The war in Ukraine accelerated South Korea’s rise as a major arms exporter. In 2022, defence exports skyrocketed to $17.3 billion USD, more than double that of 2021. Growth was mainly due to major purchases from Poland, as it and other European states and the US sought to quickly replenish stockpiles depleted by arms shipments to Ukraine. As the war in Ukraine continues, conflicts in the Middle East intensify, and increased geopolitical competition drives more demand for arms, South Korea is in a strong position to increase its exports in the coming year. [Source; Source; Source]
Key Judgement 1: South Korean arms exports will highly likely increase compared to 2023.
Key Judgement 2: South Korea’s defence industry will highly likely strengthen ties with European and Middle Eastern arms importers.
Key Judgement 3: Strain on U.S. and European industry will highly likely drive demand for South Korean weapons.