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Revisiting the Functionalist Approach to Korean Unification: The Role of International Organizations and NGOs

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Authors
Hwang, Jihwan; Kim, Sung-han
Issue Date
2015-06
Publisher
Institute of International Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University
Citation
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.22 No.1, pp. 41-55
Keywords
functionalisminternational organizations,non-governmental organizationsinstitutionKorean unification
Abstract
It is often said that the functionalist approach has failed in explaining inter-Korean relations and the road to Korean unification. It has thus been regarded by many scholars and policymakers as an invalid theory in proposing any good foreign or North Korea policy. This is mostly because the Sunshine Policy, or South Korea’s engagement policy toward North Korea under the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun governments, had been based on the functionalist approach to regional integration. However, this paper argues that we can still find validity of the functionalist approach’s towards the Korean peninsula by paying attention to the roles of international organizations (IOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Most scholars and government officials in Korea have been interested in spillover effects between the economy and politics when they deal with functionalist approaches. However, they have not paid sufficient attention to other significant logical paths that the theory has also produced. In particular, the functionalist approach emphasizes the role of non-state actors and the institutionalization of cooperation as well as spillover effects. Nonetheless, their roles have tended to be ignored when it is applied in researches on Korean unification. This is mostly because the Korean peninsula is surrounded by the four great powers, i.e., the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. This kind of state-centric approach toward North Korea policy and Korean unification has dominated both the academic and the policy debates. In this vein, this paper highlights the importance of the role of non-state actors such as IOs and NGOs, thereby bringing the functionalist approach back to the discussion geared towards creating a road toward the Korean unification.
ISSN
1226-8550
Language
English
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/96595
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area StudiesJournal of International and Area Studies vol.22 (2015)
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