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Whither the inter-Korean Dialogue? Assessing Seoul's Trustpolitik and Its Future Prospects


Since the beginning of her presidential campaign, in the autumn of 2012, the candidate Park Geun-hye emphasized the creation of a new “constructive” policy towards North Korea, aimed at improving relations on the peninsula and giving a fresh impetus to inter-Korean cooperation. The concept at the base of this policy was represented by “trust”: for this reason, the neologism used to identify this strategy was Trustpolitik. The worsening relations between the two Koreas since the inception of the new South Korean administration in February 2013, and the inability of President Park to guide the process of rapprochement in a proactive way, immediately undermined the possibility of success for Trustpolitik and compromised subsequent developments. It is argued here that any strategy of trust building between two actors needs the promoter to play an active role, and this paper discusses how the lack of a broad, proactive strategy by Seoul has nullified the possibility for creating mutual trust between the North and the South.

Paper prepared in the framework of the reasearch project “Trust Building in North East Asia and the Role of the EU”, promoted by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) with the kind support of the Korea Foundation (KF).

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