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Handbook of EU-Korea Relations

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Routledge Handbook of EU-Korea Relations



23 December 2019



Editors: Nicola Casarini (Head of Research Asia, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome); Nam-Kook Kim (Jean Monnet Professor, Korea University, Seoul); Antonio Fiori (Associate Professor, University of Bologna); Jaeseung Lee (Professor, Korea University, Seoul); Ramon Pacheco Pardo (KF-VUB Korea Chair, Vrije Universiteit Brussels).





Relations between Europe and Korea have been growing in quantity and quality in the last decades. They now encompass two bilateral dimensions: (i) The EU-Republic of Korea (ROK - South Korea) strategic partnership; and (ii) The EU’s policy of critical engagement towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – North Korea). The EU has not only developed distinctive relations with the South and the North, but also in the regional context, in particular by supporting the inter-Korean dialogue and ROK initiatives towards reconciliation and trust-building in Northeast Asia.


EU- Republic of Korea

Despite wide cultural and geographic distances, the European Union and the Republic of Korea share the same commitment to democracy, human rights and market economy. Relations between the Union and South Korea have evolved considerably in the last years. In 2010, Seoul and Brussels signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA): the EU is the ROK’s second largest trade partner, while Seoul is the ninth largest for the EU. Alongside the trade dimension, the two sides have also fostered political relations by signing a new Framework Agreement (FA) and, at their October 2010 summit, they also decided to upgrade their relationship to a strategic partnership, thus initiating a High-Level Political Dialogue.

The EU signed an agreement for the joint development of Galileo (the EU-led global navigation-satellite-system alternative to the American GPS) with South Korea in 2006, the only East Asian country (besides China) to do that. The ROK is also the first Asian nation to have signed in 2014 a Framework Participation Agreement (ratified by Seoul in 2016) aimed at facilitating the ROK’s participation in EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations.

The EU has developed relations with the ROK also in the regional context, in particular by supporting the inter-Korean dialogue and initiatives towards security cooperation and trust-building in Northeast Asia. For instance, the EU fully supported former ROK President Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) and the ‘Korean Peninsula trust process’ - or Trustpolitik, - whose aim was to promote greater exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas with a view to building confidence and reducing tensions in the area. To note that the NAPCI took inspiration from Europe’s experience, making explicit reference to the history of European integration and Franco–German reconciliation, while the ROK’s Trustpolitik towards the DPRK has been inspired by Germany’s Ostpolitik and the process leading up to German reunification.

The election of Moon Jae-in as ROK President in May 2017 ushered in a new era for the inter-Korea dialogue and reconciliation process – a development which is observed with great interest by the EU and it member states. Concurrent with relations with the South, the EU and its member states have developed a policy of critical engagement towards the North.


EU-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

In May 2001, the EU established diplomatic relations with the North Korean regime, beginning a policy of critical engagement towards the DPRK. Its goals are to support a lasting diminution of tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the region, to uphold the international non-proliferation regime and to improve the situation of human rights in the DPRK.

In September 1997, the EU, through the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), became a member of the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO), created to implement the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Until 2006, the Union – through the European Commission – was a member of the Executive Board of KEDO, whose goal was to construct two light-water reactors to replace the North Korean graphite-moderated reactor and reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, which had been producing a large amount of plutonium. The aim of the KEDO project was clear: to deter further nuclear proliferation and to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. From 1997 to 2006, the total amount invested by the EU in the KEDO project reached almost 120 million euros.

Today, many EU member states entertain official ties with the DPRK. Commercial exchanges are almost non-existent, the bulk of economic relations being represented by development aid and humanitarian assistance. Since 1995, over 370 million euros in aid has been provided in the form of food aid; medical, water and sanitation assistance; and agricultural support. In 2011, the EU provided 10 million euros in emergency aid following a severe food crisis in the North.

In the last years, the EU and its member states have adopted sanctions against Pyongyang following the country’s 2003 decision to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the nuclear tests in 2006; 2009; and, more recently, in 2016 and 2017. Yet, the EU – through some of its member states, in particular Sweden – has left the door open for negotiations with the North Korean regime in view of finding a solution to the nuclear dossier.


Objectives of this Handbook

This proposed Handbook aims to provide the readers with a coherent and comprehensive assessment of contemporary Europe-Korea relations. The focus will be mainly on the European Union, though it will also take into consideration the perspective of important European countries which are not part of the EU – such as the United Kingdom.

A primary objective of this volume is to explain why Europe-Korea relations can be studied – and better understood – by analysing various levels, i.e. both the bilateral level with the two Koreas (EU-ROK and EU-DPRK) as well at the regional level (inter-Korean dialogue and Northeast Asia’s security environment). To achieve this, the Handbook will contain chapters dealing with a wide range of scholarly/policy areas (economics, politics, security, societal) and issues pertaining to: EU-ROK and EU-DPRK relations, as well as the inter-Korean dialogue and the regional context. Through this approach, the Handbook will assist students and scholars gain increased awareness of the extent and intensity of the multi-faceted and multi-layered connections between Europe and Korea.

Another objective of this Handbook is to bring together, for the first time, scattered and fragmented knowledge and on-going research about Europe-Korea relations in a structured and coherent manner. The Handbook aims to become an essential read – and learning tool - for advanced undergraduates and post-graduate students, as well as academics teaching on Europe-Korea and Europe-East Asia relations. There is increasing interest in these topics, as demonstrated by teaching modules on Europe-Korea relations across Europe (i.e. University of Sheffield, Bologna University, Bochum University), in South Korea (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Korea University), and even in the DPRK (Kim Il-sung University). Moreover, the establishment of the Korea Chair (funded by the Korea Foundation) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in 2017 – the first of its kind in Europe- stands as an indication of the growing interest in this subject matter.

Some of the issues dealt with in the Handbook (i.e., North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes, the question of sanctions, etc.), are expected to be of interest also to a more varied audience, including policymakers, the media and people engaged in civil society dialogue and cross-border (i.e. inter-Korean) cooperation.


Methodology and structure

The focus of the Handbook is mainly – but not exclusively - on EU-Korea relations, rather than on the relations of individual EU member states with Korea (both North and South). While recognizing that certain EU member states have a longer and better-established engagement with the ROK and/or the DPRK than the EU does, an analysis of those respective bilateral relations would not provide a full account of what EU-Korea relations entail in scope or degree. The project will therefore concentrate predominantly on the EU as the main level of analysis while incorporating, where appropriate, the role of member states, in particular two of them: (i) the role of Germany for Korean re-unification; (ii) the United Kingdom and the challenge of Brexit for EU-Korea relations.

Different theoretical and methodological approaches will be encouraged so as to demonstrate to students and scholars of Europe-Korea relations, through academic examples, the necessity of recognising the multiplicity of ways in which the relationship can be examined. Where possible, we will also encourage co-authorship by contributors representing both Korean and European perspectives.

We will invite contributors to limit chapters to a maximum of 5,000-6,000 words and to also illustrate their main points and data through text-boxes, bullet points, graphs and tables. Pllease see final section of this proposal for a full list of contributors. We will encourage all the authors to provide at the end of each chapter a concise list of available literature on the topic as well as links to online resources.

Around half of the chapters will be written by European experts and the other half by Koreans.

Number of chapters: around 40 + introduction and conclusion. Total length: around 200,000-240,000 words.


Competing publications

Currently, no such Handbook is available on the market. There exist, however, some edited volumes which focus on specific aspects of EU-South Korea relations (please see paragraph below). But there is no single comprehensive book yet that includes all the various aspects of the bourgeoning EU-ROK strategic partnership. Moreover, this Handbook will be the first volume ever to also have a comprehensive coverage of EU-DPRK relations and the regional context (inter-Korean dialogue and Northeast Asia’s security). 

Existing volumes (edited collections) on EU-ROK relations include:

-          A New Context for EU-Korea Relations, (Editor: Richard Youngs), Fride-Korea Foundation, 2013;

-          EU-Korea Relations in a Changing World (Editors: Axel Marx, Jan Wouters, Woosik Moon, Yeonseop Rhee, Sunhee Prk, Matthieu Burnay), Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, 2013;

-          The European Union and South Korea: the Legal Framework for Strengthening Trade, Economic and Political Relations, (Editor: James Harrison), Edinburgh University Press, 2013.

The above edited volumes are not only outdated, but they also deal with some specific aspects of EU-ROK relations. They are, thus, much limited in scope compared to this proposed Handbook which aims, instead, of becoming the standard reference for this subject matter.







Table of contents


Introduction: a Multi-Faceted and Multi-Layered Relationship (by Nicola Casarini and the editors)


1. Historical evolution

1) Europe-Korea relations from the origin to 1950:  Jinwoo Choi, Hanyang University

2) The Evolution of Europe and Korea Relations during the Cold War (1950-1990): Yoojeong Kim, Kyungsang University, Seoul

3) Contemporary EU-Korea Relations: Ramon Pacheco Pardo, King’s College and VUB, Brussels - https://www.ies.be/user/296


2. Social & cultural relations

4) Intellectual/cultural exchanges: Koen de Ceuster, Leiden University - https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/koen-de-ceuster#tab-1

5) Pop culture (Korean waves: music and film): Saemi Kim, Hanyang University, Seoul

6) Education cooperation: Changryong OH, University of California, Berkeley, USA

7) Immigration: Sungeun Shim, National Assembly Research Service

8) Internet and social media: Saewon Jung, Korea University, Seoul


9) Media, elite perceptions and public opinion: Sungwon Yoon, Suwon University, Seoul


3. Economic relations 

10) EU-DPRK economic ties: Virginie Grzelczyk, Aston University

11) EU-ROK FTA(2003-2011): Heungchong Kim, KIEP

12) EU-ROK FTA(2011-2020): Yudeok Kang, HUFS

13) EU-Korea Automobile Industry: Sangwook Ahn, Pukyong National University, Busan

14) Investment and Intellectual Property Rights: Francoise Nicolas, IFRI, Paris - https://www.ifri.org/en//francoise-nicolas


15) The Euro and the Won (monetary relations): Sunghoon Park, Korea University, Seoul


16) ODA and EU-Korea cooperation: Axel Marx, University of Louvain - https://ghum.kuleuven.be/ggs/people/00008787

17) Social Market Economy and Welfare in Europe and Korea: Chaebok Park, Sookmyung Womens University, Seoul



4. Science & technology, energy and the environment


18) Climate change & Environment: Hayoon Jung, Korea University, Seoul


19) Energy cooperation: Jae-seung Lee, Korea University, Seoul


20) Scientific innovation (the fourth industrial revolution & R&D cooperation): Oseok Yang, Kangwon National University, Gangwon-do, ROK



5. Politics and global governance

21) EU, Korea and global governance: Jan Wouters, Leuven University - https://ghum.kuleuven.be/ggs/people/00010135


22) EU-Korea and the International Community (UN, G20, G7, ASEM): Sunhee Park, Seoul National University


23) Human rights and Human Security: Nam-Kook Kim, Korea University, Seoul


24) EU-North Korea relations, Political Dialogue and Human Rights: Zsuzsa-Anna Ferenczy, European Parliament


25) Legal Issues: Hyungbok Chae, Kyungbuk National University, Daegu, ROK


26) The EU and regional cooperation/integration in North-East Asia: Michael Reiterer, Innsbruck University and EU Ambassador to ROK



6. Bilateral relations


27) Brexit and EU-Korea relations: John Nilsson-Wright, Cambridge University - https://www.ames.cam.ac.uk/directory/nilssonwrightjohn


28) Germany and Korean unification: Eric Ballbach, Free University, Berlin


29) France and the Korean Peninsula: Antoine Bondaz, FRS, Paris


30) Italy-Korea relations: Si-Hong Kim, HUFS, Seoul



6. Security and the regional context

31) Non-proliferation and disarmament: Jina Kim, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, Seoul


32) EU, sanctions and humanitarian aid to North Korea: Mario Esteban & Clara Portela


33) EU-Korea and Six Party Talks: Jongyoon Doh, JPI, Seoul


34) EU-ROK in strategic partnership: Moosung Lee, Myongji University, Seoul


35) EU-ROK in crisis management: Hae-Won Chun, KNDA, Seoul


36) Sunshine policy/engagement: Antonio Fiori, University of Bologna


37) Inter-Korean dialogue and the prospect for Korean unification: Aidan Foster-Carter, Leeds University, UK - http://www.aidanfc.net/aidan_foster_carter_cv.html




New challenges and future avenues for research (by Nicola Casarini and the editors)






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Jean Monnet EU Centre of Excellence
    Prof. Sung-Hoon Park
    Korea University
    E-mail: shpark@korea.ac.kr
    Dr. Seung-Hwan Yoon
    Korea University
    Phone: +82 2 3290 5323
    E-mail: yoon9001@korea.ac.kr