North Korea in South Korea–Japan relations as a source of mutual security anxiety among democratic societies

Seung Hyok Lee
Content Type
Journal Article
International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
Issue Number
Publication Date
May 2016
Japan Association of International Relations
When Kim Dae-jung and Koizumi Junichiro visited Pyongyang in 2000 and 2002, their visits facilitated a perception shift toward North Korea in South Korea and Japan. This was a consequence of the two democratic societies expanding and redefining the acceptable boundaries of their national security identities and principles in a changing regional environment. Although the expansion of societal security discourse did not lead extreme ‘revisionists’ to implement drastic strategic policy transformations in either country, it did provoke a ‘mutual security anxiety’ between the South Korean and Japanese publics, as they felt increasingly uncertain about each other's future security trajectory. This mutual anxiety, in which both countries tend to view each other as potential security risk, while overlooking the existence of moderate democratic citizens on the other side, continues to provide a powerful ideational undertone to the bilateral relationship, which contributes to persistent misunderstanding at various levels.
International Relations, Security, Democracy
Political Geography
Japan, Asia, South Korea, North Korea