Sunshine policy

From Academic Kids

The sunshine policy is part of South Korea's foreign policy towards North Korea. In 2000 Kim Dae Jung of South Korea was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace as a result of the sunshine policy.



The sunshine policy was introduced by Kim Dae Jung in order to underline the peaceful management of the division of the Korean pensinsula. In many aspects, it is based on the West German Ostpolitik of the 1970s. This policy is continued by Kim's successor Roh Moo-hyun. It stands in great contrast with past policies towards North Korea which focused on containment.

The term sunshine policy originates in an episode of Aesop's fables. In the fable, the sun and the wind compete to remove a man's coat. The wind blew strongly, but the man clutched and kept his coat on. The sun shone warmly, and the man voluntarily took off his coat to enjoy the fine weather. The main aim of the policy is to soften North Korea's attitudes towards the south by encouraging interaction and economic assistance.

Guiding principles

There are three guiding principles to the sunshine policy. Firstly, no armed provocation by the North will be tolerated. Secondly, the South will not attempt to absorb the North in any way. Finally, the South actively seeks cooperation.

Key aspects of the policy

The sunshine policy is based on the belief that the regime under Kim Jong Il in the North will not collapse or disintegrate in the near future. It is not believed that the current economic crisis will undermine the regime, even if it turns out to be permanent.

It is believed that military tensions can be lessened through bilateral and multilateral frameworks. This emphasizes the normalization of political and economic relations between both the United States and North Korea as well as Japan and North Korea.

The effectiveness of the policy has been questioned. This was the case, particularly as the issue of nuclear weapons in North Korea re-surfaced in 2002. Supporters of the policy, however, argue that it is not a failure of the sunshine policy, but the tough stance by the US administration. It has also been questioned whether Rho Moo-hyun effectively continued the policy.

Policy guidelines

  • Inter-Korean dialogue will be upheld. This is done by the exchange of high-level envoys. It is an implementation of a basic agreement in 1991.
  • South Korea provides 3.2 billion US dollars to the construction of two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea. This amounts to 75 percent of the cost.
  • Politics and business are separated. This means that legal procedures are simplified and the limits of South Korean investment in North Korea are waived.
  • Humanitarian aid in the form of food and agricultural aid will be provided to North Korea. This should enable the North in the food crisis.
  • Family reunions are encouraged. Such reunions allow selected families which have been disunited when the peninsula was divided during the Korean War to meet relatives in the other half in specially arranged meetings.

See also

ja:太陽政策 zh:陽光政策


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