Moving beyond Hermit Kingdoms. Korea in Burma's foreign policy
- Issue date
Oficyna Wydawnicza AFM
Krakowskie Studia Międzynarodowe 2015, nr 3 s. 161-176.
- Stosunki międzynarodowe
- Burma; Myanmar; Korea; Burma-Korea relations; Hermit Kingdoms
This paper deals with the problem of the Burma-Korea relations. It starts from the intriguing fact that both Burma and Korea, despite not having much in common, have been called the Hermit Kingdoms. This paper asks whether this “hermit” similarity has had any effect on their relations and what the place of Korea in Burma’s foreign policy has been. After describing the hermit heritage in the Burmese and the Korean political cultures, this papers concludes that Korean issues have not been central to the Burmese policy. They form an important, though a secondary, dimension. As for the place of Korea(s) in Burma’s foreign policy, the answer is equally unimpressive. The political relations between Burma and both Korean states have not been strategic. Two events attracted the world’s attention to the Burmese-Korean relations – the assassination in Rangoon and Burma’s nuclear affair with North Korea – but both turned out to be mere incidents. North Korea – Burma relations stalled, or hibernated, after Burma started its reforms and opening up to the West in 2011. For the same reasons of reforms, however, Burma has become even more interesting for South Korea. Myanmar may become a place for massive South Korean investments soon. It is the economic dominance of South Korea that makes the Burma-Korea relations asymmetric. It’s a “normalized asymmetry”, however, one where both sides are confi dent of fulfi lling their basic interests and expectations of mutual benefi ts. This “normalized asymmetry” makes the Burma-South Korea relations bound to develop in the future.
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