Current Publications

Light and Darkness in Inter-Korean Relations during and after the Olympics

Rüdiger Frank

A candle will hardly be noticed on a sunny day, but it will make all the difference if lit in the dark. This allegory holds particular relevance for the relationship between North Korea and South Korea and its western allies. The “sunshine” years of active engagement towards the North under South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun ended when Lee Myung-bak was elected in 2007. After a decade of mutual accusations and consistently failed bilateral cooperation projects between the two states, we have reached a point of near darkness.

Against this pitch dark backdrop, it is not surprising that even the smallest gestures of peace related to the 2018 Winter Olympics generated hope and garnered international attention. However, most experts on North Korea have refused to join the chorus of optimists, even remaining skeptical when the two Koreas announced that they had agreed to hold a third summit meeting in late April of this year. A closer look reveals that there are indeed many reasons to be at least cautious, if not even concerned.

Department of East Asian Studies
Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
506008 Conflict research, 506007 International relations, 602028 Korean studies
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