South Korea’s Sunshine Policy, Reciprocity and Nationhood

In: Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
Hyun-key Kim Hogarth Royal Anthropological Institute Canterbury England

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This article is an anthropological study of South Korea’s ‘Sunshine Policy’ towards North Korea, through analyzing the much debated issue of reciprocity between the divided yet one nation. The Sunshine Policy was first instigated in 1998 by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, to soften the belligerent attitude of North Korea towards the South by promoting interaction through the prosperous South’s economic aid to the nearly bankrupt North. The policy initially seemed to work, leading to some communications between the two Koreas, and President Kim Dae Jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. However, as the North ‘jettisoned’ the principle of reciprocity, and the financial aid aimed to help the starving North Korean masses was used to develop weaponry including nuclear bombs and long-range missiles, the South Korean public began to question its validity. Since March 2008, the new South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has taken a harsher stance towards the North, and the Sunshine Policy has somewhat faded. According to some it is doomed to fail. This is an analyses of nation, state and reciprocity, and the reasons why the Sunshine Policy has encountered so many problems.

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