May 7, 2014: Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se addresses the UN Security Council. Korea holds the rotating presidency of the Council for May 2014. (Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)
President Park Geun-hye departs on her first visit to the Middle East on May 19, 2014. While in Dubai, her visit will seek to shore up Korea’s ongoing bids for major construction contracts in the oil-rich Arab Gulf monarchies as well as secure stable supplies of oil imports for the foreseeable future. However, in addition to these goals, President Park should also raise topics such as the Iranian nuclear negotiations, humanitarian assistance in Syria, and democratization in Egypt.
As the Park administration promotes its “middle power” credentials on the international stage via meetings such as the MIKTA Initiative (a meeting of the foreign ministers of Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, and Australia, respectively), it is important that Korea upholds key international norms such as nuclear nonproliferation, human rights, and democracy. These are the same norms that the Korean government wants the international community to uphold vis-a-vis North Korea. Their erosion in the name of political expediency only serves to weaken international resolve in dealing with North Korea.
Dr. JANG Ji-Hyang is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Middle East and North Africa at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Dr. Jang served as a policy advisor on Middle East issues to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012-2018). Previously, Dr. Jang taught comparative and Middle East politics at Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Ewha Woman’s University, and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Her research interests include political economy of the Middle East and North Africa, political Islam, comparative democratization, terrorism, and state-building. Dr. Jang is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Arab Spring: Will It Lead to Democratic Transitions?(with Clement M. Henry (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan 2013), “Disaggregated ISIS and the New Normal of Terrorism” (Asan Issue Brief 2016), “Islamic Fundamentalism” (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 2008), and a Korean translation of Fawaz Gerges’ Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy (Asan Institute 2011). Dr. Jang received a B.A. in Turkish studies and M.A. in political science from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Texas at Austin.