When Korea split into North Korea and South Korea in 1948, communist North Korea continued to maintain close relations with China while South Korea maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Today communist China remains to be North Korea’s biggest trade and investment partner. However, scholars have yet to determine the extent to which cross-border economic transactions are driven by commercial versus political factors. Capitalist South Korea on the other hand is a democracy guided republic that has adopted a western-like way of life. Throughout the cold war, China and South Korea did not have official relations. This impasse hurt trade that was potentially beneficial to both countries as it was impossible for South Korea to protect her business interests in China without some form of international agreement. This is what eventually led to the two countries breaking the ice between them and begin active trade (Jihyeon).
Relations between Korea and China are heavily based upon the trade that occurs between them and more so the dependency being on China as it is the most developed of them all. This in turn translates to political dependency on China by Korea because without the benefits of trade, neither North nor South Korea can enjoy the political stability brought about by a stable economy” (Roberts 45).
David W. Roberts. “Political Transition in Cambodia, 1991-99: Power, Elitism, and Democracy.” Macmillan. 2001. 23-54.
Jeong, Jihyeon. “North Korea and China: the Politics of Trade and Investment” Pape presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association 67th Annual National Conference, The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, 2009. Web.