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UNDERSTANDING FOREIGN POLICY OF KOREA

Understanding foreign policy of Korea
Korea is providing a lot of opportunities to social science researchers and analysts with various programs. Recently an influential workshop, titled “Korea Workshop for Foreign Residents in Korea” was held last month through the collaboration of the Korea Foundation and East Asia Institute.

The program included distinguished speakers and participants from different institutions and universities. The topics which were discussed during the program were really fascinating and significant to get a better insight about Korean foreign policy.

Ko Young-hwan who worked as a high-ranking official for North Korea and defected to South Korea in 1991 talked about the latest developments on the peninsula. He gave comprehensive information about the daily life of North Koreans and family relations of the Kim dynasty. He addressed the inequality and social injustice to show the current situation of people there.

According to him, the military is the backbone of North Korea, and there is no possibility to make any move against the leadership without the support of the army. In this case, he answered my question on the possibility of a coup. He said there cannot be a civil coup without military support because there is no possibility of a civil uprising since there is no social media use in the country. A military coup is also unexpected because of two important issues ? the strong hierarchical formation of the army, and coordination problems during the process.

Another speaker Lee Jae-hyon made a presentation about the relations between Korea and ASEAN. As a middle power, Korea aims to maximize its role in the region with peaceful methods. According to him, the term “Confident Korea” is needed to make the country more active in regional policy. Therefore, all governments should follow this way for establishing a solid and stable posture for Korean foreign policy.

A clear definition of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region should be made, and Korea needs to find its own place among American and Chinese preponderance. He also said the regional classification of Korean foreign policy is important to analyze. For example, the New Asia Initiative was declared during the former President Lee Myung-bak administration in 2009. This time, new regional approaches were presented such as the New Southern Policy which includes ASEAN and India, and the New Northern Policy which comprises Russia, Mongolia, and Eurasia. These are solemn steps for Korea to create an effective foreign policy.

Bae Jong-Yun, similarly defined the main routes of Korean foreign policy by highlighting challenges and opportunities. In his opinion, conservative and progressive strategies were the main dilemma for the foreign policy direction of Korea. On the other hand, the bilateral alliance with the U.S. and multiple bilateral relations with China and Russia stand as other potencies to be accepted by the government. In the case of North Korea, there are two different concepts to be implemented by policymakers such as national security and unification. It can be seen that these variations are occurring in all presidential changes when we analyze all periods from the early 2000s till today. Passive and active foreign policy choices, as well as priority issues, are up to governments.

On the final day, the workshop concluded with the field trips to the War Memorial, the DMZ and Ganghwa Island. The participants had a great chance to learn of the peninsula’s turbulent past and they hoped for a peaceful future. This kind of activity has a vital importance for foreign researchers in Korea to make better analyses. This will help to make peace.

Mehmet Fatih Oztarsu - Strategic Outlook Institution
11.02.2019 - Hit : 31


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