At the end of May 2016, South Korean President Park Geun-hye paid her first official state visit to Africa, visiting Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. While South Korea’s relationship with Africa today is largely understood in terms of resource diplomacy, a rivalry with North Korea persists – highlighted during President Park’s recent visit. This talk discusses how the two Koreas have made inroads in Africa, while simultaneously fending off each other. Despite competition for influence, both Koreas have faced challenges in their attempts to export their respective ideologies and developmental models to the continent. North Korea’s Juche, once successful in dissemination to allies in the Third World, is now the quaint preserve of the deeply isolated “Hermit Kingdom”. Similarly, South Korea’s export of its developmental model to Africa is merely one tree in a forest – with competition (rather than cooperation) with China and other emerging countries that also wish to boost their partnerships with African states.
Yejoo Kim (PhD) is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She received her PhD in Political Science and her MA in International Studies from Stellenbosch University. Her research agenda centres on Africa’s development with reference to East Asia. Her previous research includes Special Economic Zones in Africa, Chinese investment in the manufacturing sector and its implications for labour in South Africa. Currently, she is conducting research on East Asian actor’s involvement in Africa’s infrastructure focusing on the Kazungula Bridge Project in Botswana. She also endeavours establishing Asia Literacy in Africa. She is running a Korean Studies Programme sponsored by Academy of Korean Studies (2016-2019).