[FORBES] How Does South Korea Stack Up As A Middle Power?

June 26, 2015


[FORBES] — South Koreans have been among the world’s early adopters in globalization over the past two decades, going from outpost to “node” by embracing networks, connectivity, and economic interdependence in startling fashion in a very short period of time.

It has been commonplace for most South Koreans to think of themselves as a small country, buffeted by geostrategic factors beyond its control, consigned to its fate as a “shrimp among whales.”

This narrative, generally speaking, conforms with the twentieth century historical experience on the Korean peninsula, which witnessed annexation, colonization, subjugation, and a moment of liberation, followed by division, war, and marginalization as an outpost of the Cold War.

Outsider impressions of late twentieth century Korea tended to view Koreans as defensive, self-absorbed, xenophobic to varying degrees, and only capable of viewing the outside world through a distinctively “Korean” lens.

Given these circumstances, the early twenty-first century story of South Korea’s embrace of globalization on the foundations of its democratization and modernization is striking. The idea that South Korea should offer something to the world in return for the sacrifices made to defend South Korea from communist domination has had real pay-offs as South Korea’s reach and capacities has taken hold in South Korea. [READ MORE]