Twelve South Korea, the Six Party Talks, AND Relations WITH THE MAJOR POWERS Kendra Sundal


For South Korea, the Six Party Talks have provided a platform to engage with the North alongside its major power allies. Yet South Korea has occasionally also engaged with the North bilaterally throughout history in order to work towards mending relations through all available means. in both cases-bilaterally and multilaterally-the South’s eventual goal has often been presumed to be sustainable peace and even the eventual future reunification of the two Koreas. Still, the South has not pursued these goals in a consistent manner, as changes in government have resulted in changes in rhetoric, policy, and action.

In the following four sections, the evolution of South Korea’s position towards the North as well as its relations with the US and China-the two most influential outside powers in the Six Party Talks-are explored. The first section deals with the development of South Korea’s democratic political system since the end of World War II, and particularly following the Korean War. The next three sections go into greater detail about the most recent presidencies in South Korea: Kim Dae Jung, Roh Moo Hyun, and Lee Myung Bak. In each section, various international relations theories are considered to better understand the positions and actions of each president in their policies towards North Korea. In addition, these theories are also applied to the US and China in their relations with the Korean peninsula. The next section discusses the most recent developments on the peninsula as well as upcoming events which could impact the two Koreas. The final section presents a conclusion of the perspectives of all of the states involved in the Six Party Talks as they face an uncertain future with a new North Korean regime as well as a new president in the South.

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