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8 - South Korea and the Regional Powers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Uk Heo
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Terence Roehrig
Affiliation:
U.S. Naval War College
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Summary

On many occasions, Korea's history has been impacted by the relationships it has had with the three regional powers on its border: China, Japan, and Russia/Soviet Union. In the past, Korea was often weak in comparison to these contenders and was forced to survive as best as it could. Increasingly, Republic of Korea (ROK) economic, political, and military power is making it an important player in the region and a sought-after partner. Moreover, South Korea has ambitions to be an even more significant actor and is seeking to build its blue-water naval capabilities, allowing it (a) to be less dependent on others to protect its commercial interests and (b) to have the ability to project power and influence more broadly. As a result, an understanding of South Korea's relations with the major powers in the region is crucial to assess Seoul's current position and where it is headed in the future.

China

For many years, Korea existed as a kingdom under the suzerainty of the Chinese Empire. China and Korea maintained a big brother–little brother relationship wherein Korea paid tribute to Chinese emperors as a sign of respect to its big brother. Korea's historical and cultural ties to China are extensive, as a great deal of Korean culture came to the peninsula from China, including art, education, and the legacy of Confucius. This relationship lasted until the end of the nineteenth century, when China became weak and the Korean peninsula fell under Japanese control.

Type
Chapter
Information
South Korea since 1980 , pp. 183 - 208
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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References

Gries, P. Hays, “The Koguryo Controversy, National Identity, and Sino-Korean Relations Today,” East Asia 22, no. 4 (2005): 3–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pyle, K., Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose (New York: Public Affairs, 2007)Google Scholar
Gorbachev, M., Memoirs (New York: Doubleday, 1996)Google Scholar
Ahn, S., “Understanding Russian-South Korean Arms Trade: A Nontraditional Security Approach?Armed Forces and Society 35, no. 3 (April 2009): 421–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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