South Korea’s Foreign Policy in Changing Times: Reversing Course?

Poster of the major candidates of the 2022 election in South Korea


The tragedy currently unfolding in Ukraine may be a symptom of new dynamics in global geopolitics. The changing balance of power epitomized by the rise of China and the shrinking American interest and resolve in asserting its traditional global role has emboldened Putin’s ambition to restore the past glory of the Russian empire. The same dynamics have also made geopolitics acuter in East Asia, from which South Korea can never be free. The COVID-19 pandemic since 2020 has only accelerated the competitive nature of international power dynamics. Faced with the broader shift in world order, how will South Korea’s foreign policy under the new government unfold? This policy brief attempts to explain the main objectives of the incoming government’s foreign policy and how these might be implemented. In so doing, it evaluates the new government’s view of the past five years of South Korean foreign policy under outgoing President Moon Jae-in – a policy which it seeks in part to reverse.

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