Road to Normalization between South Korea and Vietnam: Factors and Policy-making Process

Lee Han Woo


Abstract: Bilateral relations between South Korea and Vietnam have remarkably improved in the past 25 years, since the normalization of relations in 1992. They have been acknowledged positively as the result of a successful process of the diplomatic ties. Meanwhile, it is plausible that conflicting issues were raised while establishing diplomatic ties because the two countries were hostile during the Vietnam War. This research explores the process of normalization, which coincided with their mutual economic and geopolitical interests in international relations in the decline of socialism and the post-Cold War era. As Vietnam urgently needed to establish cooperative relations with capitalist countries, this served as a concession in overcoming the historical legacy of the Vietnam War. The process of diplomatic negotiations between South Korea and Vietnam shows that the foreign policies of small- and middle-power countries are determined not only in cooperation with their allies but also with some degree of relative autonomy in the post-Cold War era.

Received 9thDecember 2019; Revised 2nd March 2020; Accepted 20th March 2020


South Korea; Vietnam; Normalization; Policy-making; Post-Cold War era.


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Personal Interviews

As the interviewees decline to reveal their real names, the author mentions them anonymously.

Han1. anonymous. Former South Korean diplomat. Seoul, Sep. 18, 2014.

Nam1. anonymous. Former Vietnamese diplomat. Hanoi, Jan. 17, 2013.

Nam2. anonymous. Former researcher, Central Institute for Economic Management. Hanoi. Jan. 17, 2013.

Nam3. anonymous. Professor, University of Social Sciences and Humanities Hanoi. Hanoi. Jan. 21, 2013.



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