Korea-European Union Relations: Beyond the FTA?

International Relations of the Asia-Pacific Volume 12(1), 2012; 101-132

32 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2014

Date Written: January 1, 2012


In 2009, Korea and the European Union (EU) signed a free trade agreement. Using a traditional list of state goals in foreign policy – national security, economic growth, prestige-seeking, and values-promotion – I examine the prospects for cooperation and integration in the future. I find that deeper engagement is unlikely. Most importantly, neither side is relevant to the basic security issues of the other. Specifically, the EU cannot assist Korea in its acute security dilemma, and ‘sovereigntist’ Korea does not share EU preferences for soft power, regionalization, and multilateral collective security. However, Korea is likely to pursue the relationship for cost-free prestige-taking. And the EU will understand this ‘Asian bridge’ as a success for the promotion of liberal-democratic values in a non-European context. Pro-regionalist elites, most notably the ‘bureaucracy’, may pursue ‘inter-regional’ ties for internal institutional reasons, but deep Korean attachment to the Westphalian state model will likely stymie such efforts.

Keywords: Korea, European Union

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Robert E., Korea-European Union Relations: Beyond the FTA? (January 1, 2012). International Relations of the Asia-Pacific Volume 12(1), 2012; 101-132. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2384763

Robert E. Kelly (Contact Author)

Pusan National University ( email )

mulgeumup beomyeli
Pusan 609-735, 50612
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
+10-3760-5462 (Phone)

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