Monday, December 09, 2019

South Korea’s Foreign Policy under Moon Jea-in Administration

Moon Jae-in was sworn in as President of South Korea at the time when the country was facing with significant domestic and external challenges. The development model relying on major chaebols which maintain close relations with political elites has revealed critical weaknesses: the lack of innovation and democracy, risks of corruption, and widened social gap between the rich and the poor. South Korea also faces significant security threats from the increasing frequency and scale of North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon tests, pushing it to carefully calculate its relations with important partners, such as the US, China, Japan and Russia. Against this background, within only 6 months since taking office, President Moon Jae-in has sketched key directions in South Korea’s foreign policy with major powers. In a nutshell, South Korea would still value the security alliance with the US but it would seek more independent role in this bilateral security arrangement. China will also be an important partner that South Korea prioritises, but Moon Jae-in will not develop such a close South Korea-China relationship like under the Park Geun-hye administration. Japan is an emerging partner sharing many security and strategic concerns with South Korea, so President Moon will likely develop closer relations with Japan in his term. Last but not least, President Moon will promote South Korea-Southeast Asia relations while maintaining South Korea-Russia ties in a constructive way.  

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