Special Forum Issue

“South Korea Edging toward Bipolarity, 2020-2022”

South Korea in the Crosswinds: Battling Partisan Narratives


The second half of Moon Jae-in’s presidency was marred by diplomatic deadlock, as talks between North Korea and the United States collapsed, tensions between China and the United States deepened, and relations with Japan hit a new nadir. In this thorny climate, partisans debated South Korea’s shifting role in the region as well as the scope of its foreign policy autonomy. Having inherited the THAAD crisis, Moon was especially attuned to Beijing’s sensitivities regarding the regional reach of the US-South Korean alliance and the potential costs of Chinese retaliation. This awareness underlay his administration’s reluctance to participate in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) agenda, which Beijing has time and again framed as US-led encirclement. Meanwhile, the worsening feud with Japan made its multilateral framework politically untenable for Moon, who had made a “victim-centered” approach to history issues with Japan the cornerstone of his progressive legacy. The onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, however, obscured the slowdowns in Moon’s foreign policy.

Partisan narratives continued to polarize as conservatives—emboldened by Moon’s diplomatic failures—campaigned on promises of strategic clarity, based on a rehabilitated alliance relationship with the United States and partnership with Japan. Upon inauguration, Yoon Suk-yeol has sought to institutionalize this back-to-the-basics foreign policy agenda, though the details of his newly introduced Indo-Pacific Strategy suggest some continuity with the Moon-era ambiguity. The resulting partisan debates have thus concerned the substantive contours of strategic clarity and the necessity, desirability, and feasibility of such geostrategic alignment. The futures that conservatives and progressives imagine for South Korea’s role in the Indo-Pacific appeared to diverge drastically from one another.

End of Moon’s Era

The final two years of Moon’s presidency were marked by four interrelated developments: (1) collapse of diplomacy with North Korea; (2) frictions in the alliance with the United States; (3) tensions in the relationship with China; and (4) hostilities in relations with Japan. Partisan narratives during this period continued to diverge over the prospects of peace—both inter-Korean and regional—and the right approach to pursue it.

Collapse of diplomacy

The collapse of diplomacy with North Korea was far from unexpected. Trump’s diminished interest in the North Korean problem, rising US-China hostilities over trade and pandemic issues, as well as growing partisan divisions in South Korea—particularly in the lead up to the presidential elections—all boded ill for Moon’s initiative. At home and abroad, he found himself increasingly isolated, with little recourse to jumpstart the deadlocked dialogue with Pyongyang.

By the end of 2019, North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations were growing in frequency and scale. Pyongyang began to test the bounds of its self-imposed moratoriums, conducting rocket engine tests in 2019, short-range ballistic missile firings in 2020, cyberattacks on South Korean defense industry in 2021, and finally, launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2022. Initially, these activities accompanied curated messages, aimed at bringing Trump back to the negotiating table; in December 2019, Vice Foreign Minister Ri Thae-song offered a reminder in KCNA: “it is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.” This calibrated rhetoric had little desired effect, however, and it would soon be replaced with the more typical warnings and blusters as signs of disinterest mounted in Washington.

In fact, Trump was increasingly occupied with China in his last year of tenure. The pandemic and the growing visibility of his populist base had made China a more natural target for his reelection bid. Even when Kim Jong-un renounced the nuclear and ICBM test moratorium and warned of a “shocking actual action”—the course of which, he claimed, would be determined by Washington’s “future attitude” to North Korea—Trump paid minimal attention.1 Instead, he deflected: “We have to do what we have to do… But he [Kim Jong-un] did sign an agreement talking about denuclearization.”2 Trump still emphasized that he maintained “a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un” and that he believed Kim to be “a man of his word.” In stark contrast to this lukewarm response, the Trump administration adopted “whole-of-government” strategy toward China: in 2020 alone, his administration took at least 210 public actions, spanning across 10 departments. These included 22 by the Justice Department (e.g., indictments and arrests), 66 by the State Department (e.g., visa restrictions), 27 by the White House (e.g., executive orders surrounding trade), and 23 by the Defense Department (e.g., freedom of navigation operations).3 The shift in focus from diplomacy with North Korea to competition with China was, by this point, glaring.

If progressive narratives around the breakdown of US-North Korean talks placed a familiar emphasis on inter-Korean cooperation, conservative narratives appeared to diverge into two streams. Along more traditional lines, some conservative editorials interpreted Washington’s refusal to return to negotiations as a purposeful signal, not only to Pyongyang but to Seoul as well. A Donga editorial on February 13, for instance, suggested that the Moon administration had been operating too unilaterally, without coordination with and the trust of Washington. Specifically, it criticized Moon’s initiative to develop inter-Korean economic projects (e.g., joint tourism), which could undermine the efficacy of the existing multilateral sanctions regime. Meanwhile, other more revisionist frames also appeared, expressing anxieties about what Washington’s neglect might mean for denuclearization. A Munwha editorial on the same day argued that Washington’s preference for the “status quo” on the Korean Peninsula would only embolden the North to advance its nuclear program. In these narratives, Washington was portrayed less as a trusted ally and more as a mounting liability.

Though these fractures in the traditional conservative narrative revealed the damage Trump had inflicted on US credibility, Biden’s electoral victory helped reassure the South Korean conservative establishment of the importance and durability of the alliance. Rather than the “everything for everything” approach under Trump or “nothing for nothing” approach under Obama, Biden promised a “calibrated, practical approach to diplomacy with the North with the goal of eliminating the threat to the United States.”4 Crucially, Biden rejected the “step by step” formulation, preferred by Moon, and reaffirmed denuclearization as the ultimate objective.5 This represented a major departure from Trump’s more flexible strategy and, to the relief of many South Korean conservatives, a semblance of normalcy. For Moon, however, opportunities to upend the status quo on the Korean Peninsula appeared to be narrowing.

The growing domestic divergence between the two ideological camps over their preferred North Korea strategy manifested starkly around the 2020 anti-leaflet legislation. The progressive-majority national assembly had passed the “Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act,” which barred any transfers of printed materials, money, and items across the border as well as loudspeaker broadcasts of anti-regime propaganda that had long been touted as a psychological warfare tactic. The controversy over the law’s constitutionality reached its height when in April 2021, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission—a bipartisan caucus of the US House of Representatives—held a public hearing titled, “Civil and political rights in the Republic of Korea: Implications for human rights on the Peninsula.” The hearing included five witnesses—including former South Korean ambassador to Russia Lee In-ho, two prominent human rights activists, and two policy commentators—who shared concerns about how criminalizing leaflet activities might excessively restrict freedom of speech in the South. Then South Korean unification minister Cha Deok-cheol downplayed the impact of this event, noting that the commission has “no voting power,” and that “the nature of its hearings is considered closer to a policy research panel.”6

Partisan narratives in South Korea were divisive. Conservative media, including Donga and Chosun, portrayed the hearing as a broader indictment of Seoul. Their editorials argued that the Moon administration’s concerns about offending North Korea had become excessive, outweighing the imperative to preserve and uphold freedom of expression in South Korea.7 In particular, Chosun condemned Moon for legislating “on behalf of the Kims,” asserting that the blueprints for an anti-leaflet law were “ordered” barely within four hours of complaints from Kim Yo-jong—North Korea’s chief propagandist and Kim Jong-un’s sister.8 Progressive outlets, however, cast the hearing as both politically motivated and ideologically skewed. Hankyoreh urged the Moon administration to coordinate more actively with the US Congress to allow a more “balanced” discussion of human rights on the Korean Peninsula in the future.9

Conservative narratives around human rights abuses in North Korea—and correspondingly, their critique of Seoul’s continued silence—gained broader resonance as Moon’s tenure came to a close. On the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, just as Kim Jong-un implored North Koreans to place “absolute trust” in him,10 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning North Korea for its human rights violations for the 17th consecutive year. In response, conservative outlet Seoul Shinmun called the Kim regime a “brutal fearocracy,” linking the country’s extreme poverty and diplomatic isolation to Kim’s obsession with nuclear weapons.11 Meanwhile, Joongang Ilbo argued that the failure of “byungjin” policy showed the inherent contradictions in simultaneously advancing the nuclear program and economic modernization; this delusion had been sustained and emboldened by the Moon administration’s naivete.12 In this vein, other conservative outlets such as Segye also urged Seoul to take a firmer and more coordinated stance on the issue, beginning by co-sponsoring multilateral resolutions on the North’s misconduct.13 Progressives, meanwhile, mostly echoed the administration’s earlier talking points—namely, that condemning Pyongyang could harm diplomacy—but such narratives found little traction in the context of a long-deadlocked dialogue.

Frictions with the US

While concerns about the health of the alliance accelerated during Trump’s tenure, they also persisted under Biden. Trump’s transactional worldview, combined with his general disregard for foreign policy institutions and norms, meant that the terms of the alliance were often put in doubt and derided as a “bad deal.” Negotiations over defense cost sharing and economic decoupling from China revealed that Trump prioritized short-term political gains from the alliance, more so than long-term strategic cooperation. And though Biden underscored the centrality of US allies to its grand strategic visions, his decisions on geoeconomics issues have sustained some tensions over the lingering “America First” subtext.

Trump’s incessant demands for increased burden sharing and threats of unilateral action rattled the South Korean conservative foreign policy establishment. In April 2020, amid stalled negotiations over a new Special Measures Agreement (SMA), Seoul had proposed to fund the labor costs for Korean National employees in the US Forces Korea (USFK) who were placed on unpaid leave that month.14 Though this proposal provided a welcome stop-gap measure, tensions continued to mount as Washington insisted on what many in Seoul believed were “excessive” demands, reaching as high as $5 billion.15 (For reference, Seoul had to pay roughly $900 million for the year before.) Conservatives in South Korea questioned Trump’s motives for threatening troop removal and reduction, despite intensifying rivalry with China and provocations from North Korea.16 Some like Donga even warned of a potential breakdown in the alliance, and blamed Trump’s isolationist, transactional approach for it.17

Meanwhile, Trump’s pressure on allies to decouple from China also provoked partisan debates. While most conservatives continued to insist that the alliance must take precedence—or that there was “no alternative”18—some conservative commentators began to question the utility of total balancing against China, arguing that any “unreasonable demands” should be resisted. Some for instance, asserted that joining the US strategy to contain China would pose too heavy a cost on South Korea. Rather than decoupling, it recommended a longer-term structural effort to diversity South Korea’s economic ties to protect it from the broader competitive dynamics. This was more aligned with the mainstream progressive narrative, which underscored the importance of hedging and restraint in South Korean foreign policy.19 For progressives, US efforts to forge an ideological economic block—as in Trump’s proposal for an Economic Prosperity Network (EPN)—were anachronistic and unnecessarily hostile to China.20 It was not in South Korea’s national interest to support such ideological bifurcation of the global market.

Though Biden sought to restore confidence in the alliance, his pragmatism—and diminished appetite for interventionism by the United States in general—posed questions about its shifting boundaries. On the one hand, Biden promised to reinvigorate the alliance network in Asia and strengthen “integrated deterrence.” This meant bolstering the production of and access to allied defense capabilities by minilateral or multilateral institutions (e.g., the AUKUS partnership, which was announced in September 2021). It also meant closer coordination of defense priorities by means of routine summitry and working-level dialogues, much of which had eroded under Trump’s more callous approach to alliance management. On the other hand, Biden also promoted self-strengthening efforts of the allies and, to this end, tolerated greater strategic autonomy. For instance, he agreed to removing the 1979 US-Korea Ballistic Missile Guidelines, which would allow Seoul to develop advanced strike capabilities as well as pursue its space ambitions.21

Yet, the extent to which these two approaches were compatible was not always clear, and the tensions were visible when it came to the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and the roles that Washington expected its allies to play in countering China. Indeed, much like Trump, Biden explicitly named China as a challenge to the region’s rules-based order.22 Though some had criticized the strategy in its early stages of development for stoking a Cold-War-style confrontation with China,23 it had since garnered bipartisan consensus in the United States. In February 2022, the Biden administration released an official document on the Indo-Pacific Strategy, emphasizing the role that “like-minded” partners played in its implementation.24 Combined with his “Summit for Democracy,” Biden’s regional strategy appeared to take a more conspicuously ideological turn, foreshadowing a clash of worldviews against a rising, authoritarian China.25 

This resulted in two sets of concerns, particularly among progressives, in South Korea. First, Trump’s transactionalism and its underlying logic—“Americans before allies”—had become a mainstream foreign policy attitude of the American public. Given Biden’s own, more domestic focus, the vestiges of “America First” suggested that more would be expected of allies abroad. Second, the ideological bent of Biden’s grand strategy naturally squeezed the space for strategic autonomy in Seoul, even as Washington encouraged the self-strengthening of allies. This meant a tight balancing act for Moon, who sought to exercise greater autonomy in South Korea’s foreign policy decisions but also preempt any charges—particularly from the conservative opposition—that he was undermining allied initiatives.

Debates over these broader concerns inflamed over two issues in particular. Bilaterally, the developments around the renegotiated SMA continued to generate friction. On March 9, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that South Korea and the US agreed on a six-year 11th SMA. South Korea’s contribution for 2020 would remain at the current level and, from 2021 to 2025, would be increased in line with its annual defense budget rise. Conservative outlets welcomed the news, urging the two allies to focus on improving joint defense posture. Joongang also recommended using specific cost areas, rather than the overall stationing costs as a benchmark for making future cost-sharing decisions.26 Meanwhile, progressive media and organizations criticized the agreement as “unacceptably expensive, humiliating, and harming national sovereignty in budgeting.”27 Kyunghang described the deal as “not even remotely fair and balanced,” citing the cost estimate for 2025 of 1.5 trillion won, which would be comparable to Trump’s earlier demand of a 50% increase.28 In these narratives, the contention lay in the perceived fairness of the deal, in particular the proportionality of the cost increases for Seoul over the years.

Multilaterally, partisans debated the Quad and South Korea’s role in it. Since its reintroduction in 2017, the Quad had become increasingly institutionalized as a mechanism for regional governance, with a shared objective of building “a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion.29 The first summit on March 12, 2021, deepened what had been more speculative discussions about the Quad’s implications for regional security. For many conservatives, South Korea’s absence in the Quad was a true policy failure and its participation as a “Quad-Plus” partner, the next-best imperative. Segye Ilbo admonished: “Amid US worries about Korea’s tilting toward China, there is no time to spare, but to join the grouping as a Quad-Plus partner”—a decision that would “strengthen not only the ROK-US alliance, but also security against North Korea.”30 Some, such as Joongang, acknowledged the constraints South Korea faced, given its trade dependencies on China.31 But the overarching message remained uniform: Seoul needed to align more closely and clearly with Washington; otherwise, it risked being left out of critical discussions, including on North Korean denuclearization.32 Unsurprisingly, the progressives were less enthused by the development of the Quad, and even more ambivalent about the nature of Seoul’s participation in it. Hankyoreh explicitly noted that the Quad was designed to “constrain China,” and called on the Moon administration to act “prudently.” None, however, specified what this entailed.33

In this divisive climate, the United States held the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021 with leaders from 110 countries, including South Korea. The virtual summit sought to establish and announce collective commitments by attendees to defend democracy against authoritarianism, fight corruption, and promote respect for human rights. Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming vehemently criticized the summit, stating “China resolutely opposes fake democracy that weaponizes democracy, interferes with internal affairs of other countries and suppresses development.”34 Sensing Beijing’s discomfort, Moon refrained from any remarks that might implicate China but pointed to populism, extremism, and fake news as major threats against democracy.35

This event—and Seoul’s ambivalent status—sustained narrative polarization among partisans. Conservatives such as Chosun Ilbo stressed that Moon’s emphasis on fake news was not aligned with Washington’s framing of authoritarian advances.36 Similarly, Seoul Kyungjae opined that South Korea’s “tightrope diplomacy,” attempting to maintain a balance between two superpowers, would result in the loss of trust from both sides.37 Choosing a side was better than losing both. On the other hand, progressive voices like Hankyoreh expressed concern over the summit’s ideological bent, dividing the world into good and evil and depriving countries of opportunities to cooperate on imminent threats, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, regardless of ideological differences.38 In this way, partisan narratives about South Korean grand strategy appeared to veer further in opposing paths.

Tensions with China

With the hardening of anti-Chinese attitudes in South Korea due to COVID-19 and the intensifying US-China competition, Moon’s space for foreign policy autonomy was shrinking and relations with China tense. Washington pressed Seoul to play a larger role in the US-led regional architecture, while Beijing reminded Seoul, to varying degrees of intensity, of the harm it could incur for siding with Washington. Seoul needed to respond to this changing strategic environment, but the exact contours of its response stayed mostly vague.

In broader terms, partisan debates surrounded decisions about the shape and timeline of Seoul’s realignment. Progressives preferred strategic ambiguity under the Moon administration as a guiding principle. Hankyoreh and Kyunghyang argued that South Korea must pursue “balanced” diplomacy between Washington and Beijing rather than picking sides, given China’s essential role—whether constructive or destructive—for reviving inter-Korean diplomacy and domestic economy. They voiced concern about joining a series of US-led initiatives in the region and the possibility that this could trigger another downward spiral in South Korea’s relations with China (after a difficult recovery from the THAAD dispute). Progressives thus advised the Moon administration to seek balance and urged Biden to respect South Korea’s “unique circumstances,” which make the prospects of participating in Washington’s “anti-China coalitions” untenable.39

By contrast, conservatives doubled down on the traditional frame of alliance centrality in South Korean foreign policy and promoted strategic clarity in Seoul. In the immediate aftermath of Biden’s electoral victory, Chosun, Joongang, and Donga all asserted that the alliance provided a basis for strengthening cooperation with China. In a series of editorials, conservatives stressed that strategic ambiguity was no longer defensible and that a “values-based” foreign policy would best serve the country’s national interests. In particular, they underlined the significance of repairing South Korea-US-Japan trilateral cooperation on broader shared challenges, including global pandemics, climate change, supply chains, and emerging technologies, as well as specific security aims that require better allied coordination such as nuclear deterrence against North Korea. 

Domestic political dynamics favored the conservative narrative in at least two ways. First, most of the South Korean public blamed China for both the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global economic chaos. Anti-Chinese sentiments ran high, this meant that South Koreans were less likely to punish Seoul for crossing Beijing’s lines. Second, the public saw little prospects of de-escalation in the US-China competition: an Asan survey showed that more than half the respondents (56.8%) saw their rivalry as hegemonic in nature, rather than tied to specific domains of competition such as trade. Importantly, the same survey showed that, when it came to choosing sides, South Koreans ultimately favored the US (73.2%) over China (15.7%).40 These twin developments, if true, boded ill for strategic ambiguity: the public was increasingly anti-China and believed the competition was deeply entrenched. For them, the choice became clearer as it became more necessary: Seoul needed to side with the United States.

One area in which the US-China competition was felt sharply in South Korea concerned the global supply chain governance. In February 2021, Biden signed the executive order 14017 on America’s Supply Chains.41 Showing a chip in his hand, he underscored the potential impact of a semiconductor shortfall and the importance of securing the resilience of its supply chains. Subsequently, at a virtual CEO summit on semiconductor and supply chain resilience, he quoted from a letter from 23 senators that said, “the Chinese Communist Party aggressively plans to reorient and dominate the semiconductor supply chain,” adding at last that “[it] is not waiting.”42

Unsurprisingly, this generated anxieties in South Korea about the implications of supply chain restructuring for high-technology industries of which it is a leader, especially semiconductors. Major media outlets, whether conservative or progressive, expressed serious concern over the growing uncertainty in the semiconductor industry and the possibility that the US would restrict China by attracting major semiconductor-producing countries.

Conservative outlets criticized the Moon administration for lack of foresight and strategy. Chosun, in this light, urgently called for improving public-private partnership to cope with the impending US-China technology competition. It noted a recent US proposal to ban exports to China of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, which would damage existing operations by Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix in China.43 Meanwhile, these companies may choose to establish production lines in the United States as opposed to domestically. Noting that Samsung Electronics was one of the participants at the virtual CEO summit held at the White House on April 12, Joongang urged the Moon government to develop a survival strategy by mobilizing all diplomatic resources rather than leaving the responsibility solely to private companies.44

Progressives, by contrast, proposed greater domestic investment. Hankyoreh editorialized over the pros and cons of Biden’s approach to expanding the semiconductor supply chain. It pointed out that the expansion of tax benefits could be seen as an opportunity for Samsung Electronics, which was considering the establishment of additional factories in the United States. Yet, it also warned of negative effects of the competition such as reduction in domestic investment and loss of job opportunities.45 Kyunghyang similarly argued that the effective countermeasure in this context is to secure the best technology. South Korea needed to invest more in the research and development of semiconductors as well as the localization of their production.46

Tensions with China seemed to subside in November 2021—after months of escalation—when Biden and Xi held their first virtual summit. 47 While, overall, positively assessed in Seoul, the summit left no impressions of a meaningful rapprochement, but foreshadowed a continued challenge for South Korea.48 This helped to deepen the partisan rift over policy prescriptions, as some conservatives began to push for strategic clarity and progressives doubled down on strategic ambiguity.

Conservatives made the case for a values-based reorientation of South Korean foreign policy. For too long, South Korea had played the role of a balancer, trying to walk the diplomatic tightrope between the United States and China. Now that their competition was entering a new phase of escalation, it was time that South Korea finally made a choice. In this line of argument, Segye Ilbo asserted that a realignment based on values of democracy, market economy, and human rights would necessitate curbing South Korea’s reliance on China.49 Other conservative voices were tamer, recognizing the difficulty this poses for Seoul. Joongang and Donga thus supported a more “sophisticated diplomatic strategy,” which would allow South Korea to navigate the protracted US-China competition even as it made difficult choices.50

Progressives were, meanwhile, on the defensive, with no clear guidelines for how to maintain or advance strategic ambiguity. Instead, they emphasized the positive outcomes of the summit.51  Kyunghyang noted that, despite their standoff on many issues—including human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and trade practices—the two leaders were able to agree on a shared need for crisis and risk management.52 The progressive Hankyoreh similarly posited that cooperation between the US, China, and the international community was required to maintain peace in Taiwan and Northeast Asia.53 Progressives thus urged the two great powers to engage in better communication and mutually responsible conduct,  which would help prevent unintended escalation and an accidental clash.

Hostilities against Japan

If Moon had been anxious to work out the differences with North Korea, the United States, and China, he showed little interest in mending ties with Japan. Since 2019 when Japan removed South Korea from its “whitelist” of favored trading partners for disputes over “history issues”—in this case, South Korean court rulings over Japanese wartime forced labor—the two had been locked in tit-for-tat reprisals over trade and military arrangements. Though more overtures were made in the wake of Biden’s election and leadership transitions in Japan, they remained largely tepid and bilateral relations did not recover.

There were some efforts to improve ties following the transition in Japanese leadership to Suga Yoshihide. In a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Kang Minseok said that the president is ready to sit down anytime with the government of Japan.54 On September 24, 2020, Moon and Suga had their first official phone call. This was the first conversation between the leaders of the two countries since the Korea-Japan-China trilateral summit held in Chengdu in December 2019. Moon proposed that the two countries work together to find an “optimum” solution to the wartime forced labor issue. Suga also noted various pending issues between the two countries, including historical issues, and expressed hope for establishing bilateral relations in a forward-looking way.55

But talks made little progress. During the working-level dialogue in Seoul, the two sides mostly repeated their original positions on the issue of forced labor. Kim Jung-han, director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs of the foreign ministry, emphasized that the “Japanese government and the defendant companies need to show a sincerer attitude in order to resolve the issue.” Kim also called for the Japanese government to withdraw its “unjust” export restrictions, and stressed the need for Tokyo to “respond actively” to Seoul’s efforts to host the Korea-Japan-China trilateral summit within this year.56 In response, Takizaki Shigeki, director-general of the Asian and Oceanic Affairs Bureau of Japan’s foreign ministry, strongly urged Seoul to find a solution for the forced labor issue in a way that does not liquidate the seized assets of Japanese firms.57

If conservatives mainly repeated the need for cooperation between the two, progressives questioned its prospects. Indeed, some urged both leaders not to be chained to past issues and emotions, and stressed the importance of cooperation in addressing COVID-19, nuclear-armed North Korea, and the intense US-China strategic rivalry. Donga also recalled Suga’s earlier remarks that “Ignoring a neighboring country and denying its history will not serve any strategic interest for either of the countries,” and expressed hopes that he will open up a “new horizon” of ROK-Japan relations.58 But Kyunghyang expressed skepticism that Japan was in fact invested in mending ties. Citing a Kyodo News report that the Japanese government threatened to boycott the trilateral summit unless South Korea prevents the liquidation of Japanese corporate assets in South Korea, Kyunghayng argued that Tokyo would not be making such an “unreasonable argument” if it took reconciliation seriously.59

Meanwhile, controversies continued to arise. On January 8, the Seoul Central District Court ruled that the Japanese government must pay KRW 100 million to each of the 12 plaintiffs who were victims of wartime sexual slavery during the Japanese colonial period. This is the first court ruling in South Korea that recognizes the Japanese government’s responsibility for the victimization of the “comfort women.” The Japanese side did not appear in court, citing sovereign immunity However, the verdict stated that the “theory of ‘state immunity’ was not established for states that violate international peremptory norms and cause grave harm to individuals in another country to be provided with an opportunity to hide behind a theory and avoid providing compensation and indemnification.”60 The next day, Kang Kyung-wha and her Japanese counterpart Motegi Toshimitsu had a telephone exchange for about 20 minutes to discuss the court ruling, during which Motegi refused to acknowledge the ruling.61 Tensions appeared to be reaching new heights.

Partisan narratives framed the issue in different ways. Progressives saw the issues over court rulings as a matter of international legal responsibility. Hankyoreh wrote that the South Korean government had no choice but to respect the judiciary’s ruling and that the Japanese government must acknowledge its historical and legal responsibility for its inhumane past.62 Conservatives, meanwhile, focused on the strategic implications of the frayed ties. Though Donga criticized Suga for his “irresponsibility,” it also argued that the Moon administration had failed to propose an alternative to the bilateral agreement on “comfort women” victims in 2015.63 The onus, thus, fell on Seoul to initiate dialogue.

The tit-for-tat disputes persisted even as Japan underwent another leadership change, this time to the former foreign minister Kishida Fumio. Just as in his congratulatory call to Suga, Moon reminded Kishida of the differing interpretations of the scope of the 1965 Basic Treaty and suggested accelerating the search for a diplomatic solution to the forced labor and “comfort women” issues. Controversies continued to emerge from both sides, as Kishida deliberately left out mentioning South Korea in his first press conference 64 and sent his first ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine,65 and a South Korean official made a public visit to the disputed territory, Dokdo (known in Japan as Takeshima).66 Still, the balance of blame in South Korean media coverage fell predominantly on Japan, whose continued historical revisionism—in listing Dokdo as its own territory in the Defense White Paper, for example—was increasingly blatant.67 In what are commonly polarizing partisan narratives, Japan proved to be an enduring source of consensus for South Koreans.68

Beginning of Yoon’s Era

In March 2022, the conservative candidate—and political novice—Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president. Speculation of a radical reversal of “strategic ambiguity” abounded, given Yoon’s electoral promises, including “clarity and boldness” as well as a “commitment to principles.”69 More specifically, Yoon argued that South Korea must “rise to the challenge of being […] a ‘global pivotal state,’ one that advances freedom, peace, and prosperity through liberal democratic values and substantial cooperation.”70 Many expected a closer realignment of South Korean foreign policy with the Indo-Pacific framework of the United States, and with it, a diminished priority given to diplomacy with North Korea and engagement with China. This also meant more concerted efforts to reconcile with Japan, with whom strained ties over history issues had impeded cooperation.

Four developments, in particular, sustained and intensified South Korean debates surrounding South Korea’s evolving role in international and regional security, and especially the scope of its integration into the US-led regional framework: (1) the Ukraine war, (2) Abe’s assassination, (3) Biden’s foreign economic policy, and (4) Yoon’s nuclear ambitions. Assessments of Yoon’s performance were mixed in each respect, further driving partisan rifts in South Korea over its preferred grand strategy.

The first major development was the war in Ukraine. Indeed, though criticisms of Putin abounded in South Korean media, partisans remained divided over South Korea’s obligations. This became particularly salient in April 2022, when Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelensky implored South Korean national assemblymen to send weapons, analogizing Ukraine’s plight to the Korean War.71 But the Ministry of National Defense decided against it, citing the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.72 This, for conservatives, was yet another strategic blunder. According to Kukmin Ilbo, Seoul was taking few proactive measures to protect the democratic order and national sovereignty, as evidenced by its late participation in the multilateral sanctions regime against Russia.73 Progressives, meanwhile, found the decision to limit military support to Ukraine prudent. Hankook Ilbo argued that such involvement would only raise the risks of escalation on the Korean Peninsula, given North Korea’s support of Russia.74 These partisan narratives highlighted the inevitability of viewing international and regional security through the lens of the inter-Korean conflict.

The second source of shock was the assassination of Abe and its implications for Japan’s “normalization.” While South Koreans, across partisan lines, condemned the act of political terrorism, much coverage was swift to note the momentum Abe’s death might provide the right-wing movement in Japan to amend the pacifist constitution. This was a double-edged sword for South Korea, for whom Japan’s more active role in the region could help counter North Korean threats but also rekindle memories of Japanese aggression—much of which Japan had begun to deny and distort.75 For the South Korean progressives in particular, Japan’s trajectory toward “normalization” boded ill for diplomacy on both “history problems” and regional security issues, including inter-Korean peace.76 In these narratives, the prospects of cooperation with Japan—whether bilateral or trilateral—appeared dim, despite Seoul’s ambitions to deepen it.

The third source of friction was the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Under the Act, new tax credits for adopting electric vehicles (EV) did not apply to those assembled outside the United States. It was highly likely that this would negatively impact South Korea’s major automakers, including Hyundai and Kia Motors, which recorded the second-highest market share in the EV market in the United States during the first half of 2022. The law was heavily criticized in South Korea—across partisan lines—for its discriminatory nature77, violation of the KORUS free trade agreement78, and unilateral approach to international trade.79 As the centrist Hankook Ilbo put it, the IRA did not only violate the principles of a free-market economy but also undermined solidarity between allies.80 Implicit in these narratives was a need for Seoul to remain vigilant against the lingering “America First” impulses of the Biden administration.

The final source of contention was the South Korean pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons. In October 2022, amid the increasing North Korean provocations, South Korea’s president and some members of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) raised the possibility and importance of redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea.81 The US reaction was mostly dismissive. US Ambassador to South Korea Philip Goldberg said during a public forum that “all this talk about tactical nuclear weapons […] is irresponsible and dangerous.”82 Amid visible fissures over the issue, South Korean newspapers called for greater caution and coordination with Washington. Underscoring the enormous repercussions that could follow, Joongang Ilbo asserted that this was a decision South Korea cannot make independently. Instead, it advocated for strengthening US extended deterrence by preparing and reviewing detailed, joint response scenarios.83 The centrist Hankook Ilbo similarly warned that any irresponsible decisions in this regard would only worsen South Korea’s security.84

South Korea’s indecision became particularly noticeable when, in mid-December 2022, Japan’s Kishida administration released its revised defense papers: the New Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy, and the Defense Buildup Program. Together, the papers signaled “great transformation” in Japan’s posture from pacifism to activism, in lock step with the United States’ evolving regional security framework.85 This entailed pursuing counterstrike capabilities, including a long-range strike capability; doubling the country’s defense budget from 1 percent of its GDP to 2 percent within five years; creating a combined forces command within the Japan Self-Defense Forces; and deepening its military cooperation with the United States. There was no doubt Japan intended to side with the United States.

Amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, Japan’s military ambitions posed a dilemma for South Korea. On the conservative side, Japan’s “normalization” was a boon for regional security. In this line, Kukmin Ilbo argued that cooperation with Japan was now “inevitable,” even if it undermined South’s efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.86 Joongang Ilbo similarly asserted that stepping up cooperation with the US and Japan was a top priority to prepare for the worst security environment since the Korean War.87 Crucially, in these narratives, China and North Korea were the culprits.88 Thus, while acknowledging the anxieties around Japan’s “old intentions,” conservatives criticized China for its failure to play a constructive role in the North Korean denuclearization agenda, providing Japan the rationale—if not pretext—to rearm.89

On the progressive side, Japan’s rearmament only helped to trigger an arms race in Northeast Asia. Hankook Ilbo argued that Japan’s “aggressive” security strategy, combined with North Korea’s missile threat, would bring a tectonic change in the region.90 Likewise, Seoul Shinmun admonished that Japan’s new military ambitions foreshadowed its unsolicited intervention in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula.91 Meanwhile, progressives also picked up on Japan’s sovereignty claims over Dokdo (known as Takeshima in Japan) in the documents.92 Hankook Ilbo noted that Japan’s repeated territorial claims were not only unfair but also provocative and counterproductive for the recovery of South Korea-Japan relations.93 Calling it “deplorable,” Hankyoreh also demanded Japanese genuine contrition for its colonial aggression.94 In these narratives, Japan’s reorientation signaled not a reaction to the worsening threat environment but a dangerous misrecognition of its history.

It was in this climate of heightening tension that the Yoon administration introduced its own, much-anticipated Indo-Pacific strategy. The document established key tasks for safeguarding a rule-based international order and promoting regional cooperation in areas of non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, public health, and supply chain resilience.95 While broadly appreciated, many also noticed that it characterized China as “a key partner” with which South Korea will seek a sounder and more mature relationship. That was in stark contrast with Japan’s identically named report, which called China an “unprecedented strategic challenge.”

Partisan narratives remained contentious, but for different reasons. For the conservatives, the report did not go far enough to address the threats to values posed by China and North Korea. Segye Ilbo, for instance, asserted that Seoul cannot remain muted about their human rights violations. This indecision could render Seoul’s commitment to values mere rhetoric.96 Meanwhile, the progressives questioned what the new strategy meant for South Korea’s ties with China. Hankyoreh found some reassurance in this regard, noting that Seoul’s portrayal of China indicated a continuity in balancing values and interests.97 Even the more centrist Hankook Ilbo similarly remarked that the wordings of the report reflected the indispensable need of cooperating with China on pressing issues, from North Korea’s provocations to a looming economic recession.98 Though widely perceived as timely, the specificities surrounding Seoul’s commitment to values and its implications for relations with China remained somewhat open-ended.

Indeed, South Korea’s emphasis on inclusivity as the foundation of its strategy—and promises that it “neither targets nor excludes any specific nation”—raised doubts about its implementation. This principle of inclusivity reflected South Korea’s unchanged reality of trade dependency, both in general and more specifically in relation to China, and peninsular threats that precluded diplomatically alienating China.99 Yet, it also challenged Yoon’s values-based approach, which sought to maintain and strengthen the rules-based order that—according to its like-minded ally and partners—China was actively undermining. These contradictions were shaped by the lack of domestic consensus around South Korea’s grand strategy and the appropriate scope of realignment.100 Overall, the ongoing ideological bifurcation of regional security and economy boded ill for Yoon’s ambitions to simultaneously pursue inclusivity and clarity.


The years 2020-2022 revealed both the changing ambitions and lingering limitations of South Korean foreign policy. If the transition from Moon-era “strategic ambiguity” to Yoon-era “strategic clarity” illustrated Seoul’s desire to play a more active role in regional and international security, Yoon’s continued reluctance to estrange China exposed Seoul’s unresolved vulnerabilities. Indeed, there were long-standing, structural impediments to a more decisive realignment under Yoon, including North Korean security issues and South Korean economic demands—both of which commanded China’s cooperation—as well as the unsettled “history problems” with Japan that compromised trilateral initiatives. Meanwhile, newer developments, such as the insular turn in American trade and technology policy and growing public support for indigenous nuclear weapons in South Korea, also complicated Seoul’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Together, these issues sustained partisan debates around the specific configurations of strategic clarity under Yoon and the appropriate nature and scope of South Korea’s realignment—between an enduring progressive vision of a critical balancer in the region and an emerging conservative one of a “pivotal state” in the maintenance of the liberal international order.

1. “N.K. leader says no reason to keep moratorium on ICBM tests, warns of ‘new strategic weapon’,” Yonhap, January 1, 2020, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200101001452325?section=nk/nk

2. “Trump voices confidence in N.K. leader despite new threat,” Yonhap, January 1, 2020.  https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200101003252325?section=nk/nk

3. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, “Special report: Trump’s U.S.-China transformation,” Axios, January 19, 2021, https://www.axios.com/2021/01/19/trump-china-policy-special-report

4. John Hudson and Ellen Nakashima, “Biden administration forges new path on North Korea crisis in wake of Trump and Obama failures,” Washington Post, April 30, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/biden-administration-forges-new-path-on-north-korea-crisis-in-wake-of-trump-and-obama-failures/2021/04/30/c8bef4f2-a9a9-11eb-b166-174b63ea6007_story.html.

5. Robert Einhorn, “The rollout of the Biden administration’s North Korea policy review leaves unanswered questions,” Brookings, May 4, 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2021/05/04/the-rollout-of-the-biden-administrations-north-korea-policy-review-leaves-unanswered-questions/

6. “Unification Ministry Downplays US Congressional Hearing on Leaflet Ban,” KBS, April 9, 2021, https://world.kbs.co.kr/service/news_view.htm?lang=e&Seq_Code=160733

7. “美 대북 인권 청문회 깎아내린 통일부, 北 대변인인가,” Donga Ilbo, April 12, 2021, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20210411/106357106/1.

8. “美 의회서 열리는 대북전단法 청문회, 文정권 청문회다,” Chosun Ilbo, April 10, 2021, https://www.chosun.com/opinion/editorial/2021/04/10/3HSGVSG52JBY3E6HCB63BQKWGQ/

9. “Anti-leaflet law hearing in U.S. can be opportunity for S. Korea to explain its position on anti-N. Korea leaflets,” The Hankyoreh, April 14, 2021, http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/990977.html.

10. “Kim’s decade of rule,” The Korea Times, December 19, 2021, https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/opinion/2021/12/202_320815.html.

11. “김정은 집권 10년, 핵 포기하고 민생·경제개혁 주력해야,” Seoul Shinmun, December 18, 2021, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20211217500105.

12. “핵 고집으로 주민에 고통 안긴 김정은 집권 10년,” Joongang Ilbo, December 18, 2021, https://www.Joongang.co.kr/article/25033314.

13. “‘숙청·공포정치’ 김정은 집권 10년, 北 인권에 눈감은 정부,” Segye Ilbo, December 19, 2021, http://news.kmib.co.kr/article/view.asp?arcid=0924223451&code=11171111&sid1=ce.

14. “정부, “주한미군 한국인 무급휴직자에 임금 선지급” 美에 통보,” Donga Ilbo, April 26, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/Politics/article/all/20200426/100813582/1

15. “Exclusive: Inside Trump’s standoff with South Korea over defense costs,” Reuters, April 10, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-southkorea-trump-defense-exclusiv/exclusive-inside-trumps-standoff-with-south-korea-over-defense-costs-idUSKCN21S1W7

16. “‘주한미군 감축’, 방위비 압박 카드로 사용되는 일 없어야,” Hankook Ilbo, June 16, 2020, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/202006161526054960

17. “상상초월 트럼프의 동맹경시, 韓美동맹 최악 상황도 대비해야” Donga Ilbo, June 24, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20200623/101656232/1

18. “文 정부는 美·中 어느 나라와 함께하고 싶은 건가,” Chosun Ilbo, June 10, 2020, http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2020/06/09/2020060904390.html

19. “미-중 ‘신냉전’ 격화, 실리에 바탕 둔 균형 잡기 필요,” Hankyoreh, May 18, 2020, http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/945443.html#csidx2c29426dfa8482c80de6bf99d912421

20. “세계가 우려하는 미·중 ‘코로나 냉전’,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, May 18, 2020, http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=202005180300005&code=990101

21. https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/fancy-footwork-bidens-two-step-approach-to-indo-pacific-allies/

22. The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy labeled China a revisionist state and a strategic competitor. “National Security Strategy,” White House, December 2017, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf.

23. Michael Swaine, “A Counterproductive Cold War with China,” Foreign Affairs, March 2, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-03-02/counterproductive-cold-war-china.

24. White House, “Fact Sheet: Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States,” February 11, 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/02/11/fact-sheet-indo-pacific-strategy-of-the-united-states/

25. “The Summit for Democracy,” U.S. Department of State, November 2022, https://www.state.gov/summit-for-democracy/.

26. “방위비분담금 타결, 한·미 동맹 회복 계기 돼야,” Joongang Ilbo, March 9, 2021, https://news.joins.com/article/24007424.

27. “6·15 남측위·민화협 ‘굴욕적 방위비 분담금 협상 파기해야,’” Hankook Kyungjae, March 16, 2021, https://www.hankyung.com/politics/article/202103168893Y.

28. “공정과 거리가 먼 방위비 협상, 집행 투명성이라도 확보해야,” Kyunghang Shinmun, March 11, 2021, http://m.khan.co.kr/view.html?art_id=202103112043005&utm_source=google&utm_medium=news_app&utm_content=khan#c2b.

29. White House, “Quad Leaders’ Joint Statement: “The Spirit of the Quad,”” March 12, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/12/quad-leaders-joint-statement-the-spirit-of-the-quad/

30. “美 주도 협의체 ‘쿼드 플러스’ 참여, 적극 검토하길,” Segye Ilbo, March 10, 2021, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20210310515520.

31. “반중 연대 본격화…한국 눈치외교 안 통한다,” Joongang Ilbo, March 11, 2021, https://news.joins.com/article/24009187.

32. “쿼드에서 재확인된 ‘완전한 북한 비핵화,’” Joongang Ilbo, March 15, 2021, https://news.joins.com/article/24011590.

33. “중국 겨냥한 ‘쿼드’ 본격화, 정교하게 대응해야,” Hankyoreh, March 14, 2021, http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/986705.html.

34. “미국에 각세운 中 싱하이밍…바이든 주도 회의체 맹비난,” Maeil Kyungjae, December 8, 2021, https://www.mk.co.kr/news/politics/view/2021/12/1124211/.

35. “Remarks by President Moon Jae-in at Virtual Summit for Democracy,” 대한민국정책브리핑, December 11, 2021, https://english1.president.go.kr/BriefingSpeeches/Speeches/1118.

36. “美는 ‘외교적 보이콧’하는데…‘중국’ 발언조차 피하는 文대통령,” Chosun Ilbo, December 11, 2021, https://biz.chosun.com/policy/politics/2021/12/11/E36RI2XBSZEN5E7ODZ55HLOL2E/.

37. “종전선언보다 민주주의 가치동맹이 우선이다,” Sedaily, December 10, 2021, https://www.sedaily.com/NewsVIew/22V8JG0XRI.

38. “‘민주주의 정상회의’로 갈라진 세계,” Hankyoreh, December 10, 2021, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1022888.html.

39. “승리 앞둔 바이든, 미국 앞에 놓인 무거운 책임,” Hankyoreh, May 18, 2020, http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/968737.html;
“당선 유력 바이든의 과제와 주목되는 한반도 정,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, November 05, https://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=202011052135025&code=990101

40. J. James Kim and Kang Chungku, “The U.S.-China Competition in South Korean Public Eyes,” Asan Institute, August 25, 2020, http://en.asaninst.org/contents/the-u-s-china-competition-in-south-korean-public-eyes/.

41. Country Report: South Korea (May 2021), The Asan Forum, April 27, 2021.

42. White House, “Remarks by President Biden at a Virtual CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience,” April 12, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/04/12/remarks-by-president-biden-at-a-virtual-ceo-summit-on-semiconductor-and-supply-chain-resilience/.

43. “대통령이 직접 반도체 챙기는 미국, 우리는 무슨 전략 있나,” Chosun Ilbo, April 14, 2021, https://www.chosun.com/opinion/editorial/2021/04/14/BPRMSHYBCNEGLGNAYRNCBBRTQE/.

44. “미·중 반도체 대립 격화, 정부는 전략 있나,” Joongang Ilbo, April 14, 2021, https://news.joins.com/article/24034486.

45. “미-중 반도체 전쟁, 민관 힘합쳐 전화위복 기회로,” Hankyoreh, April 13, 2021,

46. “반도체 국가전략 시급성 확인한 백악관 반도체 회의,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, April 13, 2021, http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?art_id=202104132034005.

47. White House, “Readout of President Biden’s Virtual Meeting with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China,” November 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/16/readout-of-president-bidens-virtual-meeting-with-president-xi-jinping-of-the-peoples-republic-of-china/.

48. “G1·G2 간극 재확인한 바이든·시진핑 첫 정상회담,” Yonhap News, November 16, 2021, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20211116158500022.

49. “지속되는 미중 패권전쟁···중국 의존 접고 우리 실력 키워야,” Seoul Kyungjae, November 17, 2021, https://www.sedaily.com/NewsVIew/22U1TEKOJR.

50. “바이든·시진핑 첫 정상회담…경쟁과 협력의 공존,” Joongang Ilbo, November 17, 2021, https://www.Joongang.co.kr/article/25024342#home; “194분간 제 할 말만 한 美中 정상… 칼날 위에 선 韓 외교,” Donga Ilbo, November 17, 2021, https://www.Donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20211116/110280982/1.

51. “‘충돌’ 대신 ‘대화’ 택한 바이든·시진핑 정상회담,” Hankook Ilbo, November 17, 2021, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2021111613390001628.

52. “회담 194분 동안 맞서면서도 협력 다짐한 바이든과 시진핑,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, November 16, 2021, https://m.khan.co.kr/opinion/editorial/article/202111162044015#c2b.

53. “‘치열한 경쟁’ 확인한 미-중 정상, 평화 흔들지 말아야,” Hankyoreh, November 17, 2021, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1019582.html#csidx8ad751bd1672aae8161d93fbc98e049.

54. “문대통령, 스가에 축하서한…"한일관계 발전 노력하자",” Maeil Kyungjae, September 16, 2020, https://www.mk.co.kr/news/politics/view/2020/09/958771/

55. “문 대통령, 스가와 통화…"한일 가장 가까운 친구",” Hankyung, September 24, 2020, https://www.hankyung.com/politics/article/2020092468557

56. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Outcome of ROK-Japan Director-General-Level Consultation (Oct. 29),” October 30, 2020, https://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5676/view.do?seq=321319&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=1&titleNm=

57. “日 “징용문제 해결 없인 스가 방한 없어”,” Chosun Ilbo, October 30, 2020, https://www.chosun.com/politics/diplomacy-defense/2020/10/30/6BEIXKXFRRG2VFK5LH5M2V5UO4/

58. “스가 日 새 총리, 아베 그늘 벗어나 한일관계 새 지평 열라,” Donga Ilbo, September 15, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20200914/102932964/1

59. “‘징용배상 해결’ 방한 조건 내건 스가, 아베와 다를 게 뭔가,”  Kyunghyang Shinmun, October 13, 2020, http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=202010132021005&code=990101; “Suga Says He Will Visit South Korea When the Issue of Compensation for Forced Labor Is Resolved: How Is He Different from Abe?” Kyunghyang Shinmun, October 14, 2020,

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64. “한·일관계 외면한 채 납치자 문제만 언급한 기시다 총리,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, October 5, 2021, https://m.khan.co.kr/opinion/editorial/article/202110052047005#c2b.

65. “한·일 정상 통화, 소통·협의로 외교 해법 찾는 계기 되길,” Segye Ilbo, October 17, 2021, https://m.segye.com/view/20211017508575.

66. “독도 방문 트집 잡아 기자회견 무산시킨 日 졸렬함,” Hankook Ilbo, November 19, 2021, https://m.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2021111815590003722.

67. “‘독도 분쟁화’ 노리고 한·미·일 공동 회견 무산시킨 日,” Hankook Ilbo, November 18, 2021, https://m.segye.com/view/20211118516116.

68. “외교 일정까지 무산시킨 일본의 ‘독도 트집잡기’,” Donga Ilbo, November 18, 2021, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1019895.html#csidxf570b944eac97218fa799924c0b7d26.

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70. Yoon Suk-yeol, “South Korea Needs to Step Up.”

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72. “한국, 우크라이나 대공미사일 지원 요청 거절,” Hankyoreh, April 11, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/politics/defense/1038373.html.

73. “젤렌스키 절박한 호소… 정부는 능동적인 대응책 찾기를,” Kukmin Ilbo, April 12, 2022, http://news.kmib.co.kr/article/view.asp?arcid=0924240204&code=11171111&sid1=sp.

74. “‘우크라이나 도와달라’ 호소한 젤렌스키 국회 연설,” Hankook Ilbo, April 12, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022041115230003353.

75. “아베 이후… 日 우경화에 안 흔들릴 한일관계 개선전략 짜야,” Donga Ilbo, July 11, 2022, https://www.donga.com/news/Opinion/article/all/20220710/114382182/1.

76. “아베 피습 속 자민당 참의원 선거 승리, 우경화 경계한다,” Kyunghyang Shinmun, July 10, 2022, https://www.khan.co.kr/opinion/editorial/article/202207102057005.

77. “美 전기차 차별에 EU·日과 공동대응하고 대통령도 나서라,” Segye Ilbo, September 6, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20220906521975.

78. “미국의 한국산 전기차 차별, 외교 총력전으로 풀자,” Joongang Ilbo, September 2, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25098925#home.

79. “‘미국 우선주의’ 대응할 새 통상정책 마련해야,” Hankyoreh, September 8, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1058104.html.

80. “美 인플레법 대응 ‘5개국 공조’가 돌파구 돼야,” Hankook Ilbo, September 7, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022090615300005412.

81. “김기현 ‘국회의원도 전쟁터 나가야…육십 넘었지만 총 들고 나올 것,’” KBS News, October 19, 2022, https://news.kbs.co.kr/news/view.do?ncd=5581824.

82. “Talk of tactical nuke redeployment ‘irresponsible’: US ambassador,” Korea Herald, October 18, 2022, https://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20221018000650; “(LEAD) U.S. remains open to dialogue with N. Korea despite Kim remarks: NSC spokesperson” Yonhap News Agency, October 12, 2022, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20221012000251325.

83. “핵우산 신뢰성 확보가 우선이다,” Joongang Ilbo, October 14, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25109073#home.

84. “與 전술핵 배치·비핵화 파기… 한미 조율은 됐나,” Hankook Ilbo, October 13, 2022, https://m.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022101216110005824.

85. “日, ‘반격 능력’ 보유 결정…안보정책 대전환,” Yonhap News, December 16, 2022, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20221216063751073?site=mapping_related.

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87. “한반도 둘러싼 동북아 안보 위협의 증폭 직시해야,” Joongang Ilbo, December 19, 2022, https://www.joongang.co.kr/article/25126695#home.

88. “김정은·시진핑이 불러온 일본의 군사대국화,” Hankook Kyungjae, December 18, 2022, https://www.hankyung.com/opinion/article/2022121839491.

89. “日 선제타격 선언에 北 미사일 발사, 中이 북핵 방치한 책임 크다,” Maeil Kyungjae, December 18, 2022, https://www.mk.co.kr/news/editorial/10572620.

90. “北 도발에 먼저 대응 나선 日…긴장 고조 안된다,” Hankook Ilbo, December 19, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022121816170002336.

91. “日 ‘전쟁가능’에 北中 무력시위, 외교안보 막중해졌다,” Seoul Shinmun, December 18, 2022, https://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20221219027011.

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93. “日, 안보문서에 독도 영유권 명기…재무장 행보 견제해야,” Hankook Ilbo, December 17, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022121614270005051.

94. “‘전쟁 가능 국가’로 나아간 일본, 역사의 교훈 잊지 말아야,” Hankyoreh, December 16, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1071971.html.

95. “윤 대통령 “자유·평화·번영 3대 비전으로 인도-태평양 전략 이행”,” 대한민국정책브리핑, November 11, 2022, https://www.korea.kr/news/policyNewsView.do?newsId=148908196.; “‘인도-태평양 전략 설명회’ 개최,” December 28, 2022, https://www.mofa.go.kr/www/brd/m_4080/view.do?seq=373215.

96. “[사설] 美와 쿼드 공조, 中과도 상호 존중 천명한 韓 인태전략,” Segye Ilbo, December 28, 2022, https://www.segye.com/newsView/20221228515896.

97. “[사설] 한국 외교 축 바꾸는 인·태 전략의 딜레마,” Hankyoreh, December 28, 2022, https://www.hani.co.kr/arti/opinion/editorial/1073538.html.

98. “尹정부 ‘독자 인·태전략’…국익 우선한 균형외교를,” Hankook Ilbo, December 29, 2022, https://www.hankookilbo.com/News/Read/A2022122814160004998.

99. “What South Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Says About the Development of a “Yoon Doctrine,” Council on Foreign Relation, December 29, 2022, https://www.cfr.org/blog/what-south-koreas-indo-pacific-strategy-says-about-development-yoon-doctrine?amp

100. Clint Work, “The Tensions Within South Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy,” US-Korea Economic Institute, December 7, 2022, https://keia.org/the-peninsula/the-tensions-within-south-koreas-indo-pacific-strategy/

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