Upcoming Events

19 Febr 2020, Brussels
In cooperation with NK News

Past Events

About the Chair

The KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Institute for European Studies 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.

Read the KF-VUB Korea Chair booklet for more information.







Moon Jae-in’s Policy Towards Multilateral Institutions: Continuity and Change in South Korea’s Global Strategy

The Moon government has made participation in global governance a cornerstone of its foreign policy. Similarly to its predecessors, the government has been a strong supporter of multilateralism. This is non-negotiable for Seoul. This report seeks to map out and analyse the Moon government’s policy towards key multilateral institutions operating in the areas of security, economics and sustainable development. It also seeks to explain the key drivers underpinning this policy. As we show, Seoul’s support for an involvement in multilateral institutions is not uniform. The Moon government acts as a leader in some cases, an active participant in others, and a passive by-stander on occasions. Read more…

Injuries in the DPRK: The Looming Epidemic 

Mass casualty incidents such as building collapses and bus crashes are perhaps just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the injury burden in the DPRK – only the worst cases of injury are highlighted in the media. Current economic and geopolitical developments within and surrounding the DPRK point towards more future activity in sectors such as construction, traffic, and tourism. Thus, it is not unreasonable to anticipate a surge in accidents and injuries inside the DPRK. In this context, it is necessary to understand the North Korean healthcare system and its needs to be able to deal with the current and anticipated injury burden. Read more…

Latest publications

Give bombs a chance – for peace

Negotiations for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament face many difficulties, but an exchange of a few North Korean nuclear warheads and a partial lifting of economic sanctions is a work-around for both North Korean and U.S. concerns. Unlike dismantlement of nuclear or missile facilities, transfer of nuclear warheads does not weaken North Korea’s future bargaining position or is susceptible to deception by the regime. In exchange, the United States should offer a partial but significant lifting of economic sanctions because North Korean negotiators have asked for it, no one has to pay for it, and it is a quantitatively adjustable concession according to the number of warheads transferred.

Why Parasite’s big win at the Oscars is a game changer

Parasite (2019), a satirical masterpiece directed by South Korean helmer Bong Joon-ho, became the first non-English language film awarded the Best Picture in the 92 years of history of the Oscars. The film also won three other major awards including Best Director for Bong, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film. The critically lauded film has been sweeping international awards since its premier and winning the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, including Golden Globes and BAFTAs, but also achieved a remarkable market success for a subtitled piece, currently ranked the sixth highest foreign language film of all-time at the US domestic box office. The win is, however, not a mere surprise or an exception but referred to as a ‘Game Changer.’

Unpacking Seoul’s Unhappiness with Trump

It has become clear in recent months that Seoul and Washington have several important disagreements shaking the foundations of their alliance. Problems include US demands that inter-Korean cooperation does not move ahead as long as North Korea does not take steps towards denuclearisation; Washington’s demands of a five-fold increase in SMA payments by Seoul; the Trump government’s reaction to the Japan-South Korea trade dispute, especially Seoul’s announcement to let GSOMIA expire; and the US raising “competition-related concerns” against the South Korean government after KORUS was revised. Put together, these issues are shaking the foundations of the South Korea-US alliance. They have led to deep-seated unhappiness with the Donald Trump government in Seoul.

Moon Jae-in’s Policy Towards Multilateral Institutions: Continuity and Change in South Korea’s Global Strategy

What drives President Moon Jae-in’s policy towards multilateral institutions? The Moon government has made participation in global governance a cornerstone of its foreign policy. Similarly to its predecessors, the government has been a strong supporter of multilateralism. This is non-negotiable for Seoul.

Unpacking ‘Peace through strength’

‘Peace through strength’ is a key driver behind President Moon Jae-in’s security and defence policy. It has two components. The national security component refers to the Republic of Korea Armed Forces achieving strategic autonomy and Seoul strengthening national military sovereignty. This does not imply termination of the South Korea-United States alliance, but it does mean Seoul taking increasing responsibility to protect itself.

Time for the EU to Rethink ‘Critical Engagement’

EU’s ‘critical engagement’ policy towards North Korea needs to make way for a credible engagement policy suited to strategic partners South Korea’s and the US’ current approach. To move towards its key aims, the EU should continue to implement engagement activities, such as North Korea – United States dialogue facilitation by Sweden.  It can restore suspended activities such as educational and cultural exchanges, and make bold moves such as supporting private sector engagement with Pyongyang. Read more…

President Moon’s North Korea policy: mid-term results

When Moon Jae-in’s government first took office, the situation on the Korean Peninsula was overcast with dark clouds of war. President Moon has dedicated many efforts towards his North Korea policy for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and a restoration of inter-Korean relations. As a result, there has been quite a number of changes and developments in inter-Korean relations. First, the Moon government has worked to remove the actual military threat on the peninsula and has prepared a turning point for peace and improvements in inter-Korean relations. Second,…

South Korea and NATO: A push for deepening of the cooperation

The Republic of Korea and NATO have had an Individual Cooperation Programme (IPCP) in place since 2012 which mainly focuses on security. It is a relationship in an environment where competing great powers, the United States, China, and Russia, are attempting to cast a sphere of influence in East Asia. The ROK is carefully navigating these competing diplomatic spats during a time where the threat of a nuclear North Korea is ever more dangerous. This policy brief recommends that the ROK should deepen its relationship with NATO due to the benefits both parties could offer each other. This includes having a strategic ally in the Southeast Asian region and the backing of and access to resources of the 29 members of the military alliance.

South Korea’s Cybersecurity and International Cooperation

Prompted by the exposed vulnerability of its highly connected society after North Korea’s cyberattacks in recent years, South Korea has set out to improve its cybersecurity infrastructure. Whilst important steps have been taken to outline a national cybersecurity strategy, a further risk assessment shows that a considerable threat remains and that South Korea stands to benefit from integrating cybersecurity into its international security cooperation agenda.

Trump’s meeting with Kim: historic, but more is needed

On Sunday, President Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to step into North Korea. In a historic move, Trump crossed over the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas across the DMZ and into the North Korean side. After a brief chat with Chairman Kim Jong-un, they joined President Moon Jae-in on the South Korean side for a trilateral meeting. In what was also a remarkable moment, a US president and a North Korean leader, thus, held talks on the southern side of the DMZ.

Listen to our podcasts

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)...

Follow us on social media

The International #RedCross has requested the UN to exempt #sanctions on Pyongyang to help prevent a #coronavirus outbreak.
The request was made as #NorthKorea needs items such as protective suits, goggles, test kits etc to prepare for a possible outbreak.

Three conservative parties have formed a unified front to challenge the ruling Democratic Party of #Korea in the upcoming general #Elections2020 elections, but the latest survey shows their merger has not boosted public support.


Load More...

Read our publications
We publish monthly policy briefs and Explainers following impactful events on the Korean Peninsula.

Listen to our podcasts
We regularly host guests ranging from experts to journalists.

View our events
We organise events in Brussels and across Europe, as well as in the US and South Korea. 

The Europe Korea Expert Panel
A network of leading Europe-based experts on Korean and Northeast Asian affairs has been established to highlight European views on developments in the Korean Peninsula. 

© Korea Chair – Vrije Universiteit Brussel – 2018