26 April 2015

Korea and the New Regional Paradigm

April 24, 2015

Are we witnessing the piecemeal construction of a new regional paradigm in Northeast Asia? Despite lengthy commentary on the differences between Europe and Asia in terms of international institutions and multilateral cooperation, as well as scholarship highlighting the abiding residues of the Cold War in East Asia, there are indications that the post-Cold War interregnum may be settling into a new regional pattern. While inter-regional comparisons shed light on this process, it is also useful to view the process from a sub-regional perspective; put differently, to view it from the inside out. The Korean peninsula, long the nexus of great power competition, provides an instructive place from which to analyze several aspects of this newly emergent regional pattern. This includes: Korea’s recent trilateral military intelligence sharing agreement with the U.S. and Japan; developments in the area of missile defense; the ROK naval base on Jeju Island; and, above all, the current predominance of a particular concept of South Korean sovereignty among the South Korean elite.

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