What About South Korea
while you were looking elsewhere...
Whenever I see something about South Korea, their economy or their military, I think of my dad's generation who were of draft age during the Korean War. I've read a bit about the war and the condition of the country and its people when we fought to keep the communist yoke of their neck, and when you look at the South Korea of 2023, it is simply an amazing testimony what free enterprise and education can do to a people held back by autocracy and illiteracy ... with a good bit of rule of law and a benign quasi-imperial military power willing to give them the security to grow. Worth the war? I think so.
In the last year, South Korea has impressed many who were not paying attention concerning their growing place as a military-industrial power - specifically their arms exporting and partnership with Poland as she does all she can to be the military power of the Three Seas nations.
I keep wondering, do we need to bring South Korea closer in to the Western military infrastructure?
Yes, she has a spot of bother to the north that needs almost all her attention and her demographics are far from robust ... but still - is their a collective gain by bringing her closer in?
This graph from Zach Cooper really hit home how isolated, in a way, South Korea is outside the bi-lateral relationship it has with the USA.
In theabstract to his paper(that I'd love to read in full, but I am sans-access...ahem).
As South Korea has aligned its focus to that of the United States, Seoul has expected Washington to integrate South Korea more deeply into American regional strategy. Yet, US efforts to build minilaterals have seldom included South Korea. Addressing this divide will require leaders in both capitals to adjust their approaches to both focus and format in the Indo-Pacific.
South Korea has a population of 51.7 million souls, greater than all but six of the 30 NATO nations (USA, TUR, DEU, FRA, GBR, ITA). She has a GDP of 1.8 trillion USD, greater than again all but six of the 30 NATO nations (USA, DEU, GBR, FRA, ITA, CAN).
Worth more pondering.