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  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Both India’s and South Korea’s strategic choices are deeply influenced by the rapidly evolving Indo-Pacific construct, particularly amid a mounting U.S.-China rivalry. With India’s “Look/Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” offering a perfect stage for deepened mutual cooperation, both nations need to further their relations to build Asia’s future while advancing their respective national interests. With both countries following stringent foreign policies as a result of the actions of their immediate neighbors, they present a geopolitically strategic complementarity for their relationship to prosper and emerge as one of the most important relationships in the region. Seoul’s hesitation to overtly embrace the “Indo-Pacific” concept is not really a barrier; rather a geo-political overture to discard the balance of power politics and pursue an autonomous foreign policy. India’s preference for the “Indo-Pacific” is equally based on strategic autonomy, imbibing universal values and an inclusive regional order. Both countries emphasize a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific and have immense potential to establish security and connectivity partnerships as the keystone of their bilateral ties. With India and South Korea understanding the economic importance versus security ramifications of China, and with Japan’s reemergence as a key regional, if not global actor, both countries need to bring serious strategic intent to their relationship. Making use of the ASEAN platform and bilateral dialogues, South Korea and India have the potential to become one of the strongest Indo-Pacific partners of the 21st century
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Jiwon Nam, Kristin Vekasi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Tensions between South Korea and Japan are frustratingly persistent. Despite the shared interests of both countries, such as economic development in Southeast Asia, and keeping a robust alliance with the United States, South Korea and Japan maintain a bellicose relationship because of unresolved historical misunderstandings and territorial disputes. Inconsistent diplomatic policies and lack of strong leaders have made it difficult to prevent unnecessary hostility between South Korea and Japan. Fear of losing support has prevented politicians from pursuing friendly policies towards each other. Businesspeople, too, have been reluctant to pursue friendly policies towards each other, because of preconceived risks of being targeted for backlash. An examination of economic data shows these risks are minimal, and political tensions do not affect business or consumer behavior. Current efforts from both Korean and Japanese business organizations to improve cooperation include student exchange programs, recruitment processes, and public diplomacy. We urge the business community to advocate more to improve bilateral relations. Economic relations alone are insufficient to handle the task of improving a difficult relationship; there is also a need for leadership. In South Korea-Japan relations, the business community should step in and provide that role.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Business , Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Jeffrey Robertson
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: During 2017-18, international attention turned to the Korean Peninsula as the threat of conflict reached new heights. This led to an explosion in the growth of “North Korea watchers”— the community of scholars, analysts, government officers, NGO advocates, and journalists who commit a portion of their lives to following events in North Korea. Divides emerged in overlapping regional, professional, institutional (political), and linguistic differences that saw individuals take conflicting positions on key issues. This paper investigates just one of these divides—how language and culture impact policy discourse on North Korea. The study explores language as a source of division in the North Korea watching community. It uses Einar Wigen’s argument that international relations should be conceptualized as inter-lingual relations, which suggests that despite the narrowing of political vocabularies, residues of politico-cultural differences remain in how concepts are contextualized into discourse, even between close partners. The study assesses compatibility between English and Korean language conceptualizations of North Korea, through an assessment of core inputs into policy discourse. The study then discusses the implications for U.S.-South Korea relations, and ongoing efforts to strengthen Korean Peninsula security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Wertz
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign has led to the imposition of a nearly comprehensive international sanctions regime targeting North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. With negotiations underway, the question of whether to provide North Korea with partial sanctions relief in exchange for limited concessions on its nuclear program has been a major point of dispute between Washington and Pyongyang. This paper looks at sanctions as a form of coercive bargaining and examines the logic and challenges behind a strategy of incrementally exchanging relief from pressure for compliance with the sanctioner’s demands. It argues that taking an “all-or-nothing” approach to sanctions relief risks missing an opportunity to reduce the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program and squandering hard-won negotiating leverage, and outlines a framework for how a step-by-step approach might proceed.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: June Park
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper examines the impacts of global competition in solar panel production and the conflict of domestic interests among solar-related industries in the U.S. on South Korea’s solar-focused renewable energy policy. Examining the Moon Jaein administration’s energy policy amid the impact of the U.S. safeguard on South Korean solar panels, the paper argues a) the U.S. safeguard is a hindrance to South Korea’s path forward on solar panel production, and b) Moon’s sole focus on sustainability and his ambitious solar energy target will result in further adoption of lower-cost Chinese solar panels, foregoing the opportunity to upgrade South Korean panels. As South Korean firms announce their decisions to relocate to the U.S. to avoid U.S. safeguard tariffs, the paper recommends the destinations of South Korean solar panel exports be diversified and the goals of South Korean energy policy be centered on balancing cost, stability, and sustainability. The paper does not necessarily recommend a full-fledged drive on expanding solar energy use in South Korea; rather, it calls for the strategic reevaluation of energy policy upon which a clear and sound strategy for solar energy should be formulated.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Bilateral Relations, Trade Wars, Renewable Energy, Solar Power
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Jin Kyo Suh
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Beef trade was a major sticking point between the United States and South Korea in ratifying the KORUS FTA. The outcome of the renegotiations that led to the March 2018 agreement in principle did not impact sections pertaining to beef in the agreement, though looking at how beef trade would have been affected should the talks have failed highlights the importance of the agreement to both countries, but particularly the United States. This paper estimates the demand for imported beef in South Korea by source and product by using the production version of the Rotterdam demand system and assesses what the potential impact of U.S. withdrawal from the KORUS FTA would have been on beef trade between the U.S. and South Korea. The results suggest U.S. withdrawal from the KORUS FTA would have resulted in a considerable increase in Australian beef exports to South Korea, largely at the expense of U.S. beef. This is because there is significant price competition between beef imports from the United States and Australia. Furthermore, Korean consumers substitute American beef for Australian beef when the relative price of U.S. beef rises.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Exports, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Stephen Blank
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The sudden announcement of a North Korea-U.S. summit in March 2018 upended all previous diplomacy concerning North Korea’s nuclear program. In return for a bilateral presidential summit, Pyongyang has agreed to suspend testing of its nuclear and missile programs and accepted the continuation of scheduled U.S.-South Korea exercises as planned. While this unexpected development reduces tensions and opens up a political path to a solution on the Korean Peninsula, it also imparts increased urgency for a well-conceived U.S. diplomatic strategy so that the summit and any ensuing negotiations lead to positive outcomes for Washington and Seoul and the other interested parties, thus ensuring its sustainability. In this context, the author advances an assessment of the current situation and a proposal for a U.S. program that could reduce military tensions in and around Korea, lead to the stabilization of a new and legitimate equilibrium in Northeast Asia, and advance shared American, South Korean, and Japanese objectives.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons , Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America