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Korea in the 21st Century.

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Research memorandum,

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Between 1960 and today South Korea has gone from being poor to being middle class, from being rural to being urban, from having primary industries to having secondary and increasingly tertiary industries, and from having an inferiority complex with respect to Japan to having an attitude that could develop into chauvinism. The problem for the future is whether Korea can successfully continue its economic progress in a world that is more competitive, more wary of exploitative economic practices, and more dominated by large surrounding countries that have in the past been enemies. There is no way that Korea can deal confidently with such giants as China, Russia, and Japan on its own. In the future, Seoul may try to balance off China and Japan, which represent the historic threats to the Peninsula. In the Korean view, only the U.S. presence in the Pacific prevents the otherwise inevitable Japanese rearmament that could follow, for example, the emergence of China as a military power. Because Koreans are not convinced that the United States will be present in Northeast Asia for the longer term, and because Korea does not trust either China or Japan, certainly not to the degree that it has trusted the United States, Korea is building a modern navy. That navy is to show the flag, help protect Koreas sea lines of communication, and contribute, more than symbolically, to multilateral naval efforts. Such a navy could be regarded with suspicion by Japan, China, or Russia, unless Korea remained anchored in some security relationship with the United States.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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