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Continuity in South Korean Foreign Policy
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South
Published April 17, 2017
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The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) launched in August 2008 and transformed into a treaty-based inter-governmental organization in October 2012. The GGGI positioned South Korea at the forefront of a movement to address a defining global issue and reflected classic middle power diplomacy. Despite its apparent success, the momentum of support enjoyed by the GGGI did not carry through to the subsequent administration. This raises important questions regarding foreign policy continuity in South Korea: Is foreign policy continuity still important to contemporary states? Why has South Korea been particularly challenged by foreign policy continuity? What measures could be undertaken to improve foreign policy continuity in South Korea?

This article seeks to answer these questions. It first explores continuity in foreign policy in the context of a dynamic international environment. The article then turns to the distinct structural impediments to foreign policy continuity faced by South Korea. The paper utilizes the example of APEC to ascertain optimal policy inputs for continuity and associates these with practical recommendations to supplement and ultimately complement constitutional reform – the main impediment to foreign policy continuity in South Korea. The article concludes with a look at what increased continuity could mean to South Korean foreign policy.

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