Phase Transition in Korea-U.S. Science and Technology Relations

By Caroline Wagner; Anny Wong et al. | Go to book overview

Summary

The governments of the Republic of Korea and the United States have made commitments to build a cooperative relationship in S&T that serves both political and scientific goals. The policy commitment, implemented over a 20-year period, has resulted in a strong S&T relationship. Partly as a result of this commitment, and partly due to Korea's aggressive investments into research and development (R&D) spending, Korean capacity to conduct world-class R&D now puts it among the top countries in the world. The record of its scientists publishing papers in international journals, as well as the registration of Korean patents, suggests that Korea has emerged from a pack of developing nations into the group of “scientifically advanced countries.”

Both governments have made significant financial commitments to S&T cooperation. The Korean government's part in this effort has included investments in joint projects with the United States, supported by a policy of strong domestic investment in R&D. The United States government has provided both development assistance (now terminated) and special grant programs to build scientific capacity in Korea and to encourage cooperation. Thousands of Korean students have studied S&T in the United States. The result has been that, despite its relatively small size, Korea is among the U.S. government's top 20 partners in international cooperation in research and development (ICRD), and the United States is Korea's foremost ICRD partner.

The bilateral S&T relationship has grown in an environment where international S&T cooperation is growing overall: Promoting cooperation is becoming a more important part of the S&T policies of most advanced and many developing countries. The network resulting from international cooperation in science is creating a system that is transcending the actions and direct influence of individual nations, and taking on a global character. Both Korea and the United States are active partners with other countries in global science, and the bilateral relationship is being affected by the internationalization of S&T.

The enhanced scientific capacity of Korea, the changing structure of international science, and shifts in the role of the United States in it, suggest that a reexamination of the relationship is in order. Our research leads us to conclude that, while it may be fruitful to seed bilateral cooperation within policy programs, in fact, the most robust cooperation grows “from the bottom up”—

-xi-

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