Foreign Policy Dilemma in South Korean Democracy: Challenge of Polarized and Politicized Public Opinion (2020.10)

2020.10.01
  • 저자 : 이신화
  • 학술지명 : 평화연구
  • 발행처 : 고려대학교 평화와 민주주의연구소
  • 권호 : 28(2)
  • 게재년월 : 2020년 10월
  • 초록 : The paper empirically examines the extent to which the public’s perceptions and preferences have been reflected in the official foreign policymaking process in Korea. Through this analysis, the paper discusses the relationship between democracy and foreign policy determinants, and highlights the problems that arise due to polarization of the public. The paper argues that the divided political jinyoung nonri (partisanship argument) within the country poses the biggest threat to Korean diplomacy, as the political polarization among both political elites and civic groups increasingly causes great restrictions in foreign policymaking. The paper demonstrates how these issues have been relevant in recent years by analyzing and comparing the foreign policy decision-making process in Korea during three diplomatic episodes: the Mad cow disease protests in 2008, opposition against the ‘comfort women’ agreement signed in 2015; and public debates about the deployment of THAAD Batteries since 2017. These cases demonstrate how Korean governments may be prohibited from pursuing foreign policies essential for its national interests and security due to domestic pressure from a polarized public, or promote unwise strategies based on misguided populism. In many ways, this emphasizes the need for a ‘win-win’ approach between the government and citizens through constructive conversations about Korea’s foreign policy, especially because the public will continue to be more involved in the foreign policy decision-making process.

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