February 25, 2024
Analysis

South Korea emerging as major arms-producing country

ROK projected to become largest East Asian arms exporter by 2015

The Republic of Korea (ROK) has experienced record growth in recent years in military production for domestic and export purposes. Recent sales of high value-added equipment, including aircraft and naval vessels, to several regional and international markets are particularly noteworthy. This growth is driven by a number of factors, including a desire for greater independence from traditional suppliers (mainly American) and to bolster local companies.

Given that ROK-produced weapons are becoming seen as a cost-effective alternative to more expensive, U.S.-produced systems, the country has become one of the top arms exporters in the region. In 2014, the ROK was second only to China among arms-exporting East Asian countries, with the former projected to take over the No. 1 spot by 2015. While the this feat is impressive in its own right, the potential implications for the balance of power on the Korean Peninsula are also of interest.