This article investigates the spatial dimension of exports of automobiles from the Republic of Korea (ROK), the market for which has been dominated since 1986 by the United States (US). Two theories are reviewed which have been advanced to explain the pattern and nature of trade, comparative and competitive advantage. This paper examines these theories and assesses their explanatory utility in the light of the evidence from the ROK. The ROK trade patterns in the automobile industry are used to assess these theories and it is suggested that the results are applicable to other locations and industrial sectors. © 1994, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.