Korean Options in a Changing International Order

Korean Options in a Changing International Order

Korean Options in a Changing International Order

Korean Options in a Changing International Order

Excerpt

The essays collected here are revised versions of papers originally presented at the fifth international conference on North Korea, which focused on various alternatives available to North Korea at a time when its international environment was undergoing rapid changes. The collapse of the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union brought an end to the cold war bipolarity largely based on intense ideological confrontation, tightly knit alliances, and preoccupation with military security concerns. With the end of the Cold War, the focus of international politics shifted from military security issues to economic development and cooperation. Although the danger of large-scale military conflict has diminished, and although nation-states find it beneficial to cooperate for economic goals, economic competition among nations is intensifying over the question of who gets how much from the increasing economic interdependency.

The ever-deepening globalization that has resulted from revolutions in communication and transportation and from expanding international trade compels all nation-states and their citizens to be more concerned with the common fate of humankind. At the same time, there has been an increase in assertive nationalism and other primordial ties based on ethnic and religious identities, which rise in developing nations in proportion to people's confidence in economic development. Thus, a crucial question in international politics in coming years is how these two conspicuous forces -- internationalization and localization by parochial assertive nationalism -- will interact in shaping international politics.

The shifting of foreign policy focus from security issues to economic issues has blurred the conventional boundary between domestic and external behavior. Economic development requires a nation to participate in international trade, and various forces within a nation assert their interests in formulating a nation's foreign policy. Although socialism has proven inefficient in dealing with economic competition, East Asian Leninist regimes including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( North Korea) continue to insist on a socialist line. Nevertheless, China and Vietnam are introducing capitalist market mechanisms for economic efficiency. An intellectually challenging question is, therefore, how seriously one has to take those nations' ideological pronouncements, which appear to be far removed from reality.

Unlike China, North Korea was ill-prepared for the historic changes and thus faces a great dilemma. Its planned economy, operating on autarkic principles and heavily burdened by large military expenditures, has increasingly . . .

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