Australia’s Parliamentary Diplomacy: A Study of the Bilateral Relationship with South Korea

"Australia’s Parliamentary Diplomacy: A Study of the Bilateral Relationship with South Korea", Parliamentary Diplomacy in European and Global Governance, Brill, Amsterdam, 2017, pp.290-308.

Academic and bench-marking studies characterize South Korean administrative culture as ‘hierarchical, authoritative, paternal, emotional, irrational and familial’.[1] For the diplomatic corps in Seoul, this can present challenges.[2] South Korea does not have a strong party political system and the political environment centers on individuals and personal networks, which can be fluid and dynamic. Diplomatic officers at early stages of their careers can find it difficult to secure access to more senior decision makers – including social, business, and political leaders. In this respect, parliamentary diplomacy theoretically facilitates more direct interaction between diplomats and those leaders. Since industrialization in the 1970s, Australia and South Korea enjoyed a stable economic relationship. Australia exports raw materials, such as coal and iron ore, and it imports elaborately transformed manufactures, such as cars, machinery and electronics. South Korea recovered rapidly from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and its position in regional and global affairs grew quickly. Since this time, Australian efforts to expand the relationship with South Korea have enjoyed strong bipartisan support. The period 1996–2015 can thus be considered as a formative one in the modern bilateral relationship, marked by economic stability and growth in the political and security fields. It could be assumed that parliamentary diplomacy played a particularly important role in building Australia’s relations with South Korea... [Read more].

[1] Im Tobin, ‘Bureaucratic Power and the NPM Reforms in Korea’, International Review of Public Administration, vol. 8, no. 1 ( July 2003), p. 91.

[2] Jeffrey Robertson, Diplomatic Style and Foreign Policy: A Case Study of South Korea (New York, NY: Routledge, 2016), pp. 163–173.