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South Korea

Future Prospects

Seoul became more globally conscious in the 1980s. South Korean contacts with foreigners have been largely a post-Korean War phenomenon. Indeed, Seoul's expanding foreign business contacts have been greatly stimulated by the fierce rivalry with North Korea. Seoul's basic goals are still to enhance political legitimacy, military security, and economic development vis--vis P'yongyang. After the 1988 Seoul Olympics, however, South Korea's diplomatic horizon was greatly expanded because of Roh's Nordpolitik--which had successfully transformed South Korea's sports industry, economic relations, and diplomacy (though its success with P'yongyang was limited).

Lacking a reconciliation with North Korea--the final destination of Nordpolitik--Roh's remarkable accomplishments will remain incomplete. In his 1990 New Year policy statement, Roh observed that "the East European wave of reform toward freedom and prosperity is bound to teach North Korea before long." He added that he hoped that "similar change will take place in the North in an orderly and peaceful fashion." Roh pledged "[a]ll-out efforts . . . to convince North Korea . . . that it should join the trend of world history and open up."

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A number of introductory books on South Korean domestic politics and foreign relations are available in English. Ki-baik Lee's A New History of Korea is a Korean scholar's perspective on Korean political history, valuable chiefly for its examination of the period before 1945. Ramon H. Myers and Mark Peattie's The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945 sheds light on the colonial roots of subsequent South Korean political cultural and behavior. Young Whan Kihl's Politics and Policies in Divided Korea compares political leadership and styles in the two Koreas, while Ralph N. Clough's Embattled Korea is a thorough and cogent treatment of diplomacy and extradiplomatic foreign policies as seen through the prism of rivalry between the two Koreas. Dae-Kyu Yoon's Law and Political Authority in Korea is an excellent and detailed study of the interaction between law and politics in the Republic of Korea.

A number of useful articles on South Korean foreign relations and the United States-Korean relationship are contained in Robert A. Scalapino's and Hongkoo Lee's Korea-U.S. Relations The Politics of Trade and Security. Donald Stone Macdonald's The Koreans, although not limited to politics, is a useful survey. David I. Steinberg's The Republic of Korea contains many insightful observations of South Korean politics. Kim Dae Jung is the only major political figure to have his views published extensively in English. Mass Participatory Economy gives his views on South Korean political economy as of the mid-1980s; Prison Writings presents his thoughts on South Korean political culture and other subjects. Human Rights in Korea, edited by William R. Shaw, contains several chapters on postwar South Korean political and human rights issues. The United States Department of State's June 1989 "United States Government Statement on the Events in Kwangju, Republic of Korea, in May 1980" is also a valuable document.

Following the abolition of the Basic Press Act in 1988, the South Korean media became a rich source of both factual and interpretive material on politics and government. Korea Newsreview, based on coverage of the government-owned Korea Herald newspaper, presents weekly articles concerning politics and foreign affairs, generally from a progovernment point of view; beginning in 1987, the publication has also printed the writings of dissenting guest columnists. The full spectrum of Seoul's Korean-language news media coverage on political topics is sampled and translated in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service's Daily Report: East Asia. The United States Embassy, Seoul publishes its Press Translations: Korea six days each week.

Outside political analysis may be found in monthly periodicals, including Asian Survey and The Journal of Northeast Asian Studies. The monthly Korea Update contains news and commentary on politics and human rights issues. Perceptive accounts of the political scene are found in Far Eastern Economic Review [Hong Kong] and Asian Wall Street Journal, as well in major United States dailies such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor.

Among annual publications are Korea Annual, published by the state-sponsored Yonhap News Agency, and the Asia Yearbook, published by the Far Eastern Economic Review. Amnesty International's Report on Human Rights contains a chapter on South Korea in each annual edition, as does the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of June 1990

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South Korea Table of Contents