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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

KF-VUB Korea Chair publishes a new report: “Putting the strategic partnership to work”

The strategic partnership between the European Union and the Republic of Korea is strong and solid but is yet to reach its full potential. This is understandable considering bilateral relations were only upgraded to a fully-fledged strategic partnership in 2010, with agreements covering the political and security pillars entering into force, respectively, in 2014 and 2016. Read more…

Latest publications

US Forces Korea in the balance: Time to go home?

Since entering office, US President Donald Trump has been determined to withdraw US troops from South Korea. In May 2018, he reportedly ordered the Pentagon to prepare options to draw down US Forces Korea (USFK). He also pledged to halt US-South Korea war games, and on his watch, the Pentagon replaced existing military drills with smaller, less expensive ones. US foreign policy pundits and lawmakers have expressed concern about these actions, citing them as another example of Trump’s lack of geopolitical insight and a dangerous concession to Pyongyang and Beijing. But albeit for reasons slightly different than those put forward by the White House, there is a case to be made that removing US troops from South Korea could be an important step in reaffirming Washington’s leadership over the region. 

Ask Europe’s Korea Experts: the Second US-DPRK Summit in Hanoi

In the aftermath of the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, we asked a group of leading Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia security experts based in Europe for their assessment of the outcome (the responses were collected before 4 March 18:00, Central European Time). A total of sixteen experts participated in the survey. Overall, the experts are optimistic about the continuation of diplomatic engagement between the United States and North Korea, as well as between both Koreas.

Hanoi Summit Explained: the Key Players’ Views

The lack of agreement in the Vietnam summit is a significant but not unsurmountable bump in the road towards inter-Korean reconciliation, which remains South Korea’s key goal. Seoul had prepared to commemorate the 100thanniversary of the Korean Independence movement with a US-North Korea peace declaration wrapped. This would have been hugely symbolic, since it would have allowed President Moon to confidently declare the start of a new era in the Korean Peninsula. Nonetheless, the fact that both the US and North Korea have indicated their willingness to continue negotiations is a relief for Seoul. It means that the diplomatic process continue.

Doi moi and the February 2019 Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi

Over recent months, speculations about the venue for the next Trump-Kim summit were ubiquitous. On February 6th, President Trump announced during the State of the Union Address that the summit would take place on February 27-28 in Vietnam and, on February 9th, he confirmed Hanoi as the venue via Twitter. The other candidate in Vietnam was the coastal city Da Nang. The advantages of Vietnam are that the country has stable diplomatic relations with both Washington and Pyongyang and that it can be reached by Kim’s own airplane. In addition, media commentary emphasises the symbolic value of Hanoi and Vietnam for North Korea’s future. Vietnam, a former adversary of the US, has become a partner with shared interests in the South China Sea.

Moon’s Quest for Permanent Peace

The goal of inter-Korean reconciliation and eventual peace is within reach. But the process to get there will take time. President Moon Jae-in understands that the road to end over sixty years of inter-Korean hostility and achieve ‘permanent’ peace is a long one. This is why his focus is on creating the conditions for inter-Korean diplomacy to continue beyond his five-year term in office.

North Korea’s Nuclear Problem: A More Pragmatic Approach Will Help

Despite the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in June, little progress was made on denuclearizing North Korea due to the clash between the U.S. and North Korea on the formula of denuclearization. Both sides are demanding the other to do its work upfront. Due to the inability to resolve this dilemma, North Korea’s nuclear problem has gotten worse during the last three decades. In order to maker a breakthrough, North Korea needs to come to the table as soon as possible recognizing that the political momentum for a negotiated solution in the U.S. may not last long due to President Trump’s domestic problems.

Moon and South Korea’s Global Role: Evolution Not Revolution

South Korea’s foreign policy has a global dimension, with priority given to development assistance, green growth and multilateralism. Taking a page from his two predecessors, President Moon Jae-in is focusing the global component of his foreign policy on these three issues. In the area of development assistance, South Korea emphasizes knowledge sharing. It serves as an example to developing countries across the world.

EU-ROK relations: Leveraging ASEM in uncertain times

As Brussels is preparing itself for the 12th ASEM Summit and the EU-ROK Summit that will take place on 18- 19 October, this is a good moment to take stock of the partnership and see how the EU and ROK can optimise their cooperation in the ASEM framework. At a time of accelerating global change and threats to the rules-based international system, the EU and South Korea have a massive joint interest to step up their cooperation and maximise the opportunities of the ASEM framework.

EU-ROK Relations: Putting the strategic partnership to work

The strategic partnership between the EU and the ROK is strong and solid. It is yet to reach its full potential though. This is understandable, considering that relations were only upgraded to a fully-fledged strategic partnership in 2010 and that the agreements covering the political and security pillars only entered into force in 2014 and 2016, respectively. In this report we identify, however, nine areas in which cooperation between the ROK and the EU could and, we believe, should be strengthened in the near future to help safeguard both parties’ interests at the global level.​

Inter-Korean Summit in Pyongyang Explained: The Key Players’ Views

This week’s inter-Korean summit and the September 19th joint Pyongyang declaration between South and North Korea reinforce Seoul’s push towards inter-Korean reconciliation. President Moon Jae-in was elected on a platform calling for engagement and rapprochement between South and North Korea as necessary steps to bring permanent and sustainable peace to the Korean Peninsula. His historic speech in front of a crowd of 150,000 North Koreans – a first for a South Korean president – symbolizes this approach.

Listen to our podcasts

Podcast: 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.

Podcast: 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.

Podcast: 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.

Podcast: 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.

Podcast: 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 and...

Podcast: 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) &...

Podcast: Assessing Pompeo’s visit to North Korea, 9 July 2018

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Elise Hu and John Delury to discuss Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's third visit to North Korea and to reflect about developments in the Korean Peninsula throughout 2017-18. Featuring: Ramon Pacheco Pardo, KF-VUB Korea...

Podcast: Assessing The Trump-Kim Summit, 14 June 2018

In this episode, Ramon Pacheco Pardo invites Tongfi Kim and Linde Desmaele to discuss the responses of key players (China, Japan, U.S., South Korea) to the 12th June summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un....

Follow us on social media

In our new policy brief, @dsm_ld explores alternative scenarios in the case that the US administration goes ahead with #Trump's wish to withdraw #US troops from #SouthKorea, suggesting a win-win outcome. @IES_Brussels Read full brief: https://t.co/NZr6S2W3Hs

Former German vice-chancellor and minister for foreign affairs and for economics and energy will travel to North Korea this month. Endorses President Moon’s efforts to bring peace to the Peninsula. A developing story worth following imo. https://t.co/k6fLDqp3uK

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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 regularly organise events in Brussels and Seoul, as well as across Europe. 

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

© Korea Chair – Vrije Universiteit Brussel – 2018