The Korean Paradox: Domestic Political Divide and Foreign Policy in South Korea 9781138542402, 9781351008761

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Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Notes on contributors
1 Interpreting South Korea’s foreign and security policy under the “Asian paradox”
The emergence of the “Asian paradox” and its influence on South Korea
The interpretive approach to foreign policy
South Korea’s foreign policy and its paradoxes
Structure of the book
2 The dynamics of democratized South Korean foreign policy in the post-Cold War era
The Authoritarian Governments during the Cold War(1953–1987)
The peaceful transition and Roh Tae-woo’s Northern policy
Kim Young-sam’s democratization and foreign policy
The formation of the conservatives and progressives on foreign policy
3 The impact of political alternation on South Korea’s foreign policy
Kim Dae-jung and the debut of the progressive era
Roh Moo-hyun’selection and the deepening of the domestic divide
The conservative reassessment under Lee Myung-bak
Park Geun-hye’s attempt to revise the conservative tradition
4 Progressive and conservative visions of inter-Korean relations
The end of the Cold War and South Korean democratizationas turning points for inter-Korean relations
The progressive vision of inter-Korean relations in practice
The return of the conservative approach in inter-Korean relations and the end of cooperation
5 South Korea, partisan politics, and the United States
Introduction: South Korea’s political turmoil
Enduring elements of Korea’s political culture
Democracy is vibrant, and the pendulum swings left and right
Engaging North Korea
Comfort women memorials in the United States
Korea, the U.S., and China
Conclusion: the U.S.–ROK alliance under stress
6 Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China and impact on South Korea–China relations
Concepts and propositions
South Korean elites
Divide by political inclinations on China-related issues in South Korea’s public opinion
On the deployment of THAAD
On Moon’s China visit and diplomacy
On China threat perception
South Korea’s general perception of China
Feeling of closeness
China’s national image
China’s alliance question on Korean contingency
South Koreans’ expectation on China’s role in unification
7 United we stand? South Korea–China economic relationsand the political (non-)divide
Beliefs and narratives: South Korea as a free-trading nation
Agents of South Korea trade and foreign economic policy and the political (non-)divide
Trade unit
Political parties
Export-oriented industries
Protectionist industries
Trade unions
The non-paradox: continuity in trade and economic policy towards China
Signing of bilateral investment and trade agreements
Development of a bilateral and regional financial safety net
Support for RMB internationalization
Support for Chinese multilateral economic initiatives
8 South Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens
The December 2015 comfort women agreement
The domestic roots of the comfort women’s foreign policy power
The foreign policy implications
The comfort women, South Korean domestic politics and relations with Japan
9 South Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War
The initial stage of South Korea–Russia relations (1990–1998)
South Korea–Russia relations during the “progressive decade” (1998–2008)
South Korea–Russia relations during the conservative period of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations (2008–2017)
Moon Jae-in’s New Northern Policy and relations with Russia
10 Crossing boundaries: South Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia
Exploring the Silk Road: South Korea and Central Asia
The new frontier market: South Korea and the African continent
At full sails towards the Southeast: South Korea and ASEAN
Quiet and responsible in the new promised land:South Korea’s diplomacy in the Arctic region
11 Conclusion
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The Korean Paradox

Bringing together an international line up of contributors, this book examines South Korea’s foreign policy strategies designed to cope with the challenges of the post-­Cold War regional order and the emergence of a “Korean paradox”. Focusing on non-­material factors in shaping the decision-­making processes of primary actors, such as traditions, beliefs, and identities, this book begins by analysing the emergence of the “Asian Paradox” and explores how different political traditions have influenced South Korea’s foreign and security policies. In the second part (from Chapter 4), this book goes on to deal directly with the key issues in South Korea’s foreign policy today, with an emphasis on the progressive and conservative approaches to the challenges the country faces. This includes the North Korean threat, the alliance with the U.S., relations with China and Russia, the complicated relationship with Japan, and the emerging role of South Korea outside of Northeast Asia. An innovative study of the domestic sources of South Korean foreign policy, The Korean Paradox investigates South Korea’s growing role at both regional and global levels. As such, it will be useful to students and scholars of Korean Studies, International Relations and East Asian Studies more generally. Marco Milani is a Lecturer at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, UK. His research interests include North and South Korea’s foreign policy, contemporary Korean history, and inter-­Korean relations. Antonio Fiori is Associate Professor of History and Institutions of Asia at the University of Bologna, Italy and Adjunct Professor at Korea University’s International Summer Campus (Seoul). His research interests include inter-­Korean relations and North Korea’s domestic and foreign policy. Matteo Dian is a Research Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of University of Bologna, Italy. His recent publications include New Regional Initiatives in China’s Foreign Policy (2018, with Silvia Menegazzi).

Politics in Asia series

US-­China Competition and the South China Sea Disputes Edited by Huiyun Feng and Kai He National Identity and Great-­Power Status in Russia and Japan Non-­Western Challengers to the Liberal International Order Tadashi Anno Distributive Politics in Malaysia Maintaining Authoritarian Party Dominance Hidekuni Washida Japan’s Island Troubles with China and Korea Prospects and Challenges for Resolution Victor Teo and Haruko Satoh Regional Environmental Politics in Northeast Asia Conflict and Cooperation JeongWon Bourdais Park The International Politics of the Asia-­Pacific Fourth and Revised Edition Michael Yahuda The Korean Paradox Domestic Political Divide and Foreign Policy in South Korea Edited by Marco Milani, Antonio Fiori, and Matteo Dian The Ever-­Changing Sino-­Japanese Rivalry Philip Streich For the full list of titles in the series, visit:­in-Asia/ book-­series/PIA

The Korean Paradox

Domestic Political Divide and Foreign Policy in South Korea

Edited by Marco Milani, Antonio Fiori, and Matteo Dian

First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Marco Milani, Antonio Fiori and Matteo Dian; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Marco Milani, Antonio Fiori and Matteo Dian to be identified as the authors of the editorial matter, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-­in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-­in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-1-138-54240-2 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-351-00876-1 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Wearset Ltd, Boldon, Tyne and Wear


List of illustrations Acknowledgements Notes on contributors

  1 Interpreting South Korea’s foreign and security policy under the “Asian paradox”

vii viii ix


M arco  M ilani , M atteo  D ian , and A ntonio  F iori

  2 The dynamics of democratized South Korean foreign policy in the post-­Cold War era


S an g soo  L ee

  3 The impact of political alternation on South Korea’s foreign policy


M arco  M ilani and A ntonio  F iori

  4 Progressive and conservative visions of inter-­Korean relations


M arco M ilani

  5 South Korea, partisan politics, and the United States


D avid C .   K an g

  6 Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China and impact on South Korea–China relations


Jaewoo Choo

  7 United we stand? South Korea–China economic relations and the political (non-)divide R am o n P ach e c o   P ard o


vi   Contents   8 South Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens


B rad Glosserman

  9 South Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War


A nna K ireeva

10 Crossing boundaries: South Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia


A ntonio  F iori , K evin Gray , S oyeun  K im , and A ndrea  P asseri

11 Conclusion


M arco  M ilani , M atteo  D ian , and A ntonio  F iori




Figures 5.1 5.2 6.1 9.1

ROK leader favourability, January and November 2017 ROK–China trade, 2016–2017 The perceived threat of China by political inclination Dynamics of Russia–South Korea trade turnover

83 83 98 145

Tables 5.1 5.2 6.1 6.2 6.3

Views of Japanese people (by political party) Views of December 2015 comfort women agreement The country that feels the closest Country image of China Attitude towards China, the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula 6.4 China’s cooperation needed for unification  6.5 Cooperation required from neighbouring countries for unification 9.1 Russia–South Korea trade turnover

81 81 99 101 101 102 103 145


We, the editors, would like to thank all the contributors for their cooperation provided throughout the project and the editorial team at Routledge for their efficient and wonderful support, in particular Georgina Bishop. We also would like to thank the Korea Foundation for its support. Marco Milani would like to thank the Korean Studies Institute and the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. Matteo Dian would like to thank the Korea Foundation for its generous support provided through the Korea Foundation/Chatham House Next Generation Policy Expert initiative. At the Korea Foundation a special acknowledgement is due to Kiho Jiang and to Kim Da Eun.


Jaewoo Choo is Professor of Chinese foreign policy in the Department of Chinese Studies at Kyung Hee University, South Korea. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC (March–June 2014) and a Visiting Professor in Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology (2011–2012). He is a graduate of Wesleyan University (BA in Government) and Peking University (MA and PhD in International Relations). Prior to his teaching, he worked as a researcher at National Security Policy Institute and Institute for International Trade at Korea International Trade Association (KITA). His research areas are Chinese foreign policy, multilateral security cooperation, and China–North Korea relations. Matteo Dian is a Research Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Sciences of the University of Bologna. He received his PhD in political science from the Italian Institute of Human Sciences (Scuola Normale Superiore) in Florence. He held visiting positions at the University of Oxford, London School of Economics, the Johns Hopkins SAIS (Bologna Center), and the European University Institute. He is author of The Evolution of The US– Japan Alliance: The Eagle And The Chrysanthemum and Contested Memories in Chinese and Japanese Foreign Policies, and New Regional Initiatives in China’s Foreign Policy – The Incoming Pluralism of Global Governance (with Silvia Menegazzi). His research has been published on, among others, International Relations, Pacific Review, International Spectator, and International Politics. He is a Korea Foundation Korea–Europe Next Generation Policy Expert alumnus. Antonio Fiori is Associate Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, where he teaches International Relations of Asia. He is also an adjunct professor at Korea University, in Seoul, where he teaches Understanding Korean Politics. He has been a visiting fellow at the United International College (Zhuhai, PRC), the East West Center (Honolulu, USA), and the Kyujanggak (Seoul National University, Korea). He is the author of two single authored and three co-­edited books. He has published widely on South and North Korea.

x   Contributors Brad Glosserman is Deputy Director of and Visiting Professor at the Center for Rule-­making Strategies, Tama University. He is also a Senior Advisor at Pacific Forum, where he served for 13 years (2004–2017) as executive director. He is co-­author (with Scott Snyder) of The Japan–South Korea Identity Clash (2015). Peak Japan: The End of Grand Ambitions will be published in early 2019. He is the editor, with Tae-­hyo Kim, of The Future of U.S.–Korea–Japan Relations: Balancing Values and Interests (2004). He is also the English-­language editor of the journal of the New Asia Research Institute (NARI) in Seoul. He has written dozens of monographs and articles on U.S. foreign policy and Asian security relations and he has contributed numerous chapters to books on regional security. He was for ten years a member of the editorial board of the Japan Times. He continues to serve as a contributing editor. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Management Center of Innsbruck (MCI) and a guest lecturer at the Osaka University School of International Public Policy (OSIPP). He has a JD from the George Washington University National Law Center, an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a BA from Reed College. Kevin Gray is a Reader in International Relations at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. He has researched widely on the political economy of both North and South Korea. His current project focuses on economic development in North Korea. His research has been published in Review of International Political Economy, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Pacific Review, North Korean Review, Globalizations, New Political Economy, Third World Quarterly, and New Left Review. His is also the author of Korean Workers and Neoliberal Globalisation (Routledge, 2008), Labour and Development in East Asia: Social Forces and Passive Revolution (Routledge, 2015). He has co-­edited volumes on (with Barry Gills) People Power in an Era of Global Crisis: Rebellion, Resistance and Liberation (2012); (with Craig Murphy) Rising Powers and the Future of Global Governance (2013); (with Barry Gills) Rising Powers and South–South Cooperation (2017). David C. Kang is Professor of International Relations and Business at the University of Southern California, with appointments in both the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business. He is director of both the USC Korean Studies Institute and the USC Center for International Studies. Kang’s latest book is Amer­ican Grand Strategy and East Asian Security in the 21st Century (2017). He has authored four other books, and has published scholarly articles in journals such as International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and International Security. A regular consultant for U.S. government agencies and the military, Kang has also written opinion pieces in the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and appears regularly in media such as CNN, BBC, and NPR. He received an A.B. with honours from Stanford University and his PhD from Berkeley.

Contributors   xi Soyeun Kim is Associate Professor at the Institute for East Asian Studies, Sogang University. Her research interests include the political ecology and political economy of development cooperation and South–South cooperation. She has co-­edited special issues of the Journal of International Development (2011) and the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography (2012), and has published in journals including Geoforum, Global Environmental Politics, the Journal of International Development, Japanese Studies, and Third World Quarterly. Anna Kireeva is an Associate Professor at the Department of Asian and African Studies and Research Fellow at Center for Comprehensive Chinese Studies and Regional Projects in Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), the MFA of Russia. Her research focuses on the strategy and foreign policy of major powers in East Asia. In particular, her research centres on the transformation of the East Asian regional order, major conflicts and territorial disputes, Russia’s Asian pivot, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Japan’s foreign policy and national security policy transformation, and the U.S. rebalance to Asia and post-­pivot policy. Sangsoo Lee is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm where he is also Project Manager of the Korean Peninsula Project. His areas of interest are Security and Conflict issues in Northeast Asia with a focus on North Korea’s nuclear crisis and inter-­Korean relations. Dr Lee holds a PhD in Northeast Asian Studies from Peking University and has been a Visiting Researcher at the United Nations University (2007), and at the London School of Economics (2011). Marco Milani is a Lecturer at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield. Previously, he has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Korean Studies Institute and Lecturer at the School of International Relations, University of Southern California. He received his doctoral degree in History and International Relations of Asia with a dissertation on the cooperation between North and South Korea. Previously, he has been a visiting research fellow at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (South Korea) and at the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (Netherlands), and research fellow at the University of Bologna. His research interests include: Contemporary Korean history, History and International Relations of East Asia, North and South Korea Foreign Policy, inter-­Korean relations, and IR Theory. Ramon Pacheco Pardo is the KF-­VUB Korea Chair at the Institute for European Studies (IES-­VUB) and Reader (Associate Professor) in International Relations at King’s College London. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Dr Pacheco Pardo is also Committee Member at CSCAP EU and Korea Foundation Korea–Europe Next Generation Policy Expert alumnus. He has held visiting positions at Korea University, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Melbourne University. Dr Pacheco Pardo has been editor of

xii   Contributors ­ illennium: Journal of International Studies and currently sits in the editorial M board of EU-­China Observer and Global Studies Journal. His publications include the book North Korea–US Relations under Kim Jong Il: The Quest for Normalization? published in 2014 and translated into Korean in 2016. He has participated in track 1.5 or 2 dialogues with South Korea, North Korea, China, and Japan, given testimony before the European Parliament, and is a frequent media commentator on Northeast Asian affairs and EU–East Asia relations. Andrea Passeri is Adjunct Professor and postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Relations of East Asia at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Bologna, where he teaches the course “Democracies and Autocracies in East Asia”. His articles have been published on academic journals of East Asian politics, such as The Pacific Review and The Korean Journal of Defence Analysis. His main research interests include Myanmar’s foreign affairs, China–ASEAN ties, small-­state studies, and Southeast Asian domestic politics.

1 Interpreting South Korea’s foreign and security policy under the “Asian paradox” Marco Milani, Matteo Dian, and Antonio Fiori

The emergence of the “Asian paradox” and its influence on South Korea When Robert Manning introduced the idea of an “Asian paradox” in 1993, as a growing dichotomy between political and economic cooperation and integration in Asia (Manning, 1993), the region – and the world – was undergoing a radical process of reshaping in terms of international relations. The abrupt end of the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence, and the growing effects of the new paradigm of globalization were creating new opportunities for many countries, previously locked within the existing bipolar balance of power. The victory of Western-­style liberal democracies, of liberalism and capitalism produced a predominant narrative based on the idea that, in the near future, every country in the world would tend towards this kind of political and economic system. The United States had risen to the role of the only superpower, and the unipolar era was reaching its highest moment. The world was undergoing a monumental transition towards a post-­Cold War order. The shape and structure of this new order was the object of heated debates, for academics, experts, and policymakers. Manning’s analysis focused on a specific area that he correctly identified as the most important region for the future of global security and economic development: the Asia-­Pacific. According to his reconstruction, the region was lacking a multilateral and multidimensional framework to manage regional security, a set of institutions aimed at responding in a collective way to the security and economic challenges of the area. At the same time, it noticed that regional cooperation and integration – in some cases even interdependence – was on the rise, especially regarding intra-­Asia trade and investments. This trend was noticeable also in terms of regional institution-­building, with the creation of multilateral institutions, such as the Asia-­Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization. In Manning’s view the economic, commercial, and technological dynamism of the region – what he called geo-­economics – would play a major role in order to reduce mutual suspicion and to create the base for a new regional architecture, that eventually could have also been expanded to the field of security.

2   Marco Milani et al. Manning also identified specific security threats for the region, such as: the division of the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s nuclear programme, the maritime disputes, the tension in the Taiwan Strait, the controversial historical legacies and the lack of trust between the main regional powers. He also pointed at Northeast Asia as the “core” area of this issue. In fact, unlike Southeast Asia with ASEAN, that part of the region never experienced a project of regional cooperation of that scope. In addition, the interests of the four major powers (United States, China, Russia, and Japan) were concentrated in that sub-­region, as well as most of the existing security threats. Hence the “Asian paradox” was most visible in Northeast Asia, and its effects risked having the most pernicious consequences precisely in that area. The rather optimistic solution to the paradox proposed by Manning was to enhance the process of institution-­building and to base that process on the preliminary achievements reached in economic and trade cooperation. This perspective reflected the predominant interpretation of the post-­Cold War order of the early 1990s, based on an “end of history” narrative and on the liberal concept that international trade and economic cooperation would have mitigated conflict and transformed the security architecture of the region (Wan, 2003). The spread of the process of globalization and growth of these patterns of economic interdependence would have led to a consequent growth of political cooperation, aimed at preserving a situation of mutual benefit for all the parties involved and to eliminate existing sources of conflict. Despite the core assumption about the paradox proving to be correct, the solution provided by Manning about the future institutional system of the region failed to materialize. In fact, over the last two decades the trend of the paradox continued to consolidate and increase, especially in Northeast Asia. The economic and commercial interactions and interdependence continued to intensify, driven mainly by the astonishing economic growth of China. However, geo-­ economics failed to provide a solid base for reducing political and security tension and improve an effective institution-­building process. Instead, we saw a sort of “return of geopolitics”. A new regional security architecture never actually materialized, at least not in institutionalized terms, while most of the security concerns of the early 1990s remained unsolved and in some cases even increased. For example, the threat of the North Korean nuclear programme continued to be a major regional – and global – security concern, while Pyongyang continued to effectively advance its nuclear and long-­range missile programme until today. Cross-­strait relations between China and Taiwan remained controversial. Territorial disputes, especially maritime disputes, have become a matter of major concern not only in the South China Sea, but also among the main powers in Northeast Asia. In addition to these security challenges, the so-­called “rise of China” has created a new challenge for all the countries in the region and for the United States. Instead of overcoming suspicions, in recent years mutual distrust has grown in several regional contexts, creating the conditions for further increasing the paradox. The growing economic interdependence among the countries in the region has not mitigated strategic mistrust and intense

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   3 security competition. The paradox has survived until today, and in some ways it has even intensified. The pattern of “cold politics, hot economics” has remained largely unchanged, especially in Northeast Asia, which was correctly identified by Manning as the core area of the paradox in 1993. This foreign policy dilemma has become a major concern in particular for South Korea. In 2013, former President Park Geun-­hye identified it as one of the main risks for the future of the country’s foreign and security policy (Park, 2013). For Seoul, the paradox has become particularly visible and increasingly crucial in managing the complex relation with its traditional security ally, the United States, and its new main economic and trade partner, China. Caught between economic interdependence with China and the security alliance with the U.S., the “Asian paradox” in recent years has increasingly become a “Korean paradox”. In addition to this fundamental triangular relation, the paradox has been affecting South Korea’s foreign policy in other issues: the example of the growth of economic cooperation and interdependence with Japan despite difficult political and diplomatic relations, especially in the case of controversial historical memories such as that of the comfort women issue (see Glosserman in this volume), is a case in point. For this reason, one of the key lenses of the volume in the analyses of the recent developments of South Korea’s foreign policy is the existing dichotomy between economic-­trade relations on one side, and political-­security relations on the other. The second lens through which this volume interprets South Korea’s recent foreign policy is the constant interplay between domestic political dynamics and foreign policy decision-­making processes. The existence of different political traditions in South Korea has had a strong influence on how the different administrations have reacted to influence the paradox. In particular, after the country achieved democratization in 1987 the emergence of two political traditions, progressive and conservative, and the process of political contestation between the two has led to largely different responses to the main challenges that the new regional situation was starting to pose to the country’s administrations. From this perspective, a positivist approach which largely overlooks the role of non-­ material factors such as traditions, beliefs, identities, and domestic political divide appears to no longer be able to convincingly explain the dynamics of international politics and decisions taken by primary actors. For this reason, this volume analyses the dynamics of South Korea’s post-­Cold War foreign policy through a different perspective, which focuses on non-­material factors and creates a link between the traditions and beliefs of the main foreign policy agents within the country and how they have met the challenges that the country has encountered over the last decades. Given the relevance of non-­material factors and of the interpretation of domestic traditions and beliefs, the analysis will be based on an interpretive approach to foreign policy (Bevir & Daddow, 2015; Dian, 2017). In particular, we will situate the primary agents of foreign policy, not only in their specific context of traditions and beliefs, but also within the structural conditions of the international system in which they take their decisions.

4   Marco Milani et al. This introductory chapter discusses both the theoretical basis of the analysis and the practical questions related to the impact of the “Asian paradox” on South Korea’s foreign and security policy: how have progressive and conservative political traditions in South Korea reacted to the influence of the paradox? How have the orientations of these traditions shaped continuity and change in the last administrations, facing the core issues for the country’s foreign policy? In order to address these questions, in this chapter we first outline the fundamental characteristic of the interpretive approach to foreign policy, based on the emphasis posed on non-­material factors, such as: beliefs, traditions, ideology, party politics, dilemmas. Second, we describe the influence of the dichotomy between economic and security relations on recent South Korea’s foreign policy. Finally, in the conclusion, we outline the structure of the volume and the interconnections and contribution of the single chapters.

The interpretive approach to foreign policy This edited volume explains the different foreign policy strategies that South Korea has designed and implemented in recent years, in order to cope with the new challenges of the post-­Cold War regional order, and specifically with the emergence of the “Asian paradox”. The aim is to analyse the role of non-­material factors – such as traditions, beliefs, identities – in shaping the decision-­making process of the primary actors. Through this perspective, we are able to fully understand the trajectory of South Korean recent foreign policy, in close relation with the domestic variables, and to anticipate the future developments under the new administration. In order to pursue this goal, the interpretive approach to foreign policy offers an innovative theoretical toolkit to analyse the evolution of South Korean foreign policy, in particular in an historic moment in which the country faces both a number of increasingly difficult external challenges and very significant redefinition of the domestic political landscape. The interpretive approach helps in defining an inside-­ out perspective on the country’s foreign policy, analysing the different strategies that South Korean governments promoted through the lenses of the domestic political contestation between conservatives and progressives. This section situates our research within the context of international relations theory and defines the key terms and concepts used throughout the volume. The interpretive approach rejects the idea that political behaviour can be directly determined by structures and that actors are motivated by a rational cost­benefit analysis. On the contrary, embracing a constructivist logic, it looks at meanings, discourse, and actions to explain individual motivations. Consequently “situated agents” are considered the fundamental unit of analysis for this theoretical framework (Bevir & Rhodes, 2010).1 Agents’ actions are influenced by process of socialization and by the social structure they are embedded in. However, they are considered as able to innovate, respond to dilemmas, and adapt creatively. The interpretive approach is thus rooted in several basic concepts: beliefs, traditions, narrative, resistance, and dilemmas. Beliefs constitute the starting point

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   5 for the interpretive approach to foreign policy. Actions are not driven by pure and instrumental rationality nor are mandated by social and political structure. On the contrary, agents are conditioned by beliefs acquired during their process of socialization. Education, family, political histories, and personal traumas influence their beliefs. In addition, beliefs about the country’s past and its role in the world are fundamental parts of the socialization of every individual, since they help in making sense of contemporary political issues. Agents’ beliefs are not purely subjective. They are influenced by traditions, which can be defined as relatively coherent sets of understandings an individual receives during socialization; for example, policy elites receive their political socialization during the early stages of their career. Consequently political parties and movements are fundamental chains of transmission for key beliefs that constitute a tradition. A tradition generally offers agents a relatively stable set of beliefs concerning a country’s role in the world, its friends and enemies, its interests and its status. Political parties and political traditions often overlap but they are not synonymous: a political party can incorporate members who refer to different foreign policy traditions; a tradition can be shared by different parties or political groups in the same country. Moreover, bureaucratic structures and institutions should be considered also capable of contributing to nurture and to consolidate a tradition. Typically ministers of foreign affairs, ministers of economic affairs, trade and finance, the armed forces, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps tend to socialize their members not just to specific internal norms and roles, but also to a set of beliefs and political orientations regarding the role of the country and its interests. Traditions generally provide a relatively coherent narrative about the country’s past and its glories and traumas (Dian, 2017). Examples of foreign policy traditions are Wilsonianism in the United States, Gaullism in France, Atlanticism and Europeanism in Italy, Peronism in Argentina, conservatism and Whig traditions in Britain, Christian conservatism in Germany, and conservatism and progressivism in Japan (Bevir et al., 2013; Daddow & Schnapper, 2013; Ninkovich, 2001; Gordon, 1993; Croci, 2008; Samuels, 2007). In the case of South Korea, we identify two main traditions: conservative and progressive. From an interpretive perspective, the process of construction and contestation over the country’s foreign policy is largely defined by a political struggle between different traditions. Agents, such as political groups and political leaders, compete to impose their own beliefs and those associated with their traditions. The outcome of this competition can result in a relatively stable narrative, which broadly defines a country’s identity, its interests and its values (Somers, 1994; Patterson & Renwick Monroe, 2010). Political leaders are situated agents who conceive their political choices within a set of beliefs associated with their traditions. For instance, South Korean conservatives generally tend to be more aligned with the United States and to privilege deterrence over engagement towards North Korea, while progressives aim at reaching a more independent foreign policy and promoting dialogue and cooperation with Pyongyang. However, situated agents do not simply act according to the

6   Marco Milani et al. p­ laybook they inherited from the tradition they belong to. On the contrary, when faced with a dilemma, they are able to promote innovation and policy change. A dilemma arises when a tradition fails to provide a solution to a given set of foreign policy problems that agents are forced to deal with. Dilemmas tend to amplify the room for manoeuvre leaders have in a given situation, since their tradition and their narrative do not provide a usable solution for their policy problem (Bevir & Daddow, 2015; Dian, 2015, 2017). Dilemmas can be generated by external pressures or internal dynamics, leading to a significant reconsideration and rethinking of key foreign policy choices, and of the principles underpinning those choices. In the case of South Korea crucial dilemmas have arisen after the process of democratization in the late 1980s and after the end of the Cold War, when the country had to reconsider its role as a newly democratized and developed state in a rapidly evolving region. Another dilemma has been represented by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, when the country suffered a major blow to its international prestige and reputation, and was forced to put into question its economic model. In recent years, the main dilemmas for South Korea’s foreign policy have not merely resulted from the security threat of North Korea’s nuclear programme, but also from its attempt to achieve a new international role as an emerging middle power. The most important added value of this approach lies in its capacity to explain both change and continuity, while other approaches tend to focus either on the first, as in the case of rational approaches to foreign policy, or on the second, as for mainstream constructivist approaches that tend to fail to explain policy changes. The interpretive approach highlights how a nation can present a prolonged period of stability in its foreign policy orientation, which can be the result of the imposition of the beliefs associated with a tradition or with a compromise between different traditions. Traditions and narratives provide an ideational and normative background to the most fundamental foreign policy choices. Actors can follow the basic course of action inspired by them, following the logic of appropriateness, because they believe in the rightness of the values underpinning that narrative (March & Olsen, 2011). Alternatively, they can believe that a given course of action is the most beneficial in terms of material interests and pursue a course of action inspired by a logic of habit (Hopf, 2010). Policy change tends to be politically costly, therefore actors interested in keeping their power can simply aliment an existing course of action. The theoretical toolkit described above, as well as the possibility to consider and describe the alternation between stability and change, is particularly useful for the topic of this volume. South Korean foreign policy in the democratic era has always been deeply influenced by the dynamic interplay between external constraints and internal political contestation. Progressives and conservatives have generally interpreted the country’s interests, its role at the regional and global level, and the national identity in profoundly different ways. This in turn has determined a series of crucial turning points for Seoul’s foreign policy. This book will consider how the process of domestic political contestation has

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   7 interplayed with an increasingly relevant external constraint: the so-­called “Asian paradox”. The authors of each chapter will describe how different leaders, associated with the two main political traditions, promoted a series of policies oriented to promote South Korea’s interest as well as ideas and values in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing regional environment.

South Korea’s foreign policy and its paradoxes The challenges for South Korean foreign policy after the end of the Cold War and the country’s new role in the regional and global system have attained a growing relevance in the literature on international relations and Asian studies. Most of the recent works focus on three specific issues: the traditional security challenges and dilemmas that the country has to face, in particular from North Korea (Kim, 2004; Son, 2006; Funabashi, 2007; Hwang, 2010); the development of specific bi- or trilateral relations, including the U.S., Japan, and China (Kim, 2006; Chung, 2007; Snyder, 2009; Shin, 2010; Glosserman & Snyder, 2015; Rozman, 2015; Ye, 2017); and the analysis of the new role of South Korea as an emerging middle power (Ikenberry & Mo, 2013; Heo & Roehrig, 2014; Lee, 2016; Hwang, 2017). These works, however, tend to overlook the role of the different political traditions and of the domestic political divide. Furthermore, the dilemma created for South Korea’s foreign policy by the “Asian paradox” is largely considered as a corollary of the evolving architecture of the regional security complex, dominated by the rivalry between the U.S. and China, and not as a specific new challenge for South Korea. This book aims to tackle the puzzle of the new challenges for South Korea’s foreign policy from a different perspective. The focus is placed on how South Korean political traditions and the divide between conservatives and progressives have influenced the decision-­making process of agents in foreign and security policy, and how these established traditions have faced the growing dilemma represented by the “Asian paradox”. The pattern of “cold politics, hot economics” has affected all the major powers in Northeast Asia in the last decade. However, this situation has particularly affected the foreign and security policy of South Korea: over the last years, the “Asian paradox” has clearly shown its potential to endanger Seoul’s foreign policy, and also its economic relations with neighbouring countries, especially China. The Korean Peninsula is located at the core of Northeast Asia, where the interests of the major regional powers converge. For this reason, managing relations with these powers has been a strategic imperative for South Korea over the course of history. During the Cold War, the presence of a common existential threat, represented by North Korea, but also by the communist regimes in China and in the Soviet Union, connected South Korea to Japan through their security alliance with the United States. The two countries normalized relations in 1965. However, this normalization did not cancel the controversies about the colonial past of Japan on the peninsula (Snyder, 2014). On the other hand, South Korea, deeply embedded within the Amer­ican system of alliances in the region, considered its communist

8   Marco Milani et al. neighbours as enemies, and limited the reciprocal exchanges and relations with those countries. The Cold War system maintained the regional situation in a tense but stable equilibrium, while South Korea’s position in this system was defined by the existing network of alliances. The end of the Cold War dramatically changed the situation, together with South Korean democratization and continued modernization. Seoul normalized relations with Russia in 1990 and with China in 1992. After this major breakthrough the relationship with Beijing developed rapidly, especially in terms of economic growth: the trade between the two countries rose from US$6.4 billion in 1992 to almost US$250 billion in 2014 (ibid.). Under these new circumstances the “Asian paradox” emerged as one of the main challenges for South Korean foreign policy. Unlike what has been predicted by several analysts, including Manning, in the early 1990s, the economic and trade dynamism in the region, of which South Korea is one of main drivers, did not translate into a new security and political institutional architecture. This issue has become even more relevant starting from the mid-­ 2000s, when the rise of China, in economic but also political terms, started to dramatically change the regional equilibrium. Seoul found itself in between a growing economic interdependence with Beijing and the security alliance with the U.S. The influence of the “Asian paradox” on South Korea’s foreign policy therefore is more visible in the relations with the major regional powers: China, Japan, and the United States. As noted by Michael Green, in East Asia these relations tend to take the form of “strategic triangles”, which in some cases become minilateral frameworks of coordination or cooperation (Green, 2014). In recent years, the negative effects of this pattern have affected different triangular relations of which South Korea is part. The first victim has been the quasi-­ alliance between South Korea, Japan, and the United States. This cornerstone of the regional security architecture during the Cold War has lost part of its relevance after the drastic changes of the early 1990s. At the same time, South Korea’s democratization and modernization eradicated South Korean feelings of inferiority towards Japan, while increasing the controversies related to the legacy of Japanese imperialism on the peninsula (Snyder, 2014). Unresolved issues, such as the maritime dispute over the Dokdo/Takeshima islands and the comfort women (see Glosserman in this edited volume), have created major impediments for an enhancement of political cooperation. This animosity was made clear from both parts during the first years of Park Geun-­hye’s presidency. The political mediation – and pressure – from the United States partly mended the relationship. A second regional triangle involves South Korea, China, and Japan, which has been also partly institutionalized through the institution of the “Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat”. In this case, after the end of the Cold War the dynamics of the “Asian paradox” have worked in favour of a rapprochement between Seoul and Beijing, driven mainly by the explosion in economic and trade relations. This improvement has come in part at the expense of the relations of both countries with Japan. Especially during Park’s mandate, South Korea and China have shared common concerns about the growing nationalism and the tendencies towards historical revisionism of Japanese Prime Minister

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   9 Abe. In fact, both countries have open territorial disputes with Tokyo and share the tragic legacy of Japanese imperialism in East Asia. The third triangle involves South Korea, China, and the United States, and it represents the one that has been most affected by the dynamics of the “Asian paradox”. The dichotomy between a growing economic interdependence with China (see Pacheco Pardo in this edited volume) and the security alliance with the United States has grown exponentially in recent years, and it represents one of the most controversial dilemmas for South Korea’s current foreign policy. As demonstrated by Park Geun-­hye’s unsuccessful attempt to find a sort of middle ground between these two priorities (see Milani & Fiori in this edited book), South Korea’s policymakers have not yet managed to effectively change and adapt the existing foreign policy to these new challenges. The growing relevance of this dilemma requires a comprehensive analysis of its consequences on every aspect of South Korean foreign policymaking process, and also an interpretation of how the different administrations addressed this issue and how this process of adaptation changed the existing foreign policy traditions within the country. The different approaches implemented over the last few years by South Korean governments derived from its two main political traditions. Progressive administrations have focused their efforts towards an increasing regional cooperation and a more independent role from the alliance with the U.S., especially under President Roh Moo-­hyun; conservatives, on the other side, have repeatedly reinforced the commitment with Washington, trying at the same time not to endanger the economic relations with China. During Park Geun-­hye’s conservative presidency (2013–2017), this approach has started to show some shortcomings, illustrated by the dispute over the deployment of the Amer­ican THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense) system in South Korea. In the first years of her presidency, President Park cultivated very good relations with China, while at the same time trying to keep on reassuring Washington. But when an existential security threat re-­emerged, with the escalation of the North Korean nuclear and missile programmes in 2015–2016, the South Korean government returned to the traditional conservative approach of the alignment with the U.S. This attempt to innovate one of the two domestic political traditions, though unsuccessful, demonstrates the dynamic character of well-­established traditions, when policymakers have to face a dilemma. In order to understand these foreign policy reappraisals from an inside-­out perspective, this book applies the interpretive approach to foreign policy. The purpose is not only to analyse how the domestic factor has shaped the country’s response to external dilemmas, but also to identify modification in the existing traditions, when these traditions fail to provide a solution to foreign policy issues. This approach contributes to an innovative perspective through which we can analyse the evolution of South Korea’s foreign policy in recent years. First, it provides a lens for investigating its dynamic, and sometimes tumultuous, process of domestic contestation. Second, it helps highlight how progressives and conservatives have tended to produce two rather distinct weltangshauung

10   Marco Milani et al. that include preferred solutions on how to deal with the key existential threats to the integrity as well as the identity of the country. Finally, it evaluates the consequences of the existing different sets of beliefs on the bilateral relations with the key regional actors and on South Korea’s global and regional role.

Structure of the book This book addresses the emerging issues created by the “Asian paradox” for South Korea’s foreign policy, analysing the initiatives adopted by the different administrations over the last two decades in order to cope with these new challenges. In order to answer the research questions, the chapters use an inside-­out perspective, based on the interpretive approach, which allows us to evaluate the different strategies, but also to appreciate the dynamics of change within consolidated foreign policy traditions when they have to face new dilemmas. The book begins by analysing the emergence of the two main political traditions in South Korea, starting from their roots during the authoritarian period, and the evolution of the country’s foreign policy in the post-­Cold War/post-­democratization era. In his chapter (Chapter 2), Sangsoo Lee retraces the origin of the division between conservatives and progressives to the era of authoritarian regimes in South Korea. During the Cold War years, the security threat from North Korea was the main issue for South Korea’s foreign policy, and the alliance with the United States represented the cornerstone of its security policy. This phase was characterized by the political dominance of conservative groups, while progressive opposition was systematically persecuted and their different perspectives on foreign policy totally marginalized. The chapter then analyses the first two post-­democratization presidencies, both led by conservatives, arguing that the process of democratization in South Korea not only had an influence on the government’s foreign and security policy at that time, but also that the dynamic following democratization would affect the foreign policy of its successive governments. Paradoxically, the dynamics of the democratized political system led to a polarization of South Korean social values and attitudes, complicating the government’s foreign policy. Chapter 3 moves on to analyse South Korea’s foreign policy after the election of the first progressive president, Kim Dae-­jung, in 1997, marking the first transfer of power between the two political camps in the country’s history. Through a chronological reconstruction of the evolution of South Korea’s foreign policy over the following four presidencies, the chapter shows how the different political traditions interpreted the main challenges from the regional and international environment. The differences between progressive (1998–2008) and conservative (2008–2017) administrations led to a different interpretation of the country’s priorities and interests and consequently to the implementation of different foreign policy strategies. The chapter also analyses the growing impact of the “Asian paradox” on South Korea’s foreign policy and assesses its consequences, in particular regarding the country’s relations with China and the U.S. under the presidency of Park Geun-­hye. This part emphasizes Park’s efforts to adapt the existing conservative political tradition to address the new challenges that have emerge in recent years.

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   11 The following chapters (from 4 to 10) analyse the main challenges of South Korea’s current foreign policy with an emphasis on the specific characteristics of the progressive and conservative approaches to confront these challenges. In order to provide a comprehensive analysis of Seoul’s external relations, we will go beyond the traditional context in which the dichotomy between political and economic cooperation and integration is most visible, such as the relations with China, United States, and Japan, taking into consideration also other issues in which this separation is not immediately visible but it still represents a crucial factor. Chapter 4 analyses what probably represents the most crucial aspect for South Korea’s foreign policy: relations with North Korea. After democratization, managing the relations with Pyongyang has represented one of the most contested and divisive aspects of South Korean foreign policy. Progressives have favoured engagement, dialogue, and cooperation with North Korea, while conservatives tended to lean towards a hard-­line policy, which emphasized traditional military security concerns, i.e. the nuclear programme, over the possibility of inter-­Korean rapprochement. This dichotomy has become clear with the transfer of power from Roh Moo-­hyun to Lee Myung-­bak in 2007 and the abrupt end of the “progressive decade” and of the “Sunshine Policy”. In this chapter, Marco Milani retraces the historical development of inter-­Korean relations in the last few decades with a specific focus on the different approaches implemented by conservatives and progressives, which appeared to be consistent with the key principles of the respective political traditions. The chapter also emphasizes the complicated link between economic exchanges and political relations between Seoul and Pyongyang: progressive administrations have used economic cooperation as a means for enhancing dialogue and creating mutual trust between the two Koreas – according to one of the principle of the Sunshine Policy: “economy first, politics later” (Moon, 2000) – while conservatives have generally refrained from expanding economic exchanges in times of political and security crisis, as a punitive measure against Pyongyang provocations – such as in the case of the “May 24 measures” after the Cheonan sinking or the closing of the Kaesong industrial complex in 2016. In Chapter 5, David Kang addresses the issue of relations between South Korea and the United States. After having outlined specific characteristics of South Korea’s political and strategic culture in relations to the United States, and the differences and similarities between progressives and conservatives, his analyses focus on the most recent developments. The chapter engages in the debate about three key issues between Seoul and Washington: North Korea, comfort women memorials in the United States, and the triangular relationship between South Korea, the U.S., and China. In the conclusion of the chapter, Kang argues that for South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-­in crafting a working relationship with the U.S. in a time of unprecedented change in Northeast Asia will be the most crucial challenge, but it also represents an opportunity. Chapters 6 and 7 address the relationship between South Korea and China, through two different perspectives. In his chapter, Jaewoo Choo analyses the impact of the “schism” between left and right on South Korea’s political and

12   Marco Milani et al. social landscape with reference to the relations with China. After introducing the main characteristics of this “schism”, Choo, using data from survey and opinion polls, describes and analyses the different, and often divergent, inclinations and preferences of progressives and conservatives towards China, for both the country’s political “elite” and the general public opinion. The chapter shows a high degree of polarization in this debate along ideological lines, but also a responsive reaction by the public opinion to specific contingencies that affect relations between Seoul and Beijing, such as in the case of the THAAD deployment. In Chapter 7, Ramon Pacheco Pardo tackles the issue of South Korea–China relations from the perspective of economic and trade relations. He explores the identity of South Korea as a “free-­trading nation” and the impact of this narrative on economic relations with China. In this perspective, despite the differences for what concerns political and security issues, Pacheco Pardo signals a high degree of continuity between progressive and conservative administrations: both political camps have adopted the paradigm of free trade and investments and have considered positive economic relations with China as necessary to South Korea’s economic security. Chapter 8 analyses the relation between South Korea and Japan, through the lens of the comfort women issue, assessing how non-­material factors – such as the controversial historical legacy of Japanese colonialism – play a fundamental role and influence a strategic security relation. Brad Glosserman starts with the historical reconstruction of the issue and of the different initiatives that the Japanese and South Korean governments put in place in order to address it until the December 2015 comfort women agreement. In the second part of the chapter, the author focuses on the different perspectives of conservatives and progressives in South Korea towards this issue that, in theory, should be a uniting factor for South Korea’s politics. Last, Glosserman points out the foreign policy implications of the comfort women controversy, demonstrating how non-­ material factors can play a decisive role in shaping security relations. The last two chapters (Chapters 9 and 10) focus on relations that are not traditionally considered as the “core” of South Korea’s foreign policy, but that in recent years have become increasingly more important. Anna Kireeva analyses the development of relations between South Korea and Russia after the end of the Cold War, emphasizing the differences between progressive and conservative administrations. Over the last few decades, Russia has considered South Korea as one of its key regional partners in East Asia while, for Seoul, the strategic role of Moscow has recently grown, especially with regards to economic cooperation and in connection with North Korea and the opportunities for trilateral cooperation. The chapter describes the flourishing of relations during the “progressive decade” of Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun and the following reduction of political cooperation, in spite of developing economic ties, under both conservative presidents Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye. During these years, the positions of the two countries showed considerable differences, especially regarding the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, and South Korean support for U.S. initiatives, such as the deployment of the THAAD system. The last part investigates recent developments of the bilateral relation after the election of Moon

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   13 Jae-­in and on how it presents a unique window of opportunity for Russia–South Korea relations, with the new administration’s approach to North Korean policy. Chapter 10 addresses the role of South Korea outside Northeast Asia. Seoul’s economic growth in the last few decades has undeniably had major repercussions on its foreign policy. Starting from a condition of aid recipient, Seoul has transformed itself into a developed nation and a donor. In order to consolidate this new role, South Korea has had the necessity to establish, expand, and consolidate its relations with resource-­rich countries around the globe, and to gain access to new markets for its products. The chapter analyses the recent foreign policy initiatives of the country in specific regional contexts outside Northeast Asia: Central Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Arctic region. If the development of South Korea’s foreign policy towards major powers has always been influenced by the political traditions of the government – progressive or conservative – the attitude towards the developing world has remained largely uninfluenced by this divide. Both political camps have, in fact, looked upon it as an important source for natural resources, new markets for investments and exports, and new horizons for sustainable development. This chapter shows that the bipartisan characterization of South Korea’s identity as a “free-­trading nation” plays a crucial role also in the development of relations with the developing world. The concluding chapter (Chapter 11) revisits the main argument of the book and summarizes the key findings. In particular, in order to address the main research questions of the volume, the chapter retraces the different approaches implemented by South Korean policymakers in order to face the specific challenges posed by the emergence of the “Asian paradox” in recent years, in close relation with the two existing political traditions. Furthermore, the chapter analyses the dynamics of change within the existing traditions, aimed at creatively addressing the new dilemmas. This critical evaluation of the recent foreign policy developments in South Korea and of the impact of the existing political divide enable us to assess the importance of bipartisanship on key security and foreign policy issues. As this book shows, the centrality of the alliance with the U.S., but at the same time the need not to alienate relations with China – not only for economic reasons, but also for improving relations with North Korea and cooperation in the region – and also the idea of South Korea as a “free-­trading nation” has developed into policy principles that are shared by both progressives and conservatives. In this perspective, the foreign policy initiatives promoted by President Moon Jae-­in constitute an interesting case in point. Overcoming the domestic political divide will be a significant challenge ahead for the current administration’s foreign policy, but it also represents a possible solution to limit the negative effect of the pattern of “cold politics, hot economics” and overcome the “Korean paradox”.

Note 1 With situated agents here we mean actors who conceive their choices within a given social and political context and with a set of beliefs acquired through a process of socialization.

14   Marco Milani et al.

References Bevir, M. & Daddow, O. (2015). Interpreting foreign policy: National, comparative and regional studies. International Relations, 29(3), 273–287. Bevir, M. & Rhodes, R.A. (2010). The state as cultural practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bevir, M., Daddow, O., & Hall, I. (2013). Introduction: Interpreting British foreign policy. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 15(2), 163–174. Chung, J.H. (2007). Between ally and partner: Korea–China relations and the United States. New York: Columbia University Press. Croci, O. (2008). Not a zero-­sum game: Atlanticism and Europeanism in Italian foreign policy. The International Spectator, 43(4), 137–155. Daddow, O. & Schnapper, P. (2013). Liberal intervention in the foreign policy thinking of Tony Blair and David Cameron. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 26(2), 330–349. Dian, M. (2015). Interpreting Japan’s contested memory: Conservative and progressive traditions. International Relations, 29(3), 363–377. Dian, M. (2017). Contested memories in Chinese and Japanese foreign policies. Oxford: Elsevier. Funabashi, Y. (2007). The peninsula question: A chronicle of the second Korean nuclear crisis. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. Glosserman, B. & Snyder, S. (2015). The Japan–South Korea identity clash: East Asian security and the United States. New York: Columbia University Press. Gordon, P.H. (1993). A certain idea of France: French security policy and Gaullist legacy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Green, M. (2014). Strategic Asian triangles. In S.M. Pekkanen, J. Ravenhill, & R. Foot (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of the international relations of Asia (pp.  758–774). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Heo, U. & Roehrig, T. (2014). South Korea’s rise: Economic development, power and foreign relations. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hopf, T. (2010). The logic of habit in international relations. European Journal of International Relations, 16(4), 539–561. Hwang, E.G. (2010). The search for a unified Korea. New York: Springer. Hwang, W. (2017). South Korea’s changing foreign policy: The impact of democratization and globalization. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Ikenberry, G.J. & Mo, J. (2013). The rise of Korean leadership: Emerging powers and liberal international order. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Kim, S.S. (Ed.). (2004). Inter-­Korean relations: Problems and prospects. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Kim, S.S. (2006). The two Koreas and the great powers. New York: Cambridge University Press. Lee, S.J. (Ed.). (2016). Transforming global governance with middle power diplomacy: South Korea’s role in the 21st century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. March, J.G. & Olsen, J.P. (2004). The logic of appropriateness. In R.E. Goodin (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of political science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Manning, R. (1993). The Asian paradox: Toward a new architecture. World Policy Journal, 10(3), 55–64. Moon, C. (2000). The Sunshine Policy and the Korean summit: Assessments and prospects. East Asian Review, 12(4), 3–36.

Interpreting S. Korea’s foreign and security policy   15 Ninkovich, F. (2001). The Wilsonian century: U.S. foreign policy since 1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Park, G. (2013). Transcript: Speech to joint session of U.S. congress. 8 May, 2013. Patterson, M. & Renwick Monroe, K. (2010). Narrative in political science. In M. Bevir (Ed.), Interpretive political science (pp. 299–316). London: SAGE. Rozman, G. (2015). Asia’s alliance triangle: US–Japan–South Korea relations at a tumultuous time. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Samuels, R.J. (2007). Securing Japan: The current discourse. The Journal of Japanese Studies, 33(1), 125–152. Shin, G.W. (2010). One alliance, two lenses: U.S.–Korea relations in a new era. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Snyder, S. (2009). China’s rise and the two Koreas: Politics, economics, security. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. Snyder, S. (2014). South Korea struggles with the Asian paradox. World Politics Review, 20.­korea-struggles-­with-the-­asianparadox Somers, M.R. (1994). The narrative constitution of identity: A relational and network approach. Theory and Society, 23(5), 605–649. Son, K.Y. (2006). South Korean engagement policies and North Korea. New York: Routledge. Wan, M. (2003). Economic interdependence and economic cooperation: Mitigating conflict and transforming security order in the Asia-­Pacific. In M. Alagappa (Ed.), Asian security order: Instrumental and normative features (pp.  280–310). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Ye, M. (2017). China–South Korea relations in the new era: Challenges and opportunities. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

2 The dynamics of democratized South Korean foreign policy in the post-­Cold War era Sangsoo Lee

Introduction South Korea has experienced a large economic and political transformation over the past 60 years. After the Korean War, it was one of the world’s poorest countries with only US$64 per capita income (Tran, 2011). During the 1960s and through the 1980s, South Korea achieved high economic growth, with an average annual GDP growth rate of approximately 10 per cent. In addition to economic development, the country also accomplished a peaceful political transformation from a military dictatorship to a democracy, in 1987–1988. In addition to the domestic transformations, South Korean society has opened itself to the outside world very quickly starting from the end of the Cold War, and the different governments have taken advantage of globalization by expanding their foreign relations and trade partners, rather than focusing on security-­related issues. Thus, since the end of 1980s, South Korea has no longer been characterized by economic backwardness, an authoritarian political system, and international isolation. Paradoxically, following these successful transformations, in South Korea a polarization of the country’s social values and attitudes emerged, together with a political division between conservative and progressive groups that has heavily influenced the government’s foreign policy (De Ceuster, 2005). Furthermore, the end of the Cold War and globalization have brought significant changes to South Korea’s foreign policy (Baker, 2017). Therefore, many questions regarding foreign policy are raised: if South Korea’s rise as an economic power and a democracy changed its relationship with neighbouring powers, has globalization promoted South Korea’s national interests to reach out to other countries beyond its traditional allies? Has democratization in South Korea changed its relations with the North and with the United States? This chapter explores how domestic politics had an influence on South Korea’s foreign policies, in particular the impact of democratization during the Roh Tae-­ woo and Kim Young-­sam administrations. The chapter is organized in four sections. It begins with an overview of the political dominance of conservative groups under the authoritarian governments, onset by the Cold War. The first part analyses why South Korea under the authoritarian governments maintained an anti-­ communist and U.S. first policy. The second part examines how South Korea’s

Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   17 early democratization efforts during the Roh Tae-­woo government are linked with Roh’s “Northern Policy” (called “Nordpolitik”) as a new strategy to deal with neighbouring countries. This chapter attempts to characterize the foreign policy of Roh’s government and to assess discontinuity of its policy alternatives compared with those of the prior authoritarian, military-­controlled regimes. The third part examines foreign policy implemented by the civilian government, after 31 years of political domination by the military, in particular inter-­relations between conservative and progressive groups during the Kim Young-­sam government and its impact on foreign policy, focusing on the government’s policy towards North Korea. The last part underlines the specific characteristics of the divide between progressives and conservatives and argues that the process of democratization in South Korea not only had an impact on the government’s foreign and security policies, but also that the dynamics following the democratization have heavily complicated the government’s foreign policy: it has become inconsistent between the Roh and Kim administrations, showing lack of continuity and involving frequent policy changes towards neighbouring countries, especially North Korea.

The Authoritarian Governments during the Cold War (1953–1987) After the Korean War, in the 1950s–1960s, the regional environment provided many challenges to Seoul as it was in a weak position in many ways. Not only was South Korea surrounded by the bigger China and Japan (both traditional regional powers), but also North Korea posed an ever-­present and imminent threat to post-­war South Korea. Under these circumstances, South Korea had limited freedom in making independent policies. Syngman Rhee, the first president of the Republic of Korea (ROK) since the end of the Japanese colonial era, heavily relied on Washington for its security. The defence relationship with the U.S. provided a sense of security that allowed the government to focus on other issues. In fact, Washington implemented a strategy of global containment of the Soviet power during the Cold War and extended military and financial aid to its  allies, including South Korea. For many reasons, Rhee controlled anti-­ Amer­icanism, limited to an extremely small number, who risked both arrest and imprisonment under the National Security Act (1948). As a result, there was no internal political debate influencing the process of foreign policymaking under this security situation and Rhee’s anti-­communist policy. The U.S. influence on South Korea’s foreign and North Korean policy intensified with the leadership of Park Chung-­hee (1961–1979) (Choi, 2012). In the beginning of his ruling, the U.S. heavily supported many sectors of the country’s economy and defence, in turn this allowed Washington to guide South Korea’s foreign policy in many cases. In general, international factors, such as the Amer­ ican anti-­communist policy and its interventionism, affected the creation and goals of foreign policymaking in South Korea during Park’s government. From the domestic perspective, Park also used anti-­communist policies in order to sustain his long-­term draconian rule, as it was a useful tool for his legitimization

18   Sangsoo Lee and to defend his position from political opposition and the public. The Park government’s suppression of the merest hint of leftist or progressive ideology on national security grounds further reinforced this notion (Chae & Kim, 2008). In other words, anti-­communist and conservative sentiments that originated from the Korean War, and still prevailed among citizens, helped Park Chung-­hee to easily mobilize Koreans and suppress the activities of the civil society (Hwang, 2017, p. 14). In fact, during the initial phase of Park’s era in the 1960s, there was no true competition among distinctive political viewpoints, only the stability of conservative ideology – anti-­North Korean and pro-­Amer­ican – was considered legitimate, and thus it monopolized South Korean politics (Chae & Kim, 2008). Importantly, the press, heavily controlled by the government, was the most effective tool for inculcating the overall pro-­Amer­ican and strong anti-­ communist beliefs among South Koreans (Lee, 2004). Consequently, during the first stage of Park’s regime, due to anti-­communism and strong political leadership, some degree of democracy had to be sacrificed for the sake of national security. Furthermore, progressive organizations and their activities related to foreign and security issues were severely constrained by Park’s government and by the business-­oriented culture and discourse. Thus, the regime did not allow criticism of their policies and banned open debate on the sensitive security issues related to the U.S. and North Korea. Instead, Park initiated an economic drive to modernize and industrialize the economy, partly as a way of making up for the lack of legitimacy of his political leadership. Indeed, Park was very successful in achieving this goal. Under his leadership, South Korea enjoyed unprecedented high economic growth for two decades. Due to this radical focus on economic development strategies and the emphasis on social stability and solidarity, demand for democratization and the democratic movement in civil society were pushed aside or easily crushed (Hwang, 2017, p. 14). During the 1970s, with a new generation emerging, however, Park’s policy started to face political challenges by the progressive group. As happened in other cases, in South Korea also the promotion of economic development resulted in the growth of education, and hence an eventual increase in the number of highly educated young people, who started to demand democratic rights and more progressive foreign policies, including towards North Korea. Thus, this group of people hoped for more peaceful relations with Pyongyang and even the reunification for the peninsula. As a result, in the South Korean case, the economic development encouraged the national democratic movement which pushed for foreign policy with a more liberal perspective and invoked change. Given this situation, progressive politicians in South Korea raised their voices to advocate peace talks with Pyongyang. For example, Kim Dae-­jung, Park’s political rival, publicly appealed for a peaceful approach to reunification and for a generous approach towards the North. Many other opposition leaders also helped South Korean citizens to organize and confront policymakers on the authoritarian nature of their governance and on the hostile South Korean policy towards North Korea. While Park struggled with democratic activists in South

Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   19 Korea, the regime needed to meet a certain number of the demands from the progressive people. In addition to these internal changes, the external factors of the geopolitical situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula had also dramatically shifted in the 1970s, with a strong impact on Park’s foreign policy. Due to the negative outcomes of the war in Vietnam, the U.S. started to rethink its anti-­communist and interventionist strategies in East Asia. Gradually, the Amer­ican foreign policy entered the new detente phase of the Cold War to find a way out from the deadlock situation in the Vietnam War. A critical change took place after Richard Nixon was elected and Washington promoted the normalization of the relations with China in the early 1970s. As the regional U.S.’s closest ally, Japan also opened up diplomatically towards China, during the same period (Choi, 2012). Although the Park regime resisted the new geopolitical trend and maintained its aggressive policy towards the communist countries, Seoul faced a dilemma with Washington’s reluctance to support Park’s policy towards North Korea. The change gradually undermined the ideological common ground between South Korea and the U.S. with a lack of coordination and emerging differences in their approaches. Eventually, Washington urged the Park regime to improve relations with North Korea and to join the new U.S. engagement policy towards East Asia. Under continuous Amer­ican pressure, Park Chung-­hee proposed inter-­Korean talks in August 1971 that eventually led to the Joint Statement of 1972. Nonetheless, North and South Korea did not fulfil their respective commitments and inter-­Korean negotiations soon stalled due to the lack of trust between the parties (Suh & Koo, 1984). The U.S. policy of detente in the 1970s, in particular during the Carter administration, did not only put pressure on Park’s foreign policy but also encouraged the progressive and democratic voices in South Korea. President Carter was highly critical of Park’s dictatorial rule and the U.S. encouraged democratic movements led by the progressives in South Korea. Nonetheless, Park did not have any intention to pursue democratic reforms and the adoption of the Yusin Constitution led to a deterioration of South Korea’s relations with its main ally. In order to be more independent from the Amer­ican influence, and as a reassurance against a possible military disengagement of its main security provider, Park Chung-­hee sought to develop nuclear weapons for South Korea. However, he was dissuaded ultimately by U.S. threats to withdraw troops before South Korea could complete the programme, thus potentially leaving the South vulnerable to the North, and by the threat of Amer­ican sanctions (Baker, 2017). Eventually, Park was forced to enter into talks with the Amer­ican president in 1979 and accepted Washington’s demand for the observance of human rights and the introduction of more political freedom in South Korea. As a result, the internal dynamics of South Korean politics increased gradually as the national democratic movement was growing, which had also an influence on Park’s foreign policy since the end of 1970s. Despite this expectation for change, Park Chung-­hee was assassinated by his own intelligence chief in the late 1979. Yet just six months later, General Chun

20   Sangsoo Lee Doo-­hwan violently took power with a phased coup d’état and quickly consolidated his control of the government. Therefore, South Korea failed to achieve a democratic transition during 1979 and 1980. Still, massive demonstrations for democracy by college students and citizens increased due to the new military government’s human rights abuse and authoritarian rule (Heo et al., 2008). In May, 1980, anti-­government and political activists protests for democratization escalated in Kwangju and at least 200 demonstrators against the military dictatorship were killed by soldiers (Adesnik & Kim, 2009). During Chun’s seven years of military rule, domestic politics was strictly controlled by the government and the process of democratization was stepped back significantly again. Chun Doo-­hwan also often used the North Korean military threat, as his predecessors had, to consolidate his leadership, emphasising his pro-­U.S. line and close connection with the Reagan administration. In fact, domestically the unpopular regime needed to exploit the development of closed relations with the U.S. to make up for the president’s weak legitimacy (Chung, 1999). Although for the U.S. government it was difficult just to ignore military-­backed authoritarian regimes characterized by brutal abuses of human rights, the security threat posed by North Korea was considered as a priority common issue for both the U.S. and Chun’s regime. As such, during the Reagan administration, the anti-­ communist policy acted as a strong link for security cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea, although the contradiction between security and democratization had become a tricky issue for the Amer­ican government. Despite this situation, protests in favour of democracy in South Korea increased during the second part of the 1980s. Building on the legacy of the anti-­ authoritarian political struggles, civil society organizations had become the hallmark of the maturing of South Korean democracy (De Ceuster, 2005). A resilient society grew exasperated with authoritarianism and demanded democratic reforms (ibid.). Eventually, thousands of people came out on the streets to protest against the Chun government and to request a direct election of president. Since the 1980s, the democracy movement had moved progressively from one stage to the next, gaining a wider base of support and legitimacy: the radical and largely student-­based first stage had expanded to include labour movements, the Catholic Church, Buddhist groups, housewives, and even elements of the military, weakening the government’s ability to classify dissent as unpatriotic or seditious (Robertson, 2003). In the end, Chun surrendered to the popular demand for free and fair elections and for the restoration of civil liberties (Adesnik & Kim, 2009). With 93 per cent support in a referendum, the constitutional amendment to change the presidential election process was promulgated on 29 October, 1987. This was a significant event in the history of South Korean politics. The breakdown of the military authoritarian rule under Chun Doo-­hwan and South Korea’s subsequent transition to democracy in 1987 paved the way for direct presidential elections, the civilian control over the military, and the growth of civil society (Cha & Lee, 2013).

Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   21

The peaceful transition and Roh Tae-­woo’s Northern policy Roh Tae-­woo, considered as the designated successor of Chun as leader of the regime, was instead elected as the 13th president of the Republic of Korea on 16 December, 1987. Before the presidential election, Roh made a dramatic declaration, known as the “June 29 Declaration”, that paved the way for the achievement of democratization, accepting all of the opposition and progressive groups’ demands, including the election of the president through a popular vote. After the Declaration, the country’s constitution was revised in the autumn of 1987, the powers of the president were weakened, the term of office was limited to a single term and reduced from seven to five years, and the presidential power to dissolve the National Assembly was removed (Koh, 1999). While winning the election, Roh received only 36.6 per cent of the total popular votes and his ruling Democratic Justice Party (DJP) also failed to win the majority of the votes in the April 1988 National Assembly election, winning only 125 seats in the 299member legislative body (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2018). Considering his weakened political position, Roh Tae-­woo and the DJP made the strategic decision to concede to the request of democracy from the opposition party (Denney, 2014). The December 1987 presidential election can be considered as the first successful democratic transition to a direct presidential election in the history of South Korean politics. President Roh began his term in office by promising the end of the authoritarian rule of the past and to continue to respect the June 29 Declaration (Asian Info, 2018). In fact, during his term, Roh took many measures and steps with the aim of liberalizing and democratizing the national life and institutions (Wong & Chan, 1999, p.  167). These included the repeal or revision of non-­democratic laws and regulations, the release of many political detainees, and the discontinuation of the surveillance of the newsrooms of major press organizations, including radio and television stations, by the government’s intelligence agents (Yonhap News Agency, 2018a). The public media had become a very important factor for the democratically elected government, and for the president in particular, as politicians became more concerned with public opinion and with their image than the previous authoritarian governments. Furthermore, during the Roh government, as democratization had granted access to a lot of outside information on international affairs and the availability and accessibility to this information improved, growing numbers of people began to view things differently. Such knowledge and information worked to diversify their preferences over foreign policy issues. The media became a sort of open forum where anti-­government criticism was flourishing: previously unacceptable negative opinions about the U.S., positive opinions towards North Korea, and other ideas started to be expressed. Media criticism against government policy or the expression of anti-­Amer­ican views ironically became a measure of proof of South Korea’s democratic freedom (Lee, 2004). In this sense, South Korea’s democratization has had an especially liberating effect on progressive ideals and values, which were severely repressed in the

22   Sangsoo Lee past. The debate over major policy issues also reflected the increasing polarization of Korean social values and attitudes (ibid.). As a result, since 1987, the commitment to democracy has been the main dividing line in the landscape of South Korean politics. Those who had struggled to democratize South Korea became liberals and progressives, while those who had shrugged their shoulders and profited throughout the authoritarian era became conservatives (Park, 2016). Nevertheless, political parties and diverse interest groups such as labour unions, farmers, students, rich people, and poor people presented their interests forward and competed with each other. Consequently, democratization and associated reforms made not only the civil society more diversified but also more fragmented than before. This change was gradually reflected in the implementation of the government policies during the Roh administration. Roh Tae-­woo also opened up a new era in South Korean foreign policy (De Ceuster, 2005). The government changed its foreign policy style in line with democratization. First, it led to a shift in the international position of South Korea. Driven by a strong sense of national identity and pride, the democratically elected government, carried by a groundswell of popular support, advocated the interests of the Korean nation in an international context in a non-­ confrontational way. Second, rapid economic growth as a national objective was replaced by the goal of becoming a middle power country. Third, economic advancement elevated South Korea to a stronger position in defense capabilities compared to the North (Morley 1999:216). In the minds of many South Koreans, this change greatly reduced the possibility of a North Korean invasion and to that extent raised questions about the national security argument used to justify repressive measures (Chung 1999). Therefore, democratization and a rapid economic development in South Korea were the trigger for a reshaping of its foreign policies. Against this backdrop, in 1988, Rho Tae-­woo declared a new foreign policy doctrine, the so-­called Nordpolitik. The government took a new foreign policy initiative towards North Korea and the communist bloc countries timed with the hosting of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul (Kihl, 2005, p. 228). Democratization and detente were the main ideas of President Roh Tae-­woo’s Nordpolitik. In the case of the Korean Peninsula, new partnerships based on mutual economic and strategic benefits emerged, gradually overruling the ideology-­based alliances dating back to the Korean War. South Korea benefited most from this de-­ ideologization. Its economic prowess charmed both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China into establishing diplomatic relations with their erstwhile foe. The pragmatic foreign policy of President Roh lured Russia and China away from the rigidly dogmatic and confrontational foreign policies of North Korea (ibid.). In a few years, Roh Tae-­woo fully launched systematic efforts to pursue normalization with Northeast Asian communist powers: Russia, China, and North Korea. Although security concerns were still dominant in South Korean society, economic interests necessitate the country to improve its relations with China and redefine its political position between it and the U.S. (Baker, 2017). The

Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   23 phenomenal success of Nordpolitik was accomplished through two normalization cases and the signing of two major agreements with North Korea. The two Korea’s simultaneous entry into the UN as full members was accorded with a non-­aggression pact, which meant that North and South Korea agreed to end the mutual hostility. Perhaps, most importantly, the declaration was a signal to the international community that South Korea no longer officially perceived the North as a threat, though both South Korean and the United States military analysts were concerned that North Korea had been continuing to build up its conventional and unconventional forces since the 1970s. The most successful part of Nordpolitik was the foreign affairs advisors’ ability to understand the limits and possibilities of their diplomatic transactions. The advisors correctly understood the limits but also the opportunities of the transitional character of the Northeast Asian balance of power in that period. They shrewdly grasped the changing mood of foreign relations in Northeast Asia and enlarged Seoul’s perspective beyond the Cold War insecurity complex. They knew that they needed a more assertive and autonomous foreign policy that could strengthen cooperation with former communist countries. They boldly shrugged off a stereotyped anti-­communist conservatism that was built on a bipolar worldview, a world divided by the containment line between the East and the West (Kim, 2004). Meanwhile, President Roh did not create unnecessary conflicts with his key ally, the U.S., by seeking advice and support in advance in addition to sharing ongoing information on Nordpolitik. The U.S. role in arranging the Russo-­South Korean summit meeting in San Francisco was a clear example of close cooperation between the two allies (ibid.). Therefore, South Korea and the United States shared the goal of peaceful reunification and stability of the Korean Peninsula. In short, thanks to the successful democratic transition, the Roh Tae-­woo administration was able to launch a new foreign policy initiative which enabled South Korea to expand its diplomatic ties with former communist bloc countries (Snyder, 2018).

Kim Young-­sam’s democratization and foreign policy Kim Young-­sam has been one of the most important leaders in the history of South Korea’s politics together with Kim Dae-­jung. Before becoming president in 1992, Kim was elected to Parliament at 26 years old and became an opposition leader famed for his daring criticism of the country’s military leaders in the 1970–1980s. However, in 1990, Kim Young-­sam merged his party with Roh Tae-­woo’s military-­backed governing party to win the presidential election, in a move widely condemned as a betrayal of pro-­democracy forces (Choe, 2015). In 1992, Kim Young-­sam won the presidency as a member of the conservative ruling Democratic Liberal Party (Baker, 2017). Although he won with the support of the military-­backed party, the Kim Young-­sam administration was the first civilian government in the Republic of Korea in more than three decades as Kim replaced the last of the country’s leaders with a military background, Roh Tae-­woo.

24   Sangsoo Lee After Kim began his five-­year term, he pushed a reform of the military and a consolidation of democracy in South Korea. For instance, within two weeks of his inauguration, Kim Young-­sam began one of the most extensive personnel reshuffles in the top echelons of the ROK military. In the space of 40 days, 59 general officers were either removed (i.e. forced to retire) or reassigned (Koh, 1999). Even the former presidents Chun Doo-­hwan and Roh Tae-­woo were found guilty for the military coup in 1980. In August 1996, the Seoul District Court sentenced Chun to death and Roh to 22-and-­a-half years of imprisonment (ibid.). After this radical reform, the new government succeeded in sharply reducing the political influence of the military. Furthermore, he forced senior public officials and politicians to declare assets of their families and themselves and introduced a real-­name financial transactions system (Yonhap News Agency, 2018b). Through this removing of old high-­ranking militaries and officers, Kim Young-­sam consolidated his leadership from his early presidency. In general, during Kim’s presidency, South Korea made progress in democratization, particularly regarding procedural democracy, and removed the legacy of military involvement in running the country. Furthermore, after the advent of democracy and a fully civilian government, South Korea’s domestic and foreign policy faced another challenge, different from those of the past. Having achieved industrialization and democratization, Korea needed a different way to deal with internal and global issues. Domestically, Kim Young-­sam pushed the expansion of the discursive field of developed country (seonjinguk) beyond economic matters, to permeate almost every aspect of Korean public policy, including education, diplomacy, the environment, labour, health, etc. (Jojin, 2015). In the context of foreign policy, the South Korean government paid more attention to universal values and global issues. The Kim Young-­sam government considered globalization as a universal trend and put efforts at developing a universal valued foreign policy around the theme of globalization (ibid.). Overall, the aim was to “upgrade Korea” to effectively meet the global challenge, such as issues of international cooperation for economic and peaceful developments. With the aim of playing more active roles in the international arena, South Korea obtained the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) membership in 1996 and UN Security Council membership in 1996–1997 (ibid.). What is more, under his civilian background, foreign and security policymaking became more transparent and open to debate than ever before (Snyder et al., 2018). Democratization and the information revolution have reinvigorated civic life and citizens have become active in expressing very divergent and often polarized views on foreign policies. In general, compared with any previous government, Kim’s policymaking on foreign and security issues was strongly influenced by domestic politics as reflected by the public opinion (Snyder, 2018). Democratization, under Kim’s leadership, had not only entailed a marked increase in the degree to which its citizens were allowed to exercise freedom of expression but has also magnified the potential influence of public opinion and the press in policy making (Koh, 1999). This can be considered as one of the

Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   25 main differences in foreign policy between the Kim government and the past governments. From a different perspective, his governing style was also characterized by strong leadership due to the personalized nature of politics in a hierarchical Confucian society and his own authoritarian concept of politics. Meanwhile, there was also a growing expectation on the part of the general public, led by progressive groups, that the government would carry out a foreign policy that was more assertive, independent, and nationalistic. This was reflected especially in the popular press, which tended to play on the pride, symbols, and emotions of the people, who developed a sense of newly achieved political power and expected their government to be less “dependent” on foreign powers, particularly the United States (Snyder, 2018). Notwithstanding breathtaking changes in South Korea’s domestic politics, under Kim Young-­sam, conservatives and progressives both within and outside the government engaged in an intense tug of war over North Korea’s policy (Kang, 2001). For example, after Kim became president he was scheduled to be the first South Korean president to meet with a North Korean leader, but the summit never happened due to the sudden death of Kim Il-­sung (Baker, 2017). After the failure of the summit meeting, unlike the early optimism of the Roh administration, the Kim government could not maintain the momentum towards reconciliation for long. This was not only for the lack of a consistence long-­term policy towards North Korea, but also for the fact that the Nordpolitik was soon overshadowed by the ensuing North Korean nuclear crisis in early 1990s. Therefore, the Kim Young-­sam government has hardly referred to the former Roh Tae-­woo’s foreign policy, and Kim’s policy towards North Korea revealed that domestic politics make salient differences in South Korea’s foreign policy (Snyder, 2018). Meanwhile, the emergence of the nuclear crisis in the early 1990s, coupled with the frequency with which North Korea’s precipitates provocative incidents vis-­à-vis South Korea, has actually enhanced the importance of the Seoul–Washington alliance once again. The press became more conservative, that is hostile towards the North, which was translated into staunch support for the alliance, the principal source and symbol of deterrence against North Korean aggressions (Koh, 1999). As a result, during its latter years, the Kim government took an increasingly tough stance towards North Korea and strengthened the US–ROK military alliance. Thus, under these different circumstances, Roh’s Northern Policy was not successfully continued by Kim Young-­ sam’s foreign policy, although some parts of the progressive camp had a rather positive opinion about the Northern Policy and tended to downplay the North Korean threats.

The formation of the conservatives and progressives on foreign policy The conservative-­progressive split and its influence on foreign policy is a relatively new phenomenon in South Korea. This phenomenon has appeared

26   Sangsoo Lee after the process of democratization under the Roh Tae-­woo government and it has further matured under the Kim Young-­sam government. During the Cold War, confrontation between great powers and high military tensions on the divided peninsula created little room for South Korea to make independent foreign policies. In general, after the Korean War, conservatives have sought military, economic and political security through close ties with the United States, reinforcing the U.S. defence alliance as a way to secure South Korea against military threat from the North. Furthermore, the security reliance on the  U.S. and the anti-­communist policy in the early authoritarian regimes provided the legitimacy for their leadership and the less than competitive nature of the politics contributed much to the government’s capacity to ignore the views and pressures of critics by opposing groups. Thus, the government’s coercive ability to limit the damage from criticism of its foreign policy was only one element in this foreign policy-­domestic politics nexus (Snyder, 2018). Consequently, in the authoritarian regimes from Syngman Rhee to the early Park Chung-­hee era, there was no dearth of the linkage between domestic politics and foreign policy. However, external factors started influencing South Korea’s domestic and foreign policy since the era of detente, with the easing of Cold War tensions. The U.S. policy towards East Asia changed in the 1970s and put pressure on Park’s regime to change its anti-­North Korea policy and his strict control of South Korean society. Another crucial factor that developed during the authoritarian rule of Park and Chun in the 1970–1980s consisted in the influence of economic development and democratization aspirations on South Korea’s society, which gradually played a critical role in cultivating progressive thinking and affecting the government’s decision-­making process on domestic and foreign policies. Indeed, there were increasingly progressive movements against the anti-­communist policy, seeing the North more as a kin nation to be reconciled with, and the United States as a disruptive interloper. However, these movements were brutally suppressed by the national security control and laws. Despite this, the 1987 democratization movement put cracks in the South’s post-­war extreme conservative and anti-­communist governance in the face of a strong challenge from political and civil societies. Because each succeeding government after the 1987 transition was more progressive than the one before, until 2007, South Korea’s ideological range broadened from one that was staunchly anti-­leftist to one that accepted even the most radical elements. After Roh Tae-­woo’s initial efforts, democratization was further reinforced by Kim Young-­sam, who heralded the end of the military hegemony on South Korean politics. A strong involvement of South Korean society into the government’s foreign policy would not have been possible if the Roh Tae-­woo and Kim Young-­sam governments had not followed on the path towards democracy. Nevertheless, during the Roh and Kim governments, democratization had brought new challenges in domestic politics with polarized ideology gaps. This transformation has also encouraged civil society to become active in expressing divergent and often polarized views on South Korea’s foreign policies, focusing

Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   27 on inter-­Korean relations and the US–ROK relation. Furthermore, regional and global changes, particularly since the end of the Cold War, have also challenged South Koreans with the complicity of international relations, in particular with China and the U.S. During the Roh Tae-­woo government the two camps, conservative and progressive, saw the alliance in different ways. Although progressives had mixed feelings as they viewed North Korea with ambivalence, both as a kin nation to be reconciled with and as an enemy to constrain, the paradoxical situation was that the South Korean government and society as a whole still valued the alliance with the United States. As North Korea’s nuclear threats grew, a key issue for the interreaction between conservatives and progressives during the Kim Young-­sam government was not about foreign relations in general, but on the specific issues of inter-­ Korean and U.S.–South Korean relations. In this sense, more than during Roh’s government, there was a strong consensus that the alliance was valuable to South Korea’s national interests as progressives were also aware that the alliance had staved off North Korea aggression. This pragmatic approach from the progressive camp was a major finding because the majority of the South Korean people had concerns that the traditional alliance could become increasingly tenuous due to widespread and growing anti-­Amer­ican sentiment. This prevailing portrait has had enormous influence in driving South Korea’s political debates, shaping the course of later presidential campaigns, providing a ready interpretation for the causes of anti-­Amer­icanism, and directing the discourse of policy towards North Korea and East Asia.

Conclusion The success of South Korea’s democratic development arises from constant struggles with the past authoritarian regimes, which have consolidated the foundations of a liberal-­democratic order. One of the most significant indicators of this lies in the 1987 democratization movement. Since 1987, South Korean society has become a fair competitive society between conservatives and progressives with their influence in government’s policies in many areas. The foreign policy of the Nordpolitik in the early years of democratization set a crucial example for this. Meanwhile, influenced by the diversified views on foreign policy, the government’s action, in particular in relation to North Korea, was often inconsistent, drifting one way then veering in another, showing lack of continuity and involving frequent changes, as we have seen with different policies between the Roh and Kim governments. In fact, the dynamic following democratization heavily complicated the government’s foreign policy, in particular its policy towards North Korea. During the Roh Tae-­woo presidency, there was no true competition among distinctive political viewpoints between conservatives and progressives, concerning policies towards North Korea. The main reason was that there was no imminent threat from North Korea – especially in terms of nuclear weapons – posed to the South. After the end of

28   Sangsoo Lee Cold War, South Korea’s northern neighbours, including North Korea, started to be considered more as cooperative partners rather than enemies by the government and civil society. However, unlike the early optimism of the Roh administration, Kim Young-­sam hardly referred to the foreign policy approach of Nordpolitik, mainly because it was soon overshadowed by the ensuing North Korean nuclear crisis of the early 1990s. Nevertheless, the guidelines of Nordpolitik in the early years of democratization continued to influence the foreign policy of South Korea. In fact, it set a crucial example for the following policies of engagement towards North Korea, during the Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun governments, as well as the current Moon Jae-­in administration. Thus, the engagement policies of the later governments of South Korea would have been unthinkable without the prior success and accomplishments of democratization and of Roh Tae-­woo’s Nordpolitik.

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Dynamics of S. Korean foreign policy post-Cold War   29 Hwang, W.J. (2017). South Korea’s changing foreign policy: The impact of democratization and globalization. London: Lexington Books. Jojin, V.J. (2015). Globalization, national identity and foreign policy, The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 33(2), 38–57. Kang, J.I. (2001). Dilemma of Korean conservatives, Korea Focus. http://koreafocus.or. kr/design1/layout/content_print.asp?group_id=688 Kihl, Y.W. (2005). Transforming Korean politics: Democracy, reform, and culture. London: Routledge. Kim, Y.J. (2004). “The Nordpolitik as President Roh Tae-­woo’s new foreign policy, 1988–1992”. Paper presented at a Seminar on post-­Cold War foreign relations in Northeast Asia and the US–Korean alliance, 12 March, 2004, The Center for Korean Studies, University of California at Los Angeles [UCLA]. Koh, B.C. (1999). Seoul domestic politics and the Korean–Amer­ican alliance, Shorestein APARC working paper Stanford University. Lee, S.J. (2004). The transformation of South Korean politics: Implications for U.S.– Korea relations. Brookings Institution.­content/uploads/2016/ 06/lee2004.pdf Morley, J.W. (1999). Driven by growth: Political change in the Asia-­Pacific region. New York: Routledge. Park, N.S. (2016). South Korea’s nostalgia for dictatorship has (mostly) predictable results. Foreign Policy, 15 November.­ koreas-nostalgia-­for-dictatorship-­has-mostly-­predictable-results/ Robertson, J. (2003). The anti-­Amer­ican blowback from Bush’s Korea policy. Institute for Policy Studies. https://ips-­­Amer­ican_blowback_from_bushs_korea_ policy/ Snyder, S. (2018). South Korea at the crossroads: Autonomy and alliance in an era of rival powers. New York: Columbia University Press. Snyder, S., Lee, G., Kim, Y.H., & Kim, J.Y. (2018). Domestic constraints on South Korean foreign policy. The council on foreign relations.­ constraints-south-­korean-foreign-­policy Suh, D.S. & Koo, Y.N. (1984). Korea and the United States: A century of cooperation. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Tran, M. (2011). South Korea: A model of development? Guardian, 28 November. www.­d evelopment/poverty-­m atters/2011/nov/28/south-­k oreadevelopment-­model Wong, H.K. & Chan, H.S. (Eds.). (1999). Handbook of comparative public administration in the Asia-­Pacific basin. New York: Routledge. Yonhap News Agency. (2018a). Past & present: The sixth republic, Korea in brief. Yonhap News. Yonhap News Agency. (2018b). Kim Young-­Sam Government, Korea in brief. http://

3 The impact of political alternation on South Korea’s foreign policy Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori1

Introduction The impact of the domestic political divide between progressives and conservatives on South Korea’s foreign policy has become clearly visible after the election of Kim Dae-­jung in December 1997. The new political dynamics emerged after the transition to democracy in 1987 had brought to the fore the requests and priorities of the progressive front of the political and social opposition (see Lee’s chapter in this book). For the first time the instances of the left-­wing side of the political spectrum had gained political legitimacy within the framework of a democratic process of political contestation. Among the many issues that emerged, foreign policy was certainly relevant. During the Cold War period and the decades of authoritarianism the country’s foreign and security policy was centred on containing the North Korean threat and on the strategic alliance with the United States. South Korea and Japan were the centrepieces of the U.S. security apparatus in East Asia and the two countries had very little room for designing and implementing a more independent foreign policy. Starting from the end of the 1980s, the structural conditions for Seoul’s foreign policy completely changed and the country started to act in a more proactive way on the regional and international scene. The first two South Korean administrations after 1987 – under President Roh Tae-­woo and Kim Young-­sam respectively – started to move away from the Cold War structure that had trapped the country since its foundation in 1948. Taking advantage of the changes in the regional environment and the new opportunities that were emerging, Roh was able to design and implement a foreign policy strategy based on engaging former hostile countries from the communist bloc, China, and Russia in particular. His “Nord­ politik” culminated with the opening of full diplomatic relations with Moscow and Beijing, in 1990 and 1992 respectively, and with South Korea’s admission to the United Nations, concurrently with North Korea, in September 1991. One of the central goals of Nordpolitik was to start a dialogue and defuse tension with the North: Roh achieved relevant results also on this front, in particular with the “Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-­Aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation” and the “Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” of 1991–1992. Roh Tae-­woo’s strategy was aimed at transforming

The impact of political alternation   31 the country foreign policy and at adapting it to the changes in the domestic and international situation. South Korea was now a rich, developed, and modern country characterized by a democratic political system, and its foreign policy goals had to go beyond the mere containment of the North Korean threat. Prosperity, prestige, and an increased international role became new priorities for the South Korean government, along with traditional military security. In this perspective, Roh Tae-­woo’s foreign policy signalled the new proactivity of the country with regards to international and regional cooperation, which will become a key feature for the future administrations. In the wake of the Cold War and in coincidence with the dawn of the Amer­ican unipolar era, these openings towards former hostile countries did not initiate frictions between South Korea and the U.S. With the election of Kim Young-­sam, the presidential office remained within the conservative camp, after Kim and Roh Tae-­woo decided to merge their parties in 1990 to establish the Democratic Liberal Party.2 Kim decided to give continuity to the efforts of his predecessor in building a multifaceted and proactive role for South Korea in the international community, expanding this initiative from the regional to the global level, in particular with the so-­called segyehwa policy. With the election of Kim Dae-­jung, the domestic divide between progressives and conservatives was for the first time translated into actual policy strategies and implemented accordingly. From the beginning of Kim’s presidency the existing differences appeared very clear, with particular reference to the relations with North Korea and regional diplomacy. The same trend continued under President Roh Moo-­hyun, although in this case a further element of friction with the conservative camp was represented by the desire for a more autonomous foreign policy, distanced from the influence of the United States. Both the following presidencies of Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye represented a reoccurrence of a conservative approach. Nevertheless, several differences have emerged between these two administrations: while Lee was more in line with the traditional pillars of the conservative foreign policy, Park attempted to adapt the tradition to the changes of the regional system, in particular by pursuing an improvement and upgrade of South Korea’s relations with China. This chapter analyses foreign policy strategies designed and implemented by different South Korean presidents, from Kim Dae-­jung to Park Geun-­hye, emphasizing the role and influence of the domestic political divide between progressives and conservatives and the adherence of the different administrations to their respective political traditions.

Kim Dae-­jung and the debut of the progressive era Kim Dae-­jung’s election as president of South Korea, in December 1997, not only represented the first transfer of power from conservatives to progressives in the country’s democratic history, but also marked the definitive legitimization of the progressive political tradition. According to this tradition, that had its roots in the fight against authoritarianism, Kim was now able to design and implement

32   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori new strategies, in line with the progressive political ideas and beliefs, including in the foreign policy realm. Against this backdrop, Kim Dae-­jung perfectly incarnated this shift of the progressive front to the centre-­stage of the country’s political debate. A native of the southern Jeolla province, constantly remaining his main bulwark of support,3 Kim Dae-­jung began his political career fighting against authoritarian regimes in the late 1950s, joining the Democratic Party in 1957. After Park Chung-­hee’s coup d’état in 1961, Kim became one of the main figures in the political opposition. In 1971, Kim, for the first time, ran for presidency against Park and obtained a significant 46 per cent of the votes, in an electoral competition that was largely influenced by the regime in charge. After the election, Kim became the leader and the symbol of political dissent and of the fight for democratization, consequently attracting the anger of authoritarian regimes. Until democratization was finally achieved in 1987, Kim Dae-­jung was subject to house arrest, imprisonment, exile or other forms of persecution and restriction: during these long periods spent between isolation and adversity, he developed a strong political awareness, designed political strategies to address the main problems of the country, and reinforced his progressive political identity (Oberdorfer & Carlin, 2014). His personal struggle against authoritarianism, as well as the international experience and the network of contacts he developed while in exile, strongly influenced his following career as political leader after democratization. Before his successful bid in 1997, Kim ran in the presidential elections in 1987 and in 1992, losing on both occasions. The 1997 electoral campaign was dominated by the problems related to the economic and financial crisis that hit several East Asian countries in the same year. In order to reduce the immediate effect of the crisis, the government of Kim Young-­sam had requested the intervention of the International Monetary Fund with a loan of US$58 billion, tied to a series of measures of liberalization, reform of the banking and credit system, and new procedures to prevent the recurrence of a similar shock in the future. The consequences of the financial crisis played a relevant role for Kim Dae-­jung’s election. The emphasis that Kim Young-­sam’s government had posed on the benefits of globalization through his segyehwa policy backfired when the crisis engulfed the country. The reputation of the ruling party was severely damaged by these developments, thus helping Kim’s election as the opposition candidate. In addition, by exposing the failures and shortcomings of the economic system, the crisis provided the progressive party with the opportunity to gain popular approval from its traditional request of a more open, transparent and democratic economic system (Hahm, 2005, pp. 62–63). Throughout his mandate, Kim Dae-­jung designed and implemented foreign policy strategies based on the progressive principles and priorities: a softer stance towards North Korea based on cooperation and dialogue, a stronger regional cooperation, and a more autonomous foreign policy, without undermining the alliance with the U.S. The main focus of Kim’s foreign policy was to initiate a new course in inter-­Korean relations, based on political and economic engagement with Pyongyang. This new course, named the “Sunshine Policy”,

The impact of political alternation   33 was the outcome of a philosophy that he had started to develop in the 1970s, based on a peaceful management of the division and on an approach to unification to be obtained through consecutive degrees of integration (Kim, 2003). Once elected president, Kim was finally able to translate his principles into practice. Within the first weeks of his administration Kim worked for expanding inter-­Korean economic exchanges (Kang, 1999) and, later, he started working on the implementation of joint plans, such as the Mount Kumgang tourism project (Moon, 2001). The most relevant accomplishment of the first phase of the Sunshine Policy was the historical inter-­Korean summit between President Kim Dae-­jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-­il in Pyongyang, in June 2000. Despite its success, the summit proved to be a very divisive move in South Korea. The managing of inter-­Korean relations is traditionally one of the most polarizing issues in the debate between conservatives and progressives. The summit was seen as an historic moment also by conservatives, although they continued to consider Kim Jong-­il as an untrustworthy partner and Kim Dae-­ jung’s approach as a weak policy of appeasement that would endanger the country’s national security and possibly the alliance with the United States (Snyder, 2018). The so-­called “cash-­for-summit” scandal, that in 2003 unveiled the payment of US$500 million to the North Korean regime through Hyundai in order to facilitate the June 2000 summit, reinforced the idea that the meeting was not a sincere response to the South Korean efforts envisioned in the Sunshine Policy and had negative repercussions on the perception of the public opinion towards Kim Dae-­jung’s strategy. Even though the emphasis on inter-­Korean relations was certainly at the core of Kim Dae-­jung’s Sunshine Policy, the strategy of the South Korean president also had broader dimensions, aimed at improving Pyongyang’s relations with all relevant regional actors and at enhancing cooperation in Northeast Asia. In the first period of his presidency, Kim was able to gather the fundamental support for his policy from all the four major regional powers (U.S., China, Russia, and Japan). Kim’s approach was also endorsed by many partners around the globe, as demonstrated by the fact that several European countries, including the European Union, normalized relations with North Korea in those years (Pacheco Pardo, 2017). Kim Dae-­jung’s vision of cooperation and integration went beyond the Korean Peninsula and included the entire Northeast Asian region. Starting from the existing frameworks of cooperation centred on ASEAN, in particular the ASEAN + 3 meeting that also included South Korea, China, and Japan, in 1998 Kim promoted the idea of creating an East Asia Vision Group that later evolved into the East Asia Study Group and eventually led to the East Asia Summit, with the goal of reinforcing regionalism based on the model of European and North Amer­ican economic integration. In 1999, South Korea, China, and Japan also started to meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting, leading the way for what would evolve into the institutionalized form of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat in 2011. During Kim Dae-­jung’s presidency, relations between South Korea and China developed positively: the role of Beijing was crucial to ensure the success of the

34   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori Sunshine Policy, and China proved to be fully supportive of the new cooperative course of inter-­Korean relations, also because a more peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula was in China’s best interest. The two countries upgraded their relation to a “cooperative partnership” in 2000 (Yi, 2002), while, on the economic side, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) led to major investments from South Korean large companies and a surge in trade exchanges. During the following years this trend would intensify at a double-­digit rate, making China South Korea’s biggest trading partner as early as 2004. Relations with Japan were also marked by a positive inception under the Kim Dae-­jung presidency. During Kim’s visit to Japan in 1998, the two countries signed a significant partnership agreement in which Prime Minister Obuchi expressed “remorseful and heartfelt apology” for Japan’s wrongdoings during the colonial period and both sides agreed to pursue a future-­oriented relationship (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 1998). For Kim Dae-­jung’s strategy, the role of Japan was crucial in order to achieve a new peaceful regional order, which also included North Korea. Tokyo was considered as a key partner for any initiative regarding the regional security architecture. Also, an improvement in relations between Japan and North Korea would reinforce Kim’s policy of engagement towards Pyongyang. However, relations between Japan and South Korea worsened in 2001 due to a controversy over new Japanese school textbooks, which overlooked or dismissed some of the atrocities committed during the colonial period. The approval of the textbooks by the Ministry of Education, together with the new prime minister Koizumi’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine the same year, led to widespread protests in South Korea and damaged the relations between the two governments. This same trend, characterized by improved and “future-­oriented” relations quickly strained by controversies over Japan’s colonial past on the Korean Peninsula, would influence in a negative way mutual relations between Seoul and Tokyo under the following South Korean administrations. Kim Dae-­jung’s new attitude towards North Korea was initially welcomed with favour by the U.S. administration, since the two administrations’ policies aligned along the lines of engagement with North Korea. In 1994, in order to address the first nuclear crisis, the Clinton administration had signed the Agreed Framework with North Korea, although the Republican majority in the Congress harshly criticized this decision. After the unveiling of the Sunshine Policy, the U.S. government supported the engagement approach towards North Korea, as clearly demonstrated by the visits of the North Korean First Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission, Jo Myong-­rok, to Washington and of Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to Pyongyang in October 2000. In this situation, South Korea was the main driver of inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation, with the full support of the United States in the background. After the election of President Bush, however, frictions started to emerge. The new administration, in fact, was sceptical about the good faith of the North Korean regime – and its leader in particular – and was not at ease negotiating with a regime that it considered as totalitarian and brutal. Relations between Washington

The impact of political alternation   35 and Pyongyang worsened after the 9/11 attacks and in particular when President Bush, during his State of the Union speech in 2002, included North Korea in the so-­called “axis of evil” – together with Iran and Iraq – as a state that supported terrorism. This situation was the prelude to the outbreak of the second nuclear crisis in the last months of that year, over the discoveries about a secret uranium­enrichment programme in North Korea. When the system based on the 1994 Agreed Framework collapsed, the U.S. started to request that inter-­Korean cooperation be limited in order to put pressure on Pyongyang over the nuclear programme. This growing difference of perspectives over North Korea started to cause tension within the U.S.–South Korea alliance, although Kim Dae-­jung continued to reiterate the absolute strategic importance of the relationship. This growing dichotomy in managing relations with North Korea between the two allies did not result in a real crisis. Nevertheless, this phase created the conditions that would lead to the growing tensions between Washington and Seoul during the following presidency of Roh Moo-­hyun.

Roh Moo-­hyun’s election and the deepening of the domestic divide The 2002 presidential elections took place in a very turbulent moment in South Korea. Not only was the public opinion’s intolerance towards the dishonesty of the political system at large constantly on the rise, but also a renewed explosion of anti-­Amer­icanism contributed to fuel instability. The primary cause was the crushing to death of two middle school girls by an armoured personnel carrier driven by Amer­ican soldiers on a military exercise. The trial and acquittal of the charges of homicide of the soldiers responsible for the accident by a U.S. military court sparked ferocious anti-­Amer­ican protest, which took place in the form of candlelight vigils: the perceived iniquity of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),4 Bush’s hard-­line policy towards Pyongyang, and the U.S. indifference to South Korean demonstrations further aggravated the situation. The outgoing president’s approval had plummeted to below 20 per cent after his sons were charged with accepting bribes from business to put pressure on the government and for the feeble results of the Sunshine Policy, despite the positive rapprochement with Pyongyang. Therefore, few had doubts that the candidate from the opposing Grand National Party (GNP), Lee Hoi-­chang, the experienced politician from a wealthy family who had served in several positions and ran against Kim Dae-­jung in 1997, would miss the chance to become president. The candidate from the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) was Roh Moo-­hyun, a human rights lawyer of humble origins who had devoted his life to the struggle against authoritarianism. On the night of 19 December, 2002, it appeared clear that Roh had unexpectedly won the presidential elections, by a narrow margin of 2.3 per cent over the conservative contender, mainly due to the resolution of younger voters, commonly known as the “386 generation”.5 The new “participatory government” could definitely move its first steps into the turbulent domestic and international scenario.

36   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori After his election, Roh Moo-­hyun pledged to continue the foreign policy course of his predecessor, in particular for what concerned inter-­Korean relations. His “Policy of Peace and Prosperity” was designed and implemented along the same principles of Kim’s Sunshine Policy, with an even stronger emphasis on economic cooperation. During his mandate, Roh had to face the constant regional tension created by the North Korean nuclear programme after the second nuclear crisis: this situation somehow hindered the possibilities of pursuing inter-­Korean cooperation. Nevertheless, although he strongly opposed Pyongyang’s nuclear efforts, Roh remained committed to a negotiated solution to the issue through dialogue instead of punitive and coercive measures, and pursued ambitious inter-­ Korean economic projects, such as the establishment of the Kaesong industrial complex. South Korea’s attempts to play a central role within the Six-­Party talks, the multilateral framework created to address and resolve the second nuclear crisis, were largely frustrated by the fact that progress depended mostly on the state of U.S.–North Korea negotiations, with China as the key mediator. Nevertheless, Roh’s government tried to facilitate dialogue among the parties and to influence the Amer­ican attitude towards Pyongyang in a positive way. However, Roh Moo-­hyun’s foreign policy vision was not limited to inter-­Korean relations. As a broader version of his idea of peace and prosperity on the peninsula, the new government started to promote a more proactive role for South Korea in the regional security environment: just like Seoul had regained the “driver’s seat” in inter-­Korean relations, it had to play a central role in the region, actively influencing the events instead of simply suffering the consequences (Snyder, 2018). The idea promoted by Roh Moo-­hyun was that South Korea should play a “balancing” role in the region: in this perspective, regional cooperation was pivotal and it had to be expanded from economy and trade to security and diplomacy. Within this envisioned network of cooperation, Seoul should become the “hub of Northeast Asia”. This strategy also implied a more independent foreign policy for South Korea and consequently a reduction of the U.S. influence on the country. Roh’s emphasis on a more active and independent role for South Korea created tension with its key ally from the beginning of his presidency. With the unequivocal opposition of the U.S., a lukewarm reaction from China, and a vocal political opposition by the conservative party within the country, this ambitious strategy showed its shortcomings very quickly. President Roh decided then to explicitly reaffirm the country’s commitment to the alliance – which in any case had never been questioned by the president – and to scale down his ambitions, affirming that the role of South Korea was that of a “facilitator” and “shaper of peace” in the region (Presidential Commission on Policy Planning, 2008). Initiatives like the Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative (NEACI), for the promotion of regional cooperation and integration in order to facilitate a process of community­building and overcome sociocultural divisions, fostered by a growing sentiment of nationalism and mutual distrust, were aimed exactly in this direction. Roh’s activism towards North Korea and regional cooperation created tension within the alliance with the United States. After the inauguration of George W. Bush, in January 2001, Seoul–Washington relations had entered into a new

The impact of political alternation   37 phase, characterized by disagreements mainly related to the new Amer­ican president’s hard-­line policy towards Pyongyang and his firm opposition to Kim Dae-­ jung’s Sunshine Policy. Roh Moo-­hyun’s electoral success was hailed with palpable preoccupation in the United States: as a presidential candidate, Roh had rode the tide of anti-­Amer­icanism by declaring that if elected he would never “kowtow” to America and would demand to be treated as an equal. In addition, although he was elected almost coincidentally with the eruption of the second crisis over North Korea’s nuclear issue he consistently opposed Bush’s policy of isolating and pressuring Pyongyang. In line with his predecessor, Roh advocated an engagement policy with the North, stating that he would “keep economic and diplomatic channels open to Pyongyang” (Shin, 2003). This friction over North Korea’s nuclear issue represented a clear challenge to the relations between Seoul and Washington from the beginning of Roh’s presidency. A sort of ambivalence permanently pervaded Roh administration’s policy towards the United States: if, on one side, the president periodically remarked the utmost importance of the alliance with Washington, against a possible attack from the North, on the other he strongly believed Seoul should develop a truly independent defence capability, also needed in order to take a leading role in solving the nuclear issue and to assume the role of “balancer” in the region, as clearly stated in an address delivered at the 53rd Commencement and Commissioning Ceremony of the Korea Air Force Academy on 8 March, 2005. On that occasion, in fact, Roh not only remarked that South Korea would not allow Amer­ican troops in Korea to become involved in any dispute in Northeast Asia without the consent of the South Korean government, but also emphasized it would make every effort to build a self-­reliant defence capability. As a Northeast Asian balancer, Seoul could contribute to the promotion of peace and common prosperity in the region as a strategic hub. This new strategic posture as a balancer raised the suspicion that Roh’s intention was to deepen ties with China at the expense of the traditional alliance with the United States (Frank, 2005). In reality, Roh’s purpose in introducing the “balancer” idea was that of trying to achieve more independence from foreign influence, and not trying to replace one influential actor with another. This notion of pursuing a more independent foreign policy was in line with the traditional principles of South Korea’s progressives, and, even if it had not been emphasized, was already part of the strategy of Roh’s predecessor Kim Dae-­jung. Other issues were at stake in the relation between Seoul and Washington. One of these surfaced when the two administrations begun to discuss the “strategic flexibility” of the Amer­ican forces in Korea (USFK), according to which U.S. forces based in Korea should be allowed to carry out missions beyond the Korean Peninsula. The idea of “strategic flexibility” – which became a very divisive issue between Korean conservatives and progressives – would change the nature of the ROK–US relationship to a strategic regional alliance, with the risk of getting Korea involved in potential regional disputes and of jeopardizing relations with other regional powers such as China. Seoul’s decision to accept “strategic flexibility” was approved through an agreement ratified on 20 January,

38   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori 2006, even though a rather ambiguous sentence was added, asserting “the U.S. respects the ROK position that it shall not be involved in a regional conflict in Northeast Asia against the will of the Korean people” (Jin, 2006). Roh also stated that Seoul would reserve the right to veto any deployment of U.S. troops based in South Korea in the case of any contingencies outside of the peninsula. Tension within the alliance was also provoked by the discussions about the transfer of wartime operational control from the United States, a point on which Roh insisted and that was also considered by part of the progressive camp as a breach for the country’s full sovereignty. The first North Korean nuclear test in 2006, however, completely altered the scenario and Seoul – despite Washington having suggested a quick transfer by 2008 – decided to take more time and the two agreed that the transfer would be completed between 2008 and 2012. Despite the tension between Seoul and Washington on the divergent approaches towards North Korea and on the extended role of the alliance in the regional scenario, Roh Moo-­hyun never put into question the strategic importance of the relation with the U.S. In order to reassure the ally, for instance, in 2003–2004 the South Korean president accepted – after a long debate in the National Assembly and drawing criticism from part of the public who supported his election – to send non-­combat troops to Iraq, in support of the U.S. intervention. In addition, reconfirming the importance of the mutual relation, in 2007, after a year of intense negotiations, Seoul and Washington agreed to sign a free trade agreement (KORUS FTA). In line with the efforts of his predecessor to create a favourable regional environment and to foster regional cooperation in Northeast Asia, Roh Moo-­ hyun pursued good relations with the major regional powers, Japan and China. During the first two years of President Roh’s presidency South Korea–Japan relations were almost idyllic: after all, the two countries’ mutual vision of a denuclearized North Korea (with the obvious difference on how to achieve that goal), the willingness to proceed to the ratification of a free trade agreement, and the celebration of the 40th anniversary of normalization of relations (in 2005) had created the conditions for a positive interaction. Resonating Kim Dae-­jung’s approach during his visit to Japan in 1998, in order to strengthen bilateral relations, Roh declared that both nations should not be hindered by the past, but advance together towards the future. This assumption was reconfirmed – and even reinforced – in 2004, when, during a press conference after a summit in Jeju, Roh explicitly stated that history-­related issues between Korea and Japan would not find any place on the official agenda during his term (Kim, 2005). Only two years later, however, the situation deteriorated precipitously. Several verbal skirmishes on both parts had revamped nationalist identities,6 but in late February 2006 the Dokdo/Takeshima issue aggravated mutual relations, exacerbating South Korean anger directed at Japan (Rozman & Lee, 2006). Shimane Prefecture Council declared that it would celebrate “Takeshima day” on 22 February, to mark the 100th anniversary of the disputed island’s annexation by Japan, and put forward a bill to the Parliament. That same day, the Japanese ambassador to Korea, Toshiyuki Takano, proclaimed his country’s ownership of

The impact of political alternation   39 the disputed island, while the Japanese Foreign Ministry stated that “Takeshima is historically and legally part of Japanese territory” and accused Seoul of “illegally occupying” the island (Demick, 2005). This issue immediately inflamed Korean public opinion, to the detriment of the Roh administration’s effort for a more cooperative relationship. In his speech marking the 86th anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement of 1919, Roh Moo-­hyun firmly declared that Japan should apologize for the past wrongdoings, promising that his government would support individual victims’ claims to seek indemnity from Japan (Chosun Ilbo, 2005). Despite the steady response of Seoul, the Shimane Prefecture Council passed the “Takeshima Day” bill in mid-­ March, without any intervention from the central government. To further complicate the whole situation, Japan’s Ministry of Education planned to approve the publication of new history books by the Fusho-­sha publishing company containing not only Japan’s claim to ownership of Dokdo/Takeshima, but also scaling down or omitting Tokyo’s misconducts during the colonization of Korea. Roh’s response was harsh, vowing to make every possible effort to prevent Japan indulging in its wrongdoings, which increased confrontation between the nations to the point of starting a “diplomatic war” against Tokyo (Snyder, 2009). Nonetheless, Japan’s Ministry of Education approved the publication of the history textbooks, which as private publications, according to Tokyo, were out of governmental control. The decision stirred South Koreans’ fervent anti-­Japanese identity, pushing civil groups to launch a nationwide campaign to boycott Japanese goods. Prime Minister Koizumi’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in August further inflamed relations between the two countries and led the South Korean government to cancel all summit meetings between the leaders of the two countries. The year 2005, “Korea–Japan Friendship Year” that was meant to mark cooperation and reconciliation between the two countries had turned into one of the most severe historical moments in the mutual relationship. The dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima exacerbated in April 2006, when the Japanese Coast Guard announced a maritime survey in the sea around the islands and deployed two ships in the area. The South Korean government responded by sending 20 vessels and threatening to return to force. This event contributed to an outpouring of nationalism about Dokdo in Korea: not only did public opinion wholly support Roh’s tough stance, but all parties did – including the conservative – openly backed the president’s position (Midford, 2011). When Shinzo Abe became Prime Minister, in September 2006, relations between South Korea and Japan started to become less tense, to the satisfaction of the United States. Abe visited both China and South Korea in October 2006, contributing to a temporary improvement of bilateral relations. Beyond flaring up Korean nationalism and creating problematic tension between Seoul and Tokyo, these events had the consequence of bringing South Korea and China closer, in opposition to Japan. In December 2005, Roh Moo-­ hyun and the Chinese President Hu Jintao refused to hold an annual meeting with Koizumi at the ASEAN + 3 summit while, the following year, the two countries firmly opposed the Japanese bid to attain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The common opposition to the Japanese nationalist

40   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori and revisionist tendencies under Koizumi, especially regarding the tragic experience of Imperial Japan, represented an important factor in improving the relation between Seoul and Beijing. The relationship had been substantially improved under Kim Dae-­jung and continued in this very positive trend also with the Roh administration, in particular from the perspective of economic and trade relations. In 2003, during Roh’s visit to Beijing, the relationship was officially upgraded again from “cooperative partnership” to “comprehensive cooperative partnership”. In 2004 China overtook the United States and Japan and became South Korea’s largest trading partner, while the ROK became China’s third biggest trading partner. In addition, the frictions with the United States and the geographic proximity, cultural affinity, and increased personal exchanges drew Seoul even closer to Beijing. These developments created the conditions for the emergence of a possible triangular relation with China and the United States that could become very problematic to manage for South Korea. In addition, China’s support for Roh Moo-­hyun’s conciliatory and cooperative policy towards Pyongyang contributed to the improvement of relations between the two countries. However, the positive development of relations between the two countries was temporarily undermined by a dispute regarding Goguryeo (37 bc–ad 668), the ancient Korean kingdom encompassing today’s North Korea’s territory and large portions of Manchuria. When, in 2002, Pyongyang applied to UNESCO to have tombs from the ancient kingdom registered as North Korea’s first “world heritage” site, China responded, the following year, with the launch of the “Northeast Asia History Project” and applied to declare the Goguryeo tombs as belonging to Northeast China’s own world heritage site. In mid-­2004, UNESCO granted the world heritage status to both Beijing and Pyongyang and since then China’s site was constantly referred to as “China’s Goguryeo” in the Chinese media. Seoul’s reaction was predictable: mass media attacked China, even asking for the imposition of economic sanctions, and the government summoned the Chinese Ambassador to South Korea. In 2005, the dispute brought South and North Korea closer, since scholars from the two countries initiated an unedited joint research project on Goguryeo burial mounds outside of Pyongyang. In 2006, at the Asia–Europe Meeting, Roh Moo-­hyun met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and expressed his concerns for the recent events: the government was responsive to the solicitation coming from public opinion, expressing outrage, but, at the same time, it feared that becoming too aggressive could jeopardize Korea’s important relations with Beijing. Therefore, the South Korean administration tried to keep historical controversies separated from other dimensions in the relations. In response, China agreed not to assert sovereignty over Goguryeo or to make any historical claim. With the end of the “Northeast Asia History Project”, in 2007, the situation gradually improved.

The conservative reassessment under Lee Myung-­bak The “progressive decade” ended dramatically when, in December 2007, the conservative GNP candidate, Lee Myung-­bak – former mayor of Seoul and

The impact of political alternation   41 former chief executive officer of Hyundai construction – defeated the incumbent party’s candidate Chung Dong-­young by a wide margin of more than five million votes. Despite several scandals in which Lee seemed to be implicated, Korean voters had no doubts in choosing him as the next head of state. Economic issues dominated the presidential campaign and Lee’s previous entrepreneurial successes, together with his campaign pledge to “revitalize the economy”, became highly appealing to those who had felt betrayed by the prior government’s focus on income distribution. Unemployment had remained high, income gaps had not reduced and, above all, chaebols had been frustrated by what they felt as a negative attitude of the progressive government towards them (Moon, 2009). In addition, the unpopular choices made by the previous government had alienated any form of support within the progressive coalition, which arrived exhausted and highly fragmented to the electoral event. The defeat of the progressive party assumed catastrophic contours when, in April 2008, general elections gave the new president the nation’s largest legislative majority since the transition to a democratic regime in 1987: the GNP secured 153 seats (out of 299), leaving only 81 to the progressives. The lowest participation rate in the history of the country further demonstrated that voters had lost confidence in active political participation. Before the beginning of his presidential mandate, Lee had promised he would implement an agenda based on the simple principle of “anything but Roh”, which also symbolically clarified how distant he was from the positions of his predecessor. In relation to foreign policy, Lee pledged to carry forward a “pragmatic” strategy based on the country’s national interests. In fact, Lee’s agenda turned out to be very close to the traditional principles of the conservative political tradition. The new president committed himself to dismantle the Sunshine Policy approach towards North Korea – which had been losing popular support in the last phase of Roh’s presidency – and return to a hard-­line policy that put the dismantling of the nuclear programme at the core of inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation. In addition, Lee emphasized the crucial role of the United States and the alliance as the cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy, with the goal of mending the frictions that had been created by the previous administration. One of the most prominent differences between the two administrations was to be found in the foreign policy strategy implemented by President Lee defined “Global Korea”, through which South Korea would “strive to become a more dignified country, and to find its place among the ranks of advanced nations” (Chong Wa Dae, 2009). The primary objective of this vision was to achieve the status of advanced nation in international affairs, mainly through a wide array of diplomatic practices, and to create a new image for the country according to this status. From the outset, the Global Korea strategy was meant to enhance South Korea’s international reputation, and to this aim Lee created the Presidential Council on Nation Branding in 2009 and started hosting high-­profile international summits, such as the G20 in 2010 and the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. In addition, under the umbrella of Global Korea, Lee promoted the strategy called “Green Growth”, in order for the country to play a bigger role on

42   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori the issues of global warming and climate change. The “Green Growth” concept received wide international attention when South Korea adopted “low carbon, green growth” as its new development vision: this highly contributed to enhance the status of the country from the environmental point of view, and it was presented as an innovative answer to sustainable development (Ikenberry & Mo, 2013). These efforts to present South Korea as an emerging global middle power were at the core of the Global Korea strategy and successfully contributed to change the image of South Korea on the global stage. After five difficult years under Roh, relations between Seoul and Washington started to bloom again. Not only did Lee and Bush share similar personal characteristics, but the new Korean president fervently wanted to distance himself from his predecessor’s positions, which had contributed, in the conservatives’ eyes, to alienate the traditional close relation between South Korea and the United States, conventionally considered as the core component of South Korea’s diplomacy. In the eyes of Amer­ican officials, Lee Myung-­bak’s election was a blessing, after the utmost difficulties experienced under the previous South Korean administration. The alliance came to be labelled as a “linchpin” of stability and security in the Asia-­Pacific (Manyin et al., 2013). For instance, the two allies shared a new hard-­line approach on North Korea, based on imposing sanctions and pausing aid in response to Pyongyang’s belligerence and continuing nuclear ambitions. Lee and Bush cemented their friendship and renewed alliance in their meeting at Camp David on 15 April, 2008. This positive trend continued under the new Amer­ican administration of President Obama, with the launch in June 2009 of the “Joint Vision for the ROK–US Alliance”. In practice, it implied the fact that if Pyongyang would return to its nuclear arsenal against the South, the United States would intervene with all possible means, including nuclear weapons and, eventually, moving troops from other bases to the Korean Peninsula. In addition, under Obama, the relation was brought to a new level by introducing in 2010 the ROK–US Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Talks, the so-­ called “2 + 2 meetings”, joining Australia and Japan. After the Cheonan and ­Yeonpyeong incidents, in March and November 2010, the alliance between South Korea and the United States was intensified by joint military exercises, which mobilized an enormous amount of soldiers and military equipment from both countries. The relationship was not only nurtured from a security perspective but also from an economic one. In October 2011, the U.S. Congress ratified the FTA with South Korea, four years after Roh and Bush had signed the agreement. In sum, under Lee Myung-­bak South Korea turned again into “one of the closest allies and greatest friends of the United States,” as Obama declared (Gilmore, 2009). If South Korea–U.S. relations flourished under Lee Myung-­bak, regional cooperation proved to be more complicated. At the beginning of Lee’s presidential mandate South Korean relations with Beijing were extremely promising: during his visit to China, in 2008, Lee released a joint declaration with Hu Jintao regarding the “Strategic Cooperative Partnership”, which represented a gigantic achievement in bilateral relations. The honeymoon was, however, short-­lived

The impact of political alternation   43 and the lack of political trust complicated every interaction, even though, ironically, the increase in trade volume, social, and cultural exchanges was extraordinary. Beijing perceived Lee as heavily inclined towards the United States to the detriment of China’s regional role and even regional stability. In addition, the Chinese leadership looked with suspicion at Lee’s North Korea policy, which Beijing considered as based on the assumption of Pyongyang’s imminent collapse; a situation that would eventually threaten China’s strategic interests. Beijing, on the contrary, even after the 2010 events considered stability, and not condemnation, as a priority. This attitude brought South Korean public opinion to consider China as an “irresponsible” actor that was supporting the North Korean regime and its nuclear programme. Similarly to what happened under Roh Moo-­hyun, bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo appeared very promising at the beginning of the new president’s mandate. This was also probably due to the relevant changes in the Japanese political landscape, with the Democratic Party of Japan defeating the Liberal Democratic Party. Prime Minister Hatoyama attempted to improve Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbours, even endangering the relationship with Washington in the case of the relocation of the Futenma base in Okinawa. His successor, Naoto Kan, in his statement marking the 100th anniversary of the Japanese colonization of the peninsula, offered an apology for the “damage and suffering caused,” adding that he wanted to “build a more forward-­looking relationship with South Korea” (Fackler, 2010) and return to Korea few cultural assets subtracted during the colonization period. At the end of August, however, the situation plummeted dramatically. The Constitutional Court of South Korea, in response to an appeal regarding the rights of the comfort women who were forced to serve the Japanese military, ascertained that the South Korean government had failed to follow established procedures for dispute resolution, and determined its inaction in seeking compensation to be unconstitutional (Okuzono, 2016). Following this decision, the government took a tough stance towards Japan and asked Tokyo to hold bilateral consultations, which were rejected on the basis that the 1965 Normalization Treaty had settled all claims.7 Noda’s appointment as prime minister, in September 2011, further complicated the situation, since he was a more conservative politician with an historical revisionist attitude that brought him to support the right to visit Yasukuni Shrine and oppose the “Kono Statement”.8 Lee and Noda met at a summit in Japan on 18 December to discuss economic and security issues and the outcome was highly negative, since the prime minister not only decided not to offer any further apology, but he also complained about the statue depicting a young comfort woman which had been placed in front of the Japanese embassy one week earlier, asking for its removal. This represented a noticeable deadlock in the negotiations between the countries and, even though few attempts were made in order to revive them, it would be almost four years until the leaders of South Korea and Japan would meet again in a bilateral summit. The burden of history and the lack of mutual trust seriously complicated the relations between Seoul and Tokyo, while also affecting military cooperation. For instance, Lee Myung-­bak

44   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori took a last-­minute decision to cancel an agreement aimed at providing a legal framework for directly sharing classified military information on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and, eventually, on China’s rising military, the so-­called General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). In particular, the public opinion’s resistance, that considered the agreement as a move backed by the United States and Japan to contain China’s regional influence disadvantaging Seoul’s interest, played a crucial role in pushing Lee’s decision. To make things worse, the confrontation over Dokdo/Takeshima aggravated. In 2011, the Japanese Ministry of Education approved some middle school textbooks that renewed Japanese claims over the islets (Sakaki, 2012). In August, three lawmakers and LDP members of the Japanese Diet announced they would travel to Ulleungdo – a Korean island approximately 90 kilometres from Dokdo – only to be blocked and detained at Gimpo International Airport before being repatriated (Japan Times, 2011). Seoul, in fact, considered the visit as a provocation and as a tactic implemented to draw attention on Tokyo’s arguments. On 10 August, 2012, President Lee decided to make a non-­announced visit to Dokdo, reaffirming it as an integral part of the Korean territory (Ser, 2012). The unprecedented visit – which came as a surprise for many analysts in both countries – was most likely due to the “final year syndrome”. In the last period of his term, in fact, Lee incurred a series of personal and political difficulties – like the arrest of his elder brother and some close aides and the growing discontent among South Koreans over the widening gap in incomes – that had a terrible impact on his political image and approval rating. The visit to Dokdo, aimed at stimulating South Korea’s nationalist sentiment, was considered intolerable by the Japanese government, who immediately recalled its ambassador from Seoul, and interrupted the “shuttle diplomacy” between the two countries, which were negotiating the strengthening of their economic cooperation. The reaffirmation of the crucial role of the alliance between South Korea and the United States, as the cornerstone of Seoul’s foreign policy can be considered as the most important characteristic of Lee Myung-­bak’s foreign policy. The decision to reverse the cooperative approach towards North Korea of the Sunshine Policy raised tension in the region and embittered relations with China. This strategy was perfectly in line with the traditional conservative vision of South Korea’s foreign policy. For this reason, Lee successfully reassessed the country’s foreign policy following the principle of the conservative party. In addition, his Global Korea policy and his new vision of a South Korea that was distancing itself from the “North Korean issue” and trying to achieve a global role commensurate to its level of economic and social development had a strong connection with the previous conservative administration of Kim Young-­sam and his policy of globalization.

Park Geun-­hye’s attempt to revise the conservative tradition The conditions for the emergence of the “Asian paradox” started to appear in the early 1990s, as described by Robert Manning (Manning, 1993). Nevertheless,

The impact of political alternation   45 after almost two decades, in 2012, the soon-­to-be President Park Geun-­hye recognized the paradox as one of the most difficult challenges for South Korea’s foreign policy (Park, 2012). During the 1990s and the 2000s the regional economic cooperation and integration had steadily grown at an astonishing pace – especially those concerning trade and investments between South Korea and China. The political and diplomatic foundation of this economic network, however, had remained very fragile, despite the sporadic efforts of the progressive administrations. Inter-­Korean relations had dramatically worsened under President Lee Myung-­bak, while Pyongyang continued to develop its nuclear programme regardless of the international sanctions regime. At the same time, every attempt to improve relations between Japan and South Korea were still undermined by the controversies over the historical legacy of Japanese imperialism in the region. In addition, the rivalry between China and the United States was turning increasingly confrontational. This last issue represented a real challenge for South Korea’s foreign policy, that risked being caught in the middle between the strategic alliance with the United States and a growing economic (inter)dependence with China. Immediately after her election in December 2012, Park Geun-­hye promoted three intertwined initiatives that, according to her vision, were aimed at reducing mistrust on the peninsula and in the region, and countering the negative effects of the “Asian paradox”. The three initiatives – imagined as concentric circles – were Trustpolitik, the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) and the Eurasia Initiative: from the local perspective of the Korean Peninsula to the continental dimension (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2014). This elaborated foreign policy project had its roots in Roh Tae-­woo’s idea of a Nordpolitik, aimed at fostering good relations with neighbouring countries and, at the same time, improving inter-­Korean relations. Despite the fact that the regional scenario had immensely changed, Park wanted to restart inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation, after years of profound crisis, integrate North Korea into the regional economic system, and pursue better relations with China, without undermining the alliance with the United States. In this perspective, Park’s initial foreign policy strategy was consistent with the traditional conservative principles, but the new president was also eager to innovate this political tradition in order for the country to be better equipped to face the new challenge of the “Asian paradox”. During the electoral campaign, Park Geun-­hye tried to distance herself from the growing unpopularity of her predecessor, in particular for what concerned inter-­Korean relations. In September 2011, months before the beginning of the electoral campaign, Park published an article on Foreign Affairs, in which she proposed for the first time the term “Trustpolitik” with the clear intent to move away from the absolute intransigence of Lee Myung-­bak and to resurrect some form of dialogue. Meanwhile, Park firmly preserved the classic position of the conservative party in terms of strong defence and security (Park, 2011). The basic idea of this policy was represented by a series of incentives provided to North Korea in case Pyongyang had proved to be reliable with the South and the

46   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori rest of the international community, in the hope that Kim Jong-­un’s new leadership would be more inclined to compromise. This rather vague strategy of engagement was prematurely buried after North Korea’s third nuclear test, in February 2013, and the following escalation of tension with Seoul and Washington. After this first challenge, Park’s policy towards North Korea became much more limited in scope, compared to the initial formulation of Trustpolitik. The height of the 2013 crisis was overcome through a series of negotiations that led to the reopening of the Kaesong industrial complex, closed in the aftermath of the nuclear test. In the following months inter-­Korean relations went through a series of ups and downs, driven mainly by the attitude and behaviour of the North Korean regime rather than by a clear South Korean strategy: among many examples of harsh rhetoric and relatively small crises, the two Koreas were able to hold new rounds of family reunions in February 2014 and October 2015; a high-­level political delegation from North Korea attended the closing ceremony of the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014; and a five-­point agreement was reached in 2015 to de-­escalate from a crisis that had erupted in the de-­militarized zone (DMZ) that August (Onnis & Milani, 2016). When Pyongyang performed its fourth and fifth nuclear tests, in January and September 2016, interspersed with several missile tests, the military threat from North Korea returned as the main priority for Park’s foreign and security policy, leading to the definitive failure of Trustpolitik and of every other attempt to dialogue. The South Korean government immediately reverted to a more muscular approach towards North Korea based on tougher sanctions and on the end of any form of cooperation, as epitomized by the new shutting of the Kaesong industrial complex in February 2016. The limited results achieved by Park Geun-­hye through the Trustpolitik approach were similarly matched by scarce achievements in her other two key initiatives. Park’s foreign policy strategy in fact was not limited to North Korea, since her vision included the broader regional context with the NAPCI and Eurasia Initiative projects. Unfortunately, Park’s attempt to promote an institutionalization of regional cooperation at the political level – her core strategy to address the “Asian paradox” – largely failed, as had happened in several previous cases. Despite Park’s efforts to keep the United States as the “co-­architect” of the initiative, Washington did not show particular interest in the NAPCI project (Snyder, 2018). The U.S. focused instead on its own political strategy of rebalancing towards the region, through ambitious initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and keeping regional coordination within the framework of existing initiatives such as the East Asian Summit. Similarly, China did not demonstrate interest in supporting a multilateral project that had been designed and led by another country. Due to the lack of support from the major regional power, the NAPCI project did not accomplish relevant result in terms of regional political cooperation, and was mostly limited to working-­level and technical cooperation. Similarly, the Eurasia Initiative, a project aimed at connecting the peninsula with the Eurasian continent – China, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe – was largely overlooked and failed to achieve any significant practical result in terms of regional cooperation.

The impact of political alternation   47 The South Korean government’s efforts towards regional cooperation under Park Geun-­hye were also frustrated by the problematic relations with Japan, in particular in her first years in office. The controversies about the historical legacy of the colonial period, in particular the comfort women issue (See Glosserman’s chapter in this book), strongly affected the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo, reconfirming the pattern of “cold politics, hot economics” typical of the “Asian paradox”. Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, in December 2013, and the announcement of an examination of the background of the so-­ called “Kono Statement” of 1993 by the Japanese Diet the following year further strained the already precarious relation. This situation worried the Amer­ican administration, which considered a positive relation between its two main allies in the region of strategic value. For this reason, President Obama arranged a trilateral meeting with Park and Abe on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2014 (Choe, 2014). In the following months relations between South Korea and Japan started to improve, alongside a series of meetings aimed at resolving the comfort women issue. In December 2015, the two parties announced an agreement on the controversial issue. The government of Japan assumed responsibility for causing pain to the victims and pledged to deliver economic compensation to the victims through the establishment of a foundation dedicated to this aim. On its part, the South Korean government considered this settlement as final and irreversible and pledged to start discussion to move the memorial statue outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul (Snyder, 2018). Despite the lukewarm response from South Korean public opinion, the agreement helped improving the relations between the two countries. A further central point of Park Geun-­hye’s foreign policy was to improve the relationship between South Korea and China, after the tension that characterized the second half of Lee Myung-­bak’s presidency. In recognizing the potential damaging effects of the “Asian paradox” and also the indispensable role of China for the country’s economic growth and for regional cooperation, Park sought to reinforce the strategic relations with Beijing, without undermining the alliance with the United States. In the government’s view, the improvement of the bilateral relation with China was achievable without damaging the relation with the Obama administration, which, in the meantime, was implementing its strategy of rebalancing towards Asia. South Korea’s perspective was not that of a “zero-­sum game” in which the improvement of relations with one part would necessarily come at the expense of the relationship with the other. In line with her goal of reducing the consequences of the “Asian paradox”, Park envisioned a bridging role for Seoul between the two main regional powers, in order to reduce the risk of an open great power rivalry in the region between China and the U.S. In this perspective, Park Geun-­hye made her first official visit abroad, in May 2013, to the United States, where she reiterated the centrality of the alliance between the two countries as the foundation of the stability on the peninsula and in the region (Park, 2013). The two countries remained also fully aligned for what concerned their approach towards North Korea, in particular after the 2013 nuclear test. Alongside the reaffirmation of the alliance with Washington, during

48   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori the following visit to Beijing, in July 2013 (reciprocated by Xi Jinping in July 2014), Park demonstrated her willingness to pursue improved relations with China. In this moment, the impasse in the relation with Japan, mostly related to the controversies over the colonial past, played a role in creating a sort of unified front between South Korea and China against the nationalist and revisionist tendencies of the Abe government. The possibility to pursue positive and profitable relations with both great powers was at the core of Park’s foreign policy strategy. Unfortunately, the lacklustre results of her signature policies – Trustpolitik, NAPCI, Eurasia Initiative – started to undermine the chances to upgrade these good bilateral relations into a broader regional initiative of cooperation. The thin line that the South Korean president was walking between the two great powers became even thinner during 2015. Park’s decision to join the China-­led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the spring of that year and her participation in the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Beijing, in September, were not considered in a favourable way by Washington. These developments led to speculation over a possible future re-­alignment of South Korea towards China and away from the alliance with the United States. However, this perspective did not take into proper consideration the broader strategic view of Park Geun-­hye: the improvement of relations with China, in fact, was considered as part of an effort to enhance regional cooperation, as a crucial tool to improve the situation on the peninsula – in particular regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions – and as necessary to reduce the “Asian paradox” and avoid a rise in tension between the regional great powers. Park Geun-­hye’s efforts to achieve closer relations with China were irreparably damaged by the deterioration of the security conditions on the ­peninsula – and in the region – during 2016. The situation of insecurity created by the renewed North Korean nuclear activism reinforced the role of the military alliance with the U.S. This new situation created an important rift between South Korea and China, which still favoured a softer approach involving dialogue and failed to fully implement stricter sanctions against Pyongyang. Seoul’s decision to deploy the Amer­ican anti-­missile system Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) on the peninsula exacerbated the mounting tension and led to a break between Seoul and Beijing. Despite South Korean and Amer­ican reassurances that the system was aimed only at counter missile and nuclear threats from North Korea, the Chinese regime considered the deployment as an alteration of the strategic military balance in the region aimed at containing its aspirations. For this reason, Beijing vehemently protested against this decision and, starting from the second half of 2016, launched a series of asymmetrical economic retaliations against South Korea (Woody, 2017). Park Geun-­hye’s foreign policy strategy to resume inter-­Korean dialogue and limit the consequences of the “Asian paradox” did not bring the results that the president had envisioned at the beginning of her mandate. Trustpolitik was affected from the very beginning by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the South Korean administration was not able to implement an effective and pro­ active strategy after this false start (Fiori, 2017). Similarly, the NAPCI and

The impact of political alternation   49 ­ urasia Initiative projects failed to bring tangible results in terms of regional E cooperation. Relations with China, despite a very promising start and developments until 2016, were severely damaged by the thorny THAAD issue and the hard-­line position assumed towards North Korea after the resumption of nuclear and missile tests in 2016. Park’s foreign policy remained in line with the conservative foreign policy tradition, in particular for what concerned the relevance of the alliance with the United States. The efforts put in place by the president, however, especially in managing the problematic triangle with China and the United States, demonstrated an attempt to update and adapt some key components of the conservative political tradition. In particular, Park’s emphasis on improving and upgrading the relation with Beijing was related to the priority of adapting the country’s foreign relation to the regional changes in order to limit the potentially dangerous effects of the “Asian paradox”. This adaptation, however, could not come at the expense of the main pillar of the conservative tradition: the alliance with the U.S. For this reason, Park attempted to pursue a more autonomous foreign policy in close coordination with Washington. When this coexistence between autonomy and alignment started to show its contradiction, such as in the case of the 2016 security crisis on the peninsula, the South Korean government returned to a more “traditional” approach at the expense of the improvement achieved in the previous year in the relationship with China.

Conclusion Political alternation between conservatives and progressives has been a major influence on South Korea’s foreign policy over the past two decades. After the election of Kim Dae-­jung in 1997, which marked the first transfer of power between the two political camps, the preferences, priorities, and strategies of the two main political traditions have concurred in shaping the country’s decision on the regional and international sphere. The end of the Cold War and the democratization process gave policymakers more autonomy in designing foreign policy strategies: the end of the bipolar confrontation between the two superpowers – and the respective blocs – provided South Korea with new possibilities to engage former hostile countries, such as Russia and even more so China, and to play a more proactive role on the regional and global stage; the success of the democratization movement in 1987 gave progressives the political legitimacy to compete in the elections and eventually win the presidency. For instance, despite the fact that confrontation with North Korea contributed to maintaining a precarious security environment on the peninsula, after 1987, and even more so after the election of Kim Dae-­jung, new approaches based on cooperation and engagement emerged as a central pattern in inter-­Korean relations. Following the same foreign policy tradition, during Roh Moo-­hyun’s administration, South Korea unsuccessfully tried to design and implement a more autonomous foreign policy from the alliance with the United States, while still pursuing a conciliatory approach with the North. With the election of Lee Myung-­bak, the government recalibrated its approach towards the conservative priority of reinforcing the

50   Marco Milani and Antonio Fiori a­ lliance with the U.S., at the expense of inter-­Korean rapprochement and, to a certain extent, relations with China. The following presidency of Park Geun-­hye introduced a new aspect to the analysis of South Korea’s foreign policy through the lens of domestic political contestation: the need to adapt foreign policy traditions to the dilemma arising in the regional and global situations. Given the increasing economic (inter)dependence between South Korea and China, but also the new role that Beijing was starting to play, during Park’s administration it became unavoidable for Seoul to maintain positive and profitable relations with China, without undermining the security alliance with Washington. This attempt to strike a balance between these two imperatives constituted a modification – or an upgrade – of the conservative tradition, which saw in the alliance with the U.S. the main and undisputable pillar of the country’s foreign policy. As described in the chapter, this process of adaptation failed to achieve its goal, and Park Geun-­hye decided to retreat again towards the embrace of the traditional partner when a major military security threat emerged. Nevertheless, this experience showed on the one hand that the influence of foreign policy traditions is still strong in South Korea, but on the other hand that these traditions need to adapt to the new situation, not only in Northeast Asia but at a global level. President Moon Jae-­in, with his efforts to reconcile inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation with the alignment with the U.S. policy towards North Korea is a further clear example of this necessity to adapt, in this case from the progressive side.

Notes 1 This chapter is the outcome of a joint effort by the two co-­authors. More specifically, however, MM wrote the introduction, the conclusion and the sections on Kim Dae-­jung and Park Geun-­hye; AF wrote the sections on Roh Moo-­hyun and Lee Myung-­bak. 2 The goals of this political move were: for Roh to reinforce the support to his presidency; and for Kim to create the conditions for his election two years later. 3 The results of Kim Dae-­jung in the two provinces of Jeolla-­buk and Jeolla-­nam in the three elections in which he ran after democratization were respectively: 1987, 83.5% e 90.3% – 1992, 88.0% e 91.1% – 1997, 92.3% e 94.6% (Source: D. Nohlen, F. Grotz, & C. Hartmann (2001), Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A data handbook, Volume II, Oxford: Oxford University Press.). 4 The ROK–US SOFA agreement was originally signed in July 1966 and then revised in 1991 and 2000; even after the revisions, many felt the agreement was unfair, especially compared to US–Japan or US–Germany SOFA agreements, which, in the eyes of Koreans, provided more rights to the host country. 5 The term “386 generation” refers to those voters who were in their 30s, entered college during the 1980s (therefore experiencing Chun Doo-­hwan’s repression), and who were born in the 1960s, growing up in the era of South Korea’s rapid industrial development. These voters set up the “Nosamo Group” (the Organization of those who love Roh Moo-­hyun) and used the Internet in such active and innovative way that allowed Roh to be elected. 6 In January 2005, the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed declassified documents on the 1965 Korea–Japan normalization accord that would enable individuals to initiate compensation lawsuits against the Japanese government for wartime abuses; on the Japanese side, in July 2003 Takami Eto, a senior Japanese ruling party lawmaker

The impact of political alternation   51 announced that Japan’s 1910 annexation of the Korean Peninsula was “based on the mutual agreement and was accepted internationally”. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara publicly proclaimed that his country never annexed the Korean Peninsula by force and that colonization was the choice of the Korean people. In May 2004, a Japanese right-­wing group called Nihon Shidokai tried to land on Dokdo in order to claim it as Japan’s territory. In addition, since his inauguration, Prime Minister Koizumi continued his annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. 7 The Normalization Treaty was signed in 1965, following talks that began in 1951, clearly demonstrating that for the Korean government of that time economic matters were much more important than any other issue. The emotional conflict, however, persisted. 8 The Kono Statement (1993) acknowledged the Imperial Army’s official role in coercing women to provide sexual services.

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4 Progressive and conservative visions of inter-­Korean relations Marco Milani

Introduction Among the several foreign and security policy issues that South Korean governments had to face over the years certainly inter-­Korean relations represent one of the most crucial. The very existence of South Korea as a sovereign and independent state is inextricably connected to the existence of its counterpart on the Northern half of the peninsula. After the division at the end of the Second World War and of Japanese colonization, officially in 1948, the confrontation between two political entities on the peninsula that both claimed to be the only legitimate representative of the entire “Korean nation” has become a major factor in constructing the national identity of the two countries. The Korean War, that lasted for three years and caused unimaginable destruction for both sides, has further crystallized this confrontation and turned it into a core issue for South Korea’s national security. The military threat from the North, which proved itself to be a real threat in June 1950, became the centrepiece of the country’s foreign and security policy for the following decades. But the Korean War was not only a “civil war” fought among Koreans, it also had a crucial international dimension. The intervention of the UN troops, led by the U.S. military forces, and the following intervention of the People’s Republic of China brought the conflict into the frontline of the Cold War and of the global bipolar rivalry between the communist bloc and the U.S. and its allies. This twofold dimension of the Korean War had massive repercussions on South Korea foreign, and also domestic, politics. In order to protect the country from this existential threat, Seoul had to rely on the alliance with the U.S., signed in 1953 in the aftermath of the Panmunjom agreement that halted the hostilities. South Korea became a cornerstone of the Amer­ican security system in East Asia, together with Japan. In return for the Amer­ican protection, and for the related economic benefits, the country had to sacrifice autonomy in its foreign policy decisions. Given the key role of major powers in deciding the destinies of the Korean Peninsula, throughout the Cold War years, inter-­Korean relations have been strongly influenced by international geopolitical balances. The dynamics of conflict and cooperation between the two Koreas therefore followed the changes in the relations between the regional superpowers from the very beginning until the end of the 1980s. However, this

Progressive and conservative visions   55 existential “zero-­sum” antagonism between the two Koreas has evolved over the years, transforming first into a form of “competitive coexistence” and later into practical examples of dialogue and cooperation (Armstrong, 2005). The two countries, despite their claim to represent the entire “Korean nation”, have pragmatically found new ways to advance mutual relations, in a positive and constructive manner. After the end of the Cold War, when the two Koreas started to have greater freedom of action in their relations, South Korea took the initiative and sought to direct inter-­Korean relations towards dialogue and cooperation. While, for the major powers, the division of the peninsula and the evolution of the relations between North and South Korea mostly represented a matter of regional security policies, for the two Korean states it also had major repercussions on domestic affairs. In the case of South Korea, the existential threat from the North represented for decades the main reason to justify the repression of political and civil society dissent under authoritarian regimes. The two political traditions that have developed under those circumstances (see Lee in this edited book) were strongly influenced by the regime’s approach towards North Korea. Even after democratization, conservatives continued to consider North Korea as an existential threat to the survival of the country – even more after Pyongyang started to develop nuclear and missile programmes – and, accordingly, the alliance with the United States as the cornerstone of South Korea’s foreign policy. On the other side of the political spectrum, progressives advocated a different approach towards the North, not based on military confrontation, but on dialogue and cooperation. In addition to a pan-­Korean sentiment of national reconciliation, this view was also shaped by the fact that the “communist threat” from the North had been used as a scapegoat for massive brutal repression during the authoritarian period. With democratization in 1987, these two political traditions started to compete in the national debate and inter-­Korean relations entered the realm of domestic political contestation as one of the most divisive issues in South Korean civil society and public opinion. The following sections analyse the historical evolution of inter-­Korean relations after the end of the Cold War, with the goal of emphasizing the specific characteristics of progressives and conservatives and assessing the consequences of the domestic political divide on one of the most divisive foreign policy issues in South Korea. A specific emphasis will be reserved to the political reappraisal that took place with the election of Kim Dae-­jung in 1997, the first progressive president elected in South Korea, and the launch of his strategy of cooperation with North Korea, called the “Sunshine Policy”. This initiative represented a clear break with the previous experiences and contributed in polarizing South Korean public opinion regarding inter-­Korean relations. This chapter then analyses the return to a conservative approach implemented by the governments of Presidents Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye that led to the end of the “cooperation era”. Despite the similarities in the approach pursued by the two presidents, the chapter also emphasizes the differences between Lee’s and Park’s North Korea policies, with the unsuccessful attempts of the latter to restart some

56   Marco Milani form of dialogue and cooperation. Building on the historical analysis of inter-­ Korean relations, the conclusive part of this chapter examines Moon Jae-­in’s North Korean policy through the same lens of the domestic political divide, aiming at assessing and evaluating the main challenges and risks for the future.

The end of the Cold War and South Korean democratization as turning points for inter-­Korean relations The Korean War can be considered as the first attempt to reunify the peninsula, and for this reason also the first relevant event of inter-­Korean relations. After this first failed attempt, the division of Korea entered a sort of stalemate, because of the commitment of the two superpowers to maintain the independence and territorial integrity of their respective ally, placing them under the protection of their respective nuclear umbrellas. For the following 20 years, relations between the two Koreas remained in a state of existential antagonism. For this reason, during the second half of the 1950s and the 1960s, inter-­Korean relations had been characterized by mutual hostility, such as in the case of military clashes along the de-­militarized zone between 1966 and 1969, or the attempt to assassinate the South Korean president, Park Chung-­hee, by a North Korean military commando in January 1968. The first evolution in inter-­Korean relations from this situation of hostile stalemate came in the early 1970s. In July 1972, the two Koreas for the first time signed a “Joint Statement”, which outlined some basic principles for future reunification on which both sides agreed. Just as in the case of the division of the peninsula, the breakthrough of 1972 was in many respects due to changes in the global scenario and to the influence of external major powers. The historical rapprochement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, which took place in the same years, was a major factor in pushing the two Koreas towards the beginning of some form of dialogue. Despite the lack of practical effects, the 1972 declaration represents a milestone in the development of inter-­Korean relations. For the first time the two regimes accepted the idea of moving forward in their relationship, from total antagonism to a form of coexistence. Furthermore, the document enlisted the three principles upon which a future process of national reconciliation and reunification should be based: independence from external interferences; peaceful means; great national unity. The declaration also enlisted a series of practical steps aimed at limiting mutual suspicion and promoting trust and cooperation (Koh, 1992). This first inter-­Korean rapprochement was propitiated more by a series of external changes in the regional balance of power than by a genuine will on the part of the two regimes. For this reason, marked differences in the interpretation of certain points of the declaration still existed between Seoul and Pyongyang. In particular, the main goal of the North Korean regime was to create the conditions for the withdrawal of all Amer­ican troops from the peninsula, using the principle of independence from external interference enshrined in the Joint Statement. In 1973, the meetings of the “North–South Coordinating Commission” created by the declaration

Progressive and conservative visions   57 were discontinued, along with the Red Cross meetings, that had been the starting point of the inter-­Korean diplomacy before the Joint Statement, took place only occasionally and did not produce any concrete result until the mid-­1980s (Downs, 2001). Meanwhile, the regional and global situation had changed again, with a new rise in tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. This renewed increase in tension had effects on the Korean Peninsula. The atmosphere of cooperation and dialogue inaugurated in 1972 had quickly disappeared, replaced by a new season of hostility and confrontation that lasted until the end of the 1980s. Despite these renewed tensions, the experience of the 1972 declaration did not completely disappear. In the early 1980s, contacts between the North and South Red Cross were resumed, as well as some form of cultural exchanges. The historical juncture between the 1980s and 1990s had disruptive consequences on the Korean Peninsula and for inter-­Korean relations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea entered into a phase characterized by a severe security and economic crisis. Pyongyang not only lost its main security provider, represented by the Soviet nuclear umbrella that had protected the country since 1953, but it also had to renounce to its main supplier of energy and other resources, as well as to its main trade network. When, between 1991 and 1992, Moscow and Beijing normalized their relations with Seoul, it became clear that North Korea required a new foreign policy strategy. This situation of increasing isolation pushed North Korea towards a search for new possible partners, including hostile countries such as Japan or even South Korea. In South Korea the process of democratization in 1987 created the premise for a different approach in foreign policy and also regarding relations with the North. The progressive political and social opposition that had been repressed during the authoritarian regimes was now part of the public debate and its implications in relation to the country’s foreign and security policy became a legitimate part of the domestic political contestation (Chung, 2003). Taking advantage of the greater geopolitical fluidity of the last years of the Cold War, the first post-­democratization president, Roh Tae-­woo, designed and implemented a new foreign policy strategy, called Nordpolitik. The goal of this policy was to inaugurate a new course of constructive relations with neighbouring countries, in particular China and the USSR/Russia, with which South Korea had a recent history of hostility. This new approach was considered as crucial to ensure economic prosperity, stability, and security for the country, the guiding principles of the foreign policy after democratization (Park, 1993). However, the goal of Nordpolitik was not limited to the opening of new channels of dialogue and exchanges with major regional partners. This policy, in fact, also had the clear intent of starting a new course of relations with North Korea, as explicitly affirmed with the so-­called “Special declaration on national pride and unification and prosperity” of 1988, which proposed the advancement of contacts and exchanges between the two Koreas in various fields (Roh, 1988). With the dramatic changes that took place between 1987 and 1990 in the region and on the peninsula, Roh Tae-­woo saw an opportunity to begin a new course of relations with Pyongyang, in which South Korea could be the stronger partner taking

58   Marco Milani advantage of the growing isolation and economic difficulties of the North. In order to restart inter-­Korean dialogue, intergovernmental contacts were resumed in 1989, culminating in September 1990 with a round of talks between the prime ministers of the two Koreas. The rounds of inter-­Korean negotiations that took place between 1991 and 1992 led to the signing of two new fundamental documents in the history of inter-­Korean relations: the “Agreement on reconciliation, non-­aggression and exchanges and cooperation”, also known as the “Basic agreement”, and the “Joint Declaration for the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”. The first represented a sort of framework agreement on the management of inter-­Korean relations that reflected the spirit of the 1972 Joint Statement. In addition to reaffirming the three basic principles for reunification, the agreement was divided into three chapters: reconciliation, non-­aggression, exchanges and cooperation. The basic idea of the document was that both parties recognized the importance of avoiding mutual military provocation and interference, and the need to focus on dialogue and cooperation for a process of national reconciliation, considered as a prerequisite for future unification (Lim, 1993). The second one consisted in a short document that recalled the importance of the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear technology on the peninsula and contemplated the possibility of some form of mutual control in this matter; a part that was never implemented in practice. The efforts put in place by Roh Tae-­woo to restore some form of dialogue with North Korea, within his Nordpolitik approach, signalled a clear break with the open hostility that characterized inter-­Korean relations during the Cold War. Nonetheless, this approach was somehow in continuity with the developments of 1972. The dramatic changes in the regional and global balance of power of the late 1980s created the conditions for implementing a new approach on the peninsula, at a time when South Korea was in a much stronger position vis-­à-vis its counterpart, compared to the early 1970s. Roh tried to take advantage of this situation and to improve inter-­Korean relations, but he remained in line with the conservative political traditions and did not take into consideration the request for a bolder policy of engagement and cooperation towards the North that came from the progressive political and social opposition. In addition, from 1993, the issue of North Korea’s nuclear proliferation started to assume a central role also for the inter-­Korean dispute. Although the two issues were distinct, the nuclear programme increasingly became a major security concern for the international community, in particular for the U.S., and the increase in tensions in the region also had negative repercussions on Seoul–Pyongyang relations. This situation of duality, with inter-­Korean relations on one side and the nuclear issue on the other, would become a major concern for South Korea’s governments from this moment onwards.

The progressive vision of inter-­Korean relations in practice After the five-­year term of Roh Tae-­woo, the election held in December 1992 confirmed the conservative party leading the country, with the charismatic figure

Progressive and conservative visions   59 of Kim Young-­sam. The new president, unlike his predecessor, did not design and implement a clear and proactive strategy towards North Korea. Kim’s foreign policy vision was mostly focused on the new challenges and opportunities of the post-­Cold War world, especially the mounting trend of globalization (see Lee in this edited book). For what concerned North Korea, Kim Young-­ sam’s policy was substantially limited to reacting to the actions and requests of Pyongyang. The eruption of the first nuclear crisis in 1993–94 further contributed in complicating the situation, despite the fact that South Korea was basically left out of the negotiation process which took place only between North Korea and the United States. For these reasons, Kim’s inter-­Korean policy constantly shifted from phases of conciliatory openings to sudden returns towards hard-­line positions, following the influence of multiple regional, inter-­Korean and also domestic factors (Kim, Y., 1999). Despite the stalemate during Kim Young-­sam’s five-­year mandate, the spirit of inter-­Korean cooperation and dialogue had not disappeared from the peninsula. The “Agreed framework” signed by North Korea and the United States to end the first nuclear crisis in 1994 and the conciliatory attitude of the Clinton administration had shown how cooperation could be a successful weapon for both inter-­Korean relations and the nuclear issue. With the election of the first progressive president in South Korea’s history, in December 1997, this spirit became Seoul’s official strategy in its relations with the North. Kim Dae-­jung’s vision of inter-­Korean relations dates back to the authoritarian period when, as one of the leaders of the political opposition, he started to develop his political platform for the country’s foreign and security policy (Kim, 2003). In this perspective, Kim Dae-­jung did not simply follow the guidelines of the progressive political tradition when it comes to inter-­Korean relations, but he also contributed to the creation of that very tradition. According to Kim’s view, key principles should be the peaceful management of the division and an approach to unification through consecutive degrees of integration, formulated in his proposal of “reunification in three stages” (ibid.). According to his view, when Kim Dae-­jung became president in 1997 he immediately started to pursue policies aimed at reconciliation with the North. His strategy was based on constructive engagement with North Korea and on broad-­spectrum cooperation, not only from a political and governmental point of view, but also from an economic, cultural, and social perspective. His new approach was called the Sunshine Policy. This label was used for the first time by Kim on 30 September, 1994, when, as a recently defeated former presidential candidate, he delivered a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington in which, with reference to the first North Korean nuclear crisis, he argued that “America must be patient and linked to the Sunshine Policy which had proven to be the only effective way of dealing with isolated countries like North Korea” (Kim, 1994). The idea of “sunshine” was borrowed from a famous Aesop’s fable, in which the sunlight proved to be more effective than a strong wind in forcing a man to take off his coat. In dealing with Pyongyang, the idea meant that applying the principles of engagement, rather than those of containment,

60   Marco Milani would be the best way to end North Korea’s international isolation, foster a climate of mutual trust, and create the conditions for a change in North Korea’s behaviour. In a speech at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Kim described the Sunshine Policy as an approach that “tries to lead North Korea on a path towards peace, reforms, and opening through reconciliation, interaction, and cooperation with the South” (Kim, D.J., 1999). The new policy was based on a few key principles, including a strong deterrent against military provocation from the North, but also on the principle of the so-­called “flexible dualism”, which presupposed the separation between the political/military sphere and the economic one (Moon, 2000). In practice, this principle allowed the South Korean government to maintain cooperative working and keep channels of dialogue open, while at the same time condemning Pyongyang’s provocative moves. This separation was crucial for a medium-­long term strategy aimed at increasing dialogue, mutual trust, and reducing the differences between the two Koreas. In addition, Kim, well aware of the fact that to create consensus around his policy among the public opinion it was necessary to change the perception of North Korea in the South, stated that he was willing to  meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-­il, at any time and without preconditions. The first practical decision aimed at implementing the new policy was the so-­ called “April 30 measures” – a series of decisions aimed at facilitating inter-­ Korean trade and exchanges easing the restrictions in place. These measures led to the removal of more than half of the obstacles that existed for inter-­Korean trade. In particular, the government amended and simplified the laws that required prior approval from the South Korean government for overnight business trips to the North, the choice of business partners and for granting the necessary loans for the investments (Kang, 1999). The total volume of inter-­ Korean economic exchanges, after a fall in 1998 due to the economic crisis in South Korea, reached US$333 million in 1999 and US$425 million in 2000, nearly doubling the volume of the mid-­1990s (Source: www.northkoreain­korean/inter-­korean-trade). In 1998, the two Koreas launched the Mount Kumgang tourism project. In November, Hyundai Asan, a branch of the industrial conglomerate Hyundai Group, signed the concession agreement with the government of North Korea for the first sightseeing tour at the site of Mount Kumgang, which became accessible to tourists from the South. In 1999, the number of visitors already amounted to 148,000 and the following year reached 213,000 (Moon, 2000). The project represented an important step in the process of building trust between the two countries. Regarding humanitarian aspects the first years of the Sunshine Policy brought significant improvements. In 1999, reunions of families separated after the Korean War reached almost 200, while the exchange of information and correspondence exceeded 1,000. In 1998–1999, there was also a considerable increase in the activity of non-­ governmental organizations (NGOs) that provided assistance to North Korea, in particular food and basic necessities. The government of Kim Dae-­jung actively encouraged these initiatives.

Progressive and conservative visions   61 In addition to these measures, the South Korean administration worked to create the conditions for a meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas. This historic summit took place from 13–15 June, 2000 in Pyongyang, and it can be considered as one of the most important events in inter-­Korean relations. At the conclusion of a three-­day visit, the two leaders signed a joint declaration on 15 June, which recognized the similarities in the two countries’ projects for future reunification and promoted exchanges and cooperation. The summit proved to be a success in enhancing inter-­Korean cooperation, with a huge increase in meeting and dialogue over the following months, and also in captivating the attention of the South Korean – and international – public opinion with videos and pictures of the two leaders together (Kihl, 2001). The meeting, that took place in an atmosphere of cordial and mutual collaboration, had the effect of modifying the image of hostility and mutual suspicion that had dominated the respective narratives of the two countries during the decades of the Cold War (Kirk, 2001). It also led to a marked increase of contacts and dialogue between the two Koreas, providing an institutional basis for negotiations (Kihl, 2001). The period immediately following the summit can be considered as the most successful moment for the Sunshine Policy, characterized by very low levels of tension, flourishing exchanges and cooperation, a broad internal consensus, and international support. In the last months of Kim Dae-­jung’s presidency, some critical issues began to emerge in the South Korean approach to North Korea. Domestic support was decreasing, partly due to numerous criticisms towards to the management of aid and funds transferred to the North through cooperation projects without proper control. In addition, North Korea again started to raise the level of military tension on the peninsula and in the region. In June 2001 a North Korean ship entered South Korea’s territorial waters, and the following year a naval clash in the Western Sea caused the sinking of a South Korean ship and the death of six South Korean and 13 North Korean sailors. In these situations, the president maintained the principle of “flexible reciprocity” in place, in order not to damage the cooperation projects that have been put in place in previous years. However, this decision damaged his domestic approval and consensus for the Sunshine Policy that started to be considered as a weak approach. In addition, the election of George W. Bush as president of the U.S. brought to an abrupt end the Amer­ ican support to the policy of engagement that had characterized the last years of Clinton’s administration. Kim Dae-­jung’s Sunshine Policy clearly reflected the principles of the progressive political tradition in South Korea. In fact, Kim was not only the first president who was able to implement these principles through actual policies, but he had also been one of the most prominent leaders of the progressive opposition in the authoritarian years, thus shaping this tradition. At the same time, inter-­Korean relations remained one of the most divisive issues in the country. The conservative opposition ferociously criticised Kim’s policy, accusing the president of weakening the security of the country, of giving away public funds to the North Korean regime without proper oversight and obtaining

62   Marco Milani nothing in return, and, after Bush’s election, of undermining the stability of the alliance with the United States. One of the effects of the first examples of political alternation between progressives and conservatives had the consequence of polarizing the public debate around issues that traditionally enjoyed a higher level of bipartisan consensus because considered as key national security issues. With Kim Dae-­jung’s presidency, relations between North and South Korea entered the realm of domestic political contestation and remained a crucial divisive factor between progressives and conservatives from that moment onward. Despite the difficulties of the last phase of Kim’s presidency, the new South Korean president elected in December 2002, Roh Moo-­hyun, decided to maintain the structure of inter-­Korean relations put in place by his predecessor. Roh, who also came from the progressive party, placed an even greater emphasis on economic cooperation. His “Policy of Peace and Prosperity” can be considered as the ideal continuation of the Sunshine Policy, with which it shared almost all the main theoretical foundations. From a practical point of view, the South Korean government aimed at expanding some already existing programmes, such as the tourism project of Mount Kumgang, and creating new ones. One key initiative was the road and rail reconnection of North and South Korea. The project was partly started by Kim Dae-­jung with the agreement to reconnect the railroad line between Seoul and Shinuiju (the Kyongui line) and, by the end of 2003, the border crossing between Dorasan and Kaesong was completed, along with a parallel road connection. One year later, a similar operation on the east coast was completed (the Bukbu Donghae line). These initiatives gave South Korean tourists the opportunity to visit Mount Kumgang travelling by land, and it also created an easy access to the newly built Kaesong industrial complex to South Korean workers (Kim, 2006). The main initiative pursued by Roh Moo-­ hyun for what concerned inter-­Korean relations was undoubtedly the creation of the joint industrial park of Kaesong, built in North Korean territory but financed with South Korean capital and in which companies from the South began to operate employing North Korean workers. According to the original plan the complex, once fully developed in three successive stages, could employ a total of 160,000 workers. The number of workers almost doubled every year from 2005 until 2009–2010, and then continued to increase at a slower place and stabilized around 50,000, less than a third of the complex full capacity. Despite being affected by the fluctuations of inter-­Korean relations in the following years, the complex remained open and operational until February 2016. A major factor, which had a strong influence on Roh Moo-­hyun’s inter-­ Korean policy, was the renewed tension caused by the nuclear programme. The U.S. and the international community strongly condemned the advancement of the North Korean nuclear programme, in particular the first underground nuclear test in October 2006. Unlike what happened during Kim’s mandate, the second nuclear crisis significantly weakened the international consensus towards Seoul’s cooperative approach in inter-­Korean relations. In particular, Washington’s opposition to this policy created significant frictions within the alliance between  the United States and South Korea and limited the possible positive

Progressive and conservative visions   63 repercussions of the Policy of Peace and Prosperity in the region. For what concerned political cooperation, in the last months of his mandate, Roh Moo-­hyun managed to organize a second inter-­Korean summit with Kim Jong-­il, in October 2007. In this case, however, the symbolic value and practical results were much more limited than that of 2000, also because the era of cooperation was approaching its end (Chung, 2007). A few weeks after, in fact, the election of the conservative Lee Myung-­bak would coincide with a return to more conflicting and closing policies between the two Koreas.

The return of the conservative approach in inter-­Korean relations and the end of cooperation Already during his electoral campaign, Lee Myung-­bak had made very clear his opposition to the cooperative approach pursued by the previous progressive administrations. From his perspective, both the Sunshine Policy and the Policy of Peace and Prosperity proved to be weak and failed strategies, that did not lead to any change in the North Korean regime’s behaviour, but also put at risk the country’s national security and undermined the alliance with the United States. According to the conservative political tradition, the main pillar of South Korean foreign policy had to be the alliance with the U.S., together with a strong military deterrent against North Korea. In Lee’s vision this could also be the only possible starting point for dialogue and negotiations with Pyongyang. Immediately after taking office, in February 2008, Lee recalibrated South Korea’s foreign policy along these guidelines. In terms of inter-­Korean relations, Lee proposed what he defined as a “pragmatic” approach, starting from the premise that the policies adopted by “ideological” progressive administrations ended in failure. According to the new president, the dismantling of the North Korean nuclear programme was the main priority for South Korea and denuclearization became a precondition for inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation, as Lee made clear in his inaugural address: “[…] once North Korea abandons its nuclear programme and chooses the path to openness, we can expect to see a new horizon in inter-­ Korean cooperation” (Lee, 2008). In practice this new approach revolved around an initiative that the administration called “Vision 3000: denuclearization and openness”. This plan consisted of a set of measures of aid and assistance aimed at raising the annual per capita income of North Korean people up to US$3,000, from the 2007 level of US$650, within ten years, through assistance in five key areas: economy, education, finance, infrastructure, and welfare (Yoon, 2008). However, the paramount emphasis that was place on denuclearization had the effect of freezing and stopping most of inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation, with the only exception of the Kaesong industrial complex. During the third year of Lee Myung-­bak’s presidency, in 2010, inter-­Korean relations reached their lowest point. In addition to the increasing level of tension that followed the second underground nuclear test in 2009, two events characterized this year in an extremely negative sense: the sinking of the South Korean corvette, Cheonan, and the shelling of the South Korean islet of Yeonpyeong. In

64   Marco Milani the first case, a South Korean navy vessel sank on 26 March causing the deaths of 46 seamen. An international investigation commissioned by the South Korean government, but disputed by various sources, concluded that the sinking had been caused by a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine. After the investigation, the South Korean government adopted the so-­called “May 24 measures”, a set of sanctions that prevented economic relations between the two Koreas, with the exception of Kaesong (Bechtol, 2010). A few months later, on 23 November, the North Korean forces shelled the Yeonpyeong islet situated close to the disputed maritime border of the Northern limit line, killing four people (Hankyoreh, 2010). These events further aggravated the already deteriorated inter-­Korean relations, eliminating any possibility of rapprochement for the remaining years of Lee’s administration. With the presidential elections of December 2012 the conservative party was able to maintain the presidency, with the election of Park Geun-­hye. The very low level of popular consensus of president Lee in the last months of his mandate, also caused by his poor results in terms of inter-­Korean relations, pushed the presidential candidate to propose a different approach towards North Korea. Park’s proposal revolved around the idea of building mutual trust on the peninsula and, to this aim, she launched a specific policy called Trustpolitik (Park, 2011). Park reiterated the idea that a nuclear-­armed North Korea was not acceptable for Seoul, but she also proposed an incremental approach envisioning the possibility to advance inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation without the previous complete denuclearization. The launch of this new policy was hindered by North Korea’s third nuclear test in February 2013, a few weeks before Park’s inauguration, that forced the administration to join the international community in a stern and clear condemnation. The escalation of tension that followed the test and Resolution 2094 of the United Nations Security Council undermined the chance to restart inter-­Korean dialogue from the very beginning, and influenced the following developments of the relations between the two Koreas. The situation began to normalize during the summer of 2013, with a series of inter-­ Korean meetings that partially reduced tension. For the next two years relations between the two Koreas were mostly driven by Pyongyang’s behaviour, while Park Geun-­hye’s approach started to be characterized by a lack of proactivity and strategic vision. During 2014, President Park gave two very important speeches about inter-­ Korean policy. The first one was held in her first New Year’s press conference, on 6 January. On that occasion Park stated that “building the foundations for an era of unification” was one of the two major tasks of the administration in 2014, and that her administration should implement policies aimed at “laying a foundation for peaceful unification” that, in the president’s words, could be considered as a “bonanza” (daebak). In order to make a symbolic gesture towards Pyongyang, President Park proposed to hold reunions of separated families, which eventually took place in February that year at the Mount Kumgang resort. North Korea’s reaction to South Korea’s “bonanza” statement, however, was not positive, since it was interpreted as a sort of threat to the stability of the existing

Progressive and conservative visions   65 regime (Choi, 2014). On 28 March, 2014, President Park gave a speech in Dresden, a city significantly located in the former East Germany, titled “An Initiative for Peaceful Unification on the Korean Peninsula”. In her talk, the president pointed to four “barriers” that should be dismantled to open a new future on the Korean Peninsula – military confrontation, mutual distrust, social and cultural differences, diplomatic isolation – and advanced proposals for peaceful unification (Lee, 2014). In response, the North Korean regime released a declaration that harshly dismissed Park Geun-­hye’s proposals, calling for the importance of respecting the existing agreements, including the ones signed in 2000 and 2007 by the progressive presidents, which gave priority to addressing the issue of easing military confrontation. A further attempt to dialogue, without any significant political result, was carried out in October 2014, under the impulse of North Korea, when a high-­level delegation from Pyongyang arrived in South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Asian Games. On that occasion, two of the highest-­ranked North Korean officials met with the South Korean Unification Minister and the Chief of the National Security Council. However, despite the conciliatory and friendly attitude, the meeting ended with a commitment to hold a new round of intergovernmental talks, which achieved no specific or concrete results (Moon, 2014). A negative turning point that led to the final derailment of the already undermined Park’s policy took place in 2016, when North Korea again put the nuclear and missile programmes at the centre of its strategy. On 6 January, Pyongyang performed its fourth underground nuclear test, followed by the fifth in September. Meanwhile, the regime also performed several series of short, medium and long-­range missile launches. The following year North Korea’s nuclear activities continued unabated, with the sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September, and the launch of three Inter-­continental ballistic missiles in July and November. This threatening military activism on the part of North Korea further isolated the country in the international community and pushed Seoul to interrupt all contact with Pyongyang, aligning with the hard-­line stance of the United States. As a symbolic epitaph to this era of inter-­Korean cooperation, in February 2016, South Korea decided to interrupt all activities at the Kaesong industrial complex. Both conservative presidents that led South Korea from 2008 to 2017 re-­ aligned the country’s inter-­Korean policy towards the conservative political tradition, albeit in different ways. Lee Myung-­bak started his office immediately after the progressive decade that translated the principle of inter-­Korean reconciliation into real policies, even at the expense of straining the relationship with the United States, a cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy for decades. Lee’s “pragmatic” approach diligently brought South Korea’s foreign policy back towards the pillars of the conservative tradition, based upon a strong partnership with the U.S. and an emphasis on the military aspects of the relations with North Korea. Unsurprisingly, while reinforcing the alliance with Washington, this approach irreparably damaged the path of inter-­Korean cooperation and dialogue of the previous ten years. Park Geun-­hye’s strategy seemed to be based on a different approach. Similarly to her efforts in other foreign policy issues,

66   Marco Milani such as relations with China, Park tried to adapt the traditional conservative perspective to the new challenges that she had to face. For what concerns inter-­Korean relations, this meant an attempt to maintain a strong military deterrent – domestically and within the alliance with the U.S. – while at the same time pursuing some form of dialogue and cooperation. Park’s approach, especially if considered in relation to her other foreign policy initiatives such as the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative and the Eurasia Initiative (see Milani and Fiori in this edited book), is not completely new in the conservative tradition. In many respects, this policy resembled Roh Tae-­woo’s Nordpolitik with its goal of expanding relations with neighbouring countries also negotiating with Pyongyang from a strong position. However, Park’s strategy could not benefit from the position of strength that South Korea had at the end of the Cold War. When facing a major security threat, Trustpolitik showed its shortcomings and its lack of strategic vision, such as in the case of the 2013 nuclear test or the escalation of 2016–2017. In that situation, the South Korean president decided to return to the traditional hard-­line position of conservatives.

Conclusion The historical path of inter-­Korean relations has experienced alternate moments after the end of the Cold War and South Korea’s democratization. When the progressive political tradition entered the public debate and started to contest the principles that had guided the country’s foreign policy for decades, inter-­Korean relations became one of the most divisive issue in the public debate. Consequently, South Korean policies had been characterized by a wide array of approaches. Early conservative governments proved to be open to dialogue, mostly because they felt they were in a stronger position, thanks to the changes in the regional and global system, but in limited forms. Subsequently, the progressive decade translated the principle of national reconciliation into actual policies aimed at expanding cooperation, but also at changing the mutual perception that the two Koreas – both the regimes and the populations – had of each other. This approach achieved significant results in lowering tension and bringing the two Koreas closer to one another. At the same time, however, the effectiveness of this approach was undermined by some of Pyongyang’s strategic choices – such as in the case of the nuclear programme – and the domestic divide between the two political fronts on how to deal with North Korea further deepened. The recent conservative governments, albeit in different ways, returned towards the conservative tradition at the cost of deteriorating the situation on the peninsula, with level of tension that reached alarming levels during the last year of Park Geun-­hye’s administration. The new progressive government of Moon Jae-­in, elected in May 2017, immediately tried to reverse the course of inter-­Korean relations and restart the process of dialogue and reconciliation that characterized the presidencies of Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun. The new president served as a prominent member

Progressive and conservative visions   67 of Roh’s administration and inter-­Korean cooperation is certainly an inherent part of his political history and also of his political identity as president. Despite the tension that the nuclear and missile programmes have caused in his first months in office, Moon consistently tried to reopen a dialogue with Pyongyang and South Korea regained a proactive role in inter-­Korean relations. During 2018, the two Koreas held three new summits between the leaders and started numerous projects of cooperation, mostly related to cultural exchanges. The nuclear issue and the international sanctions regime against North Korea still represent major obstacles for the restarting of projects involving trade, investments, and economic exchanges. Nevertheless, Moon’s government, despite the difficulties, decided to follow the guidelines of the progressive political tradition thus demonstrating once again the crucial role that these identities play for South Korea’s foreign policy.

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68   Marco Milani Kirk, D. (2001). Kim Dae-­jung and sunshine: Polls, popularity and politics. Korea Observer, 32(3), 409–429. Koh, B.C. (1992). The inter-­Korean agreements of 1972 and 1992. Korea and World Affairs, 16(3). Lee, G.D. (2014). The Dresden unification initiatives and the inter-­Korean relations. Journal of Peace and Unification, 4(1). Lee, M.B. (2008). President Lee Myung-­bak’s inaugural address. Hankyoreh, English Edition, 25 February, 2008. 271850.html Lim, D.W. (1993). Inter-­Korean relations oriented toward reconciliation and cooperation. In J. Cotton (Ed.), Korea under Roh Tae-­woo: Democratization, northern policy and inter-­Korean relations. St. Leonard: Allen & Unwin Pty. Moon, C.I. (2000). The Sunshine Policy and the Korean summit: Assessment and prospects. East Asian Review, 12(4), 3–36. Moon, K.H.S. (2014). North Korea’s Incheon landing. Project Syndicate, 9 October, 2014. Park, G.H. (2011). A new kind of Korea. Foreign Affairs, 90(5). Park, S.S. (1993). Northern diplomacy and inter-­Korean relations. In J. Cotton (Ed.), Korea under Roh Tae-­woo: Democratization, northern policy and inter-­Korean relations. St. Leonard: Allen & Unwin Pty. Roh, T.W. (1988). Special declaration on national pride and unification and prosperity. Korea and World affairs, 12(3), 627–630. Yoon, D.M. (2008). Vision 3000: Denuclearization and openness. East Asian Review, 20(2).

5 South Korea, partisan politics, and the United States David C. Kang

Introduction: South Korea’s political turmoil Korea’s election of Moon Jae-­in as president in May 2017 put an end to almost a year of political paralysis and turmoil in South Korea. Dissatisfaction with the previous president Park Geun-­hye had led to massive weekly protests that ultimately led to her impeachment and arrest on charges of corruption. But the tragedy of the Park Geun-­hye saga should not obfuscate the larger forces that drive Korean politics. After a decade of conservative rule, the political pendulum had been shifting towards the left in Korean politics even before the impeachment, and the troubles of the past year only hastened it. Although some see the election of a leftist president as a total repudiation of past government policies, Moon is more centrist than generally imagined, and his presidency has already involved both continuity and change in domestic and foreign policies. Korea has a deep left-­right divide on domestic politics. As a decade of conservative rule gives way to a more progressive president, it is possible to note some shift in Korea’s domestic and foreign policies. This could potentially be the most acute with Korea’s relationship with America – after all, Korea has historically been famous for its anti-­Amer­ican protests. However, those divides of the past are evolving and changing, and while a progressive president in South Korea will probably take a line more embracing of North Korea than most Amer­icans would want, it is widely acknowledged on both sides of the political spectrum in South Korea that a strong U.S.–ROK alliance is the keystone to any Korean grand strategy. On foreign policy, Moon’s election heralds a departure in policy for dealing with North Korea. Moon clearly searches for some sort of engagement with the North, in contrast with the two previous Korean presidents. Yet this does not mean that Moon will totally abandon pressure on North Korea – both pressure and inducements are important elements of policy to be used in the appropriate circumstances. Moon also values highly the U.S.–ROK relationship. This is important to note because it is often conventional wisdom – especially in the United States – that engagement with North Korea is accompanied by anti-­U.S. policies. Yet that is not the case with Moon, and he is strongly pro-­U.S. but also strongly pro-­engagement to the North.

70   David C. Kang Managing to steer Korean policy will require a delicate balancing act from Moon. Moon’s goal is to return Seoul to the driver’s seat in dealing with North Korea, while also attempting to find areas of engagement with the North and simultaneously being tough on North Korean violations. This is further complicated because U.S. policy under Trump has not yet become clear, and indeed many key policymaking positions in the Trump administration are still empty. In June 2018, President Trump and Kim Jong-­un held an historic summit in Singapore and in many ways the situation on the peninsula looks very different than it did at the end of 2017. However, it is still not clear whether these dramatic moves have permanently changed the entire course of relations on the Korean Peninsula; or whether the initial moves of 2018 were simply one more abortive move in the long history of the Korean Peninsula, and confrontation will remain the norm. No matter what happens between Donald Trump, Moon Jae-­in, and Kim Jong-­un, South Korea will inevitably play a critical role in any U.S.–North Korea–South Korea triangle. Seoul will be central to whether engagement, containment, or even war breaks out on the peninsula. Indeed, Moon has already inserted South Korea squarely into the structure by its joint team in the Olympics and the historic meeting at Panmunjom between Moon and Kim. The dramatic and rapidly moving events of early 2018 showed how quickly South and North Korea can move when they have the incentive. Although the partisan politics that exist in Korea have an impact on the domestic and foreign policies that its leaders pursue, this chapter will actually emphasize the commonality between both ends of the political spectrum. In both cases, there is little appetite for containing China. On both left and right, there is widespread agreement that the U.S. is also the most important ally of South Korea. And, although left and right in Korea may disagree on whether to engage or contain North Korea, both sides of the spectrum have little appetite for military solutions to the North Korea problem.

Enduring elements of Korea’s political culture Korea is often described as divided as America between left and right. But the Park Geun-­hye impeachment showed the limits of partisanship – the cratering levels of support left her at 10% by the time of her ultimate impeachment, meaning all but the most ideological abandoned her. Contrast this with Trump, who has a solid 35–40% support no matter what he does. There are enduring political divides in Korea, but there is also surprising agreement across the political spectrum about many issues, and a general agreement on many issues. Before discussing partisan divide, this chapter will explore the enduring commonalities that exist across the political spectrum in South Korea. This chapter begins with Korea’s enduring relations with Japan and China. Despite warnings about a rapidly growing China and calls for greater security cooperation with Japan, South Korea has become China’s largest trade partner, while diplomatic relations are more tense with Japan than they are with China

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   71 (Lee, 2015; Soeya, 2016; Wicker, 2016). This has led to claims that Seoul may be misguidedly accommodating Beijing or that it is tilting towards China and has entered its orbit or sphere of influence (Revere, 2015). South Korea’s willingness to have good relations with China arises partly from a desire to affect the foreign policy of North Korea’s closest supporter. After all, North Korea has been South Korea’s main external threat since 1945. Yet this pragmatism does not change the reality that South Korea has drawn closer to China over the past two decades, not further away. In contrast, South Korea has had endemic friction with Japan, even though Japan shares with South Korea the traits of a capitalist market economy, a democratic political regime, and an alliance with the United States. Indeed, there are voices in South Korea that appear to be more worried about Japanese remilitarization than are fearful of growing Chinese power (Oh, 2015). This has led to a flourishing academic discourse about why the two states seemingly cannot get along. Popular arguments to explain South Korea’s behaviour are that the country is hedging or that it is employing a variant of “soft balancing” (Han, 2008; Kuik, 2015; Pempel, 2010) South Korea’s unusual relationships with China and Japan, and its subsequent reluctance to fully embrace its position in a tripartite U.S.–Japan–ROK alliance, have often vexed U.S. observers. For example, in 2015 Wendy Sherman – then the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs – stated that such issues as the South Koreans and the Chinese being sensitive to changes in Japan’s defence policy, along with the fact that the two have quarrelled with Japan over the comfort women issue, are all understandable but can also be frustrating (Sherman, 2015). Implying that South Koreans did not understand their own strategic interests as well as she did, Sherman went on to add that nationalist feelings can still be exploited, and it’s not hard for a political leader anywhere to earn cheap applause by vilifying a former enemy. This statement prompted immediate repudiation by South Koreans, who took Sherman to be blaming the ROK for its behaviour towards Japan (its former enemy) (Korea Herald, 2015; Dong-­A Ilbo, 2015). Yet these enduring traits are not simply superficial nationalist feelings exploited by cynical politicians, as Sherman claims. Rather, they reflect a deeper, stable, and fundamental South Korean strategic culture. As Alastair Iain Johnston writes, strategic culture is an integrated system of symbols that acts to establish pervasive and long-­lasting grand strategic preferences by formulating concepts of the role and efficacy of military force in interstate political affairs, and by clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality the strategic preferences seem uniquely realistic and efficacious (Johnston, 1998). Events of the twentieth century reinforced, albeit with some significant modifications, a pre-­modern Korean political culture. If China was the immovable mountain under whose shadow one must live, Japan was the unpredictable and dangerous neighbour that seemed superficially placid but could snap at any time. Thus, when Japan responded to the arrival of Western imperial powers in the late nineteenth century, the results for Korea were disastrous. If stability and a

72   David C. Kang focus on China had characterized the previous 500 years, chaos and Japan dominated the twentieth century. In short, South Korea’s strategic culture has historically viewed China as a major power to be dealt with and Japan as a threat to be defended against. That basic interpretation of the world holds today, and exists across the left-­right divide. The two most important events of the twentieth century that affected South Korea’s enduring strategic views of itself and the world were Japanese colonization and the Korean War (Shin & Robinson, 2001; Cumings, 1981). Japanese colonization in the twentieth century was not only harsh but particularly galling for Koreans. By the 1930s, Japan had officially outlawed the Korean language and prohibited the use of Korean names. The 35 years of increasingly oppressive colonization left a deep imprint on South Korean strategic culture that Japan was not to be trusted. Two invasions, spaced 300 years apart, reinforced an historical lesson that Japan was a barbarous and violent country to be feared, contained, and ignored as much as possible. The humiliation of colonization by Japan also led Korean historians to emphasize how masculine and strong Korea had been in the past. In this modern context, the centuries in which Korea had been a close subordinate of China were reinterpreted as weakness and toadying. To counteract this perception, historians reached back 15 centuries into their past to claim a relationship with the Goguryeo kingdom (37 bce–668 ce), which straddled present-­day China and the Korean Peninsula. This new nationalist historiography downplayed the centuries of stability and close relations with China in favour of a tenuous relationship to the Goguryeo kingdom, which was actually crushed by combined Chinese (Tang) and Korean (Silla) forces (Schmid, 1997). Just as searing was the division of Korea into two parts, after over 11 centuries as a unified country. With independence from Japan came the immediate U.S. and Soviet military occupation of the peninsula; brief bickering between the two superpowers resulted in the creation of two governments, both claiming to be the only legitimate Korean state and to represent the entire Korean people. The focus of South Korea instantly turned inwards, to the peninsula, rather than beyond. Every external relationship was viewed through the lens of how it would affect North–South relations. The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950 resulted in a horrific 3-year war that resolved nothing, left the de-militarized zone between the sides in almost the exact same place it had started, devastated the peninsula from Busan to the Yalu river, and left an estimated two million Korean soldiers and civilians dead. The impact of the war and division continues today, with North Korea being the most salient security threat to South Korea. Yet North Korea became an important domestic political issue also – it is estimated that a majority of South Koreans have some relatives on either side of the border. South Korea began to focus on the United States for its survival, and more deeply for its intellectual and strategic leadership. The country’s leaders came to regard the United States as critical for national security and economic development. And yet Korea remained far from a reliable ally – during the 1950s,

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   73 Syngman Rhee was so difficult to work with that U.S. advisors voiced frequent frustration with him (Woo, 1991, Chapter 4). Victor Cha notes that the U.S. alliance was structured in part to restrain Rhee from starting another war and dragging the United States along with him. Cha writes that Amer­ican fear of entrapment especially applied to the South Korean authoritarian state under Syngman Rhee, who harnessed rabid anti-­communism both to legitimize his rule and to try to embroil the U.S. in further conflict on the Korean Peninsula (Cha, 2011). The interpretation and historical memory of the Korean War in South Korea demonstrate how differently the ROK views its own strategic situation. China was directly implicated in the continuing division of the peninsula through its immense military support of the northern Kim Il-­sung regime. Mao’s own son was killed in action in Korea, and it is estimated that the People’s Liberation Army suffered 150,000–180,000 battle fatalities. Yet despite being a major cause of the survival of North Korea, China does not figure prominently in South Korea’s memorial about the war, nor does the war play into contemporary South Korean views of Chinese intentions. South Koreans do not blame China nearly as much as they blame the United States and Russia for the division. In short, historical memory is born out of strategic culture: the way in which the Korean War is remembered and portrayed in contemporary South Korea shows again how enduring are the country’s conceptions of its neighbours. Perhaps most intriguingly, although the division of the peninsula has affected the conduct of both Koreas’ foreign policies, it did not fundamentally alter the larger strategic culture of either side. Both Koreas claim to be the true Korea, both claim to be the most noble expression of the Korean identity, and both strive for independence and have proved to be somewhat difficult, or at least unconventional, allies for their more powerful patrons. There is also a deep lack of public trust in the government. For example, one survey found that only 2.6% of South Korean college students trust politicians, ranking them last, even below complete strangers at 8.4% (Jun, 2015). The findings of a joint survey in August 2014 by the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute and Chamgyoyook Research Institute of 1,051 high school students (belonging to the Sewol generation) were similarly grim: trust in the president and the executive leadership fell from 23.7% before the incident to 6.8% afterwards, while trust in the National Assembly dropped from 18.9% to 5.4%. The percentage of respondents who felt a sense of pride as citizens of South Korea also fell dramatically from 61.9% to 24.9% after the Sewol incident (Choi, 2014). This dilemma between greater autonomy and greater security is clear from the ongoing debates about the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) over South Korean combat forces from the United States. The two countries have enjoyed a close alliance for over half a century. Since that time, the United States has stationed military forces in South Korea to prevent a second North Korean invasion. The United States transferred peacetime operational control to South Korea in 1994. This decision coincided not only with greater awareness of

74   David C. Kang the importance of autonomy on the part of the ROK but also with recognition by the United States that it needed to share some of its responsibilities (or burdens) abroad with its key allies. During the Roh Moo-­hyun administration (from 2003 to 2008), the issue of wartime OPCON became central to Roh’s general platform of greater independence and sovereignty. The two countries subsequently agreed to transfer wartime OPCON to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff by 2012. However, the sinking of the Cheonan by North Korea in 2010 created a more amenable atmosphere in which to argue against the transfer. Thus, Presidents Lee Myung-­bak and Barack Obama agreed to postpone the transfer until December 2015. Most recently, in 2014 President Park Geun-­hye requested another delay, a decision that led to domestic criticism given her initial campaign pledge to retake wartime control by 2015 (Choe, 2014). Now the target date for the transfer is somewhere around 2020, but there are still lingering doubts about whether this process will actually occur according to schedule. As the OPCON issue demonstrates, Seoul’s attempt to achieve a balance between autonomy and security while managing its relations with Pyongyang has produced apparently inconsistent or even contradictory policies. A similar challenge complicates relations between South Korea and the United States in other areas. Although the U.S.–ROK alliance is currently very strong, it was considered by many to be in deep disarray only a decade ago, threatened by chronic anti-­U.S. sentiment within South Korea. Hillary Clinton herself accused South Koreans of historical amnesia because they did not remember the U.S. support for the Korean War (Chosun Ilbo, 2005). From the United States’ support of dictator Chun Doo-­hwan in the 1980s to Washington’s tepid support for South Korea amid its economic troubles during the International Monetary Fund (IMF ) crisis of 1997–1998 and disagreements about how best to deal with North Korea during the Roh Moo-­hyun years, there is a group of South Korean citizens and politicians who are deeply sceptical of U.S. influence and goals. In 2011, for example, a sizeable percentage of South Koreans did not believe that the Cheonan was sunk by North Korea (Cho, 2011).

Democracy is vibrant, and the pendulum swings left and right 2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the return of democracy in South Korea. The fight for democracy in the 1980s was literally a fight. Protests back then involved thousands of storm trooper clad riot police using virulent tear gas and battling students and labourers who responded with Molotov cocktails and baseball bats. President Moon was deeply involved in the pro-­democracy movement in Korea, having opened a human rights law firm with his lifelong friend, Roh Moo-­hyun, in the 1970s. Thirty years later, Korean democracy has matured in ways unimaginable. Although just a few years ago there was profound pessimism about Korean democracy, because of the Sewol sinking incident, Park Geun-­hye’s leadership style, and other scandals, the protests of 2016–2017 and their peaceful manner

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   75 changed many views of South Korean politics. The recent protests were just as massive as those that brought democracy to Korea long ago. But the differences were much more noticeable than the similarities: the protests of the past year were remarkably peaceful. Parents brought their children to the protests, candlelight vigils replaced tear gas, police rarely had to intervene even to keep traffic moving properly, and protesters cleaned up after themselves. Week after week, hundreds of thousands of people flooded to downtown Seoul to show their displeasure with the current president. Yet all sides respected the institutional process, they respected the Constitutional Court’s decision on impeachment, and the transition of power was orderly and straightforward. This maturation of South Korean democracy has been accompanied by the usual swings of political sentiment, from progressive to conservative and back again. With respect to the U.S.–ROK relationship, it has generally been viewed that conservative presidents were better for the alliance, while progressive administrations weakened the alliance. However, this is not necessarily the case, and a closer examination of the past three decades shows that almost all Korean presidents value the alliance, but how they do it and what their goals are may differ. It has been common to contrast the ideologies and styles of progressive president Roh Moo-­hyun (2002–2007) with conservative president Lee Myung-­bak (2008–2012), and to explain both presidents’ policies as a result of their unique personalities and values. Roh was widely bemoaned in Washington as ruining the alliance, and Lee was often credited with restoring the alliance. However, perhaps just as important is the contrast in context between the two presidents. Roh took power in early 2003, at the height of a crisis regarding North Korea’s nuclear programme and widespread South Korean popular disagreement with coercive U.S. policies towards Pyongyang and the U.S. war on terror in general. These difficulties were heightened by contrasting Japanese and Chinese approaches to North Korea, and indeed frosty relations between the two Asian powers. Navigating those diverse pressures would have been a difficult task no matter who was president. In contrast, Lee entered office in a period of relative regional stability, a year of progress on the North Korean front, improved U.S.– ROK relations, markedly improved China–Japan relations, and cautious optimism about the future. Indeed, no Korean president wants bad relations with any of the three major powers in the region: the U.S., China, and Japan. Even a supposed conservative like Lee realized that dealing with China was as important as dealing with the U.S. and Japan. For example, while in office, Lee said considering the balance in Northeast Asia, it is not desirable that Korea sides with a particular country. To maintain peace in the region, a balanced diplomacy is needed … Korea–U.S. relations and Korea–China relations are not contrary to each other but mutually complementary. This is remarkably similar to the concept floated by Roh Moo-­ hyun, who in 2005 called on South Korea to be a balancer in the region. Indeed, why would South Korea choose if they don’t have to? In a process that Jae-­ho Chung calls the choice of not making choices, although South Korea and China

76   David C. Kang have increasingly close economic and cultural ties and share a similar foreign policy orientation towards North Korea, South Korea has not bandwagoned with  China, nor does it wish to abandon its close ties with the United States (Chung, 2007). Even tensions in the U.S.–ROK alliance were as much a function of different national interests as they were personality clashes between Roh and Bush. During the second nuclear crisis (2002–2007) the South Korean populace and leadership urged restraint, while the Bush administration took a harder line. The South Koreans were concerned that the Bush administration’s open embrace of pre-­emptive war as an instrument of national policy would mean that North Korea would be a potential target of such a pre-­emptive strike, with Seoul – and South Korea – being the victims and bearing the brunt of the devastation that would follow. For example, a Chosun Ilbo opinion poll in 2006 revealed that 65.9 per cent of Koreans between 16 and 25 said they would side with North Korea in the event of a war between North Korea and the United States (WMD Insights, 2006). The seemingly confounding opinions of South Koreans were not naive, they resulted from a plausible belief that it was the U.S. – not North Korea – that might start a pre-­emptive war that would devastate South Korea. Thus, Roh was a manifestation of clear South Korean opinion as much as the source of that opinion. In other areas, however, South Korea had remained one of America’s closest allies even during the Roh administration. South Korea sent over 3,000 troops to Iraq to support the U.S. war in 2003, a force larger than any other country except for the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. and South Korea had amicably negotiated a major transformation in the amount and location of U.S. forces stationed in Korea, and South Korea’s economic and social relations with the U.S. had continued to deepen. South Koreans had opposed specific U.S. policies, not relations with America or its ideals or in general. Significantly, South Korean attitudes towards the U.S. improved when the U.S. – not South Korea – changed its policies and became more flexible towards North Korea, particularly after 2007. Thus, South Korea even under progressive presidents valued the U.S.–ROK ­alliance and worked to strengthen it. Yet at the same time, real differences did exist. The last two conservative presidents, Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye (2012–2017), both took a harder line towards North Korea than did Kim Dae-­Jung (1997–2002) or Roh. With the election of the progressive Moon Jae-­in in 2017, the South has once again pursued engagement with North Korea, resulting in the rapid improvement in relations between the two sides.

Engaging North Korea In foreign policy, the most enduring and significant issue for any Korean president is how to deal with North Korea, and how to deal with an increasingly aggressive Amer­ican presidential administration that appears to be increasingly interested in using military force to solve the North Korea problem. In fact, the

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   77 biggest problem for President Moon has been getting a word in edgewise between Trump and Kim. Although within the U.S. the North Korea problem is framed almost exclusively in terms of its nuclear and missile programmes, for South Korea the problem is much larger than that. Human rights, refugees, economic relations, and ultimately the issue of unification are all elements of dealing with the reality of a divided peninsula. Yet Moon has managed to play a weak hand very adroitly. Moon has attempted to craft a working relationship with President Trump, yet at the same time to move the discussion about dealing with North Korea away from simply discussions about sanctions or the use of force. The most dramatic example of Moon’s diplomacy was the meeting between Kim and Moon at Panmunjom. Not only was this the first time that a North Korean leader set foot on South Korean soil, it also marked an explicit missile test moratorium by North Korea, and an offer to denuclearize, although what that meant was never fully defined. However, Moon was prepared to take advantage of the opportunity to engage the North, and did so with skill and confidence. In terms of economic relations more specifically, Moon is caught between increasingly harsh UN sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, and a desire to lure North Korea out of its isolation. Whether Moon would consider an attempt to reopen direct economic relations, such as the joint North–South Kaesong industrial complex, or whether engagement will be sought in other ways, remains to be seen. For example, in confirmation hearings, Cho Myoung-­gyon, Moon’s nominee to run the Ministry of Unification, said he is willing to consider reopening the Kaesong industrial complex, but only after significant progress on the nuclear issue has been made. This willingness to trade and interact with North Korea should come as no surprise. There has always been a substantial segment of the South Korean populace that is willing to engage the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and it is likely that South Korean policy will move in that direction. A key element of engagement, however, is also the willingness to enforce sanctions. Moon retains the approach that levers of pressure on North Korea are important, and retains a steadfast deterrent towards North Korean provocations. But Moon’s approach also more energetically searches for other levels of interaction that can ease tensions. The Pyeongchang Olympics and summits of Spring 2018 provided Moon an opportunity to defuse, at least temporarily, the pressure that had been building up about how to deal with North Korea. Pressure has not worked on North Korea in the past, and there is no evidence that just a little more pressure will work today. There are limits to the level of pressure that outsider powers are willing to risk with North Korea: China could pull the economic plug on North Korea and send the country into a tailspin; but it won’t. South Korea and the United States could start a war on the peninsula through pre-­emptive strikes and aim to devastate the regime; but they won’t. It is generally agreed that neither China nor the U.S. will take such strong measures because the risks are too high and too obvious, while the unknowns of what would happen after, remain too unknown.

78   David C. Kang Pyongyang can take out Seoul with its conventional weapons, and could even target Tokyo. In June 2017, for example, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told a House committee that although the U.S. would win a war with North Korea, it would come at great cost…. If this goes to a military solution, it’s going to be tragic on an unbelievable scale … it will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we’ve seen since 1953. This view is disputed increasingly in “chatter” from Washington, but as yet the Trump administration has not behaved any differently with respect to North Korea than previous regimes. Starting a war means that literally millions of lives are at stake; attempting to cause the North Korean regime to collapse is both likely to start a war, and that even if successful would cause social and economic upheaval that could unleash potentially millions of refugees to flood into Northeast Asia, while simultaneously letting North Korea’s nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction possibly fall into the hands of whatever group happens to get hold of them in the ensuing chaos. Given that stark reality, the status quo – deterrence, tough talk, sanctions, and perhaps a little engagement – has remained the North Korea policy of successive South Korean governments. The only question has been whether there is slightly more emphasis on economic incentives or whether there is slightly more emphasis on military deterrence and sanctions. The standard approach also masks the reality that any solution to the North Korean problem that involves its capitulation is unrealistic. South Korea and the United States do not like North Korea, and don’t like its leaders or its policies. But they have to deal with it as a country like any other. Unfortunately, North Korea is not simply going to disappear, nor will it simply give in. Rather, North Korea is one of the most predictable countries on earth: it meets pressure with pressure of its own. Given the stubborn continued existence of North Korea, and given its consistent willingness to meet pressure with pressure of its own, finding some levers of interaction through social or economic engagement is a prudent move on the part of President Moon. Across the left-­right divide in Korea, there is widespread emphasis on non-­ military solutions. Sixty-­six per cent of Koreans polled in September 2017 opposed using military force to solve the North Korean issue; dwarfing the 25% that were in favour. This is consistently the trend: in the U.S. only 25% polled were in favour of using military force to solve the North Korea problem, while in Japan that percentage is only 20% (Gallup International, 2017).

Comfort women memorials in the United States The past few years have seen South Korea move towards ever increasing the symbolic use of comfort women statues to keep up pressure on Japan; while Japan has simultaneously argued that the issue is resolved forever by the 2015 agreement and that such statues are in violation of the agreement. Along with the claim over the Dokdo/Takeshima Islands, the comfort women issue is one of the hot buttons in Korea–Japan relations. The Park administration

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   79 attempted to resolve the conflict once and for all by reaching an overarching agreement with the Japanese government. But the agreement did not pluck all thorns. Following the agreement, whether to remove a girl’s statue became the next point of contention (CNN, 2017). However, after the inauguration of the Moon Jae-­in administration, the issue of the “girl statue” between Seoul and Tokyo took a new turn. The Moon government didn’t come forward in outright support of the girl statue, but it didn’t necessarily exert pressure on civic organizations or the Busan provincial government to remove the statue either. For instance, rather than removing the statue, the Busan Metropolitan Assembly passed an ordinance that entrusts municipalities with the protection and care of statues symbolizing the comfort women on 30 June, 2017 (Japan Times, 2017a). Immediately after, the Japanese government expressed concern over the ordinance, because it is likely to make it even more difficult for Tokyo to demand the removal of a statue erected by a civic group in front of the Japanese Consulate General in Busan. Japanese Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida, said that, “moves to enable the statue of the girl to remain where it is run counter to our country’s stance”, at a news conference in Tokyo (Japan Times, 2017b). The statue has taken on a life of its own, and the number of comfort women statues in South Korea increased during the first four months of the Moon administration. On 3 and 4 August, respectively, the cities of Yongin and Hongseong County announced that they will unveil a statue commemorating comfort women on 15 August, the National Liberation Day of Korea (Yonhap News Agency, 2017e, 2017b). On 14 August, marking it an “international comfort women day”, a series of events were held in South Korea, which included the display of a total of 500 statues of a girl symbolizing comfort women at Cheongye Stream Square in central Seoul (Yonhap News Agency, 2017c). Five public buses that passed the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul that day carried a girl’s statue to commemorate the day and the traditional Korean folk song, Arirang, was played when the buses passed the embassy. On 15 August, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, expressed concerns over the operation of buses in Seoul carrying the comfort women statues. At a press conference, Suga said Japan and South Korea are making efforts to develop a future-­oriented relationship, and the setting up of the statues may put a damper on the efforts (Bak, 2017). There are now statues on selected buses in Korea, over 20 statues in China and around the world. Contention over the statues continues. The battleground has moved beyond the borders of Korea and Japan and, recently, it started to also involve the United States. A case in point is in the city of Glendale, California. The Glendale City Council approved the monument despite objections from Japanese Amer­icans (Abram, 2013). The bronze comfort women statue was put up in Glendale on 30 July, 2013, and since then lawsuits were filed. In February, 2014, two Japanese Amer­icans and a corporation hired a top Amer­ican law firm and sued the city of Glendale in order to have it remove the bronze statue ­(Fingleton, 2014). The plaintiffs argued that the comfort women were not ­military sex slaves, but rather were common prostitutes. Also, they pointed that the local’s decision to allow the comfort women statue disrupted the federal

80   David C. Kang g­ overnment’s foreign policy and relationship with Japan. (Mikailian, 2016) In 2014, the U.S. District Court rejected the suit and ruled that the city did not break any laws, and in 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court opinion. The plaintiff did not give up, and appealed to the Supreme Court. In March 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the suit, and effectively ended the case (Nguyen, 2017). The case went on for three years, and drained the city attorney’s office. On 23 May, 2017, a comfort women statue rejected by the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta found a new home in Brookhaven after a vote by the city council of Brookhaven (Bagby, 2017). On 10 June, Japanese consul general in Atlanta, Takashi Thomas Shinozuka, made a controversial remark in an interview with a local U.S. newspaper. Shinozuka stated that there was no evidence that the military sexually enslaved women during World War II and rather that the women were paid prostitutes. Furthermore, he urged the Brookhaven City Council to withdraw its decision to accept a comfort women memorial, claiming that the statue is a symbol of hatred and resentment (Reporter Newspaper, 2017). Shinozuka’s remark ensued South Korea’s strong protest (Yonhap News Agency, 2017d). On 27 June, South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Cho June-­hyuck said, if the report is true, it’s unbelievable that such a high-­ranking diplomat would make that statement … it would be a really inappropriate remark that goes against the international community’s consensus that the comfort women issue is about wartime sexual violence, and that it was a gross violation of human rights. Despite the controversy, the comfort women statue got established in a Brookhaven park on 30 June, as scheduled (Yonhap News Agency, 2017a). About 200 people attended the unveiling ceremony, including a surviving victim of the slavery, Kang Il-­chul, city officials, and South Korean activists. The comfort women issue is fascinating because it shows how the control of the narrative, in other words the use of soft power, can colour relations between two countries. The war crime was committed during the war, and the resolution is a matter between the countries involved. The South Korean and Japanese governments attempted to address the matter, but not to the satisfaction of their citizens. And the matter has since then become internationalized. Third cities in third countries are now involved in addressing the comfort women issue. Consequently, their nationals who live abroad are getting involved. Japanese Amer­ icans and Korean Amer­icans have become more vocal about the statue controversies. The comfort women issue has long been a point of tension in South Korea–Japan relations, and keeps the tension simmering. However, the issue doesn’t go above boiling point, not quite enough to blow up the relationship. Both conservatives and progressives have overwhelmingly negative views of Japan as a country, but they differ significantly on their views of the December 2015 comfort woman agreement (see Table 5.1). While 50% of conservatives had a positive view of the agreement, and only 29% had a negative view, progressives overwhelmingly had a negative view of the agreement, with 80% and 90% of members of the two main progressive parties holding a negative view of the agreement (see Table 5.2).

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   81 Table 5.1  Views of Japanese people (by political party)

Conservatives (새누리당) Progressives (새정치민주연합)

Positive view of Japan (%)

Negative view of Japan (%)

17 17

77 75

Source: Korea Gallup February 2015.

Table 5.2  Views of December 2015 comfort women agreement

Conservatives (새누리당) Progressives (더불어민주당) Progressives (정의당)

Positive (%)

Negative (%)

50  7  5

29 80 90

Source: Korea Gallup January 2016.

As promised, the Moon Jae-­in administration issued an assessment of the 2015 comfort women agreement at the end of December. Task force head, Oh Tae-­gyu, said on 27 December that the task force concluded that “a victim-­ oriented approach, which has been accepted as a norm of the international community for human rights of wartime women, has not been fully reflected” (in the deal). Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-­wha of South Korea said that the government accepts the review of the task force in a serious and humble manner (Japan Times, 2017c). A day after the report, President Moon said, “it has been confirmed that the negotiations on the comfort women issue between South Korea and Japan in 2015 had significant defects in terms of procedures and content. It is regrettable but something that we can’t evade”. President Moon stressed that the agreement, runs afoul of the established universal principle of the international community for settling history issues and, above all, it was a political agreement that excludes victims themselves and citizens. He added, “along with the citizens, I, as president, make it clear again that the comfort women issue can’t be settled through the deal” (Jung, 2015). In response, a Japanese government source said that the Abe administration’s position of seeking the steady implementation of the agreement is unchanging (Japan Times, 2017b).

Korea, the U.S., and China South Korea is increasingly being co-­opted into the larger U.S.–China strategic rivalry. Yet Seoul will probably never have the strategic priorities that Amer­ icans may expect or desire. South Korea is an advanced capitalist democracy with a vibrant civil society and clearly defined interests and strategic goals. It has embraced the U.S.–ROK alliance and, even more so, it has embraced the contemporary U.S.-led international order and its institutions.

82   David C. Kang But Korea has just as often chosen to make decisions that avoid cleaving too closely to the United States, and this pattern is unlikely to change in the future. South Korea has an enduring and close relationship with the United States, but it also desires good relations with its regional neighbours, particularly China. The evidence is consistent that Koreans do not hold China with the same scepticism as do either the Japanese or the Amer­icans. This is not simply a recent result of a few incidents, but rather an enduring element of Korean strategic culture. It is not likely that one or two negative incidents with China will swing Korean attitudes and approaches to China away from a generally positive view. Koreans frame many foreign relations with China in commercial, not strategic, terms and Korea has pushed back against a massive China for centuries while retaining its own independent national identity, and that is not likely to change. Perhaps most importantly, Koreans feel far less threat from China than perhaps other peoples in other countries. In this context, Park Geun-­hye’s attendance at the 70th anniversary of the end of World War  II in Beijing, attended by Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, was not a mistake or a miscalculation on her part. Nor was it an instrumental strategic visit, made with hopes of gaining Chinese support with North Korea. Rather, it was made because Korea and China share many similar views about the war, the consequences, and the impact of the Pacific War on their two countries. Similarly, the Korean decision to finally deploy THAAD, and the muted Chinese reaction to it, are further evidence of a complex and relatively mature relationship between the two sides. South Korea and China might not be close, but they know how to deal with each other. Beijing largely knew and accepted that Seoul would deploy THAAD, although the timing was perhaps sooner than Beijing had expected. And, despite rhetorical denunciation of the deployment, the evidence of Chinese retaliation so far has been difficult to find. Evidently cancelling a K-­pop star’s concert in Beijing counts as retaliation, although if one has to look that hard, it probably isn’t (Qin & Choe, 2016). More directly, often overlooked as Western observers try to make sense of Korea’s relatively workmanlike relations with China is that both South Korea and China share very similar viewpoints on a number of key issues: both countries interpret the first half of the twentieth century the same way – as times of victimhood; both see Japan as the key cause of the tumult of the twentieth century; both see Japanese ostensible intransigence on issues of history as the key roadblock to better regional relations; and both have enduring maritime disputes with Japan that date from the Japanese imperial period. In short, on many issues China and South Korea see the world similarly, and it is no surprise that an event commemorating the end of the Pacific War might have a Korean attendee, but not a Japanese. Two points that were often overlooked in the height of the passing “THAAD controversy” were that opinion polls consistently had South Koreans rating Xi Jinping fairly high, and Abe quite low (see Figure 5.1). For example, even in January 2017, Xi’s favourability rating was 4.2 (on a seven-­point scale), higher than Trump, and far higher than Abe’s at 1.9.

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   83 ͷ ͶǤͷ Ͷ ͵Ǥͷ ͵ ʹǤͷ ʹ ͳǤͷ ͳ ͲǤͷ Ͳ


‹ ‹’‹‰



‹ ‘‰‡—


Figure 5.1  ROK leader favourability, January and November 2017 (7-point scale).

Second, although there was superficial discussion of the Chinese influence on Korea, there was never any evidence that China actually engaged in any coercion. Most significantly, trade actually increased between the two countries over the entire time period of the controversy (see Figure 5.2). In contrast, ROK–Japan relations will probably never be as warm as the United States would wish, and the cause is not myopia or naivety on the part of South Koreans but rather arises from a deep and enduring worldview. An example was the appointment of Tomomi Inada as Japanese Defense Minister in August 2016. She openly denies the Nanjing massacre and visits the Yasukuni

ͳͶͲ ͳʹͲ ͳͲͲ ͺͲ ͸Ͳ


Figure 5.2  ROK–China trade, 2016–2017 (YoY change, %).




























84   David C. Kang Shrine. Inada was once barred from entering Korea because she was going to visit Dokdo, and she made the removal of the comfort women statue a key issue in the recently concluded accords between the two sides (Johnston, 2016). The Amer­ican press has emphasized the significance of the appointment of Tomomi Inada as the first female defence minister in Japan, while yet again completely overlooking the Korean concerns as trivial. But Korean concerns are a result of deeply held understanding about the causes of war, imperialism, and peninsular division in which Korea is still caught. Japan is deeply implicated in the events of the twentieth century on the peninsula, and continued intransigence by key Japanese officials meets disapprobation in Korea across the political spectrum. This will not change simply because Amer­icans view the issues differently. While Korea and Japan can cooperate on some issues, Korean scepticism of Japanese motives and intentions is deeply held and unlikely to change significantly in the short run. Given this deeply held Korean strategic culture, the task for the United States, rather than trying to get Koreans to view the world differently, may be to work within the contours of it. The implications for the United States are fairly clear. Korea desires a close relationship with the United States, but it is unlikely to significantly alter its stance towards either Japan or China just because the United States wants it to. There will always be attempts at trilateral cooperation among Japan, Korea, and the United States, but gains will likely be harder to achieve than expected. Amer­ican understanding of Korean attempts to avoid being caught between a U.S.–China rivalry will also help relations remain smooth.

Conclusion: the U.S.–ROK alliance under stress Perhaps the most important task for President Moon will be to craft a working relationship with the Trump administration in the United States. Although it is common for Amer­ican policymakers to bemoan leftist governments in Korea, the truth is that even progressive Korean presidents value a close Amer­ican relationship and alliance highly. It should not be overlooked that the U.S.–ROK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was passed under leftist President Roh Moo-­hyun in 2007, for example, and that the alliance survived the mutual loathing of the Roh-­ Bush years. Moon Jae-­in served as Chief of Staff for Roh during that time period, so he is well aware of the issues and politics involved in managing the U.S.–Korea relationship. More profoundly, however, President Moon especially values this relationship. Moon’s family is originally from the northern half of Korea, and came South as refugees during the war. Moon has always been grateful to the United States for the sacrifices it made in preserving South Korean independence over the years. In fact, Moon’s first visit to the United States placed special emphasis on explicitly recognizing gratitude to the U.S. In June 2017, during a visit to a memorial in Quantico, Virginia, that commemorates the role of the U.S. Marines in the Korean War, Moon called for the U.S.–Korea alliance to become even greater under his presidency.

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   85 Moon’s task is complicated, of course, by the presence of the Trump administration in the U.S. Trump is almost a total unknown in foreign policy, and the first year of his administration has done little to clarify what a “Trump doctrine” might look like. Indications are that Trump will be more confrontational towards North Korea than typical, and more protectionist in economic policy towards South Korea than typical. Thus, crafting a working relationship between Seoul and Washington will be a key priority for the new South Korean president, but one that will be difficult to do until the Trump approach to Korea becomes clearer. It is a time of unprecedented change in Northeast Asia. Moon has a particular opportunity to shape Korea’s destiny in enduring ways. President Moon will need to provide clear and vigorous leadership on almost every single front he faces, both domestic and foreign. Whether the new president is up to the task remains to be seen.

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86   David C. Kang Gallup International. (2017). Significant fear that nuclear warheads will be used but little desire for military response.­­korea-fears-­ still-dont-­provoke-a-­desire-for-­war/ Han, S. (2008). From engagement to hedging: South Korea’s new China policy. Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 20(4), 335–351. Japan Times. (2017a). Busan assembly passes ordinance entrusting municipalities with protecting “comfort women” statues. June 30. Japan Times. (2017b). Government source says Japan will maintain stance on 2015 “comfort women” deal. Japan Times, December 28. news/2017/12/28/national/politics-­diplomacy/government-­source-says-­japan-will-­stickstance-­2015-comfort-­women-deal/#.WypzqseuzT8 Japan Times. (2017c). South Korea issues report casting doubt on 2015 “comfort women” deal with Japan. Japan Times, December 27. national/politics-­diplomacy/south-­korea-issues-­report-casting-­doubt-2015-comfort-­ women-deal-­japan/#.W0gweceuzT8 Johnston, A.I. (1998). Cultural realism: Strategic culture and grand strategy in Chinese history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Johnston, E. (2016). Abe’s defense minister pick sparks concern over relations with South Korea. Japan Times, 3 August. Jun, K. (2015). In South Korea, strangers more trusted than companies or politicians. Wall Street Journal, 19 January.­ south-korea-­strangers-more-­trusted-than-­companies-or-­politicians Jung, M.K. (2015). Moon decries 2015 Korea–Japan “comfort women” deal as flawed. Korea Herald, 28 December. Korea Herald. (2015). Toeing Japan’s line. Korea Herald, 4 March. www.koreaherald. com/view.php?ud=20150304000752&mod=skb Kuik, C.C. (2015). Introduction: Decomposing and assessing South Korea’s hedging options. Asan Forum, 11 June.­decomposing-and-­ assessing-south-­koreas-foreign-­policy-options Lee, C. (2015). Recalibrating the rebalance: A view from South Korea. Asan Forum, 9 April, 2015.­the-rebalance-­a-view-­from-south-­korea Mikailian, A. (2016). Court rules in favor of memorial to comfort women. Los Angeles Times, 4 August, 2016.­news-press/news/tn-­gnp-me-­ comfort-women-­20160804-story.html Nguyen, A. (2017). Supreme Court declines case over Glendale’s controversial “comfort women” statue. Los Angeles Times, 31 March, 2017.­ news-press/news/tn-­gnp-me-­comfort-statue-­20170331-story.html Oh, S.M. (2015). Japan’s greater military role double-­edged sword for S. Korea. Yonhap News, 28 April, 2015. 0000AEN20150428008400315F.html Pempel, T.J. (2010). Soft balancing, hedging, and institutional Darwinism: The economic­security nexus and East Asian regionalism. Journal of East Asian Studies, 10(2), 209–238. Qin, A. & Choe, S.H. (2016). South Korean missile defense deal appears to sour China’s taste for K-­pop. New York Times, 7 August. Reporter Newspaper. (2017). Japan consul general’s “comfort women” comments trigger international criticism. Reporter Newspaper, 27 June, 2017. www.reporternewspapers. net/2017/06/27/japan-­consul-generals-­comfort-women-­comments-trigger-­internationalcriticism/

S. Korea, partisan politics, and the U.S.   87 Revere, E. (2015). Trilateral development in Northeast Asia: South Korea, Japan, and China. Interview by Julia Oh, NBR, 15 December.­ development-in-­northeast-asia-­south-korea-­japan-and-­china/ Schmid, A. (1997). Rediscovering Manchuria: Shin Chae-­ho. Journal of Asian Studies, 56(1), 26–46. Sherman, W.R. (2015). Remarks on Northeast Asia. Speech at the Carnegie endowment for international peace, Washington, DC, 27 February. us/rm/2015/238035.htm Shin, G.W. & Robinson, M. (Eds.). (2001). Colonial modernity in Korea. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Soeya, Y. (2016). The future of U.S.–Japan–ROK trilateral cooperation: A Japanese perspective. National Bureau of Asian Research Brief, 25 March. activity.aspx?id=659 Wicker, M. (2016). America’s next move in Asia: A Japan–Korea alliance. National Interest, 24 February, 2016. WMD Insights. (2006). South Korean opinion polls: Majority favors nuclear weapons; 1980s generation question U.S. ties. Issues and Viewpoints in the International Media. Woo, J.E. (1991). Race to the swift: State and finance in Korean industrialization. New York: Columbia University Press. Yonhap News Agency. (2017a). “Comfort women” statue unveiled in U.S. city of Atlanta. Yonhap News, 30 June. AEN20170701001700315 Yonhap News Agency. (2017b). Hongseong puts up the girl of peace statue on the National Liberation Day of Korea. Yonhap News, 4 August, 2017. 2017/08/04/0200000000AKR20170804068000063.HTML?from=search Yonhap News Agency. (2017c). S. Korea strongly protests Japan diplomat’s comments on comfort women. Yonhap News, 28 June, 2017. search1/2603000000.html?cid=AEN20170629007600315 Yonhap News Agency. (2017d). Series of events held to mark international “comfort women” day. Yonhap News, 14 August, 2017. 017/08/14/0200000000AEN20170814003700315.html Yonhap News Agency. (2017e). Yongin city decides to put up the first girl of peace statue in the city square. Yonhap News, 3 August, 2017. 7/08/03/0200000000AKR20170803128500061.HTML?from=search

6 Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China and impact on South Korea–China relations Jaewoo Choo

Introduction Polarization in South Korean society by political inclinations, i.e. conservatives and progressives, has become entrenched by their ever confronting and uncompromising characteristics and is threatening to fracture the two political camps. The political divide is fuelling a resurgence of conflict that could spill over into the diplomatic arena. Struggles between conservatives and progressives are precipitating a dichotomy that has widened the fissures between the two political camps and spurred political differences that are now almost impossible to reconcile, making the notion of bipartisanship on national interest almost impossible to reach. A partisan approach to foreign affairs has been ever more visible in recent times. It has driven a wedge between the conservatives and the progressives to the extent that Korean foreign policy is driven by political schism. Political schism in South Korea is the driving force behind the conspicuous divide between conservatives and progressives. While the two political camps share a common national goal as in national unification, and the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula, the political schism is about differences in methods to achieve it. Just as the Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims can never agree on the definition of legitimate political and religious leaders of Mohamed’s descendants, South Koreans can never come to terms with their history (Moore, 2015). South Korea’s history starts with the division of the country. The conviction that the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, were responsible for the division was further consolidated by the Korean War. A dichotomy in the idea about the cause of the nation’s division was incepted by one historical factor, South Korea’s alliance with the United States, and has perpetuated in the form of pro-­U.S. and anti-­U.S. positions. To those anti-­U.S. South Koreans, the Soviet Union, North Korea’s invasion and even China’s intervention in the war are seldom held accountable for the division. Furthermore, they consider Amer­ican factors including the alliance, military presence and its hard-­line anti-­communism campaigns are the legitimate source perpetuating the division and stimulating ever irreconcilable domestic divide between the pro-­U.S. and anti-­U.S. camps (Shin, 1995). In South Korea, a dichotomy in the cause of the division has perpetuated the dichotomy in Korean society. The

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   89 responsibility of the division argument has been premised on such a perception based on ideological outlook and therefore deferring to external factors. Just like Islam’s schism, Korea’s political schism doesn’t explain all the political, economic, and geopolitical factors involved in South Korean society’s dichotomy. It has, however, become one prism through which to understand the underlying tensions between conservatives and progressives (Council on Foreign Relations, 2018). Two opposing political orientations compete for the leadership of the country, and they have successfully used the divide to serve their ambition. How their rivalry is settled in the outcome of presidential election determines the political balance between conservatives and progressives and the future of the nation’s foreign policy towards major powers of the Korean ­Peninsula in general and inter-­Korean relations in particular. Progressives’ identity is rooted in the victimhood of suppression by the successive authoritarian leadership (defined as the conservatives) for half a century from 1948 to 1998. As a consequence, their political presence had a long history of marginalization by the conservatives. Progressives naturally view conservatives with suspicion and the conservatives perceive them to be heretics and apostates. Conservatives dominated South Korean politics for the first half-­century of the nation’s foundation, only to cede power in 1998 and alternate the leadership in every two presidential elections, or every ten years. Political schism in Korea began at the advent of infamous 1961 military coup led by then army general Park Chung-­hee. One may trace its beginning as far back as the foundation of the Republic of Korea in 1948. In either case, the progressives suffered a great deal of political suppression. To their history, it would be only a matter of degree that they suffered in either period. The root cause of their conflict is inherently paradoxical – this paradox is centred on democracy and North Korean policy or unification policy. The ultimate national goal of the Koreans has long been the unification of the peninsula and the realization of democracy. These goals are not however related to theoretical differences, rather they underlie the differences in the referent subjects. Since the inception of the Republic, South Koreans were divided on democratic ruling. While the conservatives deemed authoritarian democracy as a requisite to the success of “economic development first” policy, the progressives wanted political reforms that would facilitate the realization of democracy based on people’s power. The first peaceful power transition in 1998 gave progressives the first opportunity to implement their political vision according to their conviction and values. Their conviction was that the best viable way of unification was to go through three stages of development before full unification. The initial stage was to facilitate inter-­Korean exchanges and then establish a system on which the two Koreas can manage to peacefully coexist on an equal footing. The final stage mandated a unification under a federation system, practically similar to China’s “one country, two systems” formula. To conservatives, such a unification scheme is regarded as a mere perpetuation of division. They instead have ­persisted on unification through absorption of North Korea, thereby justifying

90   Jaewoo Choo their economic-­driven development policy to win the world’s recognition of its legitimacy against the North in the Cold War era. The democratic ruling emphasized by both conservative and progressive parties seldom deviated from the subject of democracy. While conservatives manipulated democracy as a utility for stability and security, ignoring the sacred sovereign rights of people’s participation, progressives wanted a regime change from an authoritarian one to one that was to be directly elected by the people. Conservatives wanted to preserve their ruling basis in an authoritarian ruling facilitated by an indirect election. Demands for democratic reforms that, often went out of control, as in violent demonstrations, were brutally suppressed resulting in many arrests and human rights violations from unfair trials and torture-­ridden interrogations. One salient characteristic of Korean politics is a divide practically in all walks of life issues, ranging from economics to politics, defence to security, social welfare to wealth distribution, and ideology to culture (Moore, 2015). This may be attributable to the division of Korea. Without having actually undergone a modernization process, the country has leapt into post-­modernization. The impact of not having properly undergone a modernization process has invited first the flux of new and a variety of ideologies before the modernization of society. The absence of social modernization meant the absence of a modern education system and therefore what is perceived to be a conventional enlightenment process that is usually the prerequisite to the embracement of new ideas (Lee, 1986). Currently, South Korean society, although supposedly democratic, is fused with a seemingly perpetuated divide according to ideologically dictated political preferences, if not ideology per se. The divide is almost impossible to compromise. Conservatives and progressives naturally seldom come to terms on government policy. It is not an exaggeration to state that the Korean government’s policy is hardly a consequence of bipartisanship rather, more often than not, it is a result of dominancy. In other words, nothing other than the number of seats in the legislature matters the most to the outcomes of the legislative vote. Government policy lives or dies by which party owns the majority of the seats in the National Assembly. It is one of the reasons why violence and hostility have become a common scene in Korean politics. No democratic measures can overcome such distinctive and unique Korean political culture (Koh, 1981). In the same vein, a deep divide between conservatives and progressives, and the ensuing polarization, has had a strong impact on the outcomes of foreign policy. It goes beyond nationalism. The schism in Korean politics has long been acting as the guiding ideology for public opinion. It is not a matter of just expressing their views in support of their convicted ideology, it has long served as a tool for mocking the opponent. When a society is so divided by such a split, it is almost impossible to unite the country in a democratic way because a bipartisan compromise is also almost impossible to reach. The schism in Korea has only increased an ever-­deepening dichotomy of ideology between right and left. In recent times, however, neutralists have been on the rise. Nevertheless, the

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   91 centrists have shown traces of floating votes when election times demand their decisions. Koreans would only be united by nationalism against issues specifically related to Japan.

Concepts and propositions This chapter aims to offer a better understanding of the impact that partisan division within South Korea’s domestic politics has had on the outcomes of foreign policy towards China, and subsequently on the bilateral relationship, using primarily data from surveys and opinion polls. As pointed out in the chapter introduction, partisanship in South Korean domestic politics is akin to a schism: a compromise is almost impossible to reach between the two opposing camps of conservatives and progressives. Their respective political orientation, belief, and value are diametrically opposite to each other. Hence, the relationship between the two camps is best described as having only suspicion and doubts, and no trust or confidence. With the rise of progressivism in twenty-­first century South Korean politics, there has never been a single national security-­related case in which bipartisan consensus and cooperation was achieved. In such a partisan world of politics, securing a majority of seats in the legislature by the ruling party is critical for advancing the government’s security and foreign policy. For a better understanding of South Korea’s partisan political institutions and mechanisms, a few concepts and propositions deserve attention. The concept of conservatives and progressives in Korean politics has its own origin, nature, and characteristics for historical reasons. From a historical perspective, their conceptual inception and evolutionary discourse has been in line with Korean history, from the Japanese occupation to the division of the peninsula, through to the Korean War, the industrialization and democratization process. While conservatism in Korea inherited the conventional characterization of conservatives in western politics and political theory, progressivism is much more complex and nuanced than the standard model allows (Chae & Kim, 2008). South Korea’s own unique historical experiences account for different, or rather opposing, values, ideology, and outlooks that the two opposing camps respectively hold. As a result, their opposing perception on domestic and foreign affairs is translated into their stance on security and foreign policy. The foundation and orientation of security and foreign policy of South Korean government is based on which political camp the elected president is from. Furthermore, the president’s policy will become stronger if and when his or her party takes the majority in the National Assembly. The foundation of conservatives and progressives in Korea is very much dictated by their respective historical experiences. These are like two sides of a coin, very much in contrast with each other. Indoctrinated by nationalism under the Japanese occupation, rightist and leftist nationalists, forefathers of conservatives and progressives, shared one common goal: national independence from the occupation. Once Korea was liberated in 1945, it was immediately divided into

92   Jaewoo Choo the South and the North in 1948, and the leftist nationalists were almost non-­ existent in the South. Leftist nationalists would become almost invisible especially following the Korean War. The aftermath of the War and the beginning of the Cold War ideology have armoured the South with fervent anti-­communism. Anti-­communism meant more than ideology. South Korea’s political stance was predicated on anti-­ communism, naturally resulting in the alliance with the United States in 1953. Since then, it became a political tool that justified the long-­held military dictatorship by the ruling party (conservatives) and its suppression of North Korea sympathizers (leftist nationalists, or progressives in modern terms). The industrialization goal to get the country out of poverty further reinforced the premise of the anti-­communism stance held by the government. Industrialization was predicated on the government’s ability to secure a stable and peaceful environment against the communist threat from the North, thereby disallowing democratization from correlating the achievements of industrialization. It was not until the 1980s that leftist nationalists would appear in South Korean politics. Their movement would become visible in the form of protests against military dictatorship and political demands for freedom and human rights. Even after the success of toppling the military dictatorship and the first presidential election in 1987, leftist nationalists had yet to make a political presence in South Korean politics. It would only be after having successfully experienced the first power transfer to the opposition party from the ruling conservative party in 1997 that progressives would make their presence known. Their political presence was consolidated in 2002 when their political leader, Roh Moo-­ hyun, won the presidential election (Hahm, 2005). Since the division of the country in 1948, leftist nationalists had always been the opposite to conservatives, or the rightist nationalist. It was natural and inevitable for them to embrace ideology, values, beliefs, and perceptions that were opposite to their opponents. When conservatives staunchly pursued industrialization against poverty and overlooked human rights and moral corruption inflicted by dictatorship, progressives turned towards democracy, human rights, anti-­corruption, and social justice. Their respective political predicament also had an impact on their foreign policy outlook. Conservatives remained pro-­U.S. and anti-­North Korean, whereas progressives became anti-­U.S., anti-­Japanese and pro-­North Korean. Progressives were dubbed pro-­North Korean largely because they see North Korea as a kin nation with which to be reconciled and the United States as a disruptive interloper (Chae & Kim 2008, p. 77). Their positive view on North Korea and negative one on the United States is deeply rooted in Korean history. They assert the U.S. as an imperialist power whose only interest in the Korean Peninsula is to preserve its hegemonic power, deferring the nation’s division responsibility to its hegemonic interest by prohibiting any kind of reconciliatory opportunity and preserving its confrontational posture against the North (Kim, 1989). The progressives’ focus on the anti-­ nationalistic character of the undemocratic nature of the authoritarian regimes naturally gave rise to a distortion of such concepts as industrialization, the role of

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   93 the United States, and unification. Industrialization, for instance, according to the progressives’ claim, is a capitalist-­imperialist imposition to exploit South Korea’s oppressed peasants and the proletariat (Hahm, 2005). Hence, the rise of progressives in South Korean domestic politics resuscitated what would otherwise have been a dissipating multi-­political party system. Although a peaceful power transition was successful since the opposition won the 1997 presidential election, the chance of winning the following election was slim for lack of ideological foundation reasons (Steinberg & Shin, 2006). Kim Dae-­jung’s winning cause for the 1997 election was attributed to his predecessor’s accountability for the nation’s economic crisis inflicted by the Asian financial crisis. It was then that the progressives merged and succeeded in upsetting the seemingly invincible opposition candidate. The progressive party candidate’s success in 2002 was attributed to a few factors. One was the rise of anti-­Amer­icanism instigated by a road accident that killed two junior high school female students in the midst of U.S. forces military exercises. The other was the coalition of the so-­called 386 Generation, comprising of former radical students that were in their 30s, in college during the 1980s, and born in the 1960s. They productively exploited the nation’s coming of age, from its success of the World Cup in 2002 coupled with effective use of political rhetoric and ideology to manipulate the selective affinity, or confusion, between progressivism and liberalism, to its advantage (Hahm, 2005, p.  67). Korean progressivism was precipitated in 2002 by such figures as in then the president-­elect Roh Moo-­hyun and his supporting cast in 386 Generation. It was only then that progressivism would have enormous influence in driving South Korea’s political debates, shaping the course of presidential campaigns, providing a ready interpretation for the cause of anti-­Amer­icanism, and directing the discourse of East Asian foreign policy. On top of these their impact on inter-­ Korean relations and anti-­Japanese sentiment became visible also. It was by their political conviction and preference that they had a propensity to side with North Korea and China but against the United States and Japan. Anti-­Japanese sentiment has prevailed since the foundation of the nation in 1948. Nevertheless, it would be reinforced by the progressive regime in 2004 when it decided to rectify Korean history in attempts to unearth those who “collaborated” in any capacity with Japanese imperialists during the colonial period. With respect to anti-­Amer­icanism, it sought to take over what it conceived to be an autonomous right to the nation’s military sovereignty. That is, operational authority in both peace time and wartime. To the progressives, recovering autonomy and independence from the United States was the political motto for the alliance. Agreed in 2007, authority over wartime operation control was to be transferred to South Korea in 2012. The decision was then postponed and discussion on the transfer of  authority in wartime is again being raised after ten years of conservative leadership.1 Furthermore, the progressive regime also aspired to transform the nation into more of an independent state between the United States and China by claiming to become a “balancer”. However, the aspiration was not realized but is now

94   Jaewoo Choo being resumed by the current government under Moon Jae-­in, who was Roh’s chief of staff. The progressives’ foreign policy preference is basically inspired by his own thoughts on the unification method. That is, that unification must be achieved by Koreans themselves without external interference. It is based on such a premise that the progressives prefer to cooperate with China as its principle on Korean unification fits their interests. To the contrary, they see the United States and Japan to be a hindrance to their cause. Hence they have had a long-­held conviction that rapprochement with North Korea, coupled with China’s acquiescence, independent and autonomous unification is feasible. The rise of progressives and progressivism in South Korean politics has brought a new dynamic: securing a majority of seats in the National Assembly has become a critical component for the implementation of policies by the government, since the divide between conservatives and progressives on foreign policy is buttressed by their respective contrasting stance on anti-­Amer­icanism, anti-­Japanese, pro-­China, and pro-­North Korea. Under these circumstances, South Korean foreign policy is determined by the party’s leadership at the top and the power configuration of the legislature. The interaction among political parties at the legislative level is characterized by the absence of bipartisan compromise and cooperation. Bipartisanship on the diplomatic front, for instance, is most likely to arise by one particular factor, i.e. distortion of Korean history by neighbouring countries like Japan and China. The next sections analyse data collected through surveys and opinion polls, conducted both among members of the National Assembly, experts, and scholars – broadly defined as “South Korean elites” – and the general South Korean public.

South Korean elites2 On the unification issue survey conducted by a South Korean media company, Nocut News, between 30 July and 1 August, 2015, of the 299 legislators surveyed, 115 responded. The first question asked them of their thoughts on the unification. Seventy-­seven-and-­a-half per cent of the ruling conservative party members, Saenuri Party (SNP), wanted it at all costs and 80% of the progressive New Politics and Democratic Coalition Party (NPDCP) agreed. A total 66.7% of the third party, the leftist Justice Party, also agreed. Of them 33.7% also liked the idea of peaceful coexistence with North Korea within the current setting. Only 4.8% and 10% from SNP and the NPDCP respectively agreed. Of the ruling party members 17.7% admitted their desire for unification but did not see it as necessary if the conditions were not right. Eight per cent of the first opposition party members agreed and none from the Justice Party (Nocut News, 2015). On the question of the state of the unified government and the political system, the extreme leftists party, the Justice Party members all wanted two separate regimes to be in force even after the unification. They did not want the South Korean system to be preserved. Seventy-­nine per cent of the ruling party members wanted unification under the current system, whereas 9.6% wanted an offset system between the South and the North, and another 9.6% wanted two

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   95 s­ eparate regimes to coexist. Forty-­eight per cent of the NPDCP members preferred the southern system, as opposed to 16% that wanted the system to be offset, and 34% wanted a peaceful coexistence of the two systems (Nocut News, 2015). With respect to the gains and losses from unification, most of the Assembly members were confident that the benefits would exceed the costs. A mere 14.5% of the ruling party members saw greater costs than benefits. Of all the legislators, 85.2% believed that dividends would far exceed the burden of cost. On the unification method, however, there was a divergence between the ruling and opposition parties. Progressive party members preferred unification through consensus over absorption, whereas the ruling conservative party members did not see absorption as a problematic means to unification (Nocut News, 2015). When the Democratic Party was the opposition party in 2016, on the issue of THAAD deployment, only five (4.1%) out of 121 members were in support and 51 (42.1%) members opposed the deployment. Nineteen (15.7%) members wanted the National Assembly to hold review and discussion sessions. What is interesting is that 45 of the members, or 37.2%, withheld their response. Those who opposed the deployment focused their concerns on the negative impact on South Korea’s relations with China, especially economic relations (Newsis, 2016). On inter-­Korean relations, the majority of South Korean experts and scholars (93%) saw improvement necessary. On the means of solving North Korea’s nuclear and missile challenges, 63.9% responded that simultaneous application of dialogue and sanctions was the most appropriate means against North Korea’s military provocations; 23.5% of the conservatives preferred sanctions whereas 48% of the progressives wanted dialogue. On the effectiveness of sanctions by the international community, 55.6% of the experts responded positively – 82.3% of the conservative experts saw it as effective and 76% of the progressives disagreed. On the means of rapprochement with North Korea, 37.6% of the expert group saw resumption of humanitarian aid as the best solution, and 33.3% of them saw civilian economic cooperation to be the best. On the question of resuming humanitarian aid, 77.8% of the specialists stated that the issue should be dealt with in a separate context for the sake of peace, regardless of the stalemate situation of inter-­Korean relations. Of the experts 76.4% wanted the “May 24 sanctions” to be lifted, another 76.4% wanted the Kaesong industrial complex to be resumed, and 72.2% wanted the resumption of Mount Kumgang tour. With the inauguration of the new government in May 2017, 94.6% of the expert group considered an inter-­Korean summit as necessary: 82.4% of the conservatives, 96.7% of the centrists, and 100% of the progressives responded positively (Newswire, 2017).

Divide by political inclinations on China-­related issues in South Korea’s public opinion On the deployment of THAAD As of February of 2016, the gap between those members of the public who favoured and those who opposed the deployment of THAAD in South Korea

96   Jaewoo Choo was as narrow as 7% – 49.4% and 42.3% respectively. Only 8.3% responded that they were not too sure. The elders were especially in favour. Those aged 60 and above favoured the deployment by a landslide margin of almost 57% – 74.5% in favour and 14.7% against. Of those in their 50s 53.4% favoured the deployment while 34.1% opposed. The trend was the opposite with younger generations: 60% of those in their 40s opposed it while 35.8% were in favour; 58.6% of those in their 30s opposed the deployment while only 32.3% were in favour. It was neck and neck among those in their 20s – 46% in favour and 45.3% against. According to party support, 76.3% of those who claimed to support the then ruling party (SNP) welcomed THAAD, and a mere 13.4% did not like the idea. Of those who supported the opposition party, the Democratic Party, 78.7% opposed the deployment and 14.7% supported it. By political preferences, of those who claimed to be conservative, 72.3% favoured and 23.8% opposed. 70.1% of those who claimed to be progressive opposed the deployment and 25.4% favoured. Among those claimed to be centrist, 48.7% favoured while 46.5% opposed.3 Soon after Moon’s first state visit to the United States, and following North Korea’s inter-­continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) test fire on 4 July, a shift in support of THAAD deployment among the Korean people was visible. Fifty-­ seven per cent of the people favoured the deployment as opposed to 27% who did not like the idea. The SNP in 2017 became the opposition party and was renamed the Liberty Korea Party (LKP). In the transformation process, a group of legislators jettisoned the party to form another moderate conservative party, the Bareunmirae Party (BRMRP). By July, 87% of the people supporting the LKP and 78% of those identifying with BRMRP voiced their support for the deployment. Fifty per cent of those identifying with the ruling party, the Democratic Party, favoured the deployment, while 37% opposed it. Only those that identified themselves with the Justice Party showed the opposite trend: 49% opposed and 36% favoured (Yonhap News Agency, 2017). The result may have been caused by strong support to Moon’s visit to the U.S. during which he expressed his agreement with the United States on the needs of THAAD deployment. Of the Korean people 82.8% gave a positive assessment of his visit based on the conviction that the success of the visit was beneficial to the national interest. By age group, those in their 30s stood out with 88.3% approval, those in their 20s with 86.7%, and 84.3% by those in their 40s. The reasons for the approval are, in order – recovering US–Korea trust and confidence (75.7%), substantial results that will strengthen US–Korea economic cooperation (61.8%), and consensus on North Korean policy (60.8%) (Newstomato, 2017). On Moon’s China visit and diplomacy According to one survey, of 510 Korean adults over 19 years of age, 55.8% rendered a positive assessment on Moon’s China visit as they saw the occasion to

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   97 have helped peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. A negative assessment was accounted by 33.7% of the correspondents as they argued it was humiliating diplomacy and full of diplomatic disrespect. Those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s gave a positive assessment (68.7%, 71.1%, and 67.3%, respectively). From those in their 50s 45.7% and 45.1% from those in their 60s and above gave a negative assessment. Of those who responded 69.2% to be of progressive mind rendered a positive assessment and only 20.1% a negative. The trend was reversed among the conservatives: 56.3% gave negative support while 37.4% positive support (Kyungin Ilbo, 2017). The majority of those who support the Justice Party gave a positive assessment (82.2%) along with 81.8% of those supporting the NPDCP. Of those supportive of the opposition party, the conservatives, 85.2% gave a negative assessment. A total of 45.2% of those supporting the second opposition party also gave negative approval. The Korean public gave a generous approval rate of 71% to Moon’s visit to America, as opposed to 55.8% to his China visit (Nocut News, 2017a). According to a different survey by the conservative media, 54.2% of the respondents did not think Moon’s visit was a humiliating one, while 27.9% thought it to be otherwise, and 17.9% responded that they were not sure. By their political preferences, the conservatives, the centrists, and the progressives denied it was humiliating diplomacy by 44.1%, 57.2%, and 67.6%, respectively. Those over 60 years of age were divided – 40.2% thought it was a humiliating experience as opposed to 38.7% who denied it (Dailian News, 2017). Soon after Moon’s first state visit to China in December 2017, a survey was conducted on the Korean populace views on the visit. They were asked if media reports on his visit were fair in the midst of surging criticism led by the major newspapers in Korea, who are considered as conservatives – 67.9% of the Korean public believed Moon did not receive fair treatment from the media as opposed to 20.9% who thought otherwise. Those in their 40s particularly stood out as 80.2% of them thought the media report to be unfair. Even those over 60s (52.9%) also sided with the youngsters (Nocut News, 2017b). On China threat perception China’s diplomatic assertiveness was felt in Korea early in 2003. A physical clash between the Chinese audience and the Korean public occurred during the Beijing Olympics torch relay ceremony in downtown Seoul. Seoul was the only place to have experienced such physical clashes and violence between the two nationalities during the worldwide event. Moreover, the Chinese government via the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed Chinese violent behaviour to be legitimate for the cause of protecting the “sacredness” of the torch (Jang, 2008).4 Another cause of tension has been the illegal fishing in Korean waters by Chinese fishing boats (Chen, 2008).5 The chase of these Chinese boats by the Korean coastguards often results in physical injuries and even death of Korean coastguardsmen. Since then, the Korean public’s perception of China as a threat has persistently remained.

98   Jaewoo Choo 8QLW

ͶͲ ͵ͷ ͵Ͳ ʹͷ ʹͲ ͳͷ ͳͲ














Figure 6.1  The perceived threat of China by political inclination.

Figure 6.1 demonstrates how Koreans, according to their respective political inclination, see China as a source of threat to their country’s interest over the years. Four patterns can be found from the survey results. First of all, there seems to be a strong correlation between the progressives and the centrists on their sense of the threat from China, except in one year in 2016. Second, there seems to be no parallel correlation between the conservatives and the progressives, proving that the threat perception by the two camps is not fixed but rather fluid. Their respective perception would vary according to their own definition of threat. Beginning in 2016, China’s explicit strong opposition to THAAD deployment and subsequent adoption of economic sanctions on Korean companies, for instance, were apparently perceived as a threat by the conservatives who were in favour of the deployment. On the contrary, progressives did not share the same sentiment with the conservatives as they opposed the deployment. Third, President Park Geun-­hye and Xi Jinping’s reciprocal visits have had an ameliorating effect on the South Korean public perception of China’s threat. Fourth, a strong divergence between the conservatives and the progressives took place beginning in 2007 and their perception gap widened to 6.3% in 2009. Over the years, there has been a repeated divergence and convergence of the perception of China as a threat between the conservatives and the progressives. While a big divergence of 7.2% was recorded in 2010, the progressives overtook the conservatives for the first time in 2011 and prevailed until 2015. In 2016, however, the former were replaced by the latter as the conservatives started to perceive China to be more of a threat because of the controversy over the THAAD issue.

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   99

South Korea’s general perception of China Feeling of closeness In 2016, a survey showed that the South Korean public did not feel close to China, with a mere 9.7% seeing it as the closest country, ranked in the third place behind North Korea, see Table 6.1 below. The United States came top with the public skewing at 73.8%. It was a drop for China from the previous year when it was ranked second. From 2007 to 2016, Koreans felt much closer to North Korea over China and even Japan until 2014. Korean public sentiment of closeness to China showed a steady decline between 2007 and 2010 and picking up slightly thereafter. It would not be until the start of President Park Geun-­hye’s era that the Koreans began to feel close to China. In 2014 when Chinese president, Xi Jinping, visited South Korea before visiting North Korea, breaking the traditional pattern in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader’s visit of the two Koreas, China gained much affinity from South Koreans, breaking the 10% threshold for the first time since 2007. By political preferences, 12.4% of the progressives felt close to China while a mere 7.6% of the conservatives shared the same sentiment, and 7.6% of the centrists. Koreans in general do not feel China as a friendly nation according to a survey by America’s Pew Research Center. Only 34% of the Korean population considers China to be a friendly nation, as opposed to 61% who does not agree. It was a dramatic shift from two years ago when 61% defined China as a friendly nation as opposed to 37% (KBS News, 2017). However, Korean public was compelled to lose the feeling of closeness to China when conflicts arose between the two countries. This was the case in particular when Beijing stood against Seoul on North Korea’s provocations, as happened in 2010 when the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong island occurred. China, in the end, demonstrated its alliance commitment to the North instead of sympathizing with South Korea’s losses, despite much evidence. Beginning in 2016, Beijing’s blackmail of Seoul on the deployment of Table 6.1  The country that feels the closest Unit % 2007










USA 53.3 60.7 68.3 70.7 68.8 65.9 76.1 74.9 78.3 73.9 Japan 11.6 9.4 8.6 9.5 9.1 6.8 5.1 4.3 3.9 5.2 North Korea 24.0 20.4 16.0 14.8 16.0 20.6 11.0 8.9 8.1 10.8 China 10.2 7.8 6.1 4.2 5.3 5.8 7.3 10.3 8.8 9.7 Russia 0.9 1.7 1.0 0.8 0.8 0.9 0.5 1.6 0.9 0.4 Total (N) 1,118 1,202 1,196 1,197 1,199 1,200 1,200 1,200 1,200 1,200 Source: Jung, Geunsik, et al. 2016 Unification Perception Survey, (Seoul: Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 2017), p. 133.

100   Jaewoo Choo THAAD was getting stronger. Its threat of sanctions demonstrated that Beijing was not on the same page with Seoul when it came to the latter’s national security interest against Pyongyang’s nuclear threat. China’s national image With the rise of China, Beijing’s influence has not been limited to only South Korean national politics, economics and culture. Their influence on the Korean Peninsula as a whole, and more broadly in East Asia, continues to grow as well. Since Xi Jinping came to power, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the “Belt and Road” strategy have been key elements in China’s bid to actively promote the construction of a regional economy that is centred on its own interests. What’s more, during the Sino-­US summit in 2013 China proposed its “New Great Power Relations” and has been actively seeking to build a Chinese-­centred order as an emergent global power. The image and attitude that South Koreans have towards China as well as the status of China has been changing for a long time. It is evident from the Unification Perception Survey that South Koreans perceive China differently from United States and Japan. The issue of how “South Koreans perceive China” needs to be judged carefully as it may be an important indicator both for the Korean Peninsula and for the perception of neighbouring countries. Korea’s image of China as a cooperative nation as opposed to a competitor and a hostile power has improved gradually over the years. China’s image as a cooperative power heightened during Park Geun-­hye’s era, culminating in 2014 when 34% of the Koreans concurred. China’s image as a competitor has had its own ups and downs, reaching its peak in 2007 (46.4%) and plunging to 38.2% the next year. It picked up again in 2009 (42%) and 2010 (45.1%), and then showed a steady decline for two consecutive years thereafter as shown in Table 6.2. Its image as a competitor reached its lowest point in 2014 (34.2%). In 2012, more than one-­third of the South Koreans felt that their country should be more cautious of China. It is clear from Table 6.2 that a plurality (39.4%) viewed China as having a “competitor” image, 30% viewed China as “cooperative”, and 27.6% viewed China as a state that South Korea needs to be “cautious” of. Only 2.9% of the respondents viewed China as an “enemy”. This shows that China’s image is complex and multifaceted, encompassing different perceived characteristics such as “cooperative”, “competitor” and “cautious”. In fact, the pattern of South Korean perception surrounding China was relatively fixed until 2011 – China was seen largely as a “competitor” and a state to be “cautious” of, while only about 20% of the respondents agreed on the “cooperative” image. However, since 2012, the perception of China as “cooperative” has consistently risen and as a result, the perception of it as either “competitor” or a state to be “cautious” of has fallen. In 2016, perception of China as “cooperative” fell by 3.9%, from 33.9% in 2015 to 30.0%, and the “cautious” image increased 3.4%, from 24.2% to 27.6%. Feelings of closeness had also increased and the perceived

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   101 Table 6.2  Country image of China Unit % 2007










Cooperative 19.3 23.7 21.1 19.7 20.5 22.4 28.5 34.0 33.9 30.1 Competitor 46.4 38.3 42.0 45.1 40.2 36.9 43.9 34.3 39.9 39.4 Cautious 31.0 32.9 33.3 31.8 34.9 35.3 24.5 29.5 24.2 27.6 Hostile Power 3.3 5.1 3.6 3.4 4.4 5.4 3.1 2.2 2.0 2.9 Total (N) 1,197 1,209 1,203 1,200 1,201 1,200 1,200 1,199 1,200 1,200 Source: Jung, Geunsik, et al. 2016 Unification Perception Survey, (Seoul: Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 2017), p. 162.

threat had decreased, this trend is expected to continue going forward. It is possible that during the last 1–2 years the North Korea nuclear issue has been reflected in the “cooperative” image decreasing (34.0% in 2014, 33.9% in 2015, 30% in 2016) and in the increase in the “cautious” response (24.2% in 2015, 27.6% in 2016). China’s alliance question on Korean contingency South Koreans believe that as China helps North Korea in times of emergencies for their own benefit, they would also actively participate if a problem arose on the Korean Peninsula. As Table 6.3 indicates, 46% of South Koreans responded that in the event of an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula, China would help North Korea, which was followed by 42.9% who responded that China would look after their own interests as the second highest response. This is in contrast to the lowest response that China would help South Korea with only Table 6.3  Attitude towards China, the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula Unit % 2007 Help South    Korea Help North    Korea Look after   their own interest Stay neutral Total (N)








































11.5 13.0 7.7 3.8 3.8 2.8 5.6 5.9 4.5 5.9 1,200 1,212 1,200 1,200 1,201 1,201 1,200 1,201 1,200 1,200

Source: Jung, Geunsik, et al. 2016 Unification Perception Survey, (Seoul: Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 2017), p. 163.

102   Jaewoo Choo 5.3% answering as such. In other words, most South Koreans believe that China would actively intervene if there was an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula. The response that China would help North Korea decreased over the three years after 2011, and for the past two years did not increase. This indicates that South Koreans still hold the view that China can be North Korea’s protector in an armed conflict, and play an important role in the event of an emergency situation. South Koreans’ expectation on China’s role in unification When asked if China’s cooperation was needed for unification, 82.8% responded positively in 2016. The South Korean public perception (required and desired) as shown in Table 6.4 has remained consistent at more than 80% since 2008. One notable trend is that when Korea’s relations with China were perceived to be friendly, as in 2008 or 2015 and thereafter, the aftermath had a positive effect, as there was less people who regarded China’s cooperation as a prerequisite for unification. Japanese cooperation was also perceived to be vital for unification, as more than 70% of South Koreans agreed on this point from 2008 to 2011. However, the public showed disagreement in 2015 (60.4%) and 2016 (58.4%). It is noteworthy that in the same time period, the percentage number who responded that Japan’s cooperation is not needed for unification gradually increased from 20.7% in 2009 to 41.6% in 2016. It can also be seen that the majority of South Koreans believe that Russia’s cooperation for unification is important, even though the percentage number in 2016 had decreased from the previous year, i.e. 65.4% to 60.3%. Overall, the South Korean people understand that in order for unification to occur, cooperation from the United States is the most needed and that, further, China’s cooperation is more vital as compared to Japan. As demonstrated in Table 6.5, the response rate for the required cooperation of the neighbouring countries when ranked from highest to lowest in 2016 is as follows: the United States; China; Russia; Japan, and the same order occurs when given the average response rate over the time period between 2008 and 2016. Among the Table 6.4  China’s cooperation needed for unification Unit %

Required Desired Not desired Not needed










25.3 55.4 15.2 4.1

29.7 53.6 13.3 3.4

36.4 52.5 9.5 1.6

43.2 41.5 11.4 3.9

31.4 48.7 15.3 4.6

34.7 49.7 13.0 2.6

35.5 53.0 9.6 1.9

30.7 51.3 15.7 2.3

28.1 54.7 15.0 2.2

Source: Jung, Geunsik, et al. 2016 Unification Perception Survey, (Seoul: Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 2017), p. 168.

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   103 Table 6.5  Cooperation required from neighbouring countries for unification Unit %

USA Japan China Russia







Not needed

Not needed

91.7 58.4 82.8 60.3

92.0 68.5 84.0 69.7

  8.3 41.6 17.2 39.7

  8.0 31.5 16.0 30.3

Source: Jung, Geunsik, et al. 2016 Unification Perception Survey, (Seoul: Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, 2017), p. 169.

n­ eighbouring country’s rankings for whose support is not needed, the average between 2008 and 2016 is: Japan; Russia; China; the United States. Russia began to receive more attention as a vital factor in the unification cause as the Korean government started to emphasize the importance of economic cooperation with Russia as a means to unification. The Park Geun-­hye government presented the New Eurasia Initiative policy and the incumbent Moon Jae-­in’s government the Northern Policy. Both policies have connected inter-­Korean economic cooperation to the development of Russia’s Far Eastern region.

Conclusion The public impact, regardless of how much South Korean politics is divided by political preferences, is only reflected in government policy when two important determinants are met: one is the president and his affiliated party and the other is the number of seats that the president’s party takes in the National Assembly. Under these conditions, public opinion would be taken into account during policy decision-­making process. Should the public disagree with the executive office and the legislature, the president is often empowered to override public opinion through persuasion, explanation, and other means alike, as has been the case with the deployment of THAAD. On other occasions, government policy has usually remained in line with public support. The dynamics between the public and the government, including the legislature, has been effective since the merge of progressives in the twenty-­first century. Hence, South Korea’s China policy has also been driven on the public basis as well as the party’s ideology. When the progressives take the leadership, South Korea shows a great propensity to leaning towards China over the United States. An opposite tendency is displayed by the conservatives when they assume the leadership of the country. However, the case of President Park Geun-­ hye is an exception. She showed a higher degree of closeness towards Beijing and tried her best to balance the country’s stance between the United States and

104   Jaewoo Choo China. Sometimes her approach also raised concerns in the United States (Kim & Cha, 2016). South Korea’s China policy is therefore heavily influenced by who, and what party, rules the country. Since there is a strong dichotomy of ideology prevailing between the ruling and the opposition parties and they remain uncompromising on foreign policy issues, the incumbent leadership and the party will determine the outcomes of foreign policy. When the conservatives are in power, pro-­US, hard-­line North Korean policy and balancing China policy are expected. When the progressives seize the leadership, a contrary foreign policy can be expected: an emphasis on rapprochement to North Korea, a pro-­China approach, and a more balanced U.S. policy. More often than not the government’s policy is in support of public opinion and there is little chance that it will be swayed to the opposite direction and outcomes.

Notes 1 Even under the progressive regime in 2006, a public survey showed that 52% of the Korean public agreed that it was too early for Korea to take over “wartime operational authority”. Fifty-­two per cent of the Korean populace think handover of “wartime operational control” too early, Nocut News, 11 August, 2006. 2 So-­called Korean elites in Korean politics can be categorized into state officials, politicians, business owners, and professional managers (see Kim, 2007). Of these different types this chapter focuses on politicians as legislators because it fits the purpose of study. 3 THAAD deployment, 49.4% in favour vs. 42.3% against … varies according to their party affiliation, 13 February, 2016. 4 In the Chinese version of the Chinese spokeswomen statement from 29 April, 2008 regular press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, legitimatizing of the Chinese violent behaviour in Seoul by the Chinese government was not read (Jang, 2008). However, in a report by a Korean press, the Chinese spokeswomen’s legitimization was quoted. The Korean reporter was present at the press conference and the question on the Chinese government’s position on the incident was raised by a reporter from BBC. 5 Over a four-year period (2004–2008), 2000 Chinese illegal fishing boats were retained by the Korean Coast Guards.

References Chae, H. & Kim, S. (2008). Conservatives and progressives in South Korea. Washington Quarterly, 31(4), 77–95. Chen, S. (2008). China acts in water disputes. BBC News, 17 October. Council on Foreign Relations. (2018). The Sunni and Shia divide. sunni-­shia-divide#!/sunni-­shia-divide Dailian News. (2017). Moon’s China visit, “humiliating diplomacy negative” 54.7%. 20 December. Hahm, C.B. (2005). The two South Koreas: A house divided. The Washington Quarterly, 28(3), 57–72. Jang, S.J. (2008). China’s double measuring of violence. JoongAng Ilbo, 1 May.

Conservatives and progressives’ stance on China   105 KBS News. (2017). Koreans, 61% feel non-­friendly towards China, 34% feeling friendliness, Worsening compared to two years ago. 14 July. Kim, E. & Cha, V. (2016). Between a rock and a hard place: South Korea’s strategic dilemmas with China and the United States. Asia Policy, 21(1), 101–121. Kim, J. (1989). Recent anti-­Amer­icanism in South Korea: The causes. Asian Survey, 29(8), 749–763. Kim, Y.T. (2007). Korean elites: Social networks and power. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 37(1), 19–37. Koh, Y.B. (1981) The Korean nationalism and its leading force. Korea Journal, 2(1), 4–11. Kyungin Ilbo. (2017). President Moon’s China visit positive 55.8% vs. negative 33.7% (Realmeter public survey), 18 December. Lee, K. (1986). The rise of nationalism in Korea. Korean Studies, 10(1), 1–12. Moore, J. (2015). The Sunni and Shia schism: Religion, Islamic politics, and why Amer­ icans need to know the differences. The Social Studies, 106(5), 226–235. Newswire. (2017). Hyundai Economic Research Institute releases recent expert survey on inter-­Korean issues. 29 June. NEWSIS. (2016). Of all members, only 5 favored THAAD deployment. 17 August. Newstomato. (2017). 83% of people, Moon’s U.S. visit to help Korean national interest. 10 July. Nocut News. (2006). 52% of the Korean populace think handover of “wartime operational control” too early. 11 August, 2006. Nocut News. (2015). First survey on the legislators on unification, “unification through absorption” 64%. 13 August, 2015. Nocut News. (2017a). (Public Opinion) Moon’s China visit, “beneficial to national interest” 55.8% vs. “humiliating diplomacy” 33.7%. 18 December, 2017. Nocut News. (2017b). Realmeter: Moon’s approval rate stops dropping but offset…. “China visit receives unfair reports” 67.9%. 21 December. Shin, G.W. (1995). Marxism, anti-­Amer­icanism, and democracy in South Korea: An examination of nationalist intellectual discourse. Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 3(2), 510–536. Steinberg, D.I. & Shin, M. (2006). Tensions in South Korean political parties in transition: from entourage to ideology? Asian Survey, 46(4), 517–537. Yonhap News Agency. (2016). THAAD deployment, 49.4% in favor vs. 42.3% in oppose … varies according to their party affiliation. 13 February. Yonhap News Agency. (2017). THAAD favored by 57%, opposed 27%…. Following Moon’s U.S. visit, 4% increase (Gallup). 7 July.

7 United we stand? South Korea–China economic relations and the political (non-)divide Ramon Pacheco Pardo

Introduction There is an ongoing debate regarding the extent to which there is a real political divide in South Korea affecting the country’s foreign policy (Han, 2017). Proponents of the ‘political divide’ thesis argue that progressives and conservatives are pitched against each other and hold different views on foreign policy matters. As the editors of this volume explain in the first chapter, this divide is generally assumed to split progressives and conservatives on two key issues: the importance of South Korea’s alliance with the U.S. and an alleged security–economic relations paradox with China. But what if the divide in terms of South Korea’s policy towards China is minimal at best and perhaps even non-­existent? Structural explanations of foreign policymaking would assume that given the material reality of Sino-­South Korean relations, Seoul would have no choice but to accommodate Beijing’s rise. In other words, since China is South Korea’s next-­door neighbour, its largest trading partner, and has become the greatest power in East Asia (U.S. aside), then Seoul would be wise not to balance against Beijing. Instead, it should try to hedge and maintain a neutral position between its close ally, the U.S., and its close neighbour, China. This approach would give no role for any domestic divide that might affect South Korean politics. Yet, this volume argues and shows that domestic politics matter. In Chapter 1, the editors explain that material factors are insufficient to explain South Korea’s foreign policy. It is necessary to take an inside-­out perspective and understand the beliefs, traditions, and narratives propelling foreign policy agents to behave in a particular way. In other words, agency matters. Thus, it is necessary to analyse the domestic politics of South Korea to understand its foreign policy. Otherwise we will only have a partial understanding of Seoul’s foreign policy decisions. However, domestic politics on a particular issue might be marked by consensus rather than disagreement. Take the example of South Korea’s role as a middle power. As extant literature shows, both progressive and conservative governments dating back to at least the Roh Moo-­hyun government agree that South Korea is a middle power whose foreign policy should look beyond the

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   107 North Korean nuclear issue and the region of East Asia (Emmers & Teo, 2015; Park, 2015; Kim, 2016; Shin, 2016). Another example is regional security cooperation. Both conservatives and progressives support it. It is therefore not surprising that the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) launched by the Park Geun-­hye government looks very similar to the Northeast Asia Plus Community of Responsibility (NAPCR) of the Moon Jae-­in government. This is not ­necessarily – or only – the result of material constraints. Rather, both progressives and conservatives believe in South Korea’s middle-­ powerness and think that regional cooperation with South Korea at the centre is an expression of it (Kim, 2016; Shin, 2016). The case of South Korea’s economic policy towards China is similar. The structure of their relationship is helpful to explain why there is no divide between progressives and conservatives in terms of the way that Seoul should approach economic relations with Beijing. Indeed, both progressives and conservatives are supportive of stronger trade and investment links. Furthermore, both have backed Chinese-­led initiatives that elsewhere have sometimes proved divisive, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). South Korea’s accommodation of China’s (economic) rise can be explained by a shared belief about how to guarantee the country’s economic security through stronger economic links with as many partners as possible; leading to a narrative to which the progressive and conservative traditions alike ascribe – that of South Korea as a free-­trading nation. In this chapter, I will first explain the beliefs and narratives that underpin the self-­perception of South Korea as a free-­trading nation. I will then examine the agents putting this interpretation into practice. This will be followed by an analysis of South Korea’s economic policy towards China since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1992. A concluding section will summarize the key arguments.

Beliefs and narratives: South Korea as a free-­trading nation The interpretative approach underpinning this volume tells us that non-­material factors matter. Taking a step back and taking a cue from constructivism, the way or ways a country perceives itself and in relation to others determine its identity at a given point (Wendt, 1999). This identity then shapes the beliefs and narratives that inform a country’s foreign policy behaviour. Therefore, by understanding a country’s self-­perception and cognate identity, we can then explain why certain beliefs and narratives are formed. South Korea, like all other foreign policy actors, has multiple identities. Extant literature, however, strongly suggests that there are two salient features in the way contemporary South Korea identifies itself as a foreign policy actor. To begin with, South Korea sees itself as a free-­trading nation (Heo & Roehrig, 2014; Park, 2015; Robertson, 2016). South Korean policymakers, bureaucrats, businesspeople, and other elites consider that a key feature of their country’s identity is that it was forged and can only prosper through free trade (Robertson,

108   Ramon Pacheco Pardo 2016; Hwang, 2017). This is understandable when considering that South Korea is small in size and small in population when compared to its neighbours China and Japan. Thus, this self-­perception has emerged not only due to the material reality that South Korea is geographically small, but also to the relational reality that the country’s population – and in terms of economics, potential market – is over 20 times lower than China’s and less than half of Japan’s. In addition and equally relevant, South Korea’s other significant self-­ perception is that of a middle power (Heo & Roehrig, 2014; Park, 2015; Kim, 2016; Robertson, 2016). This concept was first applied to Western countries such as Australia, Canada, or Sweden. From the early 2000s onwards, consensus has grown in South Korea that it is one such power as well. Existing research suggests that South Korea’s perception of itself as a middle power is related to two factors. The first is the fact that South Korean military, diplomatic, economic, human, and other resources are smaller than those of great powers such as the U.S. or China (Kim, 2016; Robertson, 2016; Shin, 2016). The second factor is that East Asia is home to the two aforementioned great powers, which are the real shapers of the region’s geopolitics (Heo & Roehrig, 2014; Kim, 2016; Robertson, 2016). In other words, South Korea’s self-­perception as a middle power stems from its relative power in comparison to the U.S. and China and the fact that both are present in the country’s same region. Beliefs Based on the way South Korea perceives itself, we can understand the beliefs that underpin the country’s narratives. Building on the notion that contemporary South Korea is a free-­trading nation, there is a belief that its economic growth is dependent on trade in general and exports in particular (Chiang, 2017). Put another way, South Korea needs to export goods and services to the rest of the world to have the growth on which job creation depends (ibid.). That is, the country’s economic security is contingent on trade rather than consumption or investment, for example. From this follows the belief that South Korea’s economic security is best served by an open trading system (Robertson, 2016; Chiang, 2017). This, of course, is related to liberalism and its proposition that economic openness is beneficial to one’s own economy even if other countries follow economic nationalism and engage in mercantilist practices. Certainly, South Korea’s economic development and contemporary economic policy mixes openness and protectionism (Amsden, 1992; Chiang, 2017). But the belief that trade and exports are the driver of economic growth has led to the belief that an open trading system best serves the country’s interests. Meanwhile, the self-­perception that South Koreans have of their own country being a middle power has led to two interrelated beliefs. The first belief is that South Korea’s behaviour is at least affected, if not shaped, by greater powers (Kim, 2016; Robertson, 2016). This means that there are structural limitations to South Korean agency that the country cannot – and should not – avoid. This is

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   109 the proverbial “shrimp among whales” dilemma that Korea first and South Korea now suffers from (Robertson, 2016; Shin, 2016). In other words, (South) Korea is a small shrimp that has to learn how to live among big whales to guarantee its survival – the U.S. and China today, China and Japan in the past. Part of this learning involves having strong trade links with as many countries as possible to avoid overdependence on a single whale. Related to this belief is another one. Namely, that South Korea has to diversify its foreign policy links. The country cannot afford to bandwagon with one great power or balance another one because it will be crushed (Heo & Roehring, 2014). When Korea bandwagoned with China in the late nineteenth century, it was colonised by Japan. When North Korea and South Korea sided with the Soviet Union and the U.S., respectively, the result was the partition of the country into two (Cumings, 2005). Contemporary South Korea believes that its interests are best served by having the widest possible range of diplomatic and economic links. This includes the strongest possible trade links with the largest number of countries available. Narratives Narratives are informed by beliefs. South Korea’s belief that it is a free-­trading nation, reinforced by the belief that it is a middle power that benefits from diversified trade links, has led to a contemporary foreign policy narrative shared by progressives and conservatives: making free trade central to the country’s foreign policy (Heo & Roehrig, 2014; Hwang, 2017). Thus, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs became the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) between 1998–2013; that is, during the progressive governments of Kim Dae-­ jung and Roh Moo-­hyun and the conservative government of Lee Myung-­bak. This symbolized that trade was linked to the country’s economic security. The prioritization of trade as a foreign policy tool came at a time when the country’s independent economic survival was at stake. South Korea had just gone through its worst economic crisis in decades – the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) of 1997 that led to thousands of companies going bankrupt and massive job losses (Cumings, 2005). South Korea recovered from the crisis very quickly, thanks to a large extent to an increase in exports to the U.S. and Europe. But it also did so thanks to China’s behaviour, since Beijing did not engage in any actions that could have made South Korean exports less competitive (Jiang, 2010). This is to say that the belief that South Korea is a free-­trading nation and concomitant narrative of unfaltering support for free trade is related to the country’s experience during the AFC. This experience was a key reason why South Korea became enthusiastic about bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTA) and cooperation initiatives such as the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI). Policymakers and businesspeople alike thought that the country had become too dependent on speculative foreign capital from a small number of Western sources. They also thought that  the country’s exports markets were too concentrated (Higgott, 1998). In

110   Ramon Pacheco Pardo p­ articular, they concentrated on the biggest economies in the world and Asia-­ Pacific countries. The free trade narrative purported that diversified free trade was a key element of South Korea’s foreign policy. Almost at the same time, it became clear that the Doha Round of trade negotiations had stalled (Martin & Messerlin, 2007). South Korea had been supportive of the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), since it provided Seoul with a venue to level the playing field in the area of trade. The failure of the Doha Round informed South Korea’s decision to move towards bilateral trade agreements. Previously, South Korean governments had been reluctant to move away from multilateralism because they thought that their country would lose out when compared to making use of the WTO. But this idea changed after the country launched negotiations of the Chile and ASEAN FTAs – the first two signed by South Korea along with the agreement with Singapore (Moon, 2007). By the mid-­2000s, South Korea had established a narrative of seeking bilateral trade agreements with a host of countries as a central component of its foreign policy strategy.

Agents of South Korea trade and foreign economic policy and the political (non-)divide Six groups have substantial influence over South Korea’s decision making in the area of trade and foreign economic policy: the president and its cabinet, the bureaucracy or trade unit part of MOFAT (1998–2013) first and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) later (2013 onwards), political parties, export-­ oriented industries, protectionist industries, and, to an extent, trade unions and other civil society organisations. Generally, the first four agents share the belief that trade supports South Korea’s economic growth and security. The last two agents are more cautious but, crucially, are not fully opposed to trade and openness. President South Korea has a presidential system in which the president yields substantial power over most matters including foreign policy. The power held by the president has led some scholars to label South Korea an “imperial” presidential system (Snyder, 2018). In the area of foreign economic policy, both progressive and conservative governments alike have supported South Korea’s integration in regional trade agreements and other economic initiatives dating back to the AFC. Kim Dae-­jung consolidated different trade units into a single one located in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when he became president in 1998, thus creating MOFAT. The structure was maintained by Roh Moo-­hyun and Lee Myung-­bak, showing the centrality of trade for South Korean foreign policy for these three presidents (Yoshimatsu, 2012; Koo & Hong, 2014; Choi & Oh, 2017; Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, 2018c). Park Geun-­hye transferred the trade unit to MOTIE upon becoming president, and Moon Jae-­in has maintained this structure. This signalled a shift in the

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   111 p­ resident’s support for free trade. MOTIE, as the name indicates, brings together trade and industry instead of trade and foreign policy (Choi & Oh, 2017). In other words, Park and Moon have linked trade to South Korean industrial policy. However, this does not mean that the belief in the benefits of free trade for the country has been significantly affected. Rather, it signals that Park (and Moon) qualify support for trade and are more cautious in their approach (ibid.). Indeed, in terms of quantity it can be said that Park was, if not more, supportive of free trade than her predecessors. South Korea signed nine FTAs in the 1998–2013 period and six during the Park government. However, those signed under Park opened fewer sectors of the economy than previous ones did (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, 2018a). Plus, Park and Moon have so far refused to join the Trans-­Pacific Partnership (TPP). It can thus be argued that from 1998 onwards South Korean presidents have shared their belief that trade is beneficial for South Korea, but there has been a turn towards more caution from 2013 onwards. To a large extent, this caution seems to have been the result of South Korea having already signed FTAs with the EU and the U.S. by then, as well as having already launched negotiations with China in 2012. Having the three biggest economies in the world covered by FTAs reduced the urgency of signing new FTAs. Meanwhile, all presidents dating back to at least Roh Moo-­hyun have shared the belief that South Korea is a middle power with foreign policy interests beyond the narrow focus on North Korea that sometimes is attributed to Seoul (Kim, 2016). In the area of foreign economic policy, this has translated into support for a rule-­based international order and multilateralism. Therefore, South Korea remains supportive of the WTO. Seoul also backs financial safety institutions and initiatives such as the G20, Bank for International Settlements and Basel III accord or World Bank (Pacheco Pardo, 2018). South Korea even became the first non-­Western country to host a G20 summit under Lee Myung-­ bak, and has acted as a responsible stakeholder in these institutions (ibid.). Aware of the limits of global governance, however, South Korean presidents’ belief in their country’s middle power has led them to support bilateral and, especially, regional initiatives. On the latter, Seoul has backed the CMI in 2000 and subsequent multilateralization (CMIM) in 2010, the ASEAN + 3 Macroeconomic Research Office launched in 2012 (AMRO) or the Asia Region Funds Passport under discussion (Pitakdumrongkit, 2015; Pacheco Pardo, 2018). South Korean presidents believe that Seoul can shape these initiatives thanks to the role of “honest broker” that a middle power can play. Trade unit South Korea’s Minister for Trade, as it is currently called, heads the country’s trade unit and holds trade negotiation authority. The minister reports to MOTIE (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, 2018b).This means that formally the Minister of Trade and its unit holds a similar position as it did when it was part of MOFAT and reported to the minister. The trade unit has consistently held the

112   Ramon Pacheco Pardo belief that free trade is beneficial for South Korea. This belief holds regardless of the location of the unit, whether MOFAT or MOTIE. The main reason is South Korea’s relatively small size (Koo & Hong, 2014; Choi & Oh, 2017; Kim, 2016). In terms of population, the country is only the 14th largest in Asia. As for the size of its economy, South Korea lags behind the big three: the EU, the U.S., and China. It is also smaller than Japan or ASEAN. This means that there are limits to the extent that domestic consumption can drive economic growth in South Korea. Seoul’s trade unit is aware of this, thus its positive attitude towards trade. This has survived the move from MOFAT to MOTIE (Koo & Hong, 2014; Choi & Oh, 2017). The trade unit has also seen a shift in terms of geographical focus. Until the early 2000s, Amer­icanists had the upper hand in MOFAT. This is a group that believes that the U.S. and its alliance with South Korea should be the cornerstone of Seoul’s foreign policy. They helped to drive South Korea’s FTA with the U.S., signed in 2007 after only a year of negotiations (Asia Regional Integration Center, 2018a). Throughout the 2000s, however, Sinologists started to become more powerful in MOFAT. They advocated a rebalancing of South Korean foreign policy focus towards China. This group did not seek the end to the US–South Korea alliance or bandwagoning with China, but it thought that Seoul should hedge Beijing and Washington – including within the area of foreign economic policymaking. The group suggested an FTA with China as a way of doing so, and negotiations were launched in 2012 (Park, 2015; Ye, 2017). The growing power of Sinologists survived the transfer of the trade unit to MOTIE. Political parties South Korea’s National Assembly has a relatively limited role in foreign economic policy. It has the power to ratify, ask for amendments or reject FTAs (Lee, 2018). But it has a limited role to play in the negotiation or actual implementation process, other than the power to withhold the budget for a particular initiative (ibid.). This means that South Korean political parties have limited influence over foreign economic policymaking. South Korean political parties are divided between a conservative and a progressive bloc. Given their limited role in foreign economic policymaking, this would imply that the views of South Korean citizens are not represented in this area. However, both conservative and progressive political parties share the belief that trade is necessary for South Korea to prosper and be safe (Koo, 2010; Han, 2017; Park, 2017). In other words, there is not a big gap between the two blocs. As a result, South Korean citizens who want to influence foreign economic policy do not do so through political parties. Export-­oriented industries South Korea is generally considered an export-­oriented country with an economy driven by exports of intermediate and finished goods. The result is a strong lobby group that believes that open trade is crucial to the country’s economic success.

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   113 Chaebols such as Samsung, LG or Hyundai, high-­tech industries such as robotics or semiconductors, and services such as finance and banking are supportive of trade and openness. Their core argument is that a modern, developed economy such as South Korea’s cannot maintain high rates of economic growth without becoming more integrated in trade and investment flows (Koo, 2010; Ye, 2017). They are also unafraid of competition and argue that openness is beneficial for South Korean companies that have to become more competitive and consumers who have greater choice (Park, 2017). In short, they make the liberal argument for free trade and openness. This group has had a relatively big impact in South Korea’s foreign economic policy thanks to the links between chaebols, the president and government, and ministry bureaucrats (Amsden, 1992; Thurbon, 2016). Protectionist industries South Korea is home to a range of industries that traditionally have benefited from protectionism through tariffs, subsidies, government loans, etc. They include heavy chemical industrial sectors, such as shipbuilding and petrochemicals, and agriculture (Koo, 2010; Choi & Oh, 2017). These sectors are generally reluctant to believe that unregulated free trade is beneficial for them. Thus, they do not necessarily identify with the view that South Korea is a free-­trading nation. Their influence over foreign economic policy increased when the trade unit in charge of FTA negotiation moved from MOFAT to MOTIE (Choi & Oh, 2017). Having said that, this group generally has not been opposed to trade per se, but rather to the removal of tariffs and other protectionist measures that could have a negative impact on them. Trade unions South Korean trade unions and other civil society groups such as agricultural associations are relatively weak in terms of their influence over policymaking (Lee, 2011). This includes foreign economic policy. At the risk of generalising, these groups do not share the belief that trade is a precondition for South Korea’s economic growth and security. They think that state intervention and a degree of protectionism is beneficial for the South Korean economy. The power of these groups to influence foreign economic policy received a boost with MOTIE (Choi & Oh, 2017). The Moon government also seems keener in getting civil society more involved in policymaking in general. But this group still lacks the resources and connections that others do in order to influence foreign policymaking. In summary, the president and the trade (negotiation) unit are the dominant agents in the trade and foreign economic policymaking of South Korea. Dating back to at least 1998, both agents have shared a pro-­free trade agenda. Meanwhile, political parties and export-­oriented industries share this agenda. They play an important role in supporting the two dominant agents. Protectionist industries do play a role in shaping South Korea’s trade and foreign economic policy, but this agent is generally not opposed to trade agreements per se. Meanwhile, trade unions

114   Ramon Pacheco Pardo that could be opposed to a more liberal trade and foreign economic policy lack the necessary resources to have a strong impact on it.

The non-­paradox: continuity in trade and economic policy towards China South Korea’s continuity in its trade and economic policy towards China can therefore be explained through the narrative that the agents with influence in the country’s foreign economic policymaking process ascribe to. This narrative is that free trade is central to South Korean foreign policy. The narrative builds on the belief that economic growth and economic security are linked to trade. This belief is shared by most agents involved in foreign economic policymaking in South Korea: the president, the trade unit, political parties, and export-­oriented industries. Crucially, it is not fundamentally opposed by the remaining bodies with a say on foreign economic policymaking: protectionist industries and trade unions. The narrative also builds on a second belief: South Korea’s behaviour is affected by great powers and South Korea needs to diversify its foreign policy links. Both the president and the trade unit agree on this. In terms of trade and economic policy towards China, there are four major policies linked to this narrative that show that there is no political divide in South Korea in this area: signing of bilateral investment and trade agreements, development of a bilateral and regional financial safety net, support for renminbi (RMB) internationalization, and support for Chinese multilateral economic initiatives. Together, these four policies indicate that conservative and progressive governments alike support deeper economic integration with China. They also show that a wide range of agents is behind this approach to economic relations with the South Korean neighbour. That is, there is a consensus in South Korea that there is no paradox in seeking closer economic links with China while maintaining the security alliance with the U.S. As a free-­trading nation but also a middle power, South Korea has no option but to strengthen its economic relationship with China and should hedge Beijing and Washington. Signing of bilateral investment and trade agreements South Korea quickly saw the advantage of facilitating bilateral economic links with China. The two countries signed their first bilateral investment treaty (BIT) in 1992 (UNCTAD, 2016a), shortly after their normalization of diplomatic relations. Considering that investment provisions are largely absent from the multilateral trade regime, it was sensible for Seoul to seek a BIT. The treaty would be replaced by a more comprehensive BIT signed in 2007 which updated the by then 15-year-­old agreement (UNCTAD, 2016b). There was already a proposal for a bilateral FTA by then, so it made sense to update the BIT as a goodwill gesture. FTA negotiations dragged on until 2015, when the bilateral trade agreement and corresponding BIT were signed and entered into force on the same date (Asia Regional Integration Center, 2018b).

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   115 Progressive and conservative presidents, the trade unit, political parties, and export-­oriented industries have all been supportive of bilateral investment and trade agreements with China (Park, 2015; Chiang, 2017; Choi, 2017). Even protectionist industries and trade unions have not been staunchly opposed to them, aware of the extent to which South Korea’s largest trading partner and ninth largest investor plays an important role in the country’s economy. Having said that, these two groups did have an impact on the FTA, which retained tariff and other restrictions to trade not included in the FTAs with the other big two economies, the EU and U.S. (Schott et al., 2015; Chiang, 2017). That is, there is broad agreement that bilateral investment and trade agreements with China are beneficial for South Korea. There are two main reasons behind this policy. To begin with, a bilateral FTA confers a comparative advantage to the countries that have signed it. Considering that the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations is not moving forward, bilateral FTAs are a tool for countries to support their exporters. Even the EU and the U.S. (at least before the election of president Donald Trump) have moved towards bilateral FTAs and abandoned their traditional support for multilateral trade (Horn et al., 2010). Certainly, there is political signalling behind this support. But more generally there is the economic self-­interest that underpins the decision to sign a bilateral FTA. In addition, the FTA with China was part of a South Korean strategy since the AFC and the stalling of the Doha Round to sign bilateral FTAs with its largest trading partners. Thus, as of 2018, eight of South Korea’s top ten trading partners have FTAs with Seoul (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, 2018a). The only exceptions are Japan, with which political sensitivities have prevented an FTA in spite of ongoing negotiations, and Taiwan, constrained by its diplomatic problems with China. Seoul has sought to send a political and economic signal that trade relations with its largest partners should be prioritised. This also explains why FTAs with the EU and the U.S. are next generation agreements, meaning that they go beyond tariffs removal and also include areas such as ­services, procurement, or dispute-­settlement. Development of a bilateral and regional financial safety net The AFC showed South Korean elites that the economic situation of their country could rapidly deteriorate due to a sudden capital flight. It also made clear the interconnectedness between East Asian economies, for a crisis originating in Thailand quickly spread to the rest of the region. The response by Seoul was to develop its own financial safety net to prevent and resolve any future financial crisis. Most notably, South Korea built up significant forex reserves to be deployed in case of a new crisis. Seoul also became a staunch supporter of ASEAN + 3 initiatives to build a regional financial safety net, most notably through the CMI (Pacheco Pardo, 2018). The 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) showed the inadequacy of the existing regional safety net. South Korea and Australia were the only two developed economies to avoid a recession

116   Ramon Pacheco Pardo during the GFC; but in the case of the former, this was largely thanks to the use of its forex reserves and the activation of a bilateral swap arrangement with the U.S. Federal Reserve (ibid.). Following the start of the GFC, South Korea signed a bilateral swap arrangement with China in 2008 (Xin & Li, 2008) and supported the creation of CMIM and AMRO, where China plays a very significant role. Both Presidents Lee and Park supported the strengthening of ties with China to develop a bilateral and regional financial safety net. The trade unit was supportive as well, even though it played a small role in this area. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Korea were the bureaucracies involved in strengthening South Korea’s safety net instead (Okabe, 2014; Pitakdumrongkit 2015). Export-­ oriented industries were also supportive of the development of a financial safety net, given the capital shortages that they could suffer if another crisis hit the country. Financial firms wary of financial stability were particularly active in this regard (Okabe, 2014; Pitakdumrongkit, 2015). In contrast, there was no significant opposition to the development of this financial safety net. There were two main reasons behind the development of a bilateral and regional safety net together with China. Above all, South Korea, in common with other East Asian countries, still has vivid memories of the AFC. It is no exaggeration to say that avoidance of a new AFC has been the main driving force behind the economic policy of most countries across the region for over two decades. This explains why self-­insurance in the form of forex reserve accumulation has become common across the region even if this limits the amount governments can invest in their own economy under normal conditions (Pacheco Pardo & Rana, 2015). A bilateral and regional safety net strengthens economic security and supports economic growth when a crisis could bring it to a halt. South Korean governments since the AFC have ascribed to this view. Furthermore, a bilateral safety net with China allows South Korea to diversify its links and reduce dependence on a single great power. In this particular area, South Korea’s activation of the bilateral swap arrangement with the U.S. held a lesson: Seoul was dependent on the goodwill of the biggest financial player in the world for its own financial security. Becoming the first country to sign a swap arrangement with China, after the GFC began, serves Seoul’s diversification efforts. More so as a growing share of bilateral trade between the two Asian countries is denominated in RMB, which is therefore becoming an increasingly important currency for South Korea’s trade. Support for RMB internationalization Following the GFC, Beijing started to develop and implement a strategy to support and promote RMB internationalization (Pacheco Pardo et al., 2018). A key component of this strategy has been the establishment of offshore RMB centres where clearing banks can process payments in the Chinese currency. This facilitates trade by allowing domestic companies to trade in RMB without the need to hold an account in China. Seoul became only the seventh centre in 2014 (Suk, 2014), and the first outside of China itself not to be located in a

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   117 global financial centre. Furthermore, Beijing also sought inclusion of the RMB in the IMF ’s Special Drawing Rights basket. The inclusion took place in 2016, with the RMB becoming only the fifth currency in the basket and the first to be included since the euro in 1999. Seoul was supportive of its inclusion since Beijing started a diplomatic process to this end in the early 2010s (Chey, 2015). China has also sought for foreign countries to diversify their forex reserve holdings and include RMB in their mix. The Bank of Korea already indicated its intention to reduce U.S. dollar holdings in favour of RMB in 2011 (Song & Cookson, 2011). In short, South Korea has been supportive of RMB internationalization from the onset of the Chinese strategy in this area. Presidents Lee and Park were keen on having South Korea support RMB internationalization. They were key in this respect, for the private sector was initially neutral due to the limited use of RMB compared to the U.S. dollar (Chey, 2015). The trade unit also supported RMB internationalization due to its potential benefits for export-­oriented firms trading with China. These companies would see their transaction costs fall. Having said that, the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Korea were more directly involved in policies conducive towards support for RMB internationalization (ibid.). Export-­oriented firms including financial firms were neither for nor against RMB internationalization in the beginning. Their stance shifted as a result of government policy that made RMB more attractive as a vehicle for trade and investment (ibid.). There was no real opposition to RMB internationalization from any agent. The main reason behind South Korea’s support for RMB internationalization was its usefulness for trade settlement. The use of RMB can reduce transaction costs for firms trading with China, which can help to boost exports, imports, and investment. China also launched its RMB internationalization strategy as it was negotiating the FTA with South Korea. Even though the two issues are unrelated, from a South Korean perspective the FTA in conjunction with an offshore RMB centre could significantly boost trade and investment links between both countries. Indeed, it is significant that bilateral trade continued to grow even as Beijing imposed restrictive measures on some South Korean goods and services throughout 2016–2017 due to the deployment of THAAD in Seongju (KOSIS, 2018). This shows that market forces are strong enough to withstand political decisions, a process facilitated by the FTA and RMB internationalization. Another important reason behind Seoul’s decision to support this Chinese initiative was the belief in the need to diversify economic and, especially, diplomatic links. Reducing dependence on the U.S. dollar for international transactions is beneficial for South Korean companies with more economic interests in China than the U.S. It also reduces the impact of U.S. monetary policy on South Korea, even if this reduction should not be exaggerated. More importantly, from a diplomatic perspective support for RMB internationalization allows South Korea to hedge between Beijing and Washington. Seoul can show its support for a key Chinese initiative without having to balance the U.S., since this initiative has an economic benefit to South Korea and is not openly hostile to Washington.

118   Ramon Pacheco Pardo Support for Chinese multilateral economic initiatives In recent years, China has launched or led several multilateral economic initiatives. They include the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the areas of connectivity, trade, and investment, unveiled in 2013; the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the area of development aid, which opened its doors in 2016; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP) in the area of trade, for which negotiations started in 2012. South Korea has been supportive of all these initiatives, and even actively supportive when necessary. There is a discussion regarding whether BRI competes against South Korea’s own Northern Policy to link South Korea with the rest of Eurasia. From an economic perspective, however, they are complementary. Thus, Moon sent a delegation to the Belt and Road Forum of 2017 shortly after his election (Kim, 2017). Similarly, South Korea became a founding member of AIIB and hosted its flagship annual meeting in Jeju Island in 2017 – only the second meeting and the first one outside of China (AIIB, 2017). As for RCEP, South Korea has sought to play a constructive role in negotiations from the onset (Choi & Oh, 2017), given Seoul’s experience in negotiating FTAs. Conservative and progressive presidents and the trade unit have provided political support for these initiatives. There has been no discernible change in policy following the transition from conservative to progressive rule, with support for Chinese initiatives remaining consistent. The trade unit also backed these initiatives, which have an obvious trade facilitation component. Having said that, the trade unit put more effort into the bilateral FTA with China than with the RCEP, since South Korea already has FTAs with almost all members of the partnership. Political parties and export-­oriented industries were also behind these initiatives that can serve to facilitate exports and investment by South Korean companies (Park, 2015; Chiang, 2017; Choi & Oh, 2017). There was no significant opposition to them from any agent. The main reason behind South Korea’s support for China’s multilateral economic initiatives is that they are beneficial for the country’s trading relations. So they help to underpin the belief that economic growth and security are well served by trade. Indeed, within South Korea’s trade unit there is a consensus that regional trade is more beneficial for the future of the country than trade with other regions (Moon, 2007; Park, 2015). The reason is twofold: South Korean firms are central to regional production chains that have become the main drivers of trade in East Asia, and the growing middle class in China and Southeast Asia has become a huge consumer of South Korean goods and services. Therefore, any initiative that helps to build the infrastructure to facilitate intra-­East Asian trade – such as BRI or AIIB – or that reduces barriers to trade – such as RCEP – is beneficial for South Korea. More so if the country’s construction and other firms are part of the consortiums building infrastructure. In addition, these initiatives serve to strengthen South Korea’s diplomatic links with China and, in this way, hedge between Washington and Beijing. BRI and AIIB, in particular, are a core component of President Xi Jinping’s foreign policy strategy. Beijing sees them as an expression of Chinese political and

United we stand? S. Korea–China economic relations   119 e­ conomic power and the shift in power towards (East) Asia more generally. For a middle power neighbouring this great power, such as South Korea, it would not make sense to oppose these initiatives given the economic and diplomatic benefits that it can accrue from supporting them. Indeed, Moon’s support for BRI was one of the reasons why Beijing decided to stop restrictions on bilateral trade following the deployment of THAAD. Similarly to countries across Southeast Asia, South Korea does not see the need to choose between the U.S. and China. By showing its support to the multilateral initiatives from the latter, South Korea can better manage its great power relations.

Conclusion The introduction to this volume correctly suggests that South Korea’s foreign policy decisions can only be understood by examining the domestic factors shaping them. Extant literature suggests that one of these factors is the split between progressives and conservatives, with their differing views regarding Seoul’s relationship with the U.S. and China. At the risk of oversimplifying, the former would advocate closer relations with the neighbouring giant, China, even at the expense of the US–South Korea alliance. In sharp contrast, conservatives would give precedence to this alliance to balance the rise of China. However, there are instances when this divide is absent. Economic relations with China is one of them. Both progressives and conservatives believe that good trade and investment relations with China are necessary to guarantee South Korea’s (economic) security. This is based on two beliefs: South Korea benefits from free trade and is a middle power that should not take sides when it comes to foreign economic policymaking. These two beliefs underpin one essential narrative to understand South Korea’s economic policy towards China: South Korea is a free-­trading nation that should support freer trade. These beliefs and subsequent narrative are held by the key agents with influence on the foreign economic decision-­making process of South Korea, including the president, the bureaucratic trade unit, political parties, and export-­oriented businesses. These coalitions have supported rapprochement to China in areas such as a bilateral free trade agreement and investment treaty, the development of a bilateral and regional safety net, support for RMB internationalization, and support for China’s multilateral economic initiatives. Consensus in this area of foreign policymaking is thus strong and likely to continue.

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8 South Korea–Japan relations The comfort women lens Brad Glosserman

Introduction Few issues in South Korean politics have the raw emotive power as that of the comfort women. The thousands of women forced into sexual servitude during the Pacific War have been a daunting presence in the country’s politics, an essence that has grown even more compelling in recent years as their numbers dwindle. That an issue of such domestic import would also have consequences for foreign policy should not come as a surprise, even though it challenges the prevailing paradigm of foreign policy decision making. For most strategists, the evident and growing threat from North Korea should be the most important factor in South Korean decision making, overriding all other considerations. Instead, however, for over two decades, the comfort women issue has been a determinant of South Korea’s relationship with Japan – one of its most important partners in the effort to defend against and deter Pyongyang – and politicians and activists in the Republic of Korea (ROK) have used it to create diplomatic leverage and compensate for the significant disparities in the size and influence of the two countries. This opportunism should not be dismissed as a crudely transactional approach to foreign policy, however. The comfort women issue has become an avatar of South Korean national identity, which is itself an ever more important factor in ROK decision making. The prevailing national narrative stresses marginalization and victimization (despite the country’s extraordinary successes of the last three decades) and Japan has been one of the chief tormentors. The original sin of imperialism and the accompanying misdeeds have been re-­animated by Japanese governments that refuse to acknowledge those behaviours or minimize their significance by rewriting history. This chapter uses the comfort women issue as a lens to examine South Korean foreign policy and relations with Japan. In doing so, it assesses how non-­material factors play a fundamental role in shaping this relationship, as well as the influence of domestic politics in South Korea’s foreign policymaking process. The chapter also emphasises the influence that the two main South Korean foreign policy orientations, progressives and conservatives, have had on the development of relations between South Korea and Japan. To do so, it begins with a

S. Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens   123 history of the comfort women issue, its gradual emergence in South Korean domestic politics, and explores how it has shaped South Korean foreign policy.

The comfort women issue During the Pacific War, Japan instituted a state-­organized system of sexual servitude by which as many as 200,000 women – many of them Korean, but Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipinos, Indonesians, and Dutch as well – were forced to serve in “comfort stations”, essentially whore houses or brothels subject to military regulation, if not outright control. While some of the comfort women may have been prostitutes, many, if not the overwhelming majority, were not. Comfort women were recruited in several ways. For professional prostitutes, volunteering was not unusual. In some cases, girls or young women were purchased from destitute families. Often, young women or their families were deceived, with recruiters offering jobs and salaries that could help a poor family, while misrepresenting the type of work that was done at comfort stations. Finally, in many cases women were coerced. Sometimes, women were kidnapped (and family members who tried to stop recruitment were murdered); other times, heads of villages were forced to hand over young females under penalty of death or severe punishment (Argibay, 2003). As Kan Kimura has explained, the comfort women issue attracted little attention in South Korea and Japan for much of the post-­war era. Several factors contributed to the lack of attention (Kimura, 2015). First, the experience of the comfort women was excruciating and thus there was little incentive to wish to revisit it in Korea. A similar unease was evident in Japan, although that was the silence of the persecutors rather than that of the persecuted. Also – and an important factor in the analysis that follows – the South Korean government for much of the post-­war period was a conservative dictatorship that sought reconciliation with Japan as the best way to advance the country’s national interests. Dwelling upon the fate of women forced into sexual servitude would undermine efforts to build a relationship with Japan that would spur Korea’s country’s economic development. Events in the 1980s changed that domestic political framework. In 1982, Japan experienced its first controversy over history textbooks, which enhanced scrutiny of memory of the war and raised the issue in the Korean social consciousness. Around the same time, comfort women in Southeast Asia published memoirs that received considerable attention in South Korea. Then, in 1989, Emperor Hirohito died. That led to a flood of Pacific War remembrances, prompted by nostalgia and the lifting of an impulse to avoid blackening the Emperor’s reputation by reporting misdeeds committed during a war fought under his name. Meanwhile, South Korea had begun a transition towards democracy and in a newly expanding civil society, victims of World War II began to state their case. Kimura argues that Japanese soldiers’ memoirs were mined by researchers and commentators in South Korea, which helped inform the discussion in the ROK (Kimura, 2015, p. 812). The issue assumed new urgency as South Korea and Japan attempted to forge a new relationship in the aftermath of the Cold War. One analysis credited the

124   Brad Glosserman May 1990 visit of ROK President Roh Tae-­woo to Japan for igniting the controversy. Korean women’s organizations demanded that Roh raise the issue in his meetings, and sought a promise by the Japanese government to investigate the matter and apologize (Uemura & Yamaguchi, 2015). Shortly after, Kim Hak-­sun became the first Korean comfort woman to come forward and give testimony under her own name. Three other former comfort women followed and filed suit in a Tokyo District Court demanding an official apology from the Japanese government and compensation. Their case was strengthened by documents uncovered by Japanese researcher Yoshiaki Yoshimi that showed Japanese government involvement in managing the comfort stations. This triggered a full-­blown diplomatic dispute between the two countries and the forthcoming visit to Seoul by Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa forced movement by Tokyo. Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Kato issued a statement before the visit that acknowledged for the first time Japanese military involvement in recruiting women and running the comfort stations (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 1992b). While in Seoul, Miyazawa also issued an apology, stating that I sincerely apologize once again for the hardship and grief that people of Korean Peninsula suffered because of Japan’s deed. These days, the issue of comfort women is emerged between Korea and Japan. For that matter I feel deep remorse and regret. Moreover, I, as a person who experienced the WW II, wholeheartedly believe that it is our duty to deliver the true history and teach the next generation not to repeat such tragedy…. We must have the courage to face the fact, the understanding to feel the pain the victims had, and the determination not to reiterate the same mistake. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 1992a) While Japan acknowledged the fact of the comfort stations, Seoul and Tokyo did not agree on whether comfort women had been forcibly recruited. The Japanese government conducted another investigation, one that included testimony from the comfort women (rather than merely relying on the documentary record). Its conclusions were detailed in the statement offered by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, which noted that the Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women … in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 1993) When Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa visited Seoul in November 1993 he was the first Japanese prime minister to identify the comfort women as one of the wartime wrongdoings committed by Japan (Soeya, 2013).

S. Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens   125 Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama called on his countrymen to squarely address their wartime behaviour, again specifically mentioning the comfort women issue and expressing his remorse for their suffering (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 1995). He presided over the establishment of the Asian Women’s Fund, which was intended to provide some compensation for the pain inflicted on the comfort women, but that effort was surrounded by controversy. It was officially a non-­governmental initiative (even though fund recipients received a letter from the prime minister), and some conservative members of Japan’s ruling coalition distanced themselves from the fund. Many comfort women did not accept the compensation – although some refused because of pressure from Korean civil society groups who wanted the Japanese government to offer an official apology, take legal responsibility, and offer restitution. The split in Korean opinion foreshadows the division in that country’s civil society between pragmatists and ideologues who see the issue as a powerful tool to use against opposition, both domestic and foreign. It can be argued that this split mirrors between conservatives and progressives – with the former aligning with pragmatists and the latter joining the ideologues – but that is too crude an explanation of the motivations of each group. Pragmatism and principle are drivers (although conservatives would insist that they too are motivated by principles – just different ones) but they are part of a diverse range of influences. In 2006, Japan announced a new investigation on the comfort women. This occurred against the backdrop of a revival of conservative politics in Japan. A study group in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party concluded that “currently there is no evidence to prove that the military … took women away and force them to do things against their will” (You, 2014). It denied that there was documentary proof that substantiated the Kono Statement. Shinzo Abe, then enjoying his first term as prime minister, said that “there was no evidence to prove there was a coercion” in recruiting or utilizing comfort women during World War II (BBC News, 2007). For South Koreans, this statement provided a troubling context to evaluate subsequent statements by Abe when he returned to the prime minister’s office in 2013. Japan’s conservatives were inclined to give full rein to their impulses when they returned to power after three years in the wilderness under opposition (Democratic Party of Japan) rule. Abe indicated a readiness to reassess the Kono Statement and a five-­person study team was established to review “the details leading to the drafting of the Kono Statement” (Office of the Prime Minister of Japan, 2014). That analysis was presented in June 2014 and concluded that there had been political bargaining between the South Korean and Japanese governments prior to the issuance of the statement, but that there were no grounds to challenge its veracity. Yet even before the study team issued its report, Abe had told the Upper House of the Diet that his Cabinet “had no intention of reviewing” the statement (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2014). Unfortunately, the prime minister also appeared to be playing a game of cat and mouse with his critics, denying that he was promoting historical revisionism while offering rhetorical loopholes that would permit him to do so (Kim, 2014).

126   Brad Glosserman Attempts to revise Japanese history textbooks, assertions of the Japanese claim to the contested islands of Dokdo/Takeshima, and offerings to the Yasukuni Shrine (as well as one widely criticized visit) all convinced ROK audiences that Abe was not sincere when he talked about respecting history. Not surprisingly, South Korean sceptics maintained a steady drumbeat of criticism that was not stilled by Abe’s statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in which he acknowledged that Japan had inflicted “immeasurable damage and suffering” on innocent people in World War II and alluded to the comfort women by noting that “we must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured” (Office of the Prime Minister of Japan, 2015). Then ROK President Park Geun-­hye said Abe’s statement “left much to be desired”, and one commentator noted that “disingenuous” was often used to describe the remarks. The newspaper Hankyoreh called the speech “a regression from previous government statements” and “insulting” (Kirk, 2015).

The December 2015 comfort women agreement Apparently, however, it did convince the ROK government that Abe could be dealt with and allowed the two countries to commence negotiations on a final settlement of the comfort women dispute. The two governments wrapped up those talks at the end of 2015 when the two foreign ministers announced an agreement that would “finally and irreversibly resolve” the issue (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2015) In the deal, the government of Japan acknowledged that the issue of comfort women with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time was a grave affront to the honour and dignity of large numbers of women … and Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences.… The Japanese government pledged to provide ¥1 billion (US$8.3 million) for a foundation to be established by the government of Korea that would support former comfort women. For its part, the South Korean government acknowledged the issue would be finally and irreversibly resolved if the Japanese government honours its obligations. The ROK government acknowledged Japan’s concern about a comfort women statue in front of the embassy of Japan in Seoul and “would strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner through taking measures such as consulting with related organizations about possible ways of addressing this issue”. Both governments also agreed to “refrain from accusing or criticizing each other regarding the issue in the international community…” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2015). The 2015 agreement was greeted with dismay in South Korea. The primary criticism was that the victims had not been consulted and that justice had been

S. Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens   127 sacrificed on the altar of geopolitical and strategic concerns. According to a Korean Gallup poll, 54% of Koreans considered the agreement to be a “mistake”, and 58% thought it necessary to “renegotiate” the deal. Some 72% opposed the removal of the comfort girl statue in front of the Japanese embassy, and 72% did not think that the “apology” by Abe read by Foreign Minister Kishida reached the level of an “apology” (Kimura, 2016, p.  169). President Park’s popularity plummeted. Comfort women joined protests against the agreement and the two main opposition parties, the Minjoo Party and Justice Party, demanded that it be renegotiated to ensure that Japan clearly assumes legal responsibility (Kennedy & Nakagawa, 2016), During the 2017 campaign to replace the impeached President Park, then candidate Moon Jae-­in promised to examine the agreement if elected. Despite warnings from Japan that honouring his pledge would do great damage to bilateral relations, President Moon denounced the agreement as “seriously flawed” and established a task force to do just that. It concluded in December 2017 that the deal “was finalized … without adequately taking into account the opinions of victims in the process of negotiation”. That prompted Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-­wha to apologize, saying the agreement “hurt” the victims and “failed to reflect the victims’ views” (Agence France-­Presse, 2017). Days later, Kang conceded that both governments had formally endorsed the agreement, and “considering that, our government will not demand renegotiation of the deal”. Kang added, however, that South Korea would not use any more of Tokyo’s money for the comfort women, and would instead supply funds from its own budget. In lieu of financial support, Kang urged Tokyo to offer a “voluntary and sincere apology” (Agence France-­ Presse, 2018).

The domestic roots of the comfort women’s foreign policy power As the editors of the volume explain in the Introductory chapter, the interpretive approach argues that domestic politics help us understand the process of foreign policymaking. For this reason, the role that the comfort women issue plays in the country’s domestic politics is central to an understanding of South Korea’s foreign policy and its relations with Japan. That role has two dimensions. First, the comfort women issue is a direct product of the nation’s historical interaction with Japan, and that roots the comfort women deeply in the soil of national identity. As Scott Snyder and I have argued, Japan is “the other” that shapes and influences Korean conceptions of who they are (Glosserman & Snyder, 2015). It is both a benchmark for accomplishments and the anvil upon which contemporary Korean identity has been forged. Minseon Ku similarly locates national identity as central to the antagonism between South Korea and Japan but she identifies a legal basis for that conflict, highlighting the articulation of South Korean state identity in the 1987 Constitution, which is explicitly anti-­ Japanese. Ku notes that

128   Brad Glosserman the preamble of the South Korean constitution spells out that the Republic of Korea upholds the “cause of the Provisional Republic of Korea Government born of the March First Independence Movement of 1919 […],” implying that the Republic of Korea as a state has its foundations from the attempt to gain independence from Japanese colonization. (Ku, 2016, p. 7) As a result, the emotive power of the comfort women issue is derived not just from the inhumanity that surrounds the circumstances of the comfort women’s experience, but from the fact that the injustices were perpetrated by Japanese, and Japan has assumed a singular and outsized space in South Korean national identity. The pain inflicted by Japanese behaviours – the original sin of comfort women recruitment and dehumanization and the subsequent denials of Japanese government involvement and state responsibility – is intensified because the comfort women controversy undermines South Korea’s status as a victim, which is essential to its contemporary identity. After examining the treatment of Korea in Japanese history, Ku argues that the denial “of South Korea’s past victimization is equivalent, in South Korea’s perspective, to Japan perceiving Korea as ‘inferior’ or ‘backward’ as compared to Japan”. In concrete terms, “Japan has to recognize its wrongdoing in the past and apologize for colonization because this would mean that Japan has acknowledged Korea as an entity of equal status” (ibid., p. 11). Consistent with this analysis, Gil Rozman argues that the comfort women controversy from 2012–2015 reflected attempts by the governments in both Seoul and Tokyo to reconstruct national identity and those efforts could not but engender conflict. Upon his return to the Kantei, Prime Minister Abe pursued national security and domestic agendas that sought to rewrite a national narrative that he and his supporters believed undercut historical pride and limited the nation’s purpose. The starting point for these agendas was a rejection of a “masochistic view of history” that frustrated conservative ambitions to play a larger role in regional and global politics. Much of that historical record was written on the Korean Peninsula, however, and this revisionism was perceived there as demeaning South Korea’s historical worth (Rozman, 2016). For her part, President Park rejected a narrative that subordinated Korea to its neighbours. Standing up to Japan was an assertion of national identity. The second domestic dimension to the comfort women issue in South Korea is the way that it has been utilized in the ideological battles between conservatives and progressives that define and dominate national politics, and has also had a powerful influence on the country’s foreign relations. Conservatives in South Korea have had a more tolerant view of Japan, for several reasons. For those on the right side of the political spectrum, the battle against communism (during the Cold War and in the North–South conflict that survived that competition) has taken precedence over all other concerns. This yielded a readiness to follow the strategic and security outlook articulated by the United States (Seoul’s ally), which led the battle against communism during the Cold War and pushed for cooperation with Japan to create a united front in pursuit of that effort.

S. Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens   129 Japan played another key role in contemporary Korean history: it was a model for economic development and a source of capital to promote that growth. South Korean conservatives saw Japan articulate and pursue a developmental path that they could follow. An authoritarian dictator, Park Chung-­hee, signed the 1965 normalization agreement between South Korea and Japan as a step towards the realization of that ambition. (The fact that Park’s daughter was South Korea’s president when the comfort women issue reignited in 2012 is proof that the fates do appreciate irony. Her connection to the man who seemingly ignored history in his desire to modernize the South Korean state meant that his daughter had to be extremely sensitive to historical controversies concerning Japan.) From the outset, re-­establishment of relations with Japan was a charged proposition as one of its foundations was the imperial experience. As one Korean analysis explained: “Normalization with Japan involved financial aid in the name of compensation for Japanese colonial rule over Korea” (Kim, 2017, p. 24). The Treaty on Basic Relations called for Japanese assistance to Korea in the form of grant aid of US$300 million, loan aid of US$200 million, and commercial loans of US$300 million. In one important sense, the result was as intended: “Japan played an important role in triggering Korea’s compressed economic development through official development assistance (ODA), trade expansion, and foreign direct investment by Japanese firms” (ibid.). Economic assistance sowed the seeds of a backlash, however. South Korea’s reliance on Japan began to look to many like a worrying dependence. This allowed progressives to charge that conservative rule had institutionalized a more modern form of colonialism. To head off that argument, the Seoul government used persistent trade deficits to develop in 1986 a five-­year plan to “correct the trade imbalance with Japan”; a second five-­year plan, promulgated in 1992, was based on a nakedly nationalist appeal to promote import substitution (ibid., p.  25). Progressives could also level a second complaint against the Japanese development model and that charge remains a pillar of progressive politics in contemporary Korea: the priorities of the development state sublimated the interests of labour to those of capital. Recent economic developments have helped the progressive cause. Success in the effort to diversify South Korea’s economic partners has, by definition, created space for more aggressive attempts to address historical wrongs by diminishing Japan’s influence in Seoul. China has emerged as the ROK’s leading trade partner, and that country shares many of Korea’s grievances towards Japan; in some cases, Beijing has pushed Seoul to take a harder line against Japan, as part of a broader campaign to create distance between Seoul and Tokyo, and its U.S. ally as well (Snyder & Byun, 2014). Paradoxically, the conservative deregulatory agenda advanced by President Lee Myung-­bak has also advanced the progressive cause by concentrating power in the large conglomerates, prompting another backlash. This is one more opportunity for the left to bash the economic model “handed down” by the Japanese and stiffen spines against its influence. (In yet another irony, some Japanese economists argue that Japan and South Korea should be working together to promote small and medium-­size ­enterprises,

130   Brad Glosserman to reduce both countries’ reliance on the Chinese economy and to tackle shared challenges, such as ageing societies.) (Mukoyama, 2016). A positive view of Japan also reflected the fact that many South Korean conservatives had done well under Japanese occupation. Some took Japanese names and many learned the Japanese language. Their status in society, their ideological orientation, and the fact that they were an occupied territory, meant that elites in many cases continued to occupy privileged positions in Korean society after Japan’s defeat in World War  II. Advantage begat advantage and many of those elites shifted allegiance and orientation towards the United States after the war. Not surprisingly, then, views of Japan became a tool to differentiate and mobilize progressive forces in South Korea. As South Korea evolved into a democracy during the 1980s, the left sought every tool it could muster in the battle for public opinion. Japan became another cudgel in those ideological struggles. Across an array of issues – the comfort women, Koreans forced to work in Japanese mines and factories, Korean atom bomb survivors – South Korea’s conservative leadership had subjugated individual complaints and grievances to the national interest and progressives used that ordering of priorities to advance their case. For example, progressives noted that the 1965 normalization agreement rejected compensation for individuals and instead directed the funds provided by Japan to the state for its development purposes, effectively aligning Japan with the corporatist-­capitalist classes (Porteux, 2016, p. 7). Or as a former ROK foreign ministry official complained, “the Korean government took away its citizens’ individual rights to ask for reparations from the Japanese government as victims of colonialism” (Tselichtchev, 2018).

The foreign policy implications Giving this domestic political base, is easy to see why South Korea would use the comfort women issue as a source of leverage in its relations with Japan. The ways in which ROK diplomats have used the issue have varied. First, the comfort women issue has been used to gain moral leverage over Japan. There is no way to minimize the hurt or injustice that has been done to these women. They have been violated in the most fundamental ways and not only lost their youth but, because of the stigma attached to that work, were denied ordinary lives even after the war ended. Comfort women were shamed, humiliated, and in many cases brutalized in ways that left them unable to have families of their own. Now they’re ageing and their numbers are dwindling and the possibilities and prospects justice are dwindling as well. In the face of their pain and suffering, Japan appears to hide behind legalisms and diplomatic abstractions. Tokyo is reduced to arguing over details such as the relationship between comfort women recruiters and the Imperial Army, whether deceit is as coercive as kidnapping, or whether prostitutes can be truly victimized. In the court of public opinion, this case is impossible to win. The comfort women controversy also helps South Korea raise alarms about Japanese intentions as Tokyo’s security and defence policies evolve. While there

S. Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens   131 has been a tactical use of the comfort women issue in South Korean diplomacy, it is wrong to dismiss it as a wholly manufactured concern in South Korea over Japan’s “normalization”. Japanese security policy has been evolving during the second Abe administration. Conservatives welcome those changes as they allow South Korea’s security partner to do more in the defence of shared interests and to help achieve shared objectives. Yet many South Koreans also fear a Tokyo government that might be less restrained in its use of military force (Liff, 2018). The split is evident in the emotional reaction in the ROK to the prospect of a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between the two countries. Officials in the Lee Myung-­bak Blue House welcomed the deal, while legislators were offended by the agreement, twice forcing postponement of its signing. Eventually, a deputy national security advisor was forced to resign over his efforts to procure the agreement (Moon, 2012). A perpetual irritant is the territorial dispute between the ROK and Japan over Dokdo/Takeshima: a more aggressive Japanese military posture could in theory be used to resolve that problem, although successive Tokyo governments have insisted that they will only resolve the dispute through legal means. In this context, the comfort women issue is a reminder of Japan’s past behaviour, and the refusal to make amends implies some continuity between Imperial and contemporary Japan. The comfort women issue is also a means for South Korea to stake a leadership position in some of the most powerful issues in international diplomacy. Increasing attention is being paid to the protections afforded women in peace and wartime at the United Nations and related institutions. Women’s rights figure prominently in South Korea’s diplomatic agenda: it is the first substantive issue mentioned on the Foreign Ministry’s human rights web page. While this focus predates her tenure, it has been given additional impetus under Kang Kyung-­wha, Moon’s foreign minister, the first woman to have held that position in South Korea. In June 2018, Seoul launched the Action with Women and Peace initiative, which is designed to give it a leadership role in eradicating sexual violence in troubled regions around the world and to encourage women to actively contribute to resolving conflicts (KBS World Radio, 2018). While Korean officials denied that the initiative was related to the comfort women problem – and therefore a violation of the December 2015 agreement’s provision to avoid criticism of the other country in international fora – Japan saw links and protested the move (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2018). The confusion is understandable as the comfort women issue involves questions of human trafficking, violence against women, and the treatment of women during wartime. In a revealing comment, Korean Minister of Gender Equality and Family Chung Hyun-­back has said that “South Korea should be the mecca for the issue of wartime suppression of women’s rights” (Yonhap News Agency, 2018). As a procedural matter, the comfort women issue can work both for and against South Korea in international negotiations. Powerful domestic sentiment in support of the comfort women can be said to “tie the hands” of South Korean negotiators when they engage Japan. This means that they have little room for

132   Brad Glosserman compromise because of the intense emotions triggered by this issue among the South Korean public. In theory, this strengthens ROK negotiators. Yet when third parties are engaged, South Korea can appear inflexible and immobilized. There are several incidents in which Seoul tried to employ the comfort women issue to engage and co-­opt the U.S., antagonizing diplomats in Washington. The rigidity of the Korean position has frustrated U.S. security planners who believe it is an extraneous factor undermining prospects for the trilateral cooperation that they believe is essential to combating and containing the North Korean threat. Ironically, the comfort women issue can also constrain South Korean diplomacy. Throughout the Park presidency, China sought to make common cause with South Korea over the comfort women issue as a way of strengthening ties between those two countries and to instil doubt in Washington and Tokyo about Seoul’s commitment to trilateral security cooperation in Northeast Asia. Beijing attempted to use the shared experience of China and South Korea as victims of Japanese aggression to promote cooperation and the convergence of policy on certain issues, especially those for which the comfort women could be employed as a referent. The case for convergence was strengthened by growing inter­ dependence in the Chinese and Korean economies, which provided Beijing additional leverage over Seoul. In 2003, China became South Korea’s largest trading partner and by 2014 their two-­way trade already exceeded South Korea’s combined trade with Japan and the United States. As one observer concluded, “Korea’s inroads into the Chinese market are inescapable, and attest to the shifting center of economic gravity for South Korea” (Pollack, 2014). In this case, at least when narrowly framed, there is no “Asian Paradox”: South Korea and China were enjoying “hot economics and hot politics”, and a shared discomfort with Japanese revisionism facilitated a convergence of thinking between the two governments. But as the aperture widened, South Korea’s focus became problematic. President Park believed that the road to Pyongyang ran through Beijing; attempts to build rapport with North Korea would require Chinese assistance. Yet there was a risk that those overtures would be seen as a loosening of South Korea’s commitment to the U.S. alliance system. As the Park administration took office, senior officials quietly passed assurances that any overtures to Beijing were tactical and the U.S. and Japan should not overstate their significance: South Korea would remain committed to the alliance system. The need for a statement to that effect became more urgent as Abe successfully managed relations with the U.S. and consolidated his position as a U.S. ally despite concerns about his “historical revision”. Countering the disturbing image for Amer­icans of standing with Xi and Putin on September 3 and aware of the positive impact in Washington of Abe’s moves, including his speech before the Joint Session of Congress and his August statement, Park too decided that South Korea had to be a member of the “U.S. team”. (Rozman, 2016)

S. Korea–Japan relations: the comfort women lens   133 Seoul entered into the agreement with Japan to show that policies that appeared to lean towards China were not made with indifference to the strategic cooperation that comes with a US–Japan alliance (Kimura, 2016, p. 169). It is not clear how far South Korea will have to go to prove its bona fides: will Seoul have to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-­Pacific Partnership, which has been championed as the means to advance the Western rules-­based order in the Asia-­Pacific region, to prove which side it is on?1 From this perspective, the comfort women agreement was driven in large measure by reputational concerns (Kimura, 2015). Neither Seoul nor Tokyo want to be seen as an obstacle to cooperation on an issue of national and international security. The absence of substantive progress in the bilateral relationship after the announcement of the comfort women agreement suggests that there has not been a genuine meeting of the minds on strategic concerns. This bodes ill for the durability and survival of an agreement that requires both parties to subjugate normative concerns that are central to conceptions of national identity. In short, it will be hard for politicians in either country to resist the temptation to exploit the comfort women issue for domestic political gain in the absence of more compelling gains from this deal.

The comfort women, South Korean domestic politics and relations with Japan In theory, the comfort women should be a uniting issue in South Korean politics. That tragic experience reinforces the national narrative of victimization, serving as a rallying point for Koreans to affirm their identity as citizens of a country that has been more acted upon than actor, more object than subject in regional affairs, and restore a sense of purpose as well as agency in its foreign policy. In 2018, nearly three-­quarters of respondents in one survey agreed that resolving the comfort women issue would help develop Japan–ROK relations (Genron NPO, 2018, p. 10) and nearly two-­thirds of respondents identified it as the historical issue to be solved between the two countries (ibid., p. 18). Those numbers imply that there is considerable agreement among Koreans on the importance of the issue both for themselves and their country’s relations with Japan. Yet even this issue not only fails to bridge Korea’s ideological divides, but in some cases has deepened them. Conservatives who are prepared to move on from the December 2015 agreement and work with Japan to build a common and cooperative diplomatic and security policy are dismissed by progressives as apologists and insufficiently protective of national pride and honour. In a 2016 survey, 78.1% of respondents who supported the then ruling conservative Saenuri Party backed the agreement, while just 8.5% of respondents who supported the progressive, opposition Minjoo Party viewed the deal positively (Kennedy & Nakagawa, 2016). Young Koreans were especially vocal in their condemnation, focusing on the provision that obliged Seoul to address the comfort girl statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul and used that as a rallying point for protest against President Park. That previous survey reported

134   Brad Glosserman that 71.3% of respondents in their 60s viewed the agreement positively, while only 31% of respondents in their 20s were similarly inclined. (There are questions about the degree to which parties can be viewed as a proxy for the generational divide as conservative parties enjoy more support among the elderly, while progressives tend to be younger.) Neither South Koreans nor Japanese have much faith in the December 2015 agreement resolving this problem. In one authoritative survey, about 45% of South Koreans “disapprove” of the agreement, a drop of about 10 percentage points from the previous year, but most of the change is accounted for by those who “neither approve nor disapprove” of the deal. In Japan, about 40% approve of the agreement, a number that is slightly smaller than the year before (Genron NPO, 2018, p.  19). Significantly, 70% of South Koreans and 50% of Japanese feel that the comfort women issue has “not been resolved” by the agreement (ibid., p.  20). That belief, along with the central role that the comfort women issue has assumed in the ROK national identity, means that it will take little for it to flare again. The tinder is awaiting the spark. In the highly combustible world of Northeast Asian politics, it is only a matter of time.

Note 1 The shift in U.S. thinking regarding multilateral trade deals under the Trump administration changes the way Washington evaluates ROK membership in the CPTPP (and other such deals), but there remains a tendency to judge a government’s “orientation” according to the institutions and frameworks it is prepared to join.

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9 South Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War1 Anna Kireeva

Introduction Although diplomatic relations between Russia and Korea were established more than 130 years ago in 1884, Japanese occupation and the two blocks system established after the Second World War (when the Soviet Union supported North Korea and South Korea was a part of the Western capitalist bloc), made the contacts sporadic and almost non-­existent or limited at best between 1910–1980 (Jeong, 2015, p. 88). Although the South Korean governments of Park Chung-­ hee and Chun Doo-­hwan tried to pursue political ties and economic cooperation with the Soviet Union, there was no positive response, with limited trade through third countries and rare contacts at international fora. It was not until late 1980s that the contacts between the two nations began, with diplomatic relations established in 1990 (Toloraya, 2014, pp. 86–87). South Korea’s relations with Russia since that time have seen profound evolution both in politics and economics. The importance of cooperation with Russia in South Korea’s foreign policy and economic relations has been demonstrated by a number of initiatives throughout its evolution: Roh Tae-­woo’s Northern Policy, cooperation with northern Eurasian states during the progressive administrations of Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun, elevation of relations with Russia to the level of “strategic partnership” during Lee Myung-­bak’s tenure, Park Geun-­hye’s Eurasia Initiative and Moon Jae-­in’s New Northern Policy. The interests of South Korea in pursuing relations with Russia could be summarized as the following. First, South Korea aims to establish systematic contacts with a goal to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, gain support for unification, and create opportunities for common development and prosperity on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia. South Korea views Russia as an indispensable partner to promote peace in the region and settle the issue of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme. Second, economic cooperation with Russia is regarded as complementary and capable of bringing mutual benefits to both states. Thereby, it could help South Korea in its search for sources of economic growth with complementing its maritime cooperation with the U.S. and Japan and links with China with the third strategic dimension of northern

138   Anna Kireeva economic cooperation. Relations with Russia are viewed as helping to develop the “space of northern economic growth”. Third, South Korea wishes to take part in the international cooperation developing in Eurasia under numerous frameworks including the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and others. South Korea’s more active participation in Eurasian cooperation is to contribute to its institutionalization and at the same time boost domestic economic growth through enhanced economic interaction (Lee, 2017, pp. 11–12). This chapter seeks to assess South Korea’s relations with Russia during four distinctive periods characterized by the rule of conservative and progressive governments and to demonstrate what impact the turnover of power had on South Korea–Russia relations. It briefly touches upon the first period of bilateral relations under conservative Roh Tae-­woo and Kim Young-­sam administrations, looks into the “progressive decade” of Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun and then is followed by examining the tenures of conservatives Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye. The final part is centred upon the New Northern Policy formulated by the progressive government of Moon Jae-­in. In doing so it assesses how the two main South Korean foreign policy traditions, progressives and conservatives, have promoted foreign policies associated with their beliefs and more broadly with the way in which they conceived the role and the identity of the country.

The initial stage of South Korea–Russia relations (1990–1998) It was not until the reforms of perestroika and “new thinking” which began in the middle of 1980s, and Mikhail Gorbachev’s conciliatory policy towards the West that the relations between the two countries were normalized, trade started, the visa regime was liberalized and transport routes were established. South Korea’s President Roh Tae-­woo launched the Northern Policy in 1988 with the aim to normalize relations with China and the Soviet Union. This policy resulted in establishing the foundation for economic interactions with both states, as well as contributing to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. In 1990, official relations between the USSR and South Korea were opened up following the meeting of Gorbachev and Roh Tae-­woo in San Francisco and direct negotiations on economic partnership. These events were succeeded by President Roh’s visit to Moscow in 1990 and the signing of the Moscow declaration (Toloraya, 2014, pp. 86–87). South Korea–Russia relations evolved from the period of unrealistically inflated expectations (Russia hoped for vibrant economic relations and massive South Korean investment, while South Korea wished to gain Russia’s backing in the Korean reunification on South Korea’s conditions) to the disillusionment of late 1990s and developing a more pragmatic and realistic approach to bilateral relations in the 2000s. South Korea was eager to secure Russia’s support in a harsher stance towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   139 including applying pressure on Pyongyang and denouncing its security treaty with North Korea. During Boris Yeltsin’s visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK), in 1992, the two countries signed the “Treaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation” with a formula of a “complementary constructive partnership”. Since the mid-­1990s Russia’s foreign policy on the Korean Peninsula evolved into a more balanced one with a pragmatic approach to cooperation with both South and North Korea without taking sides. South Korea, however, was caught unprepared for this and amid the Asian economic crisis of 1997–1998 and Russian domestic financial crisis of 1998 the relations between the two countries declined (ibid.). The collapse of Russia’s relations with North Korea in the early 1990s demonstrated that an unbalanced approach led to Russia’s exclusion from the Korean Peninsula dynamics as the first nuclear crisis was mitigated without Russia’s involvement. It should also be mentioned that Russia and South Korea enjoyed military-­technical cooperation in the 1990s and South Korea procured arms and military equipment from Russia in 1996–1997 (Lantsova, 2015, p. 141). While Russia–South Korean economic relations developed rapidly, it should be noted that there were almost no economic contacts before the normalization of the USSR–ROK relations. Bilateral trade reached US$1 billion in 1991 at the time of the collapse of the USSR and was about US$3 billion in the mid-­1990s. Russia–South Korean trade grew rapidly at the initial stage of economic cooperation in the early 1990s but later saw sharp dips of 1997 (Korean economic crisis) and 1998 (Russian economic crisis). Abundant and cheap Russian resources and raw materials were traded for South Korean consumer goods and electronics. Unfavourable economic conditions, unstable social conditions, institutional chaos in Russia, and no awareness of Russia’s business climate, however, were major impediments for South Korean investment, with almost no progress in 1990s (Jeong, 2015, pp. 88–89).

South Korea–Russia relations during the “progressive decade” (1998–2008) When Kim Dae-­jung came to power in South Korea in 1998, relations between South Korea and Russia flourished in politics and economics since the two countries were recovering from respective domestic crises. Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun emphasized cooperation with northern Eurasian states, including Russia. As Russia sees South–North dialogue as an important and indispensable element in decreasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Russia welcomed the “Sunshine Policy” of President Kim and was positive about the “progressive decade” of ROK’s policy, as reconciliation and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula is generally seen in Russia as assisting security in the region. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South Korea in 2002, following ­Russia–North Korea high-­level dialogue in 2000–2001, was seen as an important stage in improving relations between the two states. Russia’s proposal of an agreement with the DPRK entailing abandoning nuclear weapons in return for security

140   Anna Kireeva guarantees and economic assistance became the basis for the Six-­Party talks agreements. Russia played a very active role in the Six-­Party talks in 2002–2008, helped to manage conflicts and headed the group on peace and security in North-­East Asia (Toloraya, 2014, pp. 87–88). The talks were seen as very important for Russia’s role as an “honest intermediary” in the region. Roh Moo-­hyun’s visit to Moscow in 2004 saw the signing of the Russian–South Korean declaration aimed at promoting cooperation in politics, security, space, energy, and economics as well as the agreement on cooperation in space exploration which paved the way for joint activities in this field (Lantsova, 2015, p. 143). As Russia’s economic situation improved, South Korea–Russia economic relations entered a full-­blown growth stage during the 2000s. The main trade commodities, however, changed significantly comparing to the previous period, with Korean automobiles increasing and Russia’s crude oil and oil products becoming the main export commodity. With the stabilization of macroeconomics and society of Russia, South Korea’s direct investment also started to increase. Similar to Japan, South Korean investment began to materialize in the mid-­2000s. The combination of Korea’s capital, technology, and business know-­how with Russia’s production achieved a few remarkable successes in several fields (Jeong, 2015, pp. 88–89). Russia and South Korea have developed a number of projects in the high-­tech sphere, including space exploration and atomic energy production, with South Korea becoming the third major economic partner of Russia in Asia after China and Japan. While many western companies left the Russian market during the crisis of 1998, South Korean business expanded its ties and worked up to ranking first on the market of household appliances, with Korean brands gaining a prominent place in the Russian consumer market (Lee, 2017, p. 11).

South Korea–Russia relations during the conservative period of Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye administrations (2008–2017) With the conservative Lee Myung-­bak coming to power in South Korea in 2008, relations between Russia and South Korea were characterized by active official contacts, but in reality they initially lacked substance in political and security cooperation. President Lee’s reversion of course from reconciliation with North Korea to a hard-­line approach and the abandonment of previous agreements with North Korea was seen in Moscow in a negative light, as it ran against Russia’s goals to engage North Korea in order to reduce tensions in East Asia and establish multilateral cooperation in economics, including logistics and energy. While official contacts continued, Russia was concerned both about the tensions on the Korean Peninsula in the 2010s and with the unbalanced structure of trade relations with South Korea – energy and resources in exchange for sophisticated equipment and machinery. Although it was proclaimed in 2008 during the meeting in Moscow between President Lee and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev that Russia–South Korea relations should be elevated to the “strategic partnership”, Russia’s relations with South Korea both in politics, security and

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   141 economics were seriously lagging behind and were incompatible with South Korea’s other major partners – the U.S., China, and Japan. Russia’s ability to play the role of “honest intermediary” in the Korean conflict was no longer needed after the Six-­Party talks were suspended in 2009 (Toloraya, 2014, pp. 87–88). South Korea and Russia agreed to develop practical cooperation in order to realize the proclaimed character of “strategic partnership” relations during President Medvedev’s visit to Soul in 2010 and signed a number of documents on cooperation in transport, telecommunications, labour regulations, and fishing. In 2010, a public forum called “Russia–South Korea Dialogue” was also launched with the aim to promote people-­to-people contacts, business, scientific, and academic exchanges (Lantsova, 2015, p.  144). The forum is held on a regular basis, mostly annually in Russia or South Korea. However, Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye’s conservative administrations’ policy highlighted the asymmetry of Russia–South Korea national interests in politics and security: while South Korea was focusing on applying more and more pressure on the DPRK and promoting reunification on its own conditions, Russia was advocating peace and security as well as political dialogue as a means to settle the security problems and prepare the ground for a reunification. Heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after Kim Jong-­un’s transition to power in 2011 and Park Geun-­hye’s hard-­line approach since coming to power in 2013, despite her initial conciliatory rhetoric, were the reasons for the continuation of this trend (Toloraya, 2014, pp. 87–88). For Russia, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula has been at the centre of its value hierarchy. Russia’s vision has been that all issues should be discussed by political and diplomatic means without resort to force or threat, pressure, or isolation. On the Korean Peninsula Russia’s policy has been promoting peaceful resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, construction of a new security architecture in the region, and revival of the Six-­Party talks. Russia has also proposed a number of major trilateral economic projects including the linking of the Trans-­Siberian railroad to the Korean railroad infrastructure, constructing powerlines through North Korea to South Korea, and a natural gas pipeline throughout the Korean Peninsula as a means to mitigate the conflict (Toloraya, 2014, pp.  89–90). Of these, only the Khasan–Rajin railway project became a reality. In September 2013 the joint reconstruction of the part of the Trans-­Korean railway was completed connecting the North Korean Rajin (Rason) port city with Russia’s Khasan (situated on the Trans-­Siberian railroad). and the line was successfully reopened, linking the Trans-­Siberian railroad to the ice-­free port in the North Pacific Ocean. Russia also constructed a universal freight terminal in the port of Rajin, which came into operation in July 2014. In 2014, Russia successfully exported Russian coal from the Russian Kuzbass region to China using the Khasan–Rajin railway. In 2014, more than 100,000 tons of coal were shipped through the port of Rajin. In 2015, it was already almost 1,200,000 billion tons of cargo. In 2014 and 2015 trial shipments of Russian coal from Rajin to the South Korean port of Pohang were conducted (Zakharova, 2016, pp. 151–158).

142   Anna Kireeva Vladimir Putin’s visit to South Korea in 2013 and his meeting with President Park Geun-­hye was also an important milestone in Russia–South Korea relations, as the presidents of the two states positively evaluated the developments of bilateral relations in politics, economics, culture, scientific, and technical cooperation and confirmed their desire to realize the potential of strategic partnership and cooperation. Major agreements also included the introduction of a 60-days visa-­free regime between Russia and South Korea since 2014 (aimed at providing substantial stimulus to bilateral cooperation), a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in economics, banking, transport, including railway, tourism, and the establishment of the Russia–Korean investment platform by Russia’s Direct Investment Fund and Korea Investment Corporation with US$1 billion funding (Documents, 2013). Russia also welcomed President Park’s Eurasia Initiative and hoped it could develop in line with its desire to integrate its regions of Siberia and the Far East into East Asia and connect Russia’s Trans-­Siberian Railroad with the Trans-­Korean Railroad. The declaration of the summit welcomed bilateral cooperation in these areas (Suslina, 2015, pp. 2–3). The Eurasia Initiative launched by President Park Geun-­hye in October 2015 was aimed at enhancing economic cooperation and integration of a single Eur­ asian space (including continental Asia) via intensified transport connectivity, logistical infrastructure, and industrial projects. The goals behind the initiative included opening new markets, creating new sources of growth by making use of Korea’s advanced technological and industrial capacity, as well as creating a new environment that could encourage North Korea to carry out reforms, become more open, and develop inter-­Korean ties. Although this policy prompted discussions about the possibility of South Korea becoming a driving force for international cooperation in Eurasia, brought about the articulation of the importance of developing cooperation with Russia and Central Asia (while earlier emphasis was put on cooperation with maritime powers), integrated all initiatives concerning this region under its auspices, and led to a number of practical measures, by and large it never evolved into a comprehensive and efficient policy (Lee, 2017, pp. 3–4). Enhancing cooperation with Eurasia was generally seen as an important step in diversifying South Korea’s economic relations in order to alleviate a growing dependence on China. Several reasons could be cited in this regard. First, the initiative was not well thought out before being launched, was not implemented in a systematic way, and lacked a strategic vision. No coordinating and supervising body was established and no financing provided, which resulted in the lack of a systematic strategy, top-­down approach with a focus on rhetoric and failure to implement the programmes that were adopted by various governmental ministries and agencies. Second, a rift in Russia–U.S. relations, western sanctions against Russia, and its economic slowdown had a negative impact on South Korea’s diplomacy and restricted its business operations in Russia. Third, linking improving inter-­ Korean relations with implementing the Eurasia Initiative as both its precondition and primary goal limited it enormously. Against the background of tensions

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   143 on the Korean Peninsula the conservative Park government chose to advocate sanctions isolating North Korea and blocked inter-­Korean relations. As a result, all trilateral projects, including Khasan–Rajin that acted as a driving force behind the initiative were suspended and thus the initiative proved to be generally unviable. Fourth, a number of economic factors should also be mentioned, such as insufficiently developed local cooperation mechanisms, inefficient management of intergovernmental contacts, low expectations about involvement into Russian market, expanding export and lack of information about it, and focus on short-­ term benefits rather than on long-­term strategic approach (Lee, 2017, pp. 4–6). The Ukrainian crisis put additional strain on South Korea–Russian relations. The deterioration of Russia–U.S. relations had a negative influence on Russia’s relations in Asia. In contrast to other U.S. allies, the leadership of South Korea, disregarding U.S. pressure, decided not to take tough measures against Russia. The reasoning behind this decision was that South Korea is a middle power and needs not only the support of the region’s dominant power, namely the U.S., but also effective multilateral engagement and close cooperation with other major regional powers. In order not to lose its competitive edge and high positions in the added value chains in the region as well as conduct an effective policy as a middle power, South Korea needs to have good relations with all major powers in Asia and it is not in a position to risk its relations with Russia due to introducing sanctions. This is true even despite the fact that Russia is not the major economic partner of South Korea. Being a major power, Russia is still regarded by South Korea as one of its key partners (Sung-­won Shin, personal communication, 4 December, 2014). Russia’s relations with South Korea saw a mixed record over the years of President Park’s mandate. Cooperation in the political sphere was not very active and the positions of the two countries in politics and security continued to differ considerably, especially regarding the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Park’s administration wanted to secure Russia’s full support of harsher sanctions against the DPRK. As Russia viewed the aggravated tensions on the peninsula in 2016 with serious concern, it supported a milder version of the UN resolution and agreed to impose sanctions over North Korea in March (UNSC Resolution 2270) and November 2016 (UNSC Resolution 2321) targeting its nuclear and missile programme in order to send a clear signal that the DPRK’s actions are unacceptable and threaten the security of the whole region. However, Russia’s position has been not to endanger the survival of the North Korean people but target only its nuclear and missile programme, that’s why it advocated non-­ inclusion of harsh economic measures, the imposition of an economic total embargo on trade, and the use of military force against the DPRK. Another issue of concern that damaged the relations was South Korea’s support of America’s position on the deployment of the U.S. missile defence systems. Russia viewed the decision on the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea with concern and expressed its belief that this mistaken decision by the South Korean government would further aggravate security in the region and could only provoke North Korea to implement new launches

144   Anna Kireeva and conduct new tests. Contrary to China, Russia’s strategic nuclear potential does not suffer directly as it is deployed out of range of the THAAD planned site and Russia does not produce the Intermediate-­range ballistic missiles that the THAAD complex is designed to fight. However, it objects to the Amer­ican missile defence systems approaching its border and holds a negative position towards the deployment of the U.S. global Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. However, Russia decided not to cancel the Putin–Park summit in September 2016 in Vladivostok because of the South Korean decision to deploy THAAD (Toloraya, 2016; Kashin, 2017). South Korean President Park Geun-­hye visited the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September 2016 and, together with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, inaugurated the Vladivostok Oceanarium and held a summit with Russian President. Russian and South Korean leaders agreed to work together to realize the strategic partnership relations and stated that the nuclear status of North Korea cannot be accepted. They signed 24 MoUs in the spheres of trade and investment that could pave the way to new projects in the Far East estimated at more than US$395 million. They also announced the decision to have a closer look at the potential of conducting the FTA between the EEU and South Korea. The signed documents include cooperation in maritime search and rescue operations, manufacturing industry, medicine (especially in the Far East), investment in fish farming, and space exploration between the corresponding ministries (Documents, 2016; Yakov­ leva, 2016, p. 171). As South Korea left no place for North Korea in the Eurasia Initiative and stopped considering participating in the Khasan–Rajin transportation project in March 2016, the prospects of this project as a trilateral one became unclear (although it has been specifically mentioned as not being targeted by UN sanctions and is continuing as Russian–North Korean project). Another Park ­Geun-­hye’s major foreign policy initiative – The Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) – bore no fruit either (Yakovleva, 2016, pp.  165–172), one of the key reasons being the Park Administration’s lack of diplomatic dialogue with North Korea and concentration only on enhancing pressure. Over the course of almost three decades, Russia and South Korea have risen in significance as economic partners. Russia’s interest in economic cooperation with South Korea has been based on the fact that it can significantly contribute to Russia’s modernization, economic development as well as improvement of its technological and innovative potential. In 2015, South Korea ranked tenth in Russia’s overall trade (3.4% of trade volume) and Russia ranked twelfth in South Korea’s overall trade (1.3%) (ibid., pp.  166–167). South Korean investment in Russia’s economy is assessed at US$2.3 billion, with 600 South Korean companies working in the Russian market. South Korea’s investment has mostly been focused on Russia’s Far East (about 40%) while the European part, the timber industry, service sector including hotel catering, agriculture, automobile industry as well as manufacturing industry, electronics and energy, has been the

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   145 Table 9.1  Russia–South Korea trade turnover (billion US$) 1996 1.9

1998 1.5

1999 1.1

2000 1.3

2000 1.3

2001 1.5

2002 2.2

2003 2.6

2004 3.9

2005 6.3

2006 9.5

2007 14.9

2008 18.3

2009 10.5

2010 17.6

2011 24.9

2012 24.9

2013 25.2

2014 27.3

2015 18.0

2016 15.1

2017 19.3 Source: Tablica 4 Vneshnyaya torgovlya Rossijskoj Federacii s otdel’nymi stranami [Table 4. Russia’s foreign trade with specific countries]. Russian Federal Custom Service Statistics (2017). Retrieved from:

most popular choice of South Korean businessmen. South Korea’s most successful companies have been Hyundai Motors in Saint Petersburg, LG Electronics in the Moscow region, Samsung Electronics in the Kaluga region, and KIA in the Kaliningrad region. Russia’s investment in South Korea totalled US$149.8 million, which is no way an accomplishment. Although these figures cannot be considered large or compatible with South Korea’s major economic partners, South Korea’s investment in Russia can still be described as a significant achievement if we take into consideration that the economic relations have existed only for about 30 years and both trade and investment have been growing from a zero point. From 1992 to 2014 trade turnover increased more than 140 times from US$190 million to US$27.3 billion. The two countries can boast a very profound legal framework including more than 50 agreements aimed at enhancing cooperation (Suslina, 2015, pp. 4–7). It should be noted that Russia–South Korea trade contracted from US$27.3 billion in 2014 to US$15.1 billion in 2016. Although South Korea decided not to impose sanctions on Russia, it was not encouraging any new projects. There was

ϯϬ Ϯϱ ϮϬ ϭϱ ϭϬ ϱ Ϭ

Figure 9.1  Dynamics of Russia–South Korea trade turnover (billion US$).

146   Anna Kireeva virtually no new investment, although work on many projects continued (Toloraya, 2016). The contraction of South Korea’s trade with Russia reflected the overall trend of Russia’s reduced external trade a result of the crisis in Russian economy, a drop in energy and resource prices (the main Russian export commodity to South Korea, despite the 20% increase of its volume) and the effect of Western sanctions in addition to contracted spending capacity of Russian population and currency volatility. Russian–South Korean trade in 2017 saw a gradual restoration to US$19.3, with an 27% increase comparing with 2016. However, Russia–South Korea trade structure remains unbalanced and insufficient from Russia’s point of view. Russia exports to South Korea mostly energy resources and raw goods and imports electronics, machinery, consumable goods, and other goods with high added value. In 2017, Russia’s export to South Korea accounted for US$12.3 billion, with mineral resources comprising a 73.4% share of it, followed by agricultural and consumable goods (11.8%), raw metals and processed metals (6.4%), chemicals (2.7%). Russia imported US$6.9 billion from South Korea, with the main positions being machinery, equipment, and automobiles (67.9%), chemicals (15.1%), raw metals and processed metals (7.9%), consumable goods and agricultural products (1.8%) (Trade, 2018). Although Russia tried to reach out to South Korea in order to diversify its export, there has been no enthusiastic response. South Korea feels comfortable with importing resources and raw materials and exporting goods with high added value, like machinery, automobiles, textiles, electronics, etc. Russia’s interests on the contrary lie in industrial cooperation, logistics, infrastructure, and high technologies. The second case to be mentioned are the drawbacks of Russia’s business climate: bureaucratic impediments, little or no awareness of business conditions, insufficient information, divergent business styles, lack of specialists as well as underdeveloped logistics (Yakovleva, 2016, pp.  171–172). The cooperation between Russia and Korea has not yet achieved a qualitatively new level. South Korea insists on an FTA with the EEU as a framework and a foundation for expanded cooperation with Russia to guarantee governmental support, create new growth opportunities for Eurasia and act as ROK’s “window to Eurasia” given Russia’s central position in the EEU (Lee, 2017, p.  15). As Russia is striving to restructure its economic model and promote non-­resource export, the FTA with South Korea will need to be very carefully calibrated and complemented by an investment accord guaranteeing that it would not lead to the consolidation of an already existing imbalanced structure and would be followed by South Korean investment into the spheres and industries where custom duties would be lifted. Major promising spheres of cooperation indicated by South Korean business include cooperation in energy, including LNG, i.e. from Sakhalin-­2 and Yamal LNG, electric and atomic, automobile plants (especially in Russia), space exploration (South Korean cosmonaut flights, space engines production), industrial cooperation, joint shipbuilding, finance, information technologies, biotechnologies, biochemistry, genetic engineering, medicine and pharmaceuticals,

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   147 communications, fish farming, agriculture, transport, ocean exploration, aviation, etc. (Suslina, 2015, pp.  3–4). South Korea has repeatedly expressed interest in advanced special economic zones (ASEZ) and free ports in the Russian Far East, especially in Vladivostok. South Korea has shown interest in developing logistics and infrastructure, while Russia has repeatedly advocated the benefits of the Trans-­Siberian railway and its connection to the Trans-­Korean railway as a faster and safer route from Asia to Europe compared to the heavily-­used sea lines of communication (SLOCs). The idea of utilizing the Arctic Shipping Route along the North coast of Russia as an alternative to the Suez Canal and Malacca Strait trade routes was welcomed by the regional community, including South Korea. In 2013 South Korea for the first time utilized the Northern Maritime Road to deliver a cargo. It has been investigating new logistical routes in this regard, and in 2015 it has established a joint Russian–Korean research centre in Vladivostok. During President Putin’s official visit to Soul in 2013 Russian companies signed a MoU on cooperation in creating a shipbuilding cluster in the Far East. South Korean Hyundai has also established a joint venture with “Zvezda” dockyard in the Primorsky region. It could be added that Russia has been buying oil tanker, LNG tankers, and container ships from South Korea. Russia and South Korea have also been developing cooperation in building machinery for natural resources exploration and extraction (Yakovleva, 2016, pp. 168–171).

Moon Jae-­in’s New Northern Policy and relations with Russia Prior to the inauguration of Moon Jae-­in in South Korea there were hopes that in the political dimension the power transition could pave the way for the improvement of relations between Russia and South Korea, strained because of the THAAD deployment. South Korean President Moon Jae-­in promised to proceed with policies of reconciliation with North Korea and to seek denuclearization through diplomatic dialogue, in addition to the pre-­existing economic sanctions, to seek a more rational solution. The new South Korean administration was expected to foster relations with major powers in order to reduce tensions in the region – the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan. By improving relations with Russia, South Korea would seek both the development of economic relations and Russia’s engagement into resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Moon Jae-­in dispatched his special envoys to meet with major South Korean partners. Song Young-­gil, the special envoy to Russia, met with President Putin on 29 May 2017. The two sides discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula as well as the measures to improve economic relations, including possible cooperation between the EEU and South Korea, joint infrastructure and transport projects. The first meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Moon Jae-­in took place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg in a “friendly and positive atmosphere”. They held discussions on a complex series of issues on bilateral relations and international security, and Moon Jae-­in

148   Anna Kireeva accepted President Putin’s invitation to visit the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September 2017 (Rossijskaya Gazeta, 2017). The first key event to provide a momentum for South Korea’s relations with Russia after the power transition in South Korea proved to be the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok in 6–7 September 2017. In President Moon’s very emotional speech at the plenary session of the Forum, he expressed his belief in the future of Russia’s Far East, described President Putin as possessing the spirit of a tiger, a sacred animal in Korea, and stated that he felt close affinity with Vladimir Putin. The two presidents also held a bilateral meeting during the Forum, where they discussed bilateral relations and regional security. President Moon also claimed that South Korea is the top priority partner for Russia to develop the Far East and that Russia–South Korea cooperation could make a positive contribution not only to the development of the Far East, but to the prosperity of Asia in general. Putin also called South Korea one of the key partners in Asia-­Pacific, with traditionally close and mutually beneficial ties. The South Korean president proposed to build nine bridges as “a royal road” to the future with a goal to qualitatively improve relations with Russia and raise them to a new level. He highlighted the necessity to develop economic cooperation on various areas in a substantial manner rather than on specific large-­scale projects, which aimed to build deeper trust among the businesses of both countries. President Moon also unveiled South Korea’s New Northern Policy designed to expand economic cooperation with northern states including North Korea and Russia, stating that it is to a large degree complementary with Russia’s Asian pivot. The South Korean president stated that he agreed with President Putin to strengthen the foundation for trilateral projects with the participation of South Korea, North Korea and Russia and uniting the Korean Peninsula with Russia’s Far East. Despite the lack of progress on this track, he expressed his belief that the development of the Far East could contribute not only to the prosperity of Russia and South Korea, but also induce a positive change in North Korea and provide a foundation for trilateral relations ­(Russia–South Korea Negotiations, 2017). The argument behind his logic is that strengthening trilateral cooperation between the two Koreas and Russia in improving transport-­logistics connectivity along with creating infrastructure for the unification is necessary to restore inter-­ Korean relations. North Korea’s participation in trilateral projects that are linked to cooperation in Eurasia could be the only practical tool of involving it in practical economic cooperation and demonstrating its merits. Trilateral projects with Russia or China in compliance with UN sanctions could be seen as the key means to promoting North Korea’s opening up and reforms. However, while the situation on the Korean Peninsula is characterized as unstable and inter-­Korean relations are limited by UN sanctions, it should start by pursuing cooperation with Russia in the Far East until the situation makes it possible to launch trilateral cooperation. In particular, the Khasan–Rajin project has already demonstrated successful cargo deliveries that could become part of a logistic project that would offer high added value and could be profitable. While a gas pipeline

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   149 and a project to link electric power grids were suspended due to the instability on the Korean Peninsula, they are still considered as long-­term projects in future (Lee, 2017, pp. 13, 17). The South Korean business delegation to the Eastern Economic Forum comprised almost 100 representatives from 50 companies, and South Korea is scheduled to serve as a partner country in the 2018 exhibition “Innoprom-­2018” (innovation industry) in Ekaterinburg. The two presidents agreed to accelerate joint collaboration on prospective projects in Russia, especially in the Far East, and utilize the joint investment platform with a capital of US$1 billion that was established in 2013 but was not put into practice. Moon Jae-­in proclaimed the agreement to create a new investment platform to invest in the Russia’s Far East with a US$2 billion capital, especially in shipbuilding and maritime infrastructure where the ROK is one of the world’s leaders, and a centre for investors from Korea. South Korea is planning to build 15 tankers for transporting the LNG from the Yamal LNG project. Agricultural cooperation has been on the rise, with Russia’s export rising by 17% during the first half of 2017. South Korea had been enthusiastically pushing the FTA with the EEU, and the two countries agreed to create a working group to hold expert consultations. Both leaders agreed to introduce Russia–South Korea regional forum starting from 2018 in order to enhance ties on the level of subnational regions, people-­to-people contacts and cooperation among SMEs, and emphasized enhanced cultural cooperation and tourism. Bilateral memoranda cover cooperation in innovations, medicine, finance, attracting Korean investment, and creating a fish processing and logistical cluster in the Far East (President of Russia, 2018). In order to supervise the New Northern Policy aimed at enhancing cooperation with Eurasian states, in June 2017 South Korea established a Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation. The Committee is headed by the Chairman, Song Young-­gil, a prominent politician from the Democratic Party who previously served as mayor of Incheon, a chief campaign manager of Moon Jae-­in’s presidential campaign and his special envoy to the Russian Federation in May 2017. The Committee held its first inaugural meeting on December 2017. The inauguration of the Committee with a high administrative status is expected to strengthen and consolidate decision making on the New Northern Policy. The key motivation behind the New Northern Policy is creating a new source of growth for the country’s major industries that are already technologically advanced amid China’s economic slowdown by creating new value chains. South Korea’s economic complementarity with China’s northeast, Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia, Ukraine, and Belarus based on their need of technologies and South Korea’s demand for energy and other resources creates incentives for enhanced cooperation. It is also to promote South Korea’s favourable image as a middle power. The hallmarks of President Moon’s administration’s foreign policy include the New Economic Map for the Korean Peninsula and the initiative of creating a “Responsible Northeast Asia Plus Community” through the New Northern and New Southern Policies. The nine-­bridge strategy and building a more solid strategic partnership with Russia, by reinforcing

150   Anna Kireeva b­ ilateral economic cooperation, play the key role in the policy. These are the major tasks for future cooperation: preparing to resume the Khasan–Rajin logistical project based on the developments of inter-­Korean dialogue and laying the foundation to connect both Koreas and Russia in energy, railway and electricity (The Presidential Committee, 2018). The South Korea’s nine-­bridge strategy of enhancing cooperation with Russia has been further detailed under the following framework: (1) create an industrial complex in Russia’s maritime provinces through trilateral cooperation; (2)  enhance agricultural cooperation with joint projects, R&D; (3) improve cooperation in shipbuilding with building ice-­breaking LNG carriers for polar travel and construction of shipyards; (4) diversify the import of gas by LNG imports from Russia and connect gas pipelines trilaterally in the future; (5) build the Northeast Asian Super Grid that would be a huge power grid encompassing South Korea, China, Japan, Mongolia, and Russia; (6) cut logistics costs by boosting transportation via the Trans-­Siberian Railway with a view to connecting it with the Trans-­Korean railway in the future; (7) create a product complex in fishery in the Russian Far East (RFE) and secure a stable supply of fishing products with expansion of quotas; (8) modernize and construct ports in the Far East such as the port of Zarubino; and (9) develop the Arctic Shipping Route into a new logistics route to promote its commercial use and pre-­empt the Arctic Ocean market (ibid.). As for the security on the Korean Peninsula, during the second half of 2017 tensions were very high with North Korea’s nuclear tests in September and ICBM tests in July and November, and the “war of words” between U.S. President Donald Trump and the DPRK. During their meeting in September both leaders condemned the missile and nuclear tests. South Korean supported Russia’s position on adhering to the non-­proliferation regime and reduction of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The ways to deal with the North Korean nuclear and missile programme proposed by the two leaders, however, showed considerable difference. President Putin stressed that the problem cannot be settled by applying more pressure, and referred to the Russian–Chinese roadmap on the resolution of the Korean issue advocating “dual freeze”, multilateral negotiations and establishing collective security architecture as a genuine way to diffuse tensions. President Moon Jae-­in, however, called upon Russia to sustain and increase pressure on North Korea, adding that the problem should be settled peacefully. He also stressed that North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme is the most serious threat to the development of the Korean Peninsula and the Far East (President of Russia, 2018). The South Korean president together with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Russia to support the embargo of oil to North Korea, effectively abolishing the main source of imported oil. The fact that the Russian president showed no appreciation of this proposal, was mainly shown in a negative light in the South Korean media. South Korea positively evaluated Russia’s support of the new sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council on 11 September, although with China’s and Russia’s insistence for a milder version of the resolution it was finally adopted. South Korea

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   151 also positively viewed Russia’s support of UNSC Resolution 2397 in December 2017. Against such background Russia had no other option but to take note of South Korea’s decision to complete the deployment of the THAAD missile defence system taken in the early September after the North Korean nuclear test. Apart from the THAAD deployment, which was criticized by Russia, a matter of concern in Moscow was the U.S. decision in late September that it may send “strategic military assets” to South Korea as leading to the militarization of Northeast Asia. During this period political and security relations were not that much different from the previous conservative administrations, demonstrating mostly divergent views. Warmer relations on the Korean Peninsula in the first half of 2018 brought about improvements in South Korea’s political and security relations with Russia. Moscow welcomed the resumption of the official contacts between South and North Korea on 9 January 2018 in the de-militarized zone. Russia expressed hope that they could pave the way for de-­escalation on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea and Russia held a number of high-­level diplomatic consultations during the first half of 2018 aimed at promoting peace and security on the Korean Peninsula where both sides underlined the role of bilateral coordination in supporting political and diplomatic means of settling security issues. Russia saw the bilateral contacts of the DPRK with South Korea, China and the U.S. and the downgrading of U.S.–South Korea military exercises in April as the de facto realization of the Russian–Chinese roadmap on the resolution of the Korean issue. During a telephone conversation, after the inter-­Korean summit, between Moon Jae-­in and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president highly valued the results of the summit, in particular the desire to guarantee the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula documented in the Panmunjom Declaration. Russia confirmed its support of inter-­Korean dialogue as an important step towards reconciliation and establishing solid cooperation that possesses its own value. Vladimir Putin also restated Russia’s readiness to facilitate inter-­Korean cooperation with the means of trilateral infrastructure and energy projects involving Russia and both Koreas (TASS, 2018). President Moon for the first time visited Russia with a state visit on 21–23 July. He addressed the Russian Parliament, becoming the first South Korean President to do so, and held a meeting with Vladimir Putin. He again stressed the complementary character of Russia’s “New Eastern Policy” and his New Northern Policy in achieving the prosperity of Eurasia and his desire to continue regular high-­level dialogue. President Moon expressed gratitude for Russia’s role and support in bringing the current detente to the Korean Peninsula, while President Putin stressed South Korea’s role in promoting peace on the peninsula. Both sides agreed to take steps in order to achieve denuclearization and peace in the region and welcomed high-­level US–DPRK dialogue, which indicated a convergence of their positions. Apart from that, the two leaders confirmed their interest in implementing trilateral projects, especially building railway networks that would connect the Trans-­Korean and Trans-­Siberian railways, thus linking South and North Korea, Russia and Europe (President of Russia, 2018; Asmolov, 2018).

152   Anna Kireeva The declaration adopted by the two presidents contains a pledge to facilitate cooperation in politics, economics, culture and people-­to-people exchanges, combat terrorism, enhance economic cooperation in industry and manufacturing including aviation, automobiles, shipbuilding, constructing and modernizing shipyards in Russia, space, energy (in particular in the Arctic), information technologies and high technologies including creating joint ventures and combining both countries’ innovative potentials, finance, agriculture, fishery, medicine, tourism, sport and regional cooperation, especially in the Far East. In particular, South Korea and Russia agreed to initiate a feasibility study of an agreement on trade in services and investment liberalization and to continue discussing the ROK–EEU FTA. They also agreed to develop an action plan to realize joint economic cooperation based on the nine-­bridge strategy. In addition to that, Russia and South Korea agreed to build a joint innovation centre, expand the joint centre for scientific cooperation, and promote cooperation among SMEs. A South Korean–Russian Regional Cooperation Forum is to take place for the first time in 2018 and to continue in 2019 (President of Russia, 2018). However, all of the 14 agreements signed are declarations and MoUs that are to be implemented in future. Apart from confirmation of common positions on the Korean Peninsula, the visit fell short of demonstrating visible results. The progress in realizing all these projects including three-­way railway cooperation will be crucial in demonstrating if Russia and South Korea are capable of qualitatively improving their bilateral relationship and reaching US$30 billion trade by 2020. The ROK’s participation in the Eastern Economic Forum will be a good indicator in this regard (Asmolov, 2018).

Conclusion The relationship between South Korea and Russia has experienced profound development since its establishment in 1990. Clear distinction can be drawn between the impact that conservative and progressive traditions in South Korean politics have on relations with Russia. Conservative administrations, especially Lee Myung-­bak’s and Park Geun-­hye’s, interpreted national interests of putting maximum pressure on North Korea with the goal of regime collapse and unification through absorption in a way that was at odds with that of Russia. As a result, despite the proclaimed aim of evaluating the relationship with Russia to “strategic partnership” in 2008 and regular high-­level summits, relations in politics and security began to lack substance. Conservative administrations were not quite satisfied with Russia’s position of being too mild on the DPRK and protecting its interests. The issue of the THAAD deployment became a matter of concern in bilateral relations, as Russia regarded it as a disproportionate response that aggravates security on the Korean Peninsula. On the contrary, South Korea’s relations with Russia flourished during the “progressive decade” of Kim Dae-­jung and Roh Moo-­hyun due to the large overlap of positions on security on the Korean Peninsula, and became the focus of Moon Jae-­in’s New Northern Policy.

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   153 However, despite the divergent impact of South Korea’s conservatives’ and progressives’ policies on political and security relations with Russia, economic relations have been developing throughout their tenures regardless of both traditions, as witnessed by Roh Tae-­woo’s Northern Policy and Lee Myung-­bak’s pledge to upgrade relations to “strategic partnership”. Park Geun-­hye’s Eurasia Initiative articulated the importance of developing economic and logistic cooperation with Eurasia in order to find new sources of growth and take part in regional international cooperation. Although it never developed into a coherent and efficient policy, in part because it linked economic cooperation with denuclearization of North Korea, it signalled the strategic value of cooperation with Russia. Moon Jae-­in’s focus on improving relations with Russia has been demonstrated by his New Northern Policy, with the “nine bridges” of cooperation as its centrepiece. The key rationale includes searching for new sources of growth with creating new value chains through participation of South Korea’s advanced industries and its high technologies, while securing energy imports and participating in regional cooperation including the Artic. It is also to demonstrate the benefits of economic cooperation with North Korea and potentially engage in trilateral cooperation. Although the security dialogue between South Korea and Russia during the second half of 2017 due to exacerbating tensions on the Korean Peninsula inherited from the previous administration was more reminiscent of conservative administrations, the easing of tensions in 2018 demonstrated a different situation. South Korea–Russia political relations improved significantly with the Olympics warming and inter-­Korean dialogue which was enthusiastically welcomed by Russia. President Moon’s state visit to Russia and his talks with Putin in late July 2018 demonstrated a high degree of convergence of the two states’ positions on security and peace on the Korean Peninsula by promoting denuclearization and negotiations. Although bilateral economic cooperation has seen a quantitative growth, the level of cooperation, as witnessed by the low position of Russia’s and South Korea’s within each other’s foreign trade – Russia’s low share in South Korea’s foreign trade (1–2%), investment (less than 1% of Russia’ FDI in the ROK and only US$2.3 billion ROK FDI in Russia) and low level of participation in resource development and infrastructure projects – does not correspond to the status of South Korea as one of the economically advanced countries and to the huge potential of Russia (Lee, 2017, pp.  7–8, 11). Constructing an ROK–EEU FTA is going to be difficult due to the lack of desire of both states to eliminate tariffs in sensitive sectors (automobile industry for Russia and agriculture for the ROK) and due to Russia’s position, making it hardly possible in the short-­term. As Russia is striving to restructure its economic model and promote non-­ resource export, the FTA with South Korea will need to be very carefully calibrated and complemented by an investment accord guaranteeing that it would not lead to the consolidation of an already existing imbalanced structure and would be followed by South Korean investment into the spheres and industries where custom duties would be lifted.

154   Anna Kireeva Thus, the major conclusion of this chapter is that despite the fact that Russia is not a major economic partner for South Korea, it is still regarded as one of four major powers in Northeast Asia that it needs to have robust contacts with. This argument can be supported by the fact that South Korea despite U.S. pressure chose not to impose economic sanctions in 2014. President Moon Jae-­in has also emphasized relations with Russia as one of the key major powers that plays an indispensable role in establishing peace, security, and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. His New Northern Policy has been to a large degree concentrated on enhancing economic cooperation with Russia, with the potential of realizing trilateral cooperation in the future. The trilateral projects that are not covered by the UNSC sanctions regime could be implemented soon enough if there is security environment changes for the better, while at the same time planning should be carried out about the ones that still fall under sanctions. The Moon Jae-­in administration’s interest in Russia can be explained by the fact that it has a number of certain limitations in its current level of relations with other major players – the U.S (President Trump’s continuous criticism of the KORUS FTA, increased possibility of military action where South Korea appears to be a hostage as well), China (China’s harsh reaction on South Korea’s decision to deploy THAAD, its “unofficial” economic sanctions, lifted subsequently with its desire to increase its influence vis-­à-vis South Korea and high-­level of economic dependence), and Japan (strained relations over history issues and lack of trust). Improving relations with Russia and realizing the New Northern Policy, on the contrary, could prove to be an accomplishment in case it brings tangible benefits for South Korea’s economy. Preventing Russia, China, and North Korea from becoming too close is also an important matter of consideration for the ROK. The major task for President Moon is to transform the rhetoric of strategic partnership into a real one (Gu Ho Eom, personal communication, 4 November, 2017). Consequently, it can be argued that the emphasis on improving relations with Russia is South Korea’s answer to the dilemma of growing economic dependence on China and negative apprehension of Trump’s policy. As such, it has been consistent with different traditions in South Korean politics, as the Eurasian Initiative and New Northern Policy were launched by conservative and progressive administrations respectively. To sum up, despite the divergence of political and security relationship with Russia under different administrations, there has been a consensus on the need for bilateral security cooperation on the Korean Peninsula, enhancing complementary cooperation with Eurasian countries, first and foremost Russia, in order to diversify South Korea’s economic policy and potentially establishing it as a third strategic dimension.

Note 1 The author would like to express her gratitude to Professor Gu Ho Eom from Hanyang University, Professor Sung-­won Shin from the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, Dr Liudmila Zakharova and Dr Konstantin Asmolov from the Centre for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, for their valuable comments.

S. Korea–Russia relations after the Cold War   155

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156   Anna Kireeva Trade. (2018). Torgovlja mezhdu Rossiej i Respublikoj Koreja (Juzhnoj Koreej). v 2017 g. [Trade between Russia and the Republic of Korea in 2017] (15 February). Retrieved from http://russian-­­and-reviews/2018-02/torgovlya-­mezhdu-rossiey-­ i-respublikoy-­koreya-yuzhnoy-­koreey-v-­2017-g/ Yakovleva, L.N. (2016). Rossija i Respublika Koreja: real’nost’ i perspektivy [Russia and the Republic of Korea: Reality and prospects]. In G.D. Toloraya (Ed.), Asian neighbours of Russia: Cooperation in a regional context (pp. 165–172). Moscow: Publishing and Trading Corporation “Dashkov and K”. Zakharova, L. (2016). Economic cooperation between Russia and North Korea: New goals and new approaches. Journal of Eurasian Studies, 7(2), 151–161.

10 Crossing boundaries South Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia1 Antonio Fiori, Kevin Gray, Soyeun Kim, and Andrea Passeri Introduction South Korea has always been indicated as a case of economic success. After the sufferance it had to undergo under the Japanese colonization (1910–1945), the country came out of the Korean War (1950–1953) in desperate conditions, with a per capita income of just US$64, and became the prey of authoritarian regimes. Nonetheless, in just half a century, following a successful economic transformation and the transition to a democratic regime (1987), it figured among the most developed and wealthy nations in the world and home to a multitude of flourishing multinational companies. The ugly duckling, once isolated and dependent on foreign aid until the 1970s, has transformed into a beautiful swan, which ranks as the fifth largest export economy with a per capita GDP of US$29,743.2 This global economic rise, however, has not been paralleled by the ascension to a global political role. North Korea’s proximity and the need to deter the regime’s provocations, trying to keep stability and peaceful coexistence, has always been a constant source of preoccupation for Seoul, which has devoted to this purpose much of its military and diplomatic commitments, and has become dependent on the United States from the security point of view. Moreover, its geographic location, squeezed between two great powers like China and Japan – a situation magnificently exemplified by the metaphor of being a “shrimp among whales” – has, to some extent, frustrated the attempts of several administrations to carve out its space. It was only in the early 1990s that South Korea started to change its attitude to demonstrate distinctive internationalist ambitions to meet global challenges. After having achieved an impressive economic success and in the wake of the confidence gained with the hosting of the Olympics (1988), the contribution to the formation of the Asia-­Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (1989), and the joining of the United Nations (1991), times were mature to show to the world that South Korea could not be considered any longer as a marginal and poor country, but it had transformed into a modern and prosperous country with a vibrant society. In addition, in 1991, the establishment of the Korea International Cooperation Agency was meant to increase the South Korea’s grant aid programmes for developing countries.

158   Antonio Fiori et al. Global interests and aspirations became central in South Korea’s foreign policy strategies under the Kim Young-­sam administration: the introduction of the segyehwa policy, as a core component of the “New Diplomacy” elucidated by the Foreign minister Han Sung-­joo, was a comprehensive attempt to diversify its diplomatic and trade relations in order to break away from the dominance and constrictions determined by the alliance with the United States and play a larger role outside Northeast Asia. The globalization strategy reached its apex with the joining of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 and the acceptance into the exclusive “club” of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in 1996, which clearly demonstrated Korea’s attainment of economic capabilities and modernization. In addition, it encouraged Korean businesses to gain access to new markets: a shift long wished by chaebols in order to acquire a better positioning and reduce production costs. Kim Young-­ sam’s objective to expand Korea’s role in the international arena, however, ended disastrously when the country was hit by the “International Monetary Fund (IMF ) crisis” in 1997, which caused the collapse of several major companies, demolishing the assumption according to which these actors would be constantly able to pay off their soaring debts. This dramatic outcome gave way to intense criticism against the government for having pushed too intensely to achieve globalization without being sufficiently prepared for that goal. The following two progressive administrations, however, did not abandon the itinerary initiated by Kim Young-­sam. His successor, Kim Dae-­jung, deepened neoliberal policies and supported an open economy in the wake of the financial crisis by arguing that the country could only progress if it participated in globalization and “embraced the challenges of the new millennium” (Kim, 1999). The result was a massive increase in exports and a further promotion of overseas investments. His successor, Roh Moo-­hyun, in proposing his “Policy of Peace and Prosperity”, suggested that Korea was ready to bear the burden of leading the “Age of Northeast Asia in the 21st century” and emerge as an international logistics and financial hub in the region (See Milani & Fiori’s chapter in this book). This, however, hardly meant finding refuge in regionalization to the detriment of globalization: on the contrary, he saw the two forces reinforcing each other in a complementary way. In September 2004, before embarking on an official visit to Russia and Central Asia, President Roh for the first time used the term “resource diplomacy” in order to define one of the main objectives of his diplomatic action. As widely known, in fact, South Korea is subject to an extraordinary resource dependency, especially regarding energy, food, and minerals. This situation has constantly forced the country to be prepared to face eventual external shocks and disruption in supply. During Roh’s presidency, political instability in the Middle East – the largest provider of energy to South Korea – and the rise in oil prices forced the administration to seek other interlocutors in order to diversify its dependence from that specific region. This necessity was put into connection with the global diplomatic architecture to establish strategic partnerships with countries that could sustain South Korea’s voracious hunger for oil and other resources. Against this backdrop, the attention Seoul reserved to

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   159 several world regions – Latin America, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa – became more intense and pronounced. In addition, the government started to mobilize generous financial support to encourage investments in overseas resource ownership, extraction, and development. The main actors in shaping this strategy were state-­owned energy corporations, which, more and more intensely, started to be assisted by private companies. The outcome of this strategy was positive and Roh obtained encouraging results: during his mandate Korea’s secured oil and gas reserve fields tripled (Kalinowski & Cho, 2012). The advent of Lee Myung-­bak in 2007 confirmed South Korea’s efforts to focus on middle power (junggyun guk) diplomacy, especially through the articulation of the “Global Korea” initiative, unveiled in 2009. This initiative aimed at expanding the foreign policy platform towards the entire world, abating every sort of limitation, without disregarding the alliance with the United States but, on the contrary, expanding it to contribute to new dimensions of international security. The Global Korea initiative was reinforced by several elements that fortified the global position Seoul was aiming at. That same year, in fact, Korea – the only nation that had completed the transition from net recipient of aid to donor of official development assistance and therefore incarnating the model to which many looked at – joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), whose mission is to both coordinate official development assistance (ODA) and promote global economic and social development. In this way, Seoul reinforced the claim to be a bridge between the developed and the developing hemispheres, a central feature in its middle power identity and global strategy. Even though South Korea’s bilateral ODA has constantly concentrated on Asia, in recent years sub-­Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Central Asia have progressively assumed greater importance. Under the Global Korea vision, the country significantly expanded its development assistance, increasing ODA by 65% (John, 2015). The following year South Korea became the first non-­G8 member to host the annual G20 leaders’ summit, after this had become the main economic global governance institution. The preparation for this summit was characterized by the participatory role developing nations played, in order to discuss with Western economies about alternative models of development, relying more on the “construction” of development pillars than on the mere concession of aid (O’Neil, 2015). In line with his predecessor’s strategy, Lee focused on resource diplomacy and further upgraded it, by opening it up to a bigger role of the private sector. Moreover, from a merely passive attitude, focused on the securement of resources, South Korea enhanced its status by becoming one of the main competitors for global resources, with special reference to some unfolding sectors, like nuclear power. Among Park Geun-­hye’s initiatives, it is worth mentioning the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI), a process seeking to build an order of multilateral cooperation in the Northeast Asian region in order to solve the growing “Asian Paradox”, and, above all, the Eurasia Initiative (EAI), aiming at creating continental scale cooperation between East Asia and Europe. This

160   Antonio Fiori et al. strategy originated in October 2013, when Seoul hosted the “Global Cooperation in the Era of Eurasia” conference and Park articulated her economic vision for the region. In practice, the strategy was in line with Lee’s “New Asia Initiative”, and it was aimed at capitalizing on South Korea’s experiences as a successful middle power in bridging between developed and developing nations as well as between large and small regional powers. At the core of the EAI stood the revivification of the ancient “Silk Road” – linking Europe and Asia – that should serve as a connecting platform for energy supplies and transportation infrastructures, especially through Central Asia, with which political and, above all, economic relations deepened. This chapter’s primary goal is to demonstrate that, unlike what has traditionally happened with the relations between South Korea and major powers, like the United States or China, the development of Seoul’s global strategy has not represented a divisive issue between progressive and conservative governments, all of which have tried to support this strategy. This fil rouge linking so diverse administrations is, to some extent, due to the fact that South Korea – as an acknowledged middle power – is constantly in search of intimate cooperation with developing countries who can satisfy its desperate need of resources and help the allocation of its manufactured goods. The chapter revolves around the analysis of four areas that have become crucial for the globalization efforts of South Korea: Central Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia and, more recently, the Arctic region.

Exploring the Silk Road: South Korea and Central Asia Central Asia, intended as the macro-­region comprised by the five Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, has always had a pivotal geopolitical relevance. In ancient times it represented the crucial juncture of the Silk Road, and subsequently the region became essential for the strategic interests of the big powers, given its privileged access to the Russian, Chinese, Indian, Persian, and Ottoman empires. Almost neglected during the Cold War period, Central Asia has acquired a new centrality in the twenty-­first century, mainly due to its immense availability of natural resources. Despite still being greatly influenced by Moscow, the region has attracted the attention of many other actors, including China, the United States, the European Union and, more recently, the Republic of Korea. Energy security and economic interests, more than any other political reason, have modelled relations between Seoul and the Central Asian republics. This peculiar trait is highly visible in the similar attitude that both conservative and progressive administrations have had towards the region. Since the end of the Cold War, in fact, Seoul has tried to redefine and enlarge its foreign and economic policies to “less explored” geographic areas, like South and Central Asia, above all for the acquisition of resources and new markets in which to invest. This was also imposed by its energy-­intensive economy and by the need for a diversification in the sources of energy provision: the usual reliance on the

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   161 distant Middle East, in fact, was particularly risky, given the political instability of that region and the competition with other countries, like China and Japan, who heavily relied on the same area. Central Asia was well equipped in energy terms to reduce Seoul’s dependence on the Middle East and generate third-­ country trade flows (Calder & Kim, 2008). Unlike its direct, and more powerful, competitors, South Korea could count on a relative advantage: Seoul was – and still is – considered as an attractive example of economic growth for any emerging economy and as a much less threatening power. Beyond natural resources, another reinforcing factor in the relationship between Seoul and Central Asia is represented by the ethnic-­Korean community – the so-­called Koryo Saram – living in the region. Most of these citizens are descendants of those exiles deported from the Soviet Far East to Central Asia during the Stalinist terrors in the late 1930s, and many of those who settled in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan contributed to the development of these regions. This presence was reinforced, at the end of the Cold War, by the South Korean cultural penetration in Central Asia that developed soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Seoul was one of the most solicit actors to intervene in Central Asia in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, becoming one of the leading investors in the region. The chaebols promptly seized the opportunities created by the establishment of the five republics, giving special attention to the richest among them, i.e. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Daewoo set up a joint venture with UzAvtosanoat in the sector of car manufacturing in Asaka, while Samsung and LG started to infiltrate the electronics market in both countries. In addition, Daewoo Unitel intervened in the emerging communications market and Kabool Textiles Uzbek Ltd. in the textile production in Uzbekistan, while Samsung assembly plants were established in Kazakhstan (Hwang, 2012a). A turning point in the relations between the ROK and Central Asia, however, was represented by the election of Roh Moo-­hyun (2003–2008). The two important presidential visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, in 2004 and 2005, were followed by the Central Asia Conference launched by the South Korean government at the end of 2005, during which the parts formulated the “Comprehensive Central Asia Initiative”, which was adopted the following year (Ko, 2009). In March 2006, during a visit by the Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, the two countries signed the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership, which paved the way to a new series of investments, above all in the energy sector: the Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC), Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) and the Uzbekneftegaz ratified a Memorandum of Understanding which granted South Korean companies exclusive exploration and production rights of Chust-­Pap and Namangan-­Terachi oil fields, in eastern Uzbekistan, and Surgil and Uzunkui gas fields.3 The intensification of contact brought to the establishment, in November 2007, of the Korea–Central Asia Cooperation Forum, a comprehensive partnership in areas such as economy, culture, science, and technology among others. Up until 2017, the Forum has convened annually; that same year, in July, the

162   Antonio Fiori et al. Korea Foundation created the Korea–Central Asia Cooperation Forum Secretariat, a permanent body established in Seoul whose aim is to implement and diversify initiatives in various fields, including medicine, tourism, arts and, culture and water management (Korea Foundation, 2017). The relationship between Central Asia and the ROK was not affected by the end of the “progressive decade”, reconfirming the centrality of economic interests over political ones. In February 2008, Karimov visited Seoul in occasion of the ceremony for the inauguration of the newly elected Korean president, Lee Myung-­bak. Simultaneously, Uzbekneftegaz and a consortium of Korean companies, including KOGAS, Lotte Chemical Corporation and STX Energy Corporation, gave birth to the Uz-­Kor Gas Chemical Investment Ltd., by signing a foundation agreement for the development of a large gas field in Surgil, within the Ustyurt region in the west of Uzbekistan, holding an estimated 131 billion cubic metres of gas, and the subsequent gas production and processing.4 A few months later, Prime Minister Han Seung-­soo – who appointed himself “special envoy for resource diplomacy” – led a large delegation of Korean businessmen to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for a ten-­day tour during which energy provisions were at the core of the meetings (Uz Daily, 2008). Han’s achievements were significant: a relevant deal for the purchase, between 2010 and 2016, of 2600 tons of uranium – worth US$400 million and representing 9% of South Korea’s annual demand – was negotiated with the Uzbek Prime Minister, Mirziyoyev, and a Memorandum of Understanding was ratified for cooperation in joint development of energy and engineering components (World Nuclear News, 2008). In connection with Han’s tour, the Korean Consortium for the Caspian Oil Project, headed by the KNOC and including SK, LG, Samsung and Daesung, finalized a deal to obtain a 27% stake in Kazakhstan’s Zhambyl offshore oil block (Choi, 2008). Outside of the energy sphere, South Korean brokerage firms turned their attention to the region to take advantage of potentially lucrative investments, given the rise in the prices of raw materials. Two South Korean firms, Daishin Securities and Hyundai Securities, opened an office in Kazakhstan. However, the area in which Seoul has invested more, in order to ensure a durable influence in the region, is that of Navoi, in the Southwest part of Uzbekistan. Beyond being very rich in natural resources, like gold and uranium, that area is also endowed with infrastructures deputed to the manufacturing of those resources, thus drastically reducing transportation costs and easing the export of minerals. In 2008, the ratification of an agreement granted South Korean companies the possibility to convert Navoi airport into a regional logistic hub: an opportunity immediately taken by Hanjin, a group linked to Korean Air, which has invested in the hub, taking the responsibility of logistics and starting to work for its enlargement. The airport has become the largest terminal for cargo in the whole of Central Asia, thanks to its capacity to manage 100,000 tons of goods a year (Aircargonews, 2015). In August 2008, the Korean government published the National Plan for Energy, remarking the importance of energy security for the national economic

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   163 growth and emphasized the necessity of developing a “resource diplomacy”, recognizing the South Korean inexperience in that sector, in particular if compared to the United States or Europe (MKEK, 2008). The Plan also shed light on the discrepancies between consumption trends of the country and its domestic resources: in the previous decades, in fact, the energy consumption has grown considerably despite the scarce population growth. Despite the fact that South Korea is the fifth largest producer of nuclear energy in the world, with its 24 reactors generating about a third of its electricity, it still relies significantly on coal and gas: materials that have to be imported through dangerous and over-­ trafficked naval routes. In order to improve the country’s influence, President Lee Myung-­bak launched a series of audacious strategies, the most relevant of which was undoubtedly the “New Asia Initiative”. The project, announced during an official meeting with Korean mission chiefs in Jakarta in March 2009, should not only make South Korea’s role stronger in a comprehensive way but also promote peace and prosperity in the Asian continent (Lee, 2010). President Lee’s initiative represented a switch in focus of the country’s foreign policy, taking some distance from the choices made by previous administrations. If, traditionally, South Korea had focused its attention on the region in which it is geographically inserted – the relations with Beijing and Tokyo, the alliance with the United States, and the North Korean threat, just to name a few – the new strategy implemented by Lee moved towards two main directions: first, a redefinition of the international role of the country which could transform it into the longed-­for Global Korea; and second, an inedited emphasis on the relations with Southeast Asian and Central Asian actors. In other words, South Korea chose to reposition itself as a bridge between developed and developing countries, in order to expand its influence and widen the spheres of cooperation from mere economic issues to energy, cultural, and security issues, with a growing number of interlocutors. In May 2009, Lee also announced the “New Silk Road Initiative” to emphasize the importance of relations with Central Asia: the strategy was based on a development through interventions modelled on the needs and characteristics of the different countries – most significantly Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – including several visits and summits with the counterparts. The election of the conservative Park Geun-­hye, in 2012, represented a sort of continuation of Lee’s strategy. In October 2013, during the Global Cooperation in the Era of Eurasia Conference, Park outlined the main points of her economic vision, substantiated in the “Eurasia Initiative”, an ambitious plan aimed at connecting Europe and Asia through a complex network of infrastructural, logistic and energy endowments (Choi, 2013). The quintessence of the “Eurasia Initiative” should have been the “Silk Road Express” (SRX), a railroad connection between London and Busan – through the Korean Peninsula, Russia, China, Central Asia, and Europe – capable of highly reducing connection times. Park was convinced that this project could bring advantages in terms of investment and occupation, and also avoid the threat of piracy and political instability

164   Antonio Fiori et al. of countries in the Middle East. In detail, if successful, the SRX would help South Korea to have access to new markets, overcome the limitations imposed by North Korea (and benefit from its contribution), and create a western axis (with Russia, Central Asia, and Europe) to complement the usual geopolitical environment in which Seoul operates, i.e. the United States and China. Park Geun-­hye’s trip to Central Asia, in June 2014, was in line with Lee’s “resource diplomacy”. During her visit to Tashkent, Park discussed with Karimov the current state and priority directions of expanding the cooperation between the two countries. Besides reaffirming their intention to continue to implement large-­ scale projects on developing and processing gas reserves at the Surgil field, the two presidents agreed to collaborate on the construction of a thermal power station in Talimarjan and on the further development of the Kandym gas field, for liquefied gas production, through the construction of a new gas processing plant (Kim, J.H., 2017). Importantly, Park secured an increase in the ROK’s annual imports of uranium from Uzbekistan, from 300 to 500 million tons: this was a positive achievement for a country depending on nuclear power for its electricity generation needs and a contribution to the strengthening of relations between the two countries (Ramani, 2015). The two leaders also reached an agreement to widen their economic cooperation in other sectors like research and technology, information and communication technologies, environment protection, textiles industry (through the creation of the Textile Technology Innovation Center in Tashkent), and construction of railroads and highways. Park, then, moved to Kazakhstan, where, during her meeting with President Nazarbayev, she emphasized the importance of projects such as the coal-­fired power plant near Lake Balqaš, the Atyrau petrochemical complex, and a project to drill for oil at the Zhambyl field in the Caspian Sea (Lee, 2014). Park also declared Korea’s commitment to the modernization of Kazakhstan’s railway, expected to provide a basis for her vision of SRX, while Nazarbayev reconfirmed his interest towards the “Eurasia Initiative”. The two leaders also declared their mutual interest for cooperation in other fields like healthcare and forestry, to contribute to the industrial diversification of the Central Asian country, and Seoul’s commitment to reduce obstacles for investments (such as a 30-day visa-­free regime). The tour ended in Ashgabat where Park Geun-­hye met the Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow: the two heads of state signed several deals to spur economic ties. In 2015, to highlight his commitment to South Korea as a major partner, Islam Karimov chose South Korea as his first travel destination after his re-­election. The new president Moon Jae-­in’s attention towards Central Asia has remained high. In November 2017, Moon received the visit of Uzbek President Mirziyoyev and, during the summit he referred to Uzbekistan as a “key state” in Seoul’s plans to reinforce and expand its role as a player in the region (Kim, R., 2017). During the visit economic relations were strengthened through the ratification of a series of deals totalling around US$9 billion, in the fields of energy, banking, and infrastructure. In addition to important trade relations, the two state’s economic ministers also signed a “road map” memorandum whereby South Korea offered to help Uzbekistan in its efforts to accede to the WTO.

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   165

The new frontier market: South Korea and the African continent In many respects, Seoul’s engagement with Africa reflects a broader pattern of expanding relations between emerging powers and the continent (Shaw et al., 2009). Indeed, South Korea’s economic relations with African countries have grown rapidly in recent years. Between 1990 and 2017, South Korean exports to Africa have grown from US$646.1 million to US$9.1 billion. In proportional terms, South Korea’s exports to Africa as a percentage of the country’s total exports have grown from 0.99% to 1.59%. During the same period, South Korean imports from Africa grew from US$371.1 million to US$6.8 billion, with Africa’s share in South Korean imports growing from 0.53% to 1.42%.5 Again, with parallels to broader trends, these trade relations have generally taken the somewhat unequal form of South Korean imports of energy and minerals from Africa and South Korean exports of capital and technology-­intensive goods. While Africa has historically been less important as a destination for South Korean Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), there has been a sharp increase since the mid-­2000s. Reflecting the broader pattern of trade relations, the vast majority of this South Korean FDI is in the realm of resource development and has been focused particularly on Madagascar, Libya (until the collapse of the Gaddafi regime), Nigeria, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, and Cameroon (Kim & Gray, 2016). This increase in trade has been accompanied by a rapid rise in overseas development assistance: between 2006 and 2010, South Korea’s overall ODA increased by an average of 29% each year, reaching US$$1.32 billion in 2011 (Kim, 2013). In terms of both absolute volume and ratio, Africa’s share in this ODA provision has also seen a steady increase. South Korean commitments have risen from US$64.1 million in 2006 to US$357 million in 2012. As a proportion of South Korea’s total ODA provision, this amounts to an increase from 9.5% in 2006 to 20.4% in 2012 (Kim & Gray, 2016). In 2016, the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), which distributes grants, disbursed US$74.5 million on partnership projects in 23 African countries. In that year, South Korean ODA funded projects in the areas of education (23% of total grants to Africa), health (21.6%), agriculture, forestry and fisheries (19.6%), public administration (15.5%), technology, environment and energy (12.5%), and humanitarian assistance (7.8%) (KOICA, 2017). The Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF ), on the other hand, is responsible for the disbursement of loans. In 2016, 33 loans were provided to African countries at a value of US$218.3 million, amounting to 35.3% of South Korea’s total aid disbursement. The top five recipient countries were Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Ghana, and Senegal (EDCF, 2017). This rapid growth in trade, investment, and aid from a relatively negligible level is indeed remarkable. As noted below, this is a reflection of both structural changes in the South Korean economy as well as the perception of emerging economic opportunities in Africa itself. It would be inaccurate, however, to

166   Antonio Fiori et al. understand Seoul’s engagement policy with Africa in terms of economic interest alone. Indeed, Seoul’s early engagement with Africa was primarily geopolitically constituted, with economic assistance, as it existed primarily for the purposes of achieving those geopolitical aims. With strong parallels to the competition for diplomatic recognition between Mainland China and Taiwan, South Korea was locked in a struggle for international recognition and legitimacy, and more specifically, for diplomatic support in international forum such as the United Nations General Assembly (Taylor, 2011). Seoul’s struggle for influence in Africa took place in the context of North Korea’s already significant ties with many newly independent states on the continent. Following the Korean War, North Korea had been successful in providing moral as well as limited financial support to national liberation movements and newly independent states across the African continent. As decolonization progressed, North Korea was able to emphasize its anti-­colonial heritage to pursue a variety of forms of people-­to-people engagement. North Korea thereby established a diplomatic stronghold in Africa that far outperformed that of U.S.-aligned South Korea (Gills, 1996). Seoul’s own Hallstein Doctrine initially refused to extend formal recognition and even terminated relations with any countries having diplomatic relations with North Korea, a policy that alienated many African countries (Owoeye, 1991). Thus, in the 1970s, North Korea had 23 embassies in Africa while South Korea had only ten (Kim, 2013). The early 1980s, however, saw increased efforts by South Korea to win over diplomatic allies in Africa as part of this broader inter-­Korean struggle for recognition. For example, President Chun Doo-­hwan invited the leaders of both Liberia and Zaire to South Korea, and, in 1982, became the first South Korean head of state to make a presidential visit to Africa. However, South Korea’s growing influence in Africa can be seen to be more as a result of structural shifts, such as the growing viability of the South Korean developmental model compared with North Korea’s decline, the growing pragmatism of South Korean foreign policy (including the dropping of its Hallstein Doctrine), as well as the increasing pragmatics of the African countries themselves. Thus, in the early years, South Korea’s primary interest in the African continent was geopolitical. However, transformations in the South Korean economy meant that Africa would soon become a key economic interest. Domestically, successful catch-­up industrialization under the direction of the “visible hand” of the developmental state had led to the rise of the chaebols. Pressure from the United States to liberalize and growing competition from the rise of new lower-­ wage competitor countries such as China and those in Southeast Asia also undermined the competitiveness of the South Korean economy, which led to a process David Harvey (1982) has termed the “spatial fix”, whereby falling rates of profit in any one geographical locale can create a surplus of capital that cannot profitability be invested. Such crises of over-­accumulation emerging from the internal contradictions of capital can be resolved through a process of geographical restructuring and expansion. The 1990s thus saw an acceleration of the process whereby chaebols transformed themselves into multinational corporations as

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   167 part of an aggressive strategy of overcoming protectionist barriers elsewhere and searching for new markets. The Kim Young-­sam government’s segyehwa campaign, in several respects, was a reformulation of national developmental ideology that was perceived as a struggle for national survival in which exports continued to be seen as a patriotic act (Shin, 2000). As South Korea’s economy has become increasingly export-­oriented, Africa is increasingly viewed as a frontier market for South Korean exports due to the region’s pressing need for infrastructural development and its growing middle class. In addition, South Korea developed a growing need for energy and food security. Rapid industrialization and urbanization in South Korea have meant that the country imports around 90% of its energy needs and has a shortage of arable land. Similar to what happened with Central Asia, the lack of domestic oil and gas reserves along with increasing geopolitical security in the Middle East further heightened South Korean interest in African resources (Darracq & Daragh, 2014). In this context, there is a great deal of continuity between the developmental state approach to South Korea’s own domestic catch-­up industrialization and the mode of economic engagement with Africa. As Kalinowski and Park (2016) have argued, while the developmental state may have retreated in South Korea itself due to the rising power and independence of the chaebols and the emergence of civil society as a check on government-­business collusion, it is still very much present in the country’s approach to overseas development aid. Investments in Africa are still seen as relatively high risk and thus South Korean businesses continue to look to the state as a key player. A key characteristic of South Korean–African engagement, therefore, is a strong facilitative role by the South Korean government, whether the investment is by a public or private enterprise (Kalinowski & Park, 2016). South Korea’s ODA also displays strong economic motives in that it provides a comparatively high-­level of tied aid. Two distinctive features of Seoul’s recent Africa policy are worth highlighting. First, the strong economic focus of engagement with Africa has remained largely constant regardless of the ideological inclination of the administration in power. Second, although the focus of Seoul’s Africa policy is primarily based on South Korea’s economic interests, geopolitical objectives have not disappeared entirely. Despite strong continuities with the developmental state approach, the rapid expansion of Seoul’s economic engagement with Africa dates back to the liberal­progressive Roh Moo-­hyun government. This is despite the fact that Roh’s, and his political support, base largely hails from the pro-­democracy movement of the 1980s, that aligned itself against the government-­business collusion of the authoritarian developmental state. In March 2006, President Roh Moo-­hyun became the first South Korean head of state to visit the continent in two and a half decades. During this visit, Roh pledged to triple South Korea’s ODA to Africa over the following three years; his visit also saw the announcement of the “Korea Initiative for Africa’s Development”, which provided a comprehensive framework for Seoul’s cooperation with the continent and became the key policy agenda of subsequent high-­level meetings. The initiative set in motion two

168   Antonio Fiori et al. Korea–Africa fora in 2006, including the Korea–Africa Forum led by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) and the African Union, and the Korea– Africa Economic Cooperation Conference (KOAFEC) led by Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF ). These high-­level meetings have continued during the subsequent Lee Myung-­bak and Park Geun-­hye administrations. Furthermore, Roh’s proactive engagement with Africa also happened to coincide with Ban Ki-­moon’s election campaign for the position of UN Secretary General. As Ban campaigned for the position, Seoul announced a trebling of its aid budget to Africa and made a significant financial contribution to the African Union summit in Gambia in 2006. Tanzania, a member of the UN Security Council at the time, was also provided with significant levels of aid (Tran, 2006). Even though the political ideology of the conservative Lee Myung-­bak administration differed greatly from that of Roh, there was a great deal of continuity in Seoul’s Africa policy between the two administrations (Kim, 2010). Lee Myung-­bak’s visit to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia in 2011 served to reiterate the growing importance of the continent to South Korea. In September 2012 the now triennial Korea–Africa Forum was attended by over 150 African delegates from 18 African countries alongside representatives from the continent’s regional institutions. The Forum was held to discuss development cooperation, trade, investment, peace, and security. Yet, a similar geopolitical element can be seen with the Lee Myung-­bak government’s bid in 2012 for South Korea to host the Green Climate Fund secretariat. Seoul announced a comprehensive assistance plan to the value of US$60 million in return for African votes to support Seoul’s bid (Kim & Gray, 2016). Finally, in May 2016, Park Geun-­hye visited Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya, reportedly focusing on South Korea’s ODA programme, including a visit to the African Union headquarters, focusing on the expansion of South Korean corporations on business opportunities (African Union, 2016a). Park to some extent followed the economic focus of the previous administrations, though there were some differences, which relate in part to the poor results of Lee Myung-­bak’s resource diplomacy. In 2015, a Board of Audit and Inspect investigation found that Lee Myung-­bak’s resource diplomacy was an abject failure. As progressive newspaper Hankyoreh editorialized, the poor results reflect the “…  reckless decision to push overseas resource development as a showy, ‘results-­oriented’ state project without sufficient preparations or transparency” (Hankyoreh, 2015). As such, there was under the Park administration a shift towards “soft” targets, such as educational and vocational programmes (Kim, 2016). At the same time, there was to an extent a resurgence of geopolitical objectives. In her diplomacy with Africa, Park Geun-­hye made great efforts to strengthen the enforcement of sanctions and diplomatic isolation against North Korea through undermining the latter’s long-­standing cooperation with a number of countries on the continent, especially Ethiopia and Uganda. Park emphasized the North Korean nuclear issue and the need for strong sanctions enforcement in her speech to the African Union assembly on her visit to Ethiopia (African Union, 2016b). Indeed, Park appeared to have

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   169 some success in this approach when Uganda announced that it would halt its military cooperation with North Korea.6 As such, there are certain nuances between the successive administrations’ Africa strategies that reflect particular domestic and international challenges that they were faced with. These differences are, however, not reducible simply to a divide between conservative or liberal-­progressive administrations. At the core of Seoul’s Africa strategy there has been the economic interest rationale of developing Africa as a source of natural resources and as a market for South Korean manufacturers. Yet, Seoul’s Africa strategy is not reducible to economic interest alone. Economic interest has also been overlain with geopolitical objectives that reflect the specificity of the contested legitimacy between North and South Korea, but more importantly, South Korea’s status as an emerging power.

At full sails towards the Southeast: South Korea and ASEAN The combined effect of strategic, economic, cultural, and identity factors has strongly concurred in fuelling a progressive stepping-­up of South Korea’s agenda and modus operandi vis-­à-vis ASEAN states, with the net-­effect of turning a formerly neglected geopolitical backyard into a key domain for the unravelling of sophisticated diplomatic strategy. Up until the end of the 1980s, in fact, Seoul’s relations with Southeast Asian countries and regional multilateral institutions had remained absolutely negligible, and much less significant if compared to China or Japan’s deep-­rooted presence in the sub-­region. Nonetheless, a new era was about to begin: with the country’s successful transition towards democracy, the parallel take-­off of the local economy, and the delocalization of numerous chaebols, South Korea–ASEAN ties experienced a rapid blossoming, initially spearheaded by businessmen and entrepreneurs and then complemented by shared political efforts. As a result, a first and major watershed was brought about in 1989, when the ROK was formally conferred the status of Dialogue Partner of the Association, which de facto decided to engage the democratic government led by Roh Tae-­woo with the final goal of enmeshing Korea in the complex balance of external influences operating within the ASEAN perimeter. In the following years, the partnership was forged through the hardships of the Asian financial crisis, and benefited extensively from the legacy of the Kim Dae-­jung presidency. Under his mandate, the issue of achieving a stronger degree of coordination with Southeast Asian countries as an antidote to a new economic meltdown acquired the utmost importance, and the Blue House largely backed the creation of the ASEAN + 3 format and the launch of the ASEAN–ROK annual summits, soon followed by the proliferation of new venues of interaction between the two sides, such as the Asia-­Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the East Asian Summit (EAS), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus. Shortly after, between 2007 and 2009, another pivotal milestone was represented by the signing of the Korea–ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Goods, Services, and Investment, which propelled the Association to the second spot

170   Antonio Fiori et al. among Seoul’s largest trading partners and strongly enhanced their degree of economic interdependence. In particular, Korean exports to Southeast Asia skyrocketed from US$5 billion in 1990 to US$79 billion in 2012, whereas imports from the sub-­region – mostly consisting of crude oil and natural gas – jumped to US$52 billion (Lee & Bang, 2013). In parallel, South Korea’s FDI to ASEAN countries rose from US$321 million in 1992 to US$4,898 million in 2011, thanks to the massive push provided by the delocalization of numerous manufacturing activities (ibid.). Since the early 1990s, moreover, the ROK decided to concentrate significant efforts in the field of ODA: this move was consistent with its nascent ambitions to act as a credible middle power, especially in providing an effective “bridge” between advanced and developing economies. As a result, with the unveiling of Kim Young-­sam’s segyehwa policy, Seoul started to actively promote its success-­story on a worldwide scale, as a formerly authoritarian and backward regime which had gradually risen to the rank of industrial powerhouse and consolidated democracy. Building upon the positive attitude displayed by Southeast Asia since the early stages of South Korea’s democratic transition, the ASEAN perimeter was thus selected as the main stage and testing ground for the application of the first initiatives related to Seoul’s “honest brokerage” in international affairs, which sought to mediate the so-­called “North–South” developmental divide and its divergent approaches in terms of economic growth and market-­oriented reforms (Teo et al., 2013). Loans, cooperation projects, and training programmes were channelled through EDCF, KOICA, and the Korea Foundation. Overall, the budget devoted to these agencies soared from US$0.11 billion in 1991 to US$1.75 billion in 2013, and ASEAN accounted for the lion’s share of Seoul’s cumulative disbursement (Kwak, 2015). From 1987 to 2013, most notably, the ROK allocated a total amount of US$2.4 billion in various forms of grants, loans, and other cooperation projects towards Southeast Asia, with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia as the top recipients (Kwon, 2015). In a similar fashion, tourism and people-­to-people contacts – particularly in the business and academic communities – progressively acquired great significance, inasmuch as they provided an additional catalyst for Korea–Southeast Asia ties while also equipping Seoul’s soft power potential in the sub-­region with new assets and tools. At the turn of the century, in fact, Korean tourists represented the largest group in the Philippines (23% of total arrivals) and Cambodia (16.4%), with Thailand also standing out as the fastest-­growing destination (from 65,731 annual arrivals in 1990 to 754,093 in 2004) (Steinberg, 2010). In light of such impressive achievements, the relevance of technical and economic assistance, institution-­building endeavours, and public diplomacy towards ASEAN has extensively improved. Lee Myung-­bak’s administration, in particular, has sought to focus its cooperative agenda towards Southeast Asia in specific “niche areas” such as energy and environmental development, as prescribed by Lee’s flagships blueprints based on the labels of a Global Korea able to pursue a “low carbon green growth” strategy. During his mandate, South Korea effectively doubled its overall commitment in terms of ODA – which in

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   171 2009 stood at US$810 million – while also pledging a US$100 million budget to the “East Asia Climate Partnership” with ASEAN (Hwang, 2012b). In March 2009, additionally, the ROK finally felt confident enough to start upgrading its position in the region also in the field of security cooperation, as epitomized by the establishment of the “New Asia Initiative”. Bilaterally, this change in attitude was clearly showcased by the ratification in the same year of the “Vietnam– ROK strategic partnership”, soon followed by similar agreements in the defence realm with relevant stakeholders such as Singapore and Indonesia. Faced with a visible escalation of tensions with its powerful neighbours, the subsequent cabinet led by Park Geun-­hye has attempted to sketch out multiple campaigns aimed at strengthening the country’s posture as a key contributor to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the East Asian region. Against this backdrop, a very symbolic and much publicized moment was certainly represented by the launch of the NAPCI, which reflected South Korea’s efforts to build a sense of trust among regional stakeholders, so as to lay the foundations for a rule-­based order shaped by the paramount role of interstate cooperation. The initiative, however, turned out to be largely ineffective regarding Southeast Asia, being too narrow in scope due to a certain overemphasis on Northeast Asia, and remarkably below expectations in achieving the paramount goal of engaging North Korea. On top of that, this stage proved extremely problematic also in terms of the management of Seoul’s great power relations, as exemplified by the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) saga with China and by the almost simultaneous revamp of harsh historical disputes with Japan. Extremely critical of Park’s foreign policy rationale, the progressive candidate Moon Jae-­in, since the first steps of his electoral campaign, has advocated a vigorous “return” to Southeast Asia, so as to put an end to the period of neglect that had materialized under the previous conservative administration. Accordingly, since his advent in May 2017, the new President has sponsored a comprehensive overhaul of the central tenets that had previously informed the conceptualization and implementation of the NAPCI. The revised and official platform to deal with Korea’s security dilemma, most notably, has been defined as “Northeast Asia Plus Community for Responsibility-­sharing” (NEAPCR), as it essentially prescribes to promote peace and cooperation in the country’s vicinity by actively engaging external stakeholders, such as India or ASEAN, in the advancement of Northeast Asia’s security agenda (Cheong Wa Dae, 2017). One of the key tenets of Moon’s signature initiative in the diplomatic realm, in fact, is represented by the application of a “New Southern Policy” (NSP), which was officially unveiled in November 2017 during his first state visit to Indonesia (Whiteside, 2017). By endowing ASEAN countries with the same status and political standing usually conferred to great powers such as the U.S., China, Japan, and the Russian Federation, the NSP explicitly seeks to further enhance the degree of strategic, economic, and social closeness between Seoul and Southeast Asia, thanks to the interplay of bilateral as well as multilateral channels of interactions. Additionally, and in line with Moon’s commitment to a responsible and cooperative foreign policy, the initiative also attaches great relevance to the

172   Antonio Fiori et al. long-­term achievement of the so-­called “ASEAN–Korea Future-­oriented Community”, as a new framework for regional cooperation shaped by three paramount values: people, prosperity, and peace (Moon, 2017). Through the advancement of its own pivot to Southeast Asia, Moon seeks to establish what has been labelled by the President himself as a “balanced foreign policy”, able to better cope with Seoul’s declining leverage and room for manoeuvre vis-­à-vis China and the United States. In such perspective, ASEAN stands out as a perfect partner, which can actually share and reciprocate South Korea’s push for a more independent and diversified diplomacy. This is mostly due to the growing convergence of long-­term strategic concerns displayed by the two sides, ranging from Beijing’s increasing assertiveness and economic might in advancing its regional interests, to America’s wavering commitment towards East Asia and the nuclear proliferation issue. As a result, the ROK has repeatedly voiced the intention to upgrade its defence ties with several littoral states embroiled in the South China Sea dispute, while also sponsoring ASEAN’s involvement in the tense negotiations with Pyongyang in the attempt of reviving the cooperative spirit of the Six-­Party talks. The eventual success of Moon’s blueprint, in fact, lies in the proper articulation of a series of tangible measures capable of living up to the spirit and principles of the NSP, as a remedy to the country’s burgeoning economic overdependence on China and to its traditional reliance on Washington as a pivotal security provider.

Quiet and responsible in the new promised land: South Korea’s diplomacy in the Arctic region Since the early 2000s, following the rapid globalization of South Korea’s foreign policy and the progressive securing of significant footprints in distant areas of the world, Seoul has remarkably stepped up its endeavours aimed at tailoring a coherent and effective political agenda for the Arctic region. Such a mounting interest has been fuelled by two sets of drivers, which revolve around the application of the country’s middle power strategy and the parallel quest to overcome a series of long-­standing economic and energy constraints. In the polar region, in fact, Seoul has found a new and ideal habitat to showcase its middlepowermanship and responsible behaviour in international affairs, through the articulation of several shared initiatives and consensus-­building efforts that have substantially raised its credentials as a valuable and reliable “newcomer” in the field of Arctic politics. In doing so, the ROK has thus employed a cooperative, status-­seeking, and non-­confrontational approach to gain its niche in a very competitive and contested geopolitical domain, as demonstrated by the recent signing of a series of memorandum of understanding on the joint development of the area with long-­established Arctic stakeholders such as Finland, Russia, and Denmark. The country has also offered its leading expertise in terms of hydrocarbons extraction, shipbuilding, ice-­going vessels, and special LNG carriers, so as to promote win–win cooperation and defuse the idea of the polar region as the epicentre of the next “great game” among rival powers.

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   173 Against this backdrop, a first and relevant stone was laid during the Kim Dae-­ jung administration, thanks to the launch of a series of research activities and scientific undertakings capable of providing a significant push to the country’s diplomatic clout in the region. In 2001, in particular, South Korea sponsored the creation of the Korea’s Arctic Scientific Committee (KASCO), which joined the ranks of the International Arctic Science Committee in May 2002 (Korean Maritime Institute, 2013). During the same period, the opening of the Dasan Station in the Svalbard Islands (Norway) equipped the ROK with a key outpost in the area, hosting several programmes on marine biology and atmospheric physics. Two years later, the government established the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), as the pivotal body entrusted with the task of pushing forward Seoul’s scientific cooperation in the Arctic with national and international stakeholders. Another significant turning point was brought about in 2009, following the dispatch in the area of the Korean icebreaker Araon: as a result, Seoul was finally in the position to pursue independent fact-­finding missions in the polar region, in order to investigate the most tangible consequences of climate change and the alleged opening of a “Northern Sea Route” (NSR), a new and potentially ground­breaking sea lane of communication made possible by melting sea ice and global warming (Lee et al., 2011). In parallel, the unveiling of Lee Myung-­bak’s Green Growth strategy provided a further stimulus to the ROK’s incipient Arctic policy, as it started to actively promote the country’s leading role in the field of environmental protection and sustainable development. At home, the North Pole came to be increasingly seen both by policymakers and the general public not only as a crucial battlefield in the worldwide quest against global warming, but also as a new and potent engine of economic growth for all the actors involved. More specifically, the NSR issue progressively acquired a major relevance among South Korean scientists and diplomats, as epitomized by the publishing between 2003 and 2011 of a series of trailblazing investigations on the future prospects of the Arctic sea route.7 Moreover, in May 2013, Seoul’s proactive and constructive diplomacy in the area was finally rewarded by the Arctic Council (AC), which opened its doors to the ROK by conferring it the observer status, in the context of a wider and extremely debated enlargement process ignited by the AC, which also involved China, India, Italy, Japan, and Singapore (Pulkkinen, 2013). The new members were thus expected to effectively assist the Council’s “founding members” (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United States, Finland, and Canada) in the strengthening of a cooperative, consensual, and rule-­based governance of the polar region, with the final goal of fending off any possible “scramble for the Arctic”. In this perspective, South Korea immediately looked as the best equipped actor to play a bridging role between the Council’s original member-­states and the new Asian observers, especially in light of its “honest brokerage” attitude exhibited in key global fora such as the G20. Between 2012 and 2013, Seoul had also drafted a set of government-­sponsored “Measures for the Advancement of Polar Region Policy”, so as to further ­consolidate its position among the ranks of the AC and provide a normative background for its

174   Antonio Fiori et al. Arctic blueprint. As a result, in December 2013 the ROK ­officially presented a comprehensive “Arctic Development Masterplan (2013–2017)”, with the contribution of seven different ministries and bureaus. The plan outlined 31 projects related to the polar region, shaped by the overarching vision of boosting the country’s status as a trustworthy and reliable interlocutor (Jin et al., 2017). In recent years, Seoul’s interest towards the polar region has reached its peak also in terms of economic considerations. The 2008 crisis originated in the United States, in fact, has dramatically exposed a series of deep-­rooted constraints, which had traditionally hampered South Korea’s economic development for its massive reliance on foreign export markets and distant energy suppliers. Forced to find creative solutions in an attempt to revive its manufacturing industry, the country’s establishment has thus displayed a mounting “Arctic euphoria”, nurtured by two paramount factors: the already mentioned opening of an NSR and the massive potential of the polar region when it comes to its undiscovered hydrocarbon resources. With regards to the first driver, the general consensus among officials is that the NSR could act as a real game changer for Seoul’s trade, as it would lessen the transportation distance between the ROK and Europe by 40% (about 8,000 kilometres), with a 25% average reduction of fuel cost and a comparable gain in terms of the competitiveness of South Korean products in Western markets (Park, 2014). In a similar vein, the recent spread of detailed accounts on the potential of seabed deposits in the Arctic has further lured Seoul’s economic appetite. According to a study of the U.S. Geological Survey (2008), for example, the polar region may hold up to 13% of global oil reserves, and 30% of the world’s natural gas reserves. If confirmed, similar estimates could significantly impact on the ROK’s diversification strategy in the field of foreign energy provisions, particularly in alleviating its overdependence on the Middle East as its pivotal provider of crude oil. South Korean economic stakeholders, moreover, are increasingly determined to making inroads in the Arctic’s fishing industry and in the already mentioned shipbuilding sector, both characterized by remarkable growth prospects. To consolidate Korea’s credentials as a truly global stakeholder, Seoul’s responsible blueprint for the polar region has employed a vast array of tools, combining the provision of scientific expertise and financial resources with a series of institutional and consensus-­building efforts within the ranks of the AC, ultimately aimed at strengthening a norm-­based regional order. Well aware of its size and material limitations, the ROK has thus leaned towards a non-­confrontational approach, seeking to position itself as a proactive and respected broker that could mediate between competing interests and claims. In the near future, however, the balancing of Seoul’s political and economic agenda for the polar region may become increasingly uneasy: a preponderant emphasis on energy and commercial returns, in fact, would certainly hinder the country’s soft power as a leading actor in the field of environmental protection, while attracting the criticism of Arctic states as already happened in the case of China (Durkee, 2017).

S. Korea’s global diplomacy outside Northeast Asia   175

Conclusion South Korea’s economic success has had a profound relevance in shaping its relations with developing countries. The complex global architecture Seoul has tried to build – in order to nurture its trade and investments and, consequently, to satisfy its need for resources – has widened and, to some extent, modified the exigencies modelled by its economic and security interests. These interests have found their common ground in the strategies different administrations have tried to implement. By looking at them it is easily discernible a sort of fil rouge among presidents of diverse political orientation – from Kim Young-­sam to Moon Jae-­in – to reinforce and expand South Korea’s role as a global actor: this strategy has variably been brought about in order to make Seoul more independent from the traditional ties built in the past or to complement them with an exposure to “new frontiers” through a mix of investments, diplomatic gestures, organization of major international events (the so-­called “hosting diplomacy”), and soft power. This approach – criticized by many for its inconsistencies and specifically for being more a strategy of “nation branding” – has often proved attractive for different reasons: first, South Korea is often seen as a model of development to be followed, given the credentials of the country, which is the only example of a net recipient of aid that successfully transitioned to net donor. Second, the country – unlike other nations like China, for example – is considered less predatory and aggressive in its “explorations” but, at the same time, capable of igniting processes of technological transfer or participating to development assistance or foreign aid programmes. Against this backdrop, South Korea has been able to position itself efficaciously in the regions of the world analysed in this chapter. Nonetheless, the sustainability of the efforts made by both conservatives and progressives to influence the global diplomatic agenda remains narrow and difficult to implement, given the limits shown by Seoul in its capacity as a middle power basically relying on “structural” factors as economic advancement or population growth, from the diplomatic, technical and even financial point of view.

Notes 1 This chapter is the outcome of a joint effort by the four authors. More specifically AF wrote the introduction, the section on Central Asia and the conclusion; KG and SK wrote the section on Africa; AP wrote the sections on ASEAN and on the Arctic. 2 Source: CEIC, “South Korea GDP per Capita”. gdp-­per-capita 3 Chust-­Pap and Namangen-­Terachi were estimated to hold 385 million barrels and 435 million barrels of crude oil, respectively. Surgil was confirmed to have 84 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and the Uzunkui field estimated to hold 191 million tons of LNG. See Press Service of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, “South Korean Media Covers the Visit of Uzbek President,” 18 February 2010. http://old. press-­ 4 The memorandum on the comprehensive development of the Surgil field had been signed between Uzbekneftegaz and KOGAS on 29 March 2006, during the official visit

176   Antonio Fiori et al. of President Karimov to South Korea. See Uz-­Kor Gas Chemical, “About Company”.­ 5 Korean Statistical Information Service (KOSIS). orgId=360&tblId=DT_1R11006_FRM101&conn_path=I3. Accessed 2nd September 2018. 6 There was some confusion here, however, as other members of the Ugandan government claims that no such assurance had been given to South Korea. 7 For a detailed account on Seoul’s scientific undertakings in the region see Park, Young Kil (2013). East Asia-­Arctic Relations: Boundary, Security and International Politics, Centre for International Governance Innovation, December 2013.

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11 Conclusion Marco Milani, Matteo Dian, and Antonio Fiori

This book has offered a number of theoretical and empirical contributions to the study of South Korean foreign policy and more broadly international politics in East Asia. The book began with the goal of analysing South Korea’s recent foreign policy through the lens of the domestic political divide between conservatives and progressives. Traditional approaches that focused on South Korea’s foreign policy and international relations tended to overlook the domestic variables that concur in shaping the country’s foreign policy, in favour of a perspective that emphasizes the role of regional – and international – great powers dynamics. In this view, the role of South Korea’s government as an active agent in foreign relations is severely limited. For decades, South Korea has been considered as a small state – or an emerging middle power at best – facing a daunting geopolitical environment, forced to react to external constraint rather than seeking to actively decide what are its priorities in terms of foreign and security policies. This framework of analysis directly descends from the main characteristics that have dominated the regional environment for decades since the foundation of the Republic of Korea: the bipolar balance of power of the Cold War and the existential security threat represented by North Korea. A situation of this kind severely limited the possibilities of South Korea to design and implement a foreign policy that was not entirely aligned with the security alliance with the United States. After the end of the Cold War, new possibilities emerged for South Korea’s foreign relations, and in particular for a more autonomous foreign policy strategy. Nevertheless, the persistence of the security threat from North Korea, emphasized even more by the development of its nuclear and missile programmes, and later the emergence of a major power rivalry between the U.S. and China left the shadow of a “Cold War mentality” in analysing Seoul’s foreign relations, in which structural conditions still represent the most important variables. Scholars and analysts have contributed to foster this perceived “lack of agency” on the South Korean side, analysing Seoul’s foreign and security policies through the lenses of structural realism. Only recently scholars have started to unfold the “black box” of South Korean decision-­making processes, analysing the role of domestic politics, political orientations, and political preferences. (Hwang, 2017; Snyder, 2018; Snyder et al., 2018)

180   Marco Milani et al. In line with this new perspective, this book rejects the idea that South Korean foreign and security policy is simply a by-­product of structural factors or other external variables such as the U.S. level of commitment to the alliance, the intensity of the threat posed by North Korea, or, more recently, the regional rivalry between the United States and China. Our analysis, while disputing structuralist perspectives on foreign policy analysis, underlines the necessity to consider multiple logics of action into the analysis. While structural realism and, more broadly, rationalist approaches assume that agents are motivated exclusively by an instrumentalist logic, here we stress the necessity to also incorporate the other three Weberian logics: appropriateness, emotions, and habit (March & Olsen, 2004; Hopf, 2010; Hall, 2015). The case of South Korean foreign policy is particularly suitable from this point of view, since it is clear that different foreign policymakers did not conceive their policy choices only through the lens of a purely instrumental calculation of the national interests. On the contrary, it appears clear how ideological positions, personal preferences, domestic rivalries, and the legacy of past events had a decisive influence on how different leaders understood and promoted South Korean national interests as well as South Korean identity. In particular, some key issues that historically have played a crucial role in shaping and defining the country’s national identity and regional role cannot be entirely understood without taking into consideration the role of ideological and party differences, as well as the response of policymakers, civil society and public opinion at large to issues with a strong emotional impact, such as in the case of relations with North Korea or historical controversies with Japan, as described in Chapters 4 and 8. Consequently, this volume has stressed the necessity to look at “situated agents”, namely agents who conceive their choices within a given social and political context and through the lenses of their beliefs, ideas, and political orientations. In our analysis the role of political traditions, defined as sets of understandings an individual receives during socialization, is key in order to understand changes and dynamics in foreign policy. South Korean foreign policy is deeply shaped by a domestic debate that revolves around the presence of two main traditions: conservative and progressive. These traditions, as pointed out by Lee in Chapter 2 and as emerged throughout the volume, have their roots in two substantially different visions of South Korean contemporary history, identity, and interests. In particular, the four decades of authoritarian rule have played a crucial role in the formation of these traditions, a role that is still pervasive more than 30 years after democratization. The interpretations of the authoritarian past by the two traditions are completely opposed. Conservatives tend to emphasize the role of past regimes, in particular under Park Chung-­hee, in protecting the country against the North Korean – or a more generic “communist” – threat, while laying the foundations for the current export-­led, technologically driven, and very successful model of economic development. In this view, conservatives tend to overlook the autocratic nature of the political system. At the other end of the political spectrum, the very identity of South Korean progressives is rooted in the decades-­long struggle against authoritarian regimes to achieve democracy.

Conclusion   181 Political figures such as Kim Dae-­jung, who led the political opposition throughout the 1970s and 1980s and eventually became the first progressive president in 1997, played a crucial role not only in orienting the country’s foreign policy according to the beliefs and priorities of the progressives during his mandate, but also in constructing and shaping the very essence of the progressive political tradition. Conservative and progressive traditions tend to provide relatively stable policy platforms. As evidenced by our contributors, especially in Chapters 2 and 3, conservatives tend to favour security policies rooted on the primacy on the centrality of the security alliance with the United States and on the necessity to consolidate extended deterrence towards North Korea. In this perspective, inter-­ Korean relations and cooperation are subjected to the security situation on the peninsula, and in particular to the advancements on what has emerged as the main security concern for conservatives: the North Korean nuclear programme. Similarly, the alignment with the United States has had its repercussions also on regional relations, especially with respect to relations with China and regional cooperation projects. On the contrary, the progressives’ primary objective is to work towards reconciliation with North Korea, thus emphasizing inter-­Korean dialogue and cooperation. Also, they tend to favour a more autonomous foreign policy from the United States, in particular at the regional level. As underlined by Kang and Choo in their chapters (Chapters 5 and 6, respectively), after more than 30 years since democratization, South Korean democracy is particularly vibrant today and the divide between left and right is still relevant both in terms of foreign and domestic policies, as demonstrated by the popular movement that led to the impeachment and later the imprisonment of former President Park Geun-­hye. Park’s political experience epitomizes the sharp division that still exist within South Korea. Her presidency has been strongly influenced by her socialization to politics as well as by her personal and political life experience, as daughter of Park Chung-­hee. Park’s political orientation, her conception of the South Korean identity and her perception of the North Korean threat have been shaped by her conservative weltangshauung. Despite her attempts to adapt the political tradition to the changing regional situation – in particular for what concerned relations with China – her foreign policy strategy was coherent with the set of ideas associated with South Korean conservatism. When Park had to face a dilemma, represented by the resumption of military threats from North Korea in 2016, she chose the tradition of a hard-­line approach against North Korea and a further consolidation of the alliance with the United States, at the expense of previous initiatives such as Trustpolitik, NAPCI or the rapprochement with China. On the opposite side of the domestic political divide, during his mandate, President Roh Moo-­hyun displayed all the main political orientations associated with a progressive political background. His political socialization in the pro-­democracy movement under the authoritarian regime deeply shaped his political visions. This led him to emphasize the necessity for a process of reconciliation with North Korea based on cooperation and dialogue, as well as a more autonomous role in the region, over the consolidation of the alliance with the U.S.

182   Marco Milani et al. As several of the analyses contained in this volume demonstrate, however, not all the key foreign policy choices in South Korea can be simply described as mere application of the prescriptions offered by the two traditions’ playbook. This happens in two different situations. First, while South Korea is a very polarized polity, not every issue is subject to partisan divide. For instance, the belief that the country’s economic growth is dependent on free trade, and exports in particular, is shared by both progressives and conservatives. As pointed out by Pacheco Pardo in Chapter 7, the idea of South Korea as a free-­trading nation has become part of the country’s national identity. As a consequence, there is a vast consensus on foreign policy choices associated with that model, as demonstrated by the efforts from both parts of the political spectrum to negotiate and sign free trade deals, starting from the first one with Chile in 2003 under the progressive presidency of Roh Moo-­hyun. This entails a bipartisan consensus around policies that can favour free trade and thus South Korean exports, such as the participation to bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, as the KORUS, the EU–South Korea FTA, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This shared view of South Korea as a free-­trading nation also means, as underlined by Pacheco Pardo, that a stable consensus exists on the fact that South Korea needs to maintain and develop a stable, friendly and comprehensive relationship with China, in particular from the perspective of economic and trade exchanges. Conservatives and progressives have promoted different strategies to reconcile the alliance with the U.S., which remains an essential element of the national interest for both parties, and the relationship with Beijing. Similarly, as pointed out by Fiori, Gray, Kim and Passeri in Chapter 10, South Korea’s diplomacy outside Northeast Asia and towards the developing world has been driven by the same bipartisan consensus. In recent years, the country’s economic growth, in fact, has required continuous access to natural resources and to new markets for its exports. This necessity to establish, expand and consolidate relations with resource-­rich countries around the globe and access to new markets has pushed Seoul towards a solid diplomatic engagement towards the developing world, to consolidate its position outside Northeast Asia. This foreign policy strategy over the years has remained largely unchanged by the different administrations that have led the country, demonstrating that the domestic political divide did not influence this aspect of South Korea’s foreign policy. It is significant to underline that bipartisan consensus or, at least, very low levels of domestic political contestation tends to be associated with issues that emerged only in recent years and that are not connected with the Cold War and the authoritarian period. As we previously noted, the roots of the political and ideological divide can be traced back to that period of strong domestic and external polarization. Issues such as relations with North Korea, the alliance with the United States, or the historical controversies about the colonial period contributed in creating and shaping the very identity of both progressives and conservatives. For this reason, it is not surprising to find these issues as the most divisive along the lines of the domestic political divide. Conversely, issues associated with the extraordinary economic development of the country and, even

Conclusion   183 more, with its growing role at the regional and global level do not bear the same historical and ideological burden and are shared by both political camps. Second and crucially, leaders face dilemmas, moments in which the narratives associated to their partisan worldview are not able to provide an effective solution for current policy problems. This book has underlined the centrality of one dilemma for South Korean foreign policymakers, that started to emerge in the early 1990s and became a challenging priority in the last years: the so-­called “Asian paradox”. The regional divergence between flourishing economic relations and the lack of political and security cooperation has affected South Korea’s foreign policy in the last two decades. This issue has had particularly problematic effects on the strategic triangles in which South Korea is involved. First, if on the one hand the alliance with the United States remains at the centre of the country’s security strategy, on the other hand, the economic and political rise of China has made a stable and mutually profitable relation with Beijing an indisputable part of the South Korean national interest. At the same time, the increasing regional rivalry between these two major powers has made it increasingly difficult for South Korea to manage positive relations with both partners. This dilemma appeared quite clear in the case of Park Geun-­hye’s policy towards China. During her mandate, Park partially deviated from the conservative tradition and tried to upgrade the relationship with Beijing on the economic, political, and symbolic level. For instance, during her tenure, South Korea became a member of the China-­led Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank, despite Washington’s request to abstain from participating in it, and she attended the ceremony for the 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War in Beijing in September 2015. The need to square the circle between the alliance with the U.S. and the need to promote a beneficial relationship with China can put South Korean policymakers in a particularly uncomfortable position, especially when a divergence of interests between the two great powers requires Seoul to take a side between Washington and Beijing. This necessity emerged clearly during the THAAD controversy in 2016–2017 when South Korea and the U.S. agreed to install the anti-­missile system on the peninsula. In this situation, Park decided to return to a more traditional conservative approach, based on the alliance with the U.S. as the pillar of the country’s foreign policy, at the cost of creating tension with China. The second strategic triangle includes Japan and the United States. Washington has repeatedly pushed Seoul and Tokyo towards the creation of triangular forms of cooperation, if not to form a security alliance (Campbell, 2016; Soeya et al., 2016). These proposals are an integral part of the Amer­ican effort to transform the “hub and spoke” model of alliances into a networked security architecture, characterized by several connections between the local Asian allies integrating the existing bilateral ties with Washington (Fontaine et al., 2017). These policy proposals have found a decisive resistance in Seoul for two sets of reasons. The first regards the controversies about the Japanese colonial past on the peninsula (Glosserman & Snyder, 2015; Kim, 2015; Kim, 2017). As Glosserman has underlined in Chapter 8, historical issues with a strong emotional

184   Marco Milani et al. c­ omponent such as that of the comfort women have traditionally had a strong impact on the broader relationship with Japan and made the promotion of security cooperation with Tokyo very difficult. These issues also have a significant partisan dimension in South Korea, with progressives much more inclined towards the request that Japan takes full responsibility for the tragic events of the colonial period, as demonstrated by the different positions taken towards the 2015 agreement on the comfort women issue. The history issue, however, is only part of the dilemma faced by South Korean policymakers when it comes to the triangle with U.S. and Japan. As several authors in this book – Choo, Kang, Pacheco Pardo – have clearly shown South Korea has several strategic reasons to resist an enhanced and institutionalized security cooperation with Japan and the U.S. South Korea is open to very limited forms of cooperation, such the GSOMIA agreement signed in 2015 and the cooperation, mediated by the U.S., on ballistic defence, strictly in function of improving defence and deterrence against North Korea.1 However, Amer­ican and Japanese efforts to create a networked security structure in East Asia are mainly aimed at balancing the rise of China. This implication is crucial for South Korea and the future of its regional relations. The necessity to navigate between a solid alliance with the United States and a positive relationship with China has posed a fundamental dilemma for different South Korean leaders. Each leader has responded to this challenge through his/her own interpretation of the national interest and the priorities of the country, which in turn are connected to the respective political traditions. In this perspective the relations with China and the United States can be seen as part of a broader vision of South Korea’s foreign policy, that involves other crucial issues, in particular relations with North Korea. From the perspective of the adaptation of political traditions to new dilemmas, the foreign policy strategy promoted by President Moon Jae-­in, after his election in May 2017, constitutes an interesting case. With respect to the problematic relation with China after the THAAD issue, Moon was able to achieve a compromise, based on the so-­called “three nos” policy: no additional THAAD deployment, no participation to a US-­led strategic missile defence, and no creation of a US–South Korea–Japan alliance. This solution has redirected relations between Seoul and Beijing on a positive track, without undermining the alliance with the United States or weakening South Korea’s military position vis-­à-vis the North Korean military threat. The same logic of compromise has been applied by Moon in the foreign policy issue that, in line with the progressive political tradition, represents his main priority: inter-­Korean relations. The South Korean president on the one hand started to pursue cooperation and dialogue with North Korea but, on the other hand, remained committed to the respect of the international regime of sanctions aimed at Pyongyang nuclear and missile programmes. In this way, Moon was able to restart inter-­Korean relations on a positive track, without alienating the support of the United States for his policy. In fact, the positive relation that has been built between the two Korean leaders has played – and is still playing – an important role in facilitating dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang on the issue of denuclearization. In this

Conclusion   185 perspective, as pointed out by Kang in Chapter 5, Moon Jae-­in is using the progressive foreign policy tradition as the foundation of his strategy, but he is also adapting it to the new challenges of the regional and global environment. The degree of success that Moon Jae-­in will be able to achieve in this process of adaptation will represent a fundamental variable for measuring the future success of South Korean foreign policy in issues of crucial importance such as the process of reconciliation and pacification on the Korean Peninsula, the reduction of the “Asian paradox”, and South Korean role between the United States and China.

Note 1 The GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) is not a particularly deep form of military cooperation. Before reaching the agreement with Japan, South Korea signed similar pacts with other 32 countries, and NATO.

References: Campbell, K.M. (2016). The pivot: The future of Amer­ican statecraft in Asia. New York: Twelve. Fontaine, R.D., Cronin, P.M., Rapp-­Hooper, & Krejsa, H. (2017). Networking Asian security. Washington, DC: Center for New Amer­ican Security. Glosserman, B. & Snyder, S.A. (2015). The Japan–South Korea identity clash: East Asian security and the United States. New York: Columbia University Press. Hall, T.H. (2015). Emotional diplomacy: Official emotion on the international stage. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Hopf, T. (2010). The logic of habit in international relations. European Journal of International Relations, 16(4), 539–561. Hwang, W. (2017). South Korea’s changing foreign policy: The impact of democratization and globalization. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. Kim, J.Y. (2015). Rethinking the role of identity factors: The history problem and the Japan South Korea security relationship in the post-­Cold War period. International Relations of the Asia-­Pacific, 15(3), 477–503. Kim, S.C. (2017). Partnership within hierarchy: The evolving East Asian security triangle. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. March, J.G. & Olsen, J.P. (2004). The logic of appropriateness. In R.E. Gooding (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of political science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Snyder, S.A. (2018). South Korea at the crossroads: Autonomy and alliance in an era of rival powers. New York: Columbia University Press. Snyder, S.A., Lee, G., Kim, Y.H., & Kim, J. (2018). Domestic constraints on South Korean foreign policy. New York: Council on Foreign Relations. Soeya, Y., Sohn, Y. & Sneider, D. (2016). U.S.–ROK–Japan trilateralism. Building bridges and strengthening cooperation. National Bureau East Asia Research. Special Report No. 59.


386 generation 35, 50n5, 93 Abe, Shinzo 9, 39, 47–48, 81–82, 125–128, 131–132, 144, 150 absorption 90, 95, 152 Action with Women and Peace initiative 131 Aesop 59 Africa 13, 159–160, 165, 166–169, 175n1 African Union 168 Agreed Framework 34–35, 59 Agreement on Reconciliation, NonAggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation 30, 58 Albright, M. 34 alignment 9, 48–50, 181 American forces in Korea (USFK) 37 anti-Americanism (anti-American, antiU.S.) 17, 21, 27, 35, 37, 69, 74, 88, 92–94 anti-Japanese 39, 92–93, 127 anti-communism (anti-communist)16–20, 23, 26, 38, 73, 85, 88, 92 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 1, 157, 169 apology 34, 39, 43, 124–128, 133 April 30 measures 60 Arctic 13, 150, 152, 160, 172–174, 175n1 Arctic Council (AC) 173 Arctic Shipping Route 147, 150 ASEAN 2, 33, 110–112, 115, 169–172, 175n1 ASEAN+3, 33, 39, 111, 115, 169 ASEAN+3 Macro-economic Research Office (AMRO) 111, 116 ASEAN–Korea future-oriented Community 172 Asia Europe Meeting 40 Asia Region Funds Passport 111

Asian financial crisis (AFC) 6, 93, 109–110, 115–116, 139, 169 Asian Games 46, 65 Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) 48, 100, 107, 118 Asian Paradox 1–4, 7–10, 13, 44–49, 132, 159, 183, 185 Asian Women’s Fund 125 authoritarian: democracy 89; government 16–17, 21; leadership 89; period 10, 22, 55, 59, 182; political system 16, 28; regime 10, 17, 20, 26–27, 32, 55, 57, 92, 157, 170, 180–181; rule 20–21, 26, 90, 180; state 73 axis of evil 35 balancer 37, 75, 93 Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) 144 Ban, Ki-Moon 168 Bank of Korea 116–117 Bank for International Settlements 111 Bareunmirae Party (BRMRP) 96 Basel III accord 111 Basic Agreement see Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation Beijing 8, 12, 30, 33, 40, 42–43, 47–50, 57, 71, 82, 97, 99, 100, 103, 106–107, 109, 112, 114, 116–119, 129, 132, 163, 172, 182–184 belief 3–6, 10, 13n1, 18, 32, 76, 91–92, 106–114, 117–119, 134, 138, 143, 148, 180–182 Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 100, 107, 112, 118–119, 138 Berdimuhamedow, G. 164 bilateral investment treaty (BIT) 114 bipartisan consensus 62, 91, 182 Blue House 131, 169

Index   187 Bukbu Donghae line 62 Busan 72, 163 Bush, G.W. 34–37, 42, 61–62, 76, 84 Cambodia 170 candlelight vigils 35, 75 Carter, J.E. 19 cash-for-summit scandal 33 Central Asia 13, 46, 142, 149, 158–164, 167, 175n1 chaebol 41, 113, 158, 161, 166–167, 169 Cheonan 11, 42, 63, 74, 99 Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI, CMIM) 109, 111, 115–116 Chile 110, 182 China, People’s Republic of 2–3, 7–13, 17, 19, 22, 27, 30–31, 33–40, 42–50, 54, 56–57, 66, 70–73, 75–77, 79, 81–85, 88–91, 93–99, 101–104, 106–109, 111–119, 132–133, 137–138, 140–144, 147–150, 154, 157, 160–161, 163–166, 169, 171–175, 179–185 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 99 Cho, June-hyuck 80 Cho, Myoung-gyon 77 Chosun Ilbo 76 Chun, Doo-hwan. 20, 24, 50n5, 74, 137, 166 Chung, Dong-young. 41 Chung, Hyun-back 131 civil society 18, 20, 22, 26, 28, 55, 81, 110, 113, 123, 125, 167, 180 Clinton, H. 74 Clinton administration 34, 59, 61 cold politics, hot economics 3, 7, 13, 47 Cold War 1, 4, 6–8, 10, 12, 16–17, 19, 23, 26–28, 30–31, 49, 54–59, 61, 66, 90, 92, 123, 128, 137, 160–161, 179, 182 colonialism 12, 129–130 comfort stations 123, 124 comfort women 43, 79–80, 122–128, 130–133, 184; agreement 12, 47, 78–81, 126–127, 131, 133–134, 184; issue 3, 8, 12, 47, 71, 78, 81, 122–123, 125, 127–134; lens 122; memorial 11, 78, 80; statue 78–80, 84, 126 communist, communism 7, 16, 19, 20, 22–23, 30, 54–55, 73, 88, 92, 128, 180 compensation 43, 47, 50n6, 124–125, 129–130 competitive coexistence 55 Comprehensive Central Asia Initiative 161 Confucian society 25

Congress (U.S.) 34, 42, 132 conservative 42–45, 49–50, 54–55, 58, 61–66, 69, 75–76, 80–81, 88–99, 103–104, 106–110, 112, 114–115, 118–119, 122–123, 125, 128–131, 133–134, 138, 140–141, 143, 151–154, 160, 163, 168–169, 171, 175, 179–183 containment 17, 23, 31, 59, 70 Constitution (of South Korea) 19, 21, 127–128 Constitutional Court (of South Korea) 43, 75 constructivism, constructivist 4, 6, 107 cooperation 1–3, 5, 8–9, 11–13, 20, 23–24, 30–38, 41–50, 54–67, 84, 91, 94–96, 102–103, 107, 109, 128, 132–133, 137–154, 157–172, 181, 183–184 coup d’état 20, 24, 32, 89 daebak (bonanza) 64 Daewoo 161 de-militarized zone (DMZ) 46, 56, 72, 151 democracy 16, 18, 20–24, 26, 30, 74–75, 81, 89–90, 92, 123, 130, 167, 169–170, 180–181 Democratic Party (of Korea) 32, 35, 94–97, 127, 133, 149 Democratic Party (of Japan) 43, 125 Democratic Justice Party (DJP) 21 Democratic Liberal Party 23, 31 Democratic Republic of Congo 168 democratization (of South Korea) 3, 6, 8, 10–11, 16–18, 20–24, 26–28, 32, 49, 55–57, 66, 91–92, 180–181 denuclearization 38, 63–64, 77, 141, 147, 151, 153, 184 detente 19, 22, 26, 151 deterrence 5, 25, 78, 181, 184 Development Assistance Committee (DAC) 159 developmental state 129, 166–167 dictatorship 16, 20, 92, 123 dilemma 3–4, 6–7, 9–10, 13, 19, 50, 73, 109, 154, 171, 181, 183–184 divide: domestic political 3, 7, 13, 17, 30–31, 35, 55–56, 66, 70, 88–90, 94–95, 103, 106–107, 110, 112, 114, 119, 134, 169, 179, 181–182; ideological 90, 133, 182; left-right 69–70, 72, 78, 181; partisan 70, 182 Doha Round 110, 115 Dokdo/Takeshima 8, 38–39, 44, 51n6, 78, 84, 126, 131

188   Index domestic politics 16, 20, 24–26, 54, 69, 91, 93, 106, 122–123, 127, 133, 179 donor 13, 159, 175 Dorasan 62 Dresden speech 65 dual freeze 150 East Asia Climate Partnership 171 East Asia Study Group 33 East Asia Summit 33 East Asia Vision Group 33 Eastern Economic Forum 144, 148–149, 152 economic: development 1, 16, 18, 22, 26, 72, 89, 108, 123, 129, 144, 174, 180, 182; growth 2, 8, 13, 16, 18, 22, 47, 108, 110, 112–114, 116, 118, 137–138, 161, 170, 173, 182; interdependence 2–3, 8–9, 170; security 12, 107–109, 114, 116, 119 Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) 165, 170 engagement 5, 11, 19, 28, 32, 34, 37, 46, 49, 58–59, 61, 69–70, 76–78, 143, 147, 165–168, 182 Ethiopia 168 Eurasia Initiative 45–46, 48–49, 66, 103, 137, 142, 144, 153–154, 159, 163–164 Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) 138, 144, 146–147, 149, 153 European Union 33, 160 export 13, 108–110, 112–119, 140–141, 143, 146, 149, 153, 157–158, 162, 165, 167, 170, 174, 180, 182 family reunions 46 flexible dualism 60 Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) 129, 153, 165, 170 free trade 12, 107, 109–114, 119, 182 free trade agreement (FTA) 38, 109, 119, 169, 182 free-trading nation 12–13, 107–109, 113–114, 119, 182 Futenma 55 G20 41, 111, 147, 159, 173 Gambia 168 GDP 28, 169, 175n2 General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) 44, 131, 184, 185n1 geo-economics 1–2

geopolitics 2, 19, 54, 57, 89, 108, 127, 160, 164, 166–169, 172, 179 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) 115–116 Global Korea 41–42, 44, 159, 163, 170 globalization 1–2, 16, 24, 32, 44, 59, 158, 160, 172 Goguryeo 40, 72 Gorbachev, M. 138 Grand National Party (GNP) 34–35, 40–41 Green Climate Fund secretariat 168 Green Growth 41–42, 170, 173 Han, Sung-joo 158 Han, Seung-soo 162 Hankyoreh 73, 126, 168 Hatoyama, Yukio 43 hegemony 26, 92 Hirohito 123 historical controversies 40, 129, 180, 182 history textbooks 39, 123, 126 Hosokawa, Morihiro 124 Hu, Jintao 39, 42 hub of Northeast Asia 36–37, 158 human rights 19–20, 35, 74, 77, 80–81, 90, 92, 131 Hyundai 33, 41, 60, 113, 145, 147, 162 Hyundai Asan 60 identity 5–6, 10, 12–13, 22, 39, 54, 67, 73, 82, 89, 107, 122, 127–128, 133–134, 138, 159, 169, 180–182 ideology 4, 18, 22, 26, 90–93, 103–104, 167–168 impeachment 81–82, 87, 181 imperial presidency 110 imperialism 8–9, 40, 45, 45n8, 71, 82, 84, 92–93, 122, 129–131 Inada, Tomomi 84 Indonesia 123, 170–171 industrialization 23, 91–93, 166–167 intelligence 19, 21 Inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) 65, 96, 150 inter-Korean: cooperation 34–36, 45, 59, 61, 63–65, 67, 151, 181; dialogue 34, 41, 45, 48, 50, 58–59, 63–64, 150–151, 153, 181; economic exchanges 33, 60, 89; economic projects 36, 103; negotiations 19, 58; rapprochement 11, 50, 56; relations 11, 25, 27, 32–34, 36, 45–46, 49, 54–67, 77, 89, 93, 95, 142–143, 148, 166, 181, 184; summit 33, 63, 77, 95, 151; talks 19

Index   189 Intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) 144 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 32, 74, 117, 158 interpretive approach 3–6, 9–10, 127 Iraq 35, 38, 76 Japan 2–3, 5, 7–9, 11, 17, 19, 30, 34, 38–40, 43, 45, 48, 54, 57, 70–72, 75, 78–84, 91–94, 99–100, 102–103, 108–109, 112, 115, 122–134, 137, 140–141, 144, 147, 150, 154, 157, 161, 169, 171, 173, 180, 183–185 Japanese military 43, 124, 126, 131 Jeju 38, 118 Jeolla 32, 50n3 Jo, Myong-rok 34 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula 30, 58 Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership 161 Joint Statement of 1972 19, 56–58 Joint Vision for the ROK–US Alliance 42 June 15 Joint Declaration 61 June 29 Declaration 21 junggyun guk 159 Justice Party 94, 96–97, 127 K-pop 82 Kaesong industrial complex 11, 36, 46, 62–65, 77, 95 Kan, Naoto 43 Kang, Kyung-wha 81, 127, 131 Karimov, I. 161–162, 164, 175n4 Kato, Koichi 124 Kazakhstan 160–164 Kenya 168 Khasan–Rajin transportation project 141, 143–144, 148, 150 Kim, Dae-jung 10, 12, 18, 23, 28, 30–40, 49, 55, 59–62, 66, 76, 93, 109, 110, 137–139, 152, 158, 169, 173, 181 Kim, Hak-sun 124 Kim, Il-sung 25, 73 Kim, Jong-il 33, 46, 60, 63, 70, 141 Kim, Jong-un 46, 70, 141 Kim, Young-sam 16–17, 23–28, 30–32, 44, 59, 138, 158, 167, 170, 175 Kimura, Kan 123 Kishida, Fumio 79, 127 Koizumi, Junichiro 34, 39–40 Kono Statement 43, 47, 51n8, 125 Kono, Yohei 124

Korea Foundation 162, 170 Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) 161–162, 175n4 Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) 157 Korea Investment Corporation 142 Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) 161–162 Korea’s Arctic Scientific Committee (KASCO) 173 Korea–Africa Forum 168 Korea–Central Asia Cooperation Forum 160–162 Korea–Japan Friendship Year 39 Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) 38, 84, 154, 182 Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) 165, 170 Korean Paradox 3, 13 Korean War 16–18, 22, 26, 54, 56, 60, 72–74, 88, 91–92, 157, 166 Koryo Saram 161 Kwangju 20 Kyongui line 62 Kyrgyzstan 160 labour movements 20, 22, 74 Lee, Hoi-chang 35 Lee, Myung-bak 11–12, 31, 40, 42–45, 47, 49, 63, 65, 74–76, 109–111, 129, 131, 137–138, 140–141, 152–153, 159, 162–163, 168, 170, 173 LG 113, 145, 161–162 Liberal Democratic Party (of Japan) 43–44, 113, 125 Liberia 166 Liberty Korea Party (LKP) 96 Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) 146–147, 149–150, 172, 175 Manchuria 40 March First Independence Movement of 1919 39, 128 Mattis, J.N. 78 May 24 measures (sanctions) 11, 64, 95 Medvedev, D. 140–141 Middle East 158, 161, 164, 167, 174 middle power 6–7, 11, 22, 42, 106–109, 111, 114, 119, 143, 149, 159, 160, 170, 172, 175, 179 Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) 35; see also Democratic Party (of Korea) Ministry of Education of Japan 34, 39, 44

190   Index Ministry of Finance of South Korea 116–117 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 124–126, 131 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea (MOFAT) 50n6, 80, 109–113, 168 Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of South Korea (MOTIE) 110–113 Ministry of Unification of South Korea 77 Minjoo Party 127, 133; see also Democratic Party (of Korea) Mirziyoyev, S. 162, 164 missile programme 2, 9, 44, 55, 65, 67, 77, 137, 143, 150, 179, 184 Miyazawa, Kiichi 124 modernization 8, 90, 129, 144, 158, 164 Moon, Jae-in 11, 13, 28, 50, 56, 66, 69, 70, 76, 79, 81, 84, 94, 103, 107, 110, 127, 137–138, 147, 149–154, 164, 171, 175, 184–185 Moscow 12, 30, 57, 138, 140, 145, 147, 151, 160 Mount Kumgang tourism project 33, 60, 62, 64, 95 Murayama, Tomiichi 125 Nanjing massacre 84 Narrative 1–2, 4–6, 12, 61, 80, 106–110, 114, 119, 122, 128, 133, 183 National Assembly 21, 38, 73, 90–91, 94–95, 103, 112 National Defence Commission 34 National Liberation Day of Korea 79 national reconciliation 25, 55–56, 58–60, 65–66, 139–140, 147, 151, 181, 185 National Security Act 17 nationalism, nationalist 8, 25, 36, 38–40, 44, 48, 71–72, 90–92, 108, 129 Navoi 162 Nazarbayev, N.A. 164 New Asia Initiative 160, 163, 171 New Eastern Policy 151 New Eurasia Initiative 103 New Great Power Relations 100 New Northern Policy 103, 137–138, 147–149, 151–154 New Politics and Democratic Coalition Party (NPDCP) 94–95, 97; see also Democratic Party (of Korea) New Silk Road Initiative 163 New Southern Policy 149, 171

nine-bridge strategy 149–150, 152–153 Nixon, Richard M. 19 Noda, Yoshihiko 43 non-governmental organization (NGO) 60, 125 non-material factors 3–4, 12, 107, 122 Nordpolitik (Northern Policy) 17, 22–23, 25, 27–28, 30, 45, 57–58, 66, 137–138, 153 normalization 19, 22–23, 107, 114, 139 Normalization Treaty (South Korea-Japan) 7, 38, 43, 50n6, 51n7, 129–131 North Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) 2, 5–7, 9–13, 17–23, 25–28, 30–38, 40–50, 55–67, 69–78, 82, 85, 88–90, 92–96, 99, 101–102, 104, 109, 111, 122, 132, 137, 139–144, 147–154, 157, 163–164, 166, 168–169, 171, 179–182, 184 Northeast Asia History Project 40 Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) 45–46, 48, 66, 107, 144, 159, 171, 181 Northeast Asia Plus Community of Responsibility (NAPCR) 107, 149, 171 Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative (NEACI) 36 Northeast Asian Super Grid 150 Northern limit line (NLL) 64 Northern Sea Route (NSR) 173–174 North–South Coordinating Commission 56 nuclear: crisis 25, 28, 34–36, 59, 62, 76, 139; programme 2, 6, 11, 35–36, 41, 43, 45, 58, 62–63, 66, 75, 77, 150, 181; test 38, 46–47, 62–66, 150–151; weapons 19, 27, 42, 78, 139 Nuclear Security Summit 41, 47 Obama, B.H. 42, 47, 74 Obuchi, Keizo 34 official development assistance (ODA) 129, 159, 165, 167–168, 170, 181 Oh, Tae-gyu 81 Okinawa 43 Olympic Games: 1988 Seoul 22, 157, 2008 Beijing 97, 2018 Pyeongchang 70, 77, 153 opinion polls 12, 76, 82, 91, 94 opposition 10, 18, 21, 23, 30, 32, 37, 57–59, 61, 92–98, 104, 116–118, 125, 127, 133, 181 order (international) 1–2, 27, 34, 81, 100, 111, 133, 159, 171, 174

Index   191 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 24, 158–159

Pyongyang 2, 5, 11, 18, 32–37, 40, 42–43, 45–46, 48, 55–61, 63–67, 74–75, 78, 100, 122, 132, 139, 172, 184

Pacific War 82, 122–123; see also Second World War Panmunjom 54, 70, 77 Panmunjom Declaration 151 Park Chung-hee 17–19, 26, 32, 56, 89, 129, 137, 180–181 Park Geun-hye 3, 8–10, 12, 31, 44–50, 50n1, 55, 64–66, 69–70, 74, 76, 78, 82, 98, 99–100, 103, 107, 110–111, 116–117, 126–129, 132–133, 137–138, 140–144, 152–153, 159–160, 163–164, 168, 171, 181–183 participatory government 35 partnership: cooperative 34, 40, 42; economic 138; strategic 42, 137, 140–142, 144, 149, 152–154, 158, 161, 171 party politics 4 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 73 perestroika 138 Pew Research Center 99 Philippines 170 Policy of Peace and Prosperity 36, 62–63, 158 political culture 70–71, 90 political parties 5, 22, 81, 93–94, 110, 112–115, 118–119 post-Cold War 1–4, 10, 16, 59 pre-emptive strike 76–77 Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation 149 Presidential Council on Nation Branding 41 pro-democracy forces 23, 74, 167, 181 progressive 3–7, 9–13, 16–19, 21–22, 25–27, 30–33, 37–38, 40–41, 45, 49–50, 54–55, 57–59, 61–63, 65–67, 69, 75–76, 80–81, 84, 88–99, 103–104, 104n1, 106–107, 109–110, 112, 114–115, 118–119, 122, 125, 128–130, 133–134, 137–139, 152–154, 158, 160, 162, 167, 169, 171–172, 175, 179–182, 184–185 progressive decade 11–12, 40, 65–66, 138–139, 152, 162 public opinion 12, 21, 24, 33, 35, 39–40, 43–44, 47, 55, 60–61, 90, 95, 103–104, 130, 180 Putin, V. 82, 132, 139, 142, 144, 147–148, 150–151, 153

Quantico 85 Reagan, R.W. 20 rebalancing 46–47, 112 Red Cross 57 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) 118, 182 renminbi (RMB) 114, 116–117, 119 resistance 4, 44, 183 resource diplomacy 158–159, 162–164, 168 reunification (unification) 18, 23, 33, 56–59, 61, 64–65, 77, 88–90, 93–95, 99–103, 137–138, 141, 148, 152 revisionism 8, 125, 128, 132 Rhee, Syngman 17, 26, 73 rise of China 2, 8, 100, 119, 183–184 Roh, Moo-hyun 9, 11–12, 16, 35–43, 49, 50n1, 50n2, 50n5, 62–63, 66–67, 74–76, 84, 92–94, 106, 109–111, 138–140, 152, 158–159, 161, 167–168, 181–182 Roh, Tae-woo 17, 21–28, 30–31, 45, 57–58, 66, 124, 137–138, 153, 169 Russia 2, 8, 12–13, 22, 30, 33, 46, 49, 57, 73, 99, 102–103, 137–154, 158, 160, 163–164, 171–173 Russia’s Direct Investment Fund 142 Russia-South Korea Dialogue 141 Russian Far East (RFE) 147, 150 Russo-South Korean summit 23 Saenuri Party (SNP) 94, 96, 133 Sakhalin-2, 146 Samsung 113, 145, 161–162 sanctions 19, 40, 42, 45–46, 48, 64, 67, 77–78, 95, 98, 100, 142–148, 150, 154, 168, 184 schism 11–12, 88–91 sea lines of communication (SLOCs) 147 Second World War (World War II) 48, 54, 80, 82, 123, 125–126, 130, 137, 183 segyehwa policy 31–32, 158, 167, 170 Seoul 3, 6–8, 11–13, 17, 19, 22–25, 30, 34–40, 42, 44, 46–48, 50, 54, 56–59, 62, 64–65, 70–71, 74–76, 78–79, 81–82, 85, 97, 99–100, 104n4, 106–107, 110–112, 114–119, 124, 126, 128–129, 131–133, 157–162, 164–175, 176n7, 179, 182–184 Sewol 73–74

192   Index Shanghai Cooperation Organization 138 Shinuiju 62 Silk Road Express (SRX) 163–164 Singapore 110, 171, 173 Singapore summit 70 Six-Party talks 36, 140–141, 172 social justice 92 soft power 80, 170, 174–175 Song, Young-gil 147, 149 Southeast Asia 2, 13, 118–119, 123, 159–160, 163, 166, 169–172 Soviet Union (USSR) 1, 7, 17, 22, 57, 72, 88, 109, 137–139, 161 Special declaration on national pride and unification and prosperity 57 Special Drawing Rights 117 State of the Union speech 35 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) 35, 50n4 strategic culture 11, 71–73, 82, 84 strategic flexibility 37 strategic triangle 8, 183 Suga, Yoshihide 79 Sunshine Policy 11, 32–37, 41, 44, 55, 59–63, 139 superpower 1, 49, 54, 56, 72, 88 Taiwan 2, 115, 123, 166 Tajikistan 160 Takano, Toshiyuki 38 Takeshima day 38–39 Tanzania 165–168 Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) 9, 12, 48–49, 82, 95–96, 98, 100, 103, 104n3, 117, 119, 143–144, 147, 151–152, 154, 171, 183–184 territorial dispute 2, 8–9, 39, 64, 82, 131, 172 Tokyo 9, 34, 39, 43–44, 47, 51n6, 78–79, 124, 127–133, 163, 183–184 Tokyo District Court 124 trade unions 110, 113–115 trade unit 111–112 tradition 3–7, 9–11, 13, 31–32, 37, 41, 44–45, 49–50, 55, 58–59, 61, 63, 65–67, 106–107, 138, 152–154, 175, 180–185 Trans-Korean Railroad 142 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 46, 111, 133 Trans-Siberian railroad 141–142, 147, 150–151 transition: democratic 20–21, 23, 26, 30, 41, 123, 157, 169–170; power 75, 89, 93, 118, 147–148

Treaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation 139 Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) 8, 33 Trump, D.J. 70, 77–78, 82, 84–85, 115, 134n1, 150, 154 trust 2, 11, 19, 36, 43, 45, 56, 60, 64–65, 73, 91, 96, 148, 171 Trustpolitik 45–46, 48, 64, 66, 181 Turkmenistan 160, 162 Uganda 168–169, 176n6 Ukraine143, 149 Ulleungdo 44 United Nations (UN) 30, 131, 157, 166 UN Security Council (UNSC) 24, 39, 64, 150, 168 UNESCO 40 United States (U.S.) 1–3, 5, 7–13, 16, 23, 25–27, 30–50, 54–59, 61–63, 65–66, 69–82, 84–85, 88, 92–94, 96, 99–100, 102–104, 106, 108–109, 111–112, 114–117, 119, 128–130, 132, 134n1, 137, 141–144, 147, 151, 154, 157–160, 163–164, 166, 171–174, 179–185 United States Forces Korea (USFK) 37 U.S.-China rivalry 7, 45, 47, 81, 84, 119, 179–180, 183 U.S.–North Korea negotiations 36, 59 U.S.-South Korea alliance 3, 7–10, 13, 25–27, 30, 32–33, 35–38, 41–42, 44–45, 47–50, 54–55, 62–63, 65–66, 69, 71, 73–76, 81, 84–85, 88, 92–93, 106, 112, 114, 119, 151, 158–159, 163, 179–184 Uzbekistan 160–164, 175n3 victim 8, 39, 47, 76, 80–82, 89, 122–124, 126–128, 130, 132–133 Vietnam 170 Vietnam War 19 Vietnam–ROK strategic partnership 171 Vision 3000: denuclearization and openness 63 Vladivostok 144, 147–148 wartime operational control (OPCON) 38, 73–74, 93, 104n1 Washington 9, 11, 17, 19, 25, 34–38, 42–43, 46–50, 59, 62, 65, 74–75, 78, 85, 112, 114, 117, 118, 132, 134n1, 172, 183–184 weapons of mass destruction (WMD) 78

Index   193 weltangshauung 9, 181 Wen, Jiabao 40 World Trade Organization (WTO) 34, 110–111, 115, 158, 164 World Bank 111 Xi, Jinping 48, 82, 98–100, 118, 132

Yalu 72 Yasukuni Shrine 34, 39, 43, 47, 51n6, 84, 126 Yeltsin, B. 139 Yeonpyeong 42, 63–64, 99 Yoshimi, Yoshiaki 124 Yusin 19