The Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) adopted its third National Action Plan (NAP) in 2021 for the period 2021-2023. It was preceded by two others. The third NAP aims to integrate gender perspectives in conflict prevention, peace, and unification, including in the peacebuilding on the Korean Peninsula, and international development cooperation, as well as to increase and strengthen women’s participation and international cooperation. Furthermore, it underscores the practical efforts needed to disseminate the global WPS agenda at the national and local levels, and envisages a structured mechanism for monitoring so as to ensure a more robust basis for implementation.
The most recent armed conflict in the history of the ROK was the Korean War (1950-1953). The fighting was brought to a halt with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, which resulted in the creation of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (or DMZ), a strip of land dividing the Korean peninsula while also being the most heavily fortified border in the world. However, the Korean War has never been formally concluded with a peace agreement, a fact which has contributed to the ongoing instability in the region.
Women activists have long called for an end to the political tension that has shaped the lives of Korean citizens for decades. Launched in 2019 by several women’s civil society organizations, including Women Cross DMZ, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Korean Women’s Movement for Peace, Korea Peace Now is a global advocacy campaign working towards the establishment of sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula through an inclusive peace agreement. In addition to this collective advocacy effort, women activists have also been demanding justice for women who survived sexual slavery (euphemistically referred to as “comfort women”) perpetrated during World War II by the Japanese Imperial Army.
In 2019, South Korea was among the top 10 military spenders as well as among the top 10 arms exporters in the world. Additionally, South Korea enforces mandatory military service for all able-bodied men between the age of 18 and 28.
At the multilateral level, South Korea most recently served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2013-2014.