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Korea Economic Institute

Debunking the Korean Peninsula “Arms Race”: What’s Behind South Korea’s Military Force Development?

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Event Date

June 2nd 12:00pm - 1:00pm EST

Event Location

livestreamed on YouTube


Kyle Ferrier


Markus Garlauskas
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council
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Axel Catellier
Vice President
Sejong Society
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Lami Kim
Assistant Professor
U.S. Army War College
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Event Video
Key Points
  • South Korea’s military development is part of a broader, proactive effort to build military capabilities rather than simply reactions to a North Korean threat.
  • South Korea’s military development is a way to address China’s growing sphere of influence.
  • The development of ROK defense capabilities beyond threats posed by North Korea offers a pathway to expand the scope of the U.S.-ROK alliance if conducted through coordinated and transparent bilateral dialogue.
Event Description

Following a succession of missile tests in both North and South Korea that began last year, a new narrative of an inter-Korean “arms race” has emerged. However, this interpretation of events is misleading. While North Korea’s reasons for weapons testing are well-documented, South Korea’s military buildup in recent years has received far less attention. Seoul’s drive for new weapons systems is better explained as proactive efforts to build military capabilities to support national security priorities in a broader context, rather than just reactions to the North Korean threat.

Please join KEI for a conversation with Markus Garlauskas and Axel Catellier on the factors driving South Korea’s recent military force development and how Seoul and Washington should coordinate approaches on their own defense development in ways that would benefit both countries in the years to come.

The discussion will be livestreamed via YouTube.