The Maritime Tiger: Exploring South Korea’s Interests and Role in the Arctic

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  • November 2014

    South Korea is not a traditional Arctic state, but it has several key interests in the region. This article explores the sources of those interests and the country’s commercial activities in the Arctic in the areas of shipping, shipbuilding and hydrocarbons. Since the country’s polar interests transcend commerce, however, attention is also paid to the importance of science and research and development in Korean culture. The article examines South Korea’s regional role in the Arctic, arguing that the country fits into an expanded area of Arctic destinational shipping centred on the Northern Sea Route. Arctic states have generally welcomed the country as a partner in the region, and South Korea’s rise in the north appears likely to continue as part of its broader effort to transform into a globally important political and economic actor.