This project explores Korea’s influence on and engagement with Southeast Asia SEA) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as case studies of Korea’s presence in the Global South. In addition it examines how Korea’s presence and policies are perceived locally, and how in turn Seoul’s effort has been critically re-assessed and its strategy adjusted accordingly. By so doing, the project looks at both sides of the relationship between Korea and non-traditional regions.
Korea has traditionally been preoccupied with its immediate neighborhood, namely North Korea and North-East Asia. At the same time understanding its engagement in non-traditional regions can shed light on how Seoul’s understanding of its role in the world has changed over time, and on the extent to which the link between domestic considerations and external factors has reshaped its global and regional strategies. Has Korea actually already become a global economic player and if so, how have Seoul’s regional strategies contributed to such ends?
The project seeks to answer the following questions:
- What are the key drivers of Korea’s engagement in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa?
- How has Korea advanced its goals in the two target regions (who are the key players? In what sequence have goals been pursued?)
- How has Korea’s engagement been received locally?
- Has involvement in SEA and SSA been re-examined in Korea’s policy circles and with what implications? How have Korea’s policies and strategies evolved over time?
Empirically the project focuses on two regions where Korea has stepped up engagement and presence in recent years: Africa (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Angola, Madagascar) and South-East Asia (Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia).