The Shape of Korea's Future: South Korean Attitudes toward Unification and Long-Term Security Issues

The Shape of Korea's Future: South Korean Attitudes toward Unification and Long-Term Security Issues

The Shape of Korea's Future: South Korean Attitudes toward Unification and Long-Term Security Issues

The Shape of Korea's Future: South Korean Attitudes toward Unification and Long-Term Security Issues

Synopsis

South Koreans are moving beyond both the historical and Cold War legacies in their thinking about Korea's long-time security. This major conclusion, which emerges from this report analyzing South Korean attitudes toward unification and long-term security

Excerpt

Many have observed that South Koreans have tended to be some what insular in their view of the world, with the exception of their aggressiveness in exporting goods and services as a means to accumulate national wealth quickly. This tendency has inclined South Koreans to focus their national policies on rapid economic growth while depending heavily on the United States for their security. Having achieved rapid economic growth, however, South Koreans have made efforts to be more self-reliant in their foreign and security policy. Increasing prospects for the reunification of the entire Korean Peninsula with the end of the Cold War have reinforced the trend toward greater self-reliance. in this light, understanding properly how South Koreans would define and resolve their security and foreign policy problems given Korea's important geostrategic location has become critical for South Koreans themselves as well as for concerned countries.

As I understand it, this is why the rand Center for Asia -Pacific Policy, together with the Joong-Ang [lbo, conducted public opinion polls in September 1996 and in February 1999 on South Koreans' perceptions and attitudes toward South Korea's foreign, security, and unification policy. the two polls taken together help to identify how Koreans perceive themselves and other powers in the world and how those perceptions are changing over time. the polls provide a way to understand how South Koreans define the challenges and opportunities in the next ten years and how they confront the problems associated with North Korea, unification, nuclear weapons, the U.S. Korea alliance, and relations with Japan, China, and Russia.

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