South Korea’s Strategic Interests in Antarctica
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The Republic of Korea (ROK) joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1986 as the 33rd member and became a consultant party in 1989. Despite its geographical remoteness from the region and the geopolitical pressures it faces at home, ROK has made great progress in its scientific research in Antarctica as well as the Arctic. In particular, since the inauguration of the Lee Myung Bak administration in 2008, Seoul has accelerated its commitment to polar research by announcing that it would set up a second permanent base in the Antarctic continent and build a new 7,000 ton ice breaker.
South Korea is the 9th largest economy in the world and is now seeking ways to expand its global political influence. The Korean government sees its expansion into Antarctica and the Arctic as part of its path to a greater global leadership role. This thesis explores the reasons behind South Korea’s increased involvement in Antarctica, while referencing the activities of its Arctic programme. It profiles various bodies involved in maintaining and negotiating ROK’s Antarctic presence and voice on Antarctic affairs; it discusses Seoul’s core interests in the Antarctic continent and the polar regions overall, which help to shape its Antarctic policy.