Sunshine in Korea

Sunshine in Korea: The South Korean Debate over Policies Toward North Korea

Norman D. Levin
Yong-Sup Han
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 162
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1555capp
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  • Book Info
    Sunshine in Korea
    Book Description:

    The debate in South Korea over the government's engagement policy toward North Korea (the "sunshine" policy) did not start with Pyongyang's recent admission that it has been secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program in violation of multiple international commitments. However, the evolution of the debate will be an important determinant of how the South Korean and broader international response to this latest North Korean challenge ultimately ends. This book provides a framework for viewing South Korean responses to this challenge, examining the South Korean debate over policies toward the North, analyzing the sources of controversy, and assessing their implications.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3399-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figure and Table
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. SUMMARY
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-4)

    In December 2002, South Koreans will elect a new president. The election will be rich in symbolism. Kim Dae Jung, the first leader of South Korea’s political opposition ever to be elected president, will himself hand over power. President Kim’s departure will mark the end of the decades-long dominance of South Korean politics by the “three Kims”—Kim Dae Jung, Kim Young Sam, and Kim Jong-pil—and herald the gradual emergence of a new, younger generation of leadership that will increasingly shape the country’s future. And, while it is not certain at this time which party and candidate will win...

  8. Chapter Two THE HISTORICAL SETTING
    (pp. 5-22)

    On October 13, 2000, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded that year’s Nobel Peace Prize to South Korea’s president, Kim Dae Jung—the first time in history that a Korean had been selected for this prestigious award.¹ In explaining its decision, the committee praised the president for his efforts over the decades “for democracy and human rights in South Korea and East Asia in general.” But the committee stressed the president’s work “for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular,” lauding his “sunshine” policy of engagement with North Korea for reducing tension between the two Koreas and creating hope that...

  9. Chapter Three THE SUNSHINE POLICY: PRINCIPLES AND MAIN ACTIVITIES
    (pp. 23-32)

    Kim Dae Jung’s personal commitment to engagement was unmistakable. Right after his election he suggested metaphorically that, as in the famous Aesop fable, he would use “sunshine” as a vehicle for persuading North Korea to give up its hostility and end its international isolation. In his inaugural address he emphasized that he would make reconciliation and cooperation with North Korea a top priority of his administration, despite Pyongyang’s continuing bellicosity and the severe financial crisis that had just hit South Korea. Thereafter, he ordered that the word “unification” be dropped from all descriptions of his government’s policies to the North,...

  10. Chapter Four THE PUBLIC DEBATE: ISSUES AND UNDERLYING DIVISIONS
    (pp. 33-62)

    By its nature, public debate is a mixture of elements: the passionate and the partisan, the piddling and the profound. South Korea’s debate over the government’s dealings with North Korea is no exception, containing elements ranging from the constructive and sincere to the purely self-serving. But at its base are some big questions: Should South Korea seek to engage the North at all? If so, what should be the aim of these efforts? How should this aim be balanced against other important national objectives? What is the efficacy of inducements for a system like North Korea’s? How should the murky...

  11. Chapter Five INTERNAL DYNAMICS: THE ACTORS
    (pp. 63-88)

    South Koreans often describe their country as a “shrimp among whales,” employing an old Chinese saying to describe South Korea’s geostrategic position as a small country surrounded by large and powerful neighbors. And there is no question that the major powers—particularly the United States—continue to exert enormous influence on the course of developments on the peninsula, as does North Korea in its own inimitable fashion. Insofar as the debate over policies toward the North is concerned, however, developmentsinsideSouth Korea—the process of democratization and broader social and cultural transition under President Kim Dae Jung in particular—...

  12. Chapter Six INTERNAL DYNAMICS: THE PROCESS
    (pp. 89-130)

    The process through which a major debate often moves is much like a calendar: Each has its seasons. The watershed event in the sunshine policy’s cycle was clearly the June 2000 summit. This event transformed what had been a relatively low-level public discourse into a major public brouhaha. But two other events had significant effects on the internal dynamics as well and contributed directly to the debate’s nature and direction. One was President Kim’s decision in January 2000 to form a new political party. This decision, understandable given the president’s political position and policy aspirations, politicized what had been generally...

  13. Chapter Seven CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 131-144)

    South Korea’s engagement policy is the result of a long, evolutionary process. Its pursuit under President Kim, however, has not been a simple continuation of previous policy. Indeed, in important respects it represents a significant departure, particularly in the substitution of “reconciliation” for “unification” as the policy’s operative objective, the de facto jettisoning of reciprocity as a central policy component, and the priority given to helping North Korea. The emphasis given to sustaining political dialogue, the trust placed in Kim Jong Il as a partner for peace, and the tendency in practice to overlook or subordinate important security issues are...