The Republic of Korea’s national interests in the Arctic

The North East Asian States’ common Arctic strategy may appear

South Korea regarded its participation in the Arctic development as an opportunity for future economic growth as well as for the nation’s international status upgrade and for its global governance involvement, RISS expert Anna Ryzhova underscored in the analytical article of RISS journal “National Strategy Issues” №5 (56). The strategic nature of the Republic of Korea’s national interests in the Arctic dictates its active position in any future regional developments regardless of any change in the national government. Over the past 50 years, South Korea has gone from being one of the poorest countries in the world to being recognized as a country with a developed economy. "Now South Korea is aimed at achieving world power status," she said.

Due to its geographical location, South Korea is not a traditional Arctic state, but it has several key interests in the region. "The Republic of Korea has various interests in the Arctic region: it wants to get access to natural resources, use the opportunities of the Northern Sea Route, and conduct polar research," A.Ryzhova explained.

In her opinion, polar research could have a positive impact on the Korean economy. This will also affect the credibility of national enterprises. RISS expert recalled the construction of the icebreaker "Araon", which developed both Korea’s scientific achievements and shipbuilding industry. Climate change research in the Arctic also provides an opportunity to forecast weather conditions in the region, contributing to the development of tourism, fishing, navigation, and maritime safety. Seoul increases its international status as a responsible and reliable partner.

In 2013, the scientific achievements of the Korean Republic in the Arctic were recognized by the Arctic States, and it gained observer status in the Arctic Council. Korea’s participation in the Arctic development may contribute to its economic growth, and Korean interests in polar research can turn into commercial opportunities. "The Arctic region opens up prospects for Korean economic development, provides safe transport routes and sources of hydrocarbons. In addition, Korea's activity in the Arctic region strengthens Seoul's international status and role in global government," RISS expert pointed out.

Arctic Korea