CFR Report: South Korea Should Evolve From a Hosting to Leading Role on World Stage

South Korea can best influence the global agenda by committing sufficient resources to sustainable development, financial stability, nuclear governance, and green growth, argues Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Korea studies, in the introduction to a new report, Middle-Power Korea: Contributions to the Global Agenda.

September 9, 2015

News Releases

South Korea can best influence the global agenda by committing sufficient resources to sustainable development, financial stability, nuclear governance, and green growth, argues Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) senior fellow for Korea studies, in the introduction to a new report, Middle-Power Korea: Contributions to the Global Agenda.

More From Our Experts

South Korea has raised its international profile by organizing major conferences, a strategy that Snyder terms “hosting diplomacy.” Between 2010 and 2012, it convened meetings of the Group of Twenty (G20), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Green Climate Fund.

More on:

South Korea

Diplomacy and International Institutions

“By exploiting its international standing, capabilities, and aspirations as a middle power, South Korea has drawn a record number of leaders to Seoul for discussions on some of the toughest problems facing the world and has earned a seat at the table based on its thought leadership rather than its size,” Snyder writes.

However, he cautions, “for a country with limited resources and power such as the ROK [Republic of Korea] to continue to make a difference on the international stage, it needs to effectively deploy its vision and experience, its institutional capacity to bridge gaps among nations, and its top-rank human resources.”

Snyder recommends that Seoul

More From Our Experts
  • prioritize its contributions in line with South Korea’s expertise on particular issues;
  • establish institutional strategies to further its contributions to these issues; and
  • determine which aspects of its own economic, political, sustainable, and financial development experience might be transferable to developing countries today, and provide them with training in these areas.

Snyder’s conclusions are based on five expert evaluations of South Korean diplomacy. The report features Colin I. Bradford of the Brookings Institution on financial policy, Brendan Howe of Ewha Women’s University on international development, Toby Dalton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on nuclear energy, independent researcher Jill Kosch O’Donnell on green growth, and Andrew O’Neil of Griffith University on the durability of South Korea’s diplomatic ambitions.

More on:

South Korea

Diplomacy and International Institutions

With Pacific Forum CSIS Executive Director Brad Glosserman, Snyder is also coauthor of the new book The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States. In the book, Snyder and Glosserman explore how divergent national identities have fractured relations between Japan and South Korea.

Up
Close

Explore More on CFR

Food and Water Security

A historic dry spell has severely affected Cape Town's water supply, and global climate patterns suggest that other cities may face the same fate.

Southeast Asia

The U.S.-Indonesia relationship has often disappointed. It’s time to rethink U.S.-Indonesia ties and try to achieve real security goals, rather than make bold plans for cooperation that never come to fruition.

European Union

European leaders are rushing to implement new laws to curb disinformation on social media. However, existing European data protection laws might actually make it harder for bad actors to spread fake news online.