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Korea's Evolving Energy Strategy: A Different Shade of Green
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South, Iran
Published June 16, 2014
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The health and strength of Korea’s manufacturing-intensive, export-led economy remains almost entirely dependent on access to energy imports; in particular, oil from the Middle East. This continues to leave the country’s strategic outlook exposed and vulnerable. The “low carbon, green growth” vision of the previous presidential administration emphasized supply-oriented policies, focusing on growth and investment in nuclear and renewable energy. However, as Korea revises its National Energy Plan, indications are the Park Geun-hye administration will favor demand-side solutions. Additionally, previous plans to expand nuclear energy capacity will likely be canceled and less emphasis on renewables is expected. The revised plan will set the country on a new, strategic five-year trajectory that will profoundly impact its politics, economy and energy security. To provide context to the impending shift in policy, this paper will examine Korea’s energy portfolio and assess its level of dependency and energy security vulnerability. Additionally, the paper will examine recent energy policies and strategies as they have evolved up to the current administration. Finally, the paper will gauge the strategic direction Korea is set to embark upon as it seeks to enhance its energy security while carefully balancing impacts to social equity, the environment, and the Korean economy.

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