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We publish Explainers following impactful events on the Korean Peninsula and contribute to CSDS policy briefs.

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A network of leading Europe-based experts on Korean and Northeast Asian affairs which highlights European views on developments in the Korean Peninsula.

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Episode 11: Jung H. Pak on US-North Korea summitry and a possible deal

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Jung H. Pak to discuss her upcoming book “Becoming Kim Jong Un” and her insights on developments in North Korea which she gained as a CIA analyst and North Korea watcher since 2009.

Episode 1: Bark Taeho, Trade Minister of the Republic of Korea (2011-13), on Korea’s trade policies and future challenges

In the first episode, KF-VUB Korea Chair invites Bark Taeho, Trade Minister of the Republic of Korea (2011-13), to share his experiences in government while negotiating or implementing three key FTA’s (KORUS, EU-Korea FTA, China-Korea FTA) and his role at the WTO.

Episode 10: Kim Hyun-wook & Rachel Minyoung Lee on North Korea, 17 July

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Kim Hyun-wook and Rachel Minyoung Lee to discuss the current state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula. Over the past months, following the unsuccessful summit in Hanoi, US-North Korea relations reached an impasse. After the historic meeting of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the DMZ on June 30, there is a realistic chance that negotiations between the United States and North Korea towards denuclearisation and the lifting of sanctions can resume. This is also an opportunity for the South Korean government and President Moon to revive the inter-Korean peace process and to move forward with the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration.

Episode 9: KF-VUB Korea Chair on US President Trump’s visit to North Korea, 8 July

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Tongfi Kim and Linde Desmaele to assess the historical visit of US President Donald Trump to North Korea. They discuss how this was a win for the US and both Koreas, and whether there might be a deal before the 2020 US elections.

Episode 8: Stephan Haggard on the Hanoi Trump-Kim Summit, 26 Feb

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Stephan Haggard to discuss expectations for the nuclear negotiations at the 27-28 Feb Hanoi Summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Episode 7: Andrea Berger & John Nilsson-Wright on current US-DPRK and inter-Korean relations, 30 Nov

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Andrea Berger and John Nilsson-Wright to discuss the current state of US-North Korea relations, recent developments in South Korea-North Korea relations and the role of China.

Episode 6: On current US-DPRK and inter-Korean relations & next steps ahead, 22 Nov

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Duyeong Kim and Youkyung Lee to discuss the slowdown in current US-DPRK relations, with the second Trump-Kim summit remaining unconfirmed, in relation to the ongoing strengthening of inter-Korean relations, as well as the role of China in this process. Further discussed is Kim Jong-un’s potential visit to South Korea and what can be gained from it.

Episode 5: Assessing President Moon’s trip to Europe, 16 Oct

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Jina Kim and Nicola Casarini to discuss the South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s trip to Europe, developments in the US-DPRK-ROK peace-making and denuclearisation process, and the invitation to the Pope to visit North Korea.

Episode 4: Assessing the third inter-Korean summit of 2018

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo, Tongfi Kim & Linde Desmaele discuss expectations for the third inter-Korean summit of 2018 between South Korean President Moon Jae in and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. This podcast was recorded on the first day of the summit...

Episode 3: Assessing Inter-Korean and US-North Korea Relations

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Jonathan Cheng to discuss the current state of inter-Korean and US-North Korea relations, as well as his experience covering recent summits involving North Korea. Featuring: Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo (KF-VUB Korea Chair)...

The EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: Prospects for Cooperation with South Korea

The European Union formally presented its long-awaited Indo-Pacific Strategy in September 2021. As the successful implementation of the strategy depends on constructive cooperation with its partners in the region, this report seeks to understand the potential role of South Korea in this regard. Building upon a comparative analysis of the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and South Korea’s New Southern Policy (Plus), this report identifies four potential areas for increasing cooperation: health, physical connectivity, digital connectivity and maritime security. Read more…

Korea Matters for Europe/ Europe Matters for Korea

This publication maps the relationship between the Republic of Korea and the European Union’s 27 Member States. Covering a diverse range of topics including security, trade, investment, educational exchange and cultural connections,  the importance of the Korea-EU relationship is highlighted. The publication provides English and Korean readers with a snap shot take on these issue-areas. Read more…

The EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: Prospects for Cooperation with South Korea

The European Union formally presented its long-awaited Indo-Pacific Strategy in September 2021. As the successful implementation of the strategy depends on constructive cooperation with its partners in the region, this report seeks to understand the potential role of South Korea in this regard. Building upon a comparative analysis of the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and South Korea’s New Southern Policy (Plus), this report identifies four potential areas for increasing cooperation: health, physical connectivity, digital connectivity and maritime security.

North Korean Diplomacy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Cases in Uganda and Namibia

The Independence Memorial Museum in Namibia was built by Mansudae, a North Korean state construction firm. The museum is one of many buildings, statues, and factories in Sub-Saharan Africa with similar origins. Historically, the Kim dynasty fostered partnerships throughout Africa by appealing to a shared belief in anticolonialism and demonstrating its self-reliance, known as juche in North Korea. Although these commonalities in ideology helped Pyongyang open diplomatic ties in Sub-Saharan Africa, they soon evolved into economic and military relationships. ​Let’s examine what North Korean diplomatic efforts are like in Namibia and Uganda.

The Benefits of the US–South Korea Alliance Beyond Deterring North Korea

The politically convenient narrative that exclusively focuses on the US–South Korea alliance’s deterrence and defence against North Korea fails to capture some important functions the alliance has fulfilled historically. The alliance has restrained both Seoul and Washington from taking risky actions against North Korea, it has generally contributed to a better relationship between South Korea and Japan, and the alliance and the US military bases in South Korea raise the strategic value of South Korea to China.

Olympic Perspective on South Korea-Japan Relations

The Olympics are usually a time for countries and individuals to practice sports diplomacy. A recent, notable example was with the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and the joint women’s hockey team composed of North and South Korean athletes. South Korea and Japan have called on sport diplomacy in the past to show unity and strength with neighbouring countries. However, the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is happening against the backdrop of aggravated relations between South Korea and Japan. Recent years have seen a marked increase of tensions and stressed relations as unresolved issues from Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula re-emerge. Despite its intended apolitical nature, this year’s Olympics have acted as a catalyst to some of these political and social frustrations.

South Korea’s participation in the G7 summit

South Korea participated in the G7 summit held in the UK on 11-13 June as one of four guest countries. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson extended an invitation to President Moon Jae-in to attend the summit earlier this year, after US President Donald Trump did the same last year before the summit was cancelled. Moon’s participation in the weekend’s summit came after Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong’s trip to the UK to participate in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last May. For South Korea, participation in the G7 is one of the most important moments in the history of the country’s foreign policy since its transition to democracy in 1987. Other momentous occasions include normalisation of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and China in 1990 and 1992, respectively; accession to the OECD in 1996; or membership of the upgraded G20 since its launch in 2008.

An arms control deal with North Korea? The good, the bad, the realistic

North Korea is a de facto nuclear power. In this brief, Ramon Pacheco Pardo discusses the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing an arms control deal to cap and roll back its nuclear programme, as opposed to focusing on the unrealistic goal of denuclearisation.

The South Korea-US summit

Presidents Moon Jae-in and Joe Biden held their first face-to-face summit last Friday, May 21st. Moon became only the second leader to have a physical meeting with Biden, which shows the importance that the new US administration affords to Washington’s alliance with South Korea. The summit was the highlight of Moon’s four-day visit to the US. The South Korean president and his US counterpart issued a joint statement which was nearly twice as long as the previous one issued by Moon and former president Donald Trump in June 2017. For the duration and outcome of the summit went beyond the best expectations that the South Korean side had in advance.

The EU and the US in search of Common Ground: Extending the Transatlantic to an Indo-Pacific Partnership?

While the EU is responding positively to President Biden´s overtures to allies and is ready to extend its Transatlantic engagement with the US to an Indo-Pacific partnership, both partners have to find common ground which takes into account their interests. The EU´s tryptic towards China – partner, competitor, rival – resonates with the US. The EU´s focus is on providing a level playing field, applying multilateralism and openness when and where possible, a policy China´s assertiveness and infringement of human rights renders difficult. Engagement of the EU in the Indo-Pacific…

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s South Korea visit: key takeaways

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have wrapped up the second day of their visit to South Korea. The fact that Japan and South Korea were the first two countries visited by Blinken and Austin shows the importance that the Biden administration affords to its allies in East Asia and, more broadly, in the Indo-Pacific region. In this respect, the Biden administration seems to see Seoul as a key partner as it tries to shore up Washington’s foreign policy and international standing following from the Donald Trump administration.

Exploring Trade Cooperation Between the Pacific Alliance and South Korea

Understanding the characteristics of the Pacific Alliance provides valuable policy recommendations for South Korea’s involvement in the region. Notably, one of South Korea’s foreign policy priorities is to strengthen diplomatic relations to increase trade and economic ties with other countries. However, improving South Korea-PA relations as geopolitical neighbours and allies will to a great extent be contingent on the perspectives and views they have of each other, as well as the possibilities they see to maximise the benefits of already existing links.

Mapping Out EU-South Korea Relations: Key Member States’ Perspectives (Volume II)

What is the perspective of key EU member states towards South Korea? While EU-South Korea relations have attracted growing attention in recent years, the relationship between key EU member states and the Asian country remains underexplored. This report addresses this omission by describing and analysing the recent evolution of the relationship between Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia, on the one hand, and South Korea on the other. The report covers the areas of economic relations, security relations, bilateral relations and North Korea, and cultural relations. Read more…

About KF-VUB Korea Chair

KF-VUB Korea Chair is hosted at the Centre for Security, Diplomacy and Strategy (CSDS) of the Brussels School of Governance (BSOG). It is the primary contact point in Europe on policy issues related to Korea and the Korean Peninsula.

A joint initiative between the Korea Foundation and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the Chair plays a strategic role in furthering Europe-Korea relations. It builds links between Europe and Korea through a number of activities and partnerships, and contributes actively to increasing the possibilities for their future cooperation on bilateral, regional and global levels.

The KF-VUB Korea Chair was launched in Brussels in October 2017 and in Seoul in May 2018. It acts as an independent platform in Brussels and across Europe to advance academically rigorous and informed discussions on policy questions that are of relevance to the Republic of Korea and Europe. It conducts policy research and discussions on a wide range of areas, with special focus on the security of the Korean Peninsula, EU-ROK relations and South Korea’s foreign policy. 

The Chair holder is Dr. Ramon Pacheco Pardo who is also a Reader in International Studies at King’s College London.

© Korea Chair – Vrije Universiteit Brussel – 2018