AUKUS Two Years On: South Korea’s View

By Jina Kim

Over the almost two years since its historic announcement, the AUKUS agreement has elicited a broad range of regional responses. While some countries have welcomed the strategic alignment that AUKUS brings, others share concerns over increased regional instability, the emergence of antagonistic security blocs, and nuclear proliferation.

To guarantee the security that the pact promises, Australia and its fellow AUKUS partners will need to understand the region’s perspectives.

This series is designed to provide insight into regional responses to AUKUS, two years on. It will delve into the concerns, qualms, and avenues for opportunity in seven Indo-Pacific countries, through the eyes of regional authors.

The fourth report in this series by Professor Jina Kim, Dean of Language and Diplomacy Division at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, explores South Korea’s response to the AUKUS pact.

Mindful of the political complexities of its own neighbourhood, South Korea views AUKUS positively

It sees the pact as part of US efforts to balance China and as an acknowledgement of Australia’s growing strategic value. Consequently, AUKUS has made South Koreans debate the direction of their own US alliance strategy.

As one of the few countries viewing Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines positively, AUKUS has also renewed a domestic debate about South Korea’s own ambitions for a nuclear submarine program.

South Korea will closely monitor the possibility of the US extending similar offers to other allies and is open to joining an expanded AUKUS in the future.

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