South Korean identities in strategies of engagement with North Korea : a case study of President Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy
This dissertation is a theoretically grounded empirical study aimed at shedding light on the multiple dimensions of South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy of engaging North Korea. It questions the ontological viability of conventional strategies and theories of engagement and produces a framework of comprehensive engagement based on realist, liberal and, most importantly, constructivist approaches. The study focuses on identifying the new tools of engagement employed by South Korea's policy elites, who created a social environment for South Koreans' shift of identities vis-a-vis North Korea in the course of implementing this engagement policy. To support the thesis of a momentous shift in identities as a result of the Sunshine Policy, this study uses a wide range of interviews with policy elites and sets of opinion polls published by news organizations and government agencies, while at the same time analyzing the policy from a theoretical and historical perspective. In order to provide concrete evidence of the identity shift, this dissertation analyzes three major policy issues during the Kim administration: North Korea's improvement of diplomatic relations with Western powers; the Hyundai Business Group's Mt. Kumgang tourism project and its link to the inter-Korean summit in June 2000; and North Korea's revelation of a nuclear weapons programme in October 2002. The key research findings of this study are as follows: first, the Sunshine Policy, implemented by South Korea's policy elites, who projected North Korea as a 'partner' or a 'brother', enabled a majority of South Koreans to develop positive identification with the South's enemy, as defined by the National Security Law; second, the policy played a significant role in preventing crises and maintaining the political status quo on the Korean Peninsula; and third, the policy laid the groundwork for a new era of inter Korean economic cooperation and integration.