Bilateralism and Multilateralism in the Republic of Korea’s Security Policy in the post-Cold War
- Bilateralism and Multilateralism in the Republic of Korea’s Security Policy in the post-Cold War
- Other Titles
- 냉전 이후 한국의 양자주의와 다자주의: 한미동맹과 6자 회담을 중심으로
- Alternative Author(s)
- 라훌 라즈
- Kim, Youen
- Issue Date
Bilateralism and Multilateralism in the Republic of Korea’s Security Policy in the post-Cold War: Focused on the ROK-U.S. Alliance and the Six-Party Talks
Graduate School of International Studies
Ever since the formation of its first government, the Republic of Korea (ROK) has witnessed two trends in its national security: bilateralism and multilateralism which has calibrated its security policy discourses. The former relates to the U.S. led bilateral security alliance which has its genesis in the Cold War and has been the cornerstone of the ROK’s national defense. The latter reflects a new trend of global and regional cooperation such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) which is related to the regional security and the Six Party Talks which is related to the security of the Korean peninsula in particular and the Northeast in general. The Six Party Talks attracts special attention in comparison to other multilateral security networking in the ROK’s security discourse because it is directly related to the security of the ROK in comparison to the ARF which is more focused on the regional security of Asia-Pacific broadly.
The purpose of this study is to examine the behavior of the ROK in the bilateral alliance and in the multilateral Six Party talks from the logic of the state-power relations and the nature of issue. The ‘state-power relations’ can be explained as a distribution of a set of capabilities in which a weak state follows the strong state. The ‘nature of issue’ can be explained as the factors which influence the behavior of the state.
The bilateral security alliance can be analyzed under the framework of “cooperation against the enemy” in which the ROK has cooperated with the U.S. against its enemy, North Korea. Unlike its European counterparts, the U.S. promoted the bilateral alliance and the ROK complied, which is in accordance with the state-power relations. The ROK has continued its bilateral alliance with the U.S. even in the post-Cold War because it still faces a traditional security threat from North Korea. Although there have been a few anomalies in the bilateral alliance, they have not in any way changed the basic structure of the bilateral alliance.
However, since the end of the Cold War, the ROK has witnessed a different shape of security threat. North Korea, which was earlier posing only a traditional security threat, has begun to pose non-conventional (nuclear) security threat to the ROK. This security threat was not confined to the ROK but to the whole Northeast Asia region. In order for the resolution to be found, the U.S. first selected to proceed with bilateral negotiations with North Korea but failed as North Korea did not stop its nuclear programs. In comparison to the Clinton administration, the Bush (Jr.) administration was not inclined for any bilateral negotiations with North Korea in reflection of its failure to arrest the North Korean nuclear program. The Bush administration also perceived that the nuclear problem was not the problem of the U.S. alone but was a problem of all states in the Northeast Asia. Furthermore, it didn’t want to open a new war front as it was already involved in a war in the Middle East. There was also a view that the U.S. wanted to share financial burden multilaterally when any resolution comes out. Therefore, looking at the nature of issue, the U.S., henceforth, promoted multilateral as opposed to bilateral negotiations in cooperation with the other stakeholders in the region. The ROK followed the position of its ally, the U.S. and participated in the Six Party Talks. The participants of these talks, including the U.S., could be explained under the theoretical framework of “cooperation without the enemy.” The ROK did not consider North Korea in the concept of enemy in the Six Party Talks.
Thus, this study identifies two characteristics which influence the security policy of the ROK. The first is state-power relation and the second is the nature of (nuclear) issue. The behavior of the ROK in the bilateral alliance and in the multilateral Six Party Talks has been influenced by these two characteristics. Both these characteristics could be conceptualized under the framework of “cooperation against the enemy” and “cooperation without the enemy.”
The research demonstrates that the ROK has cooperated bilaterally with its ally, the U.S. to thwart any threat coming from its traditional enemy, North Korea, which is according to the logic of the state-power relations. At the same time it also followed the multilateral approach to resolve the nuclear issue. The ROK accepted the multilateral approach according to the logic of state-power relation which the U.S. selected according to the logic of nature of issue, and under this multilateral approach, the ROK has participated in negotiations with North Korea in close cooperation with its ally, the U.S. The former can be analyzed under “cooperation against the enemy” and the later in the “cooperation without the enemy.”
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- GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES[S](국제학대학원) > KOREAN STUDIES(한국학과) > Theses (Ph.D.)
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