Korea Looks to Europe: Its Growing Military-Strategic Cooperation with NATO

Korea is looking to Europe in the military-strategic dimension. It wants to boost ties with NATO even as strengthening relations with the AP4 (four Asia-Pacific partners) forms an important aspect of the NATO 2030 agenda. Korea has proactively joined this diplomatic effort, a foreign policy initiative that is unprecedentedly bold for Korea, which had been passively stuck in Northeast Asia. This series of political actions already bring Korea multiple consequences—both positive and negative—which will only increase in number and magnitude. This issue brief examines the Korean perspective and compulsion for strengthening ties with NATO as the world experiences a convergence of regions (Indo-Pacific and Euro-Atlantic) and security dimensions (military, economy, technology, political regime) driven by the U.S., China, and other significant powers. Against this backdrop, Korea needs NATO much more than before given the four key factors—the U.S. push, the need for capable partners, commercial opportunity, and nuclear tripwire. And most likely vice versa.

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