How South Korean Means Support North Korean Ends: Crossed Purposes in Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation

Smith, Hazel Anne (2005) How South Korean Means Support North Korean Ends: Crossed Purposes in Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation. International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, 14 (2). pp. 21-51.

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North and South Korea share the same political and strategic aim of integration and eventual unification of Korea, although they remain divided in their understanding of what should be the specific nature of the unified Korea. Both states, in their own ways, use the same instruments of unification policy; these are military deterrence, political diplomacy,economic cooperation, and humanitarian assistance. Economic cooperation and humanitarian
assistance provide the main instruments of inter-Korean cooperation, albeit in an unequal manner as it is South Korea that provides the major funding for cooperation projects. The paper evaluates whether South Korea receives economic or political value for money in its expenditure on inter-Korean cooperation. This is not therefore an
argument about the military and political instruments of the unification strategies of North and South but instead remains focused on the nature and modalities of economic
cooperation. My thesis is that economic instruments are being used for cross-purposes and that this should matter to South Korea as it is unwittingly helping North Korea achieve aims which it does not share, and, as a logical consequence, weakening its ability to achieve its own unification goals. I argue that South Korean means need to be re-calibrated with South Korean ends. I also argue that the South Korean unilateral approach to economic cooperation, while beneficial in opening up relations with the North, has now run its course. A determined complementary strategy of economic and humanitarian multilateralism will enable it to pursue its own agenda at the same time as supporting the moral imperative, shared by the majority of South Korea’s electorate of every political hue, of assisting the impoverished North Korean population in the short-, medium- and long-term.

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