Politics and International Relations
The Korean government wants to ‘sell’ the Korean development experience and ‘brand’ its aid programs as such. Under President Lee Myung-bak ODA was branded under the banner of Green Growth, while under his successor President Park Geun-hye Korean ODA was rebranded as Saemaul ODA in order to “…implement a global Saemaul Undong and make it a core international cooperation project”. As Saemaul Undong was developed by her authoritarian father President Chung-hee Park, it made sense to critically research the implementation in African contexts. Although Saemaul Undong, for example, resonated well with the development ambitions and principles of the Rwandan government, Nauta and Lee (2018) have argued that Korea has potentially much more to offer to ordinary Africans in terms of the successful struggles for democracy and participation. What about the blossoming of civil society and the way in which its development became intertwined with ICTs and democracy?
Indeed under incumbent President Moon Jae-in it seems that a new more progressive path is envisaged. In a recent interview the new KOICA Chief Lee Mi-kyung explicitly stated that Korea should abandon the export of policies rooted in a dark history and instead should be inspired by Korean candelight protests and “…delivering those values is what Korea can really contribute to recipient countries”.
This paper seeks to understand the new directions of Korean ODA and the potential impact on cooperation with African partners.