South Korea: An Overview
Described as the “Miracle of the Han River,” South Korea has grown into a high-income advanced economy, and plays an important role in the global economy. However, it also faces many challenges, especially with North Korea on its northern border, in issues involving security and regional politics. Think tanks, mostly government affiliated, serve to provide policy recommendations in the face of such security concerns. This chapter sheds light on two distinct think tank models that have both contributed to shaping the South Korean policy agenda. In the first case study, Sook-Jong Lee demonstrates how independent non-profit think tanks such as the East Asia Institute, despite having limited financial resources, have produced quality policy recommendations to the South Korean government, proposing “complex diplomacy,” “co-evolutionary strategy,” and “middle power diplomacy” in the face of Chinese and US influence. In contrast, the second case study examines how the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), a government-affiliated and top-ranking foreign policy and security think tank, shaped the development of a new policy agenda and influenced the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, offering various policy initiatives in nuclear disarmament in the Korean peninsula.