take steps to address problems that previously kept it from reaching its potential. The more efficiently, profitably and fairly it works, the better the Complex can help foster and maintain stable, peaceful relations between the Koreas.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea