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Korea Economic Institute of America Presents:

The Raw Materials of Economic Security: South Korea’s Evolving Energy and Critical Minerals Policies in an Era of Disruption

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Event Date

November 15th 10:00am - 11:00am ET

Event Location

KEI Conference Facility & Online

James Bowen

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Troy Stangarone

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Event Video
Event Description

The link between resource security and economic security is particularly strong in South Korea. This is reflected in commitments made in President Yoon Suk-yeol’s Strategy for a Free, Peaceful and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Strategy of 2022. Korea has successfully maintained an energy and minerals-intensive development model despite domestic raw material scarcity and a corresponding overdependence on international supply chains and markets. The resiliency of this balance has again been severely tested, however, by the disruptions of COVID-19, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and longer-standing trends of climate change, the related energy transition, and the erosion of the liberal geoeconomic and geopolitical order. Seoul faces severe policy headaches in the distinct but related areas of energy and critical mineral security because of these variables. South Korea’s major energy security challenge is to successfully diversify away from dependence on fossil fuels. Achieving this ‘green security’ will not be easy, however, given Korea’s previous difficulties with delivering ‘green growth.’ The current ROK government has chosen a potentially complicated decarbonization pathway that prioritizes hydrogen and revives nuclear energy at the expense of renewables. On critical minerals, Seoul must primarily collaborate with others to develop supply chains outside China. To do so, however, it must overcome intense economic and strategic competition for activity from necessary partners across the value chain. Seoul must commit significant financial and political capital to regain a level of resource security that is consistent with maintaining its preferred development model. The alternative is to accept a new equilibrium that depends less on resource-intensive activity in aggregate.

KEI’s hybrid program will feature James Bowen’s work to help us better understand the complex trends and challenges surrounding South Korea’s energy and critical mineral policies.