This research is on Korea’s mid- to long-term international strategies. It aims to objectively identify the national benefits that Korea may attain and the potential environmental restrictions that Korea may face in the future, to suggest international strategies that can maximize national benefits even in restrictive circumstances – that is, long-term and comprehensive action plans that are also practical.
The research classifies national benefits into three categories of security (survival), prosperity (continuous economic growth), and culture (attractiveness). Then it develops and suggests possible strategies for Korea as a middle power nation to maximize the aforementioned national benefits under the macroscopic environmental restrictions of the China-US conflict
First, in terms of international strategies for national security, the research suggests strategies to prevent the nation from siding too closely with either great power, in preparation of the intensifying China-US conflict. This strategy, named the “Global Alliance” strategy and “Conditional Progressive Regional Alliance Reinforcement Strategy,” supports the global alliance strategies of the United States by prioritizing the Korea-U.S. alliance if the country is to be forced to choose between China and the United States. At the same time, the strategy aims to gradually adjust the level of solidification of the Korea-U.S. alliance in preparation for the possible intensified containment of China in Northeast Asia.
In terms of China as a rapidly emerging economy, the strategy of “strengthening strategic alliance” was derived. The strategy seeks to preemptively avoid issues that may develop into issues related to North Korea – i.e. the deployment of additional THAAD – by institutionalizing strategic communication channels with China’s top officials. In addition, in terms of our relationship with Japan, the strategy requires maintaining a quasi-alliance among Korea-U.S.-Japan, and restoring liberal principles based on the principle of separation of politics and economy. This can be considered a mid- and long-term strategy to prepare for China’s strategy to alter the status quo in Northeast Asia – including military strategies – as the authoritarian country seeks to expand its influence and power, in the worst case scenario.
The international strategies in the economic sector focus on reducing the uncertainties that will become stronger due to the competition between the U.S. and China and the rise of China. The strategies require a preparation of alternatives, assuming that the unstable international economic order caused by the U.S.-China trade dispute is now a new normal. In detail, it is suggested that protectionist trade policies in the U.S. and the economic rise of China may play a key role in the “competition to create a free trade regime between China and Japan” in East Asia. It is necessary to actively participate in the enactment of the rules and standards created by such a regime. In terms of currency, the strategy requires having a “defensive monetary policy” and emphasizes that in case of a currency war between Chin and the U.S., it is critical to preemptively prevent pressure for currency reevaluation.
In terms of finance, “Continuous contribution to the expansion of international credit,” “Financial stabilization diplomacy – i.e. reinforcing Basel IV and FSB,” and “Response strategies to the popularization of digital finance” were introduced. In terms of technology, the strategy proposes to “actively participate in establishing the international norms in the field of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” characterized by cloud computing, AI, and IoT. In terms of ODA, it is suggested that the nation prepare an “ODA strategy consistent with the international norms based on selection and concentration.” The key strategy derived from the cultural sector was “two-way communication and bottom-up cultural diplomacy.” It is proposed that the nation radically move away from past strategies to spread a positive image of Korea based on a top-down method centered on the government, officials, and diplomatic offices, and instead convey and share the attractiveness of Korea based on two-way communication centered on social media and YouTube, the key channels for cultural exchanges.
One thing to focus on is that, in order to convey and share the attractiveness of Korea, the Korean government should only secure the infrastructure and platform on which communication is based, and the content and methods of exchanges should be solely left to the private sector and the public. In addition, new strategies of “Prevention of fake news about Korea” and “Cultural ODA strategies” were presented as mid-to long-term strategies.
The message of this research to the National Assembly is clear. The National Assembly should actively engage in defining national interests and developing strategies, which were led by the administration for the past century. This should start from greatly enhancing the expertise of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, the National Defense Committee, the Intelligence Committee, Trade and Industry Committee, and the Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee. Unfortunately, the National Assembly has implicitly acknowledged the administration’s expertise in the past in terms of foreign policies and, in so doing, has limited its own abilities and willingness to engage in such matters. Now, it is time to move away from such passive engagement in order to serve as a constructive monitoring and checking agent for the administration in terms of international issues.
To do so, the National Assembly itself should have a long-term and clear vision of the national benefits that Korea can attain and its international strategies. This research will serve to guide the efforts of the National Assembly.