chapter  7
Korea in the international system
Pages 11

South Korea’s relations with the North and with the key major powers interested in the Korean peninsula represent an important part of the country’s external relations, but they do not cover the complete picture. The competition for political and diplomatic legitimacy carried on between the North and the South during the post-Korean War period found expression in the rivalry to enhance their respective international status, not least through achieving diplomatic recognition and membership of regional and international organizations. Until the early 1970s, the South put ‘little effort’ into developing its linkages with Third World countries,1 but, after abandoning its version of the West German ‘Hallstein doctrine’, the South undoubtedly worked hard at diversifying its links away from solely the USA and Japan, important though those two partners remained. In this endeavour, the growing economic power of South Korea, and the dilution of some of its anti-communist rhetoric outside the immediate confines of policy towards the North, undoubtedly helped. Indeed, in the 1980s ‘economic diplomacy and diplomatic pragmatism’ became the ‘defining characteristics’ of South Korea’s foreign policy and this trend was carried over into the 1990s as increasingly South Korea seemed to be winning the diplomatic struggle with the North.2