Structural Coupling in Engagement Diplomacy: Case Study on South Korea’s Engagement Coalition for Buying Peace

Sung Chull Kim


To solve contentious issues in international relations involves engagement and interaction
with other partners rather than exclusion and containment. Engagement diplomacy needs
a like-minded coalition between the state and the business sector in the domestic arena, a
coalition that is apparently an essential aspect of structural coupling from the systems
perspective. In the Cold War era, interstate security arrangements basically determined
the economic relations among nations, whereas in times of globalization, business
advances in both trade and investment frequently facilitate security cooperation.
Centering on the theme of structural coupling, the paper examines the case of South
Korea’s engagement policy toward North Korea after the launch of the Kim Dae-jung
administration in 1998. In particular, this paper responds to the three following questions:
What are the criteria by which one can rigorously appraise the effects that the structural
coupling of the economy and security has had on “buying peace” in the inter-Korean
What factors made the respective preferences and interests of the state and the business
sector in South Korea converge to lead (and sustain) a domestic coalition that has
underpinned the engagement policy toward North Korea?
What are the requisite factors for South Korea’s persistent engagement coalition for


engagement coalition; structural coupling; Sunshine Policy

Full Text: