What is happening in South Korea today?
How is the current status of South and North Korean relationship?
According to recent international and local news, the two governments have already forged an agreement that finally put a stop to a face-off following artillery fire between the two countries that caused aggravated military friction.
North Korea issued a statement apologizing for the incident wherein two soldiers from South Korea were wounded by a landmine explosion.
On the other hand, Seoul stopped issuing propaganda announcements against Pyongyang. The North Korean government also ended the partial state of war that it declared. Both sides released a joint pronouncement that they will conduct negotiations aimed at improving relationships.
President Park Geun-hye of South Korea lauded the regret made by North Korea about the landmine incident. Pyongyang denied placing the landmines.
Probable Shift in Alliances
Meanwhile, international news reports said there may be a change in alliances involving powerhouse China and the two Koreas as the South Korean leader is scheduled to be present at an armed forces parade in Beijing (Tiananmen Square). President Park Geun-hye will also meet with China’s President Xi Jinping on September 7 while North Korean President Kim Jong Un has not been invited. The South Korean leader will also hold meetings with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Observers believe economics is mainly responsible for the modification in ties between China and South/North Korea. Chinese commercial relations with South Korea turned out to be 50 times bigger compared to trade with North Korea from January to June of 2015. China remains as the largest trading partner of South Korea. In fact, the two nations consummated a mutual free trade pact early this year.
Some people are convinced that the improvement of ties between the two Asian nations can undermine the trilateral regional partnership between the Unites States, Japan and South Korea. On the other hand, Seoul set aside the insinuation of consequences on the defense treaty with Washington even as some 30, 000 American soldiers have been sent to South Korea purportedly to help prevent and invasion by North Korea. The US Government has voiced its support for stronger coordination between Beijing and Seoul. China has become disapproving of North Korea during the last few years.
South Korea is the fourth biggest economy in Asia and one of the top exporters worldwide. In fact, the World Bank said South Korean exports increased by 19 percent last year and maintains higher export rates over China and Brazil. This is mainly due to the emergence of South Korean multinational corporations like Samsung Electronics and Kia Cars. This country is very technologically advanced compared to other industrialized and developed nations.
Samsung has been described as the “greatest economic success” of South Korea. It has been controversial lately because of claims that it does not merely energize the country but has gone to the extent of overpowering it. Samsung Electronics has earned a lot of scrutiny since it is the biggest corporate group (Chaebol) that was revitalized because of government support and ironically flourished as the national economy slowed down. The corporation contributes about one-fifth of the GDP of South Korea. The Samsung Group is acknowledged as a “mother conglomerate” with an expansive network of around 80 subsidiary firms that came up with sales of almost US$237 billion last year. Its second largest rival is Hyundai-KIA. Samsung owns 20 percent of South Korea’s economy which is worth $1.1 trillion.
The automotive sector has also played a very significant role in enhancing the country’s economy. South Korea grew into one of the biggest automobile manufacturers globally with roughly 4.7 million cars produced annually. It is next to the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany in this industry. The leading South Korean international automobile trademark is Hyundai KIA Automotive Group.
South Korea’s Economic Position
South Korea is ranked as the number 12 economy worldwide. It is also among the fastest emerging economies and included in the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong). Seoul depends a lot on exports because it does not have enough natural resources and owns a small market of domestic consumers. South Korea is the seventh among top exporters and 10th biggest importer all over the world. It has evolved from a labor-intensive to a technology-oriented nation.
To its credit, South Korea stayed away from economic downturn during the global financial collapse of 2008. The only drawback of South Korea is its conflict with North Korea which can obstruct its economic progress. South Korea has very good foreign relations with many countries. It is a member of numerous international organizations such as the World Trade Organization or WTO; G-20; Asia pacific economic Cooperation (APEC): and, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).