Search All Site Content

Total Index: 6079 publications.

Subscribe to our Mailing List!

Sign up for our mailing list to keep up to date on all the latest developments.

KEI Spotlight

[Op-ed] Korea Needs a Big Idea

July 19, 2023

This article was published on The Korea Times on July 19, 2023.

Dating back to last year’s presidential election, the Yoon Suk Yeol administration has sought to transform Korea’s foreign policy to give it global reach and to advance Korea as a “global pivotal state.”

In his article in Foreign Affairs, then candidate Yoon Suk Yeol in describing shifts in global foreign policy said that “South Korea should no longer be confined to the Korean Peninsula but rise to the challenge of being what I have described as a ‘global pivotal state,’ one that advances freedom, peace, and prosperity through liberal democratic values and substantial cooperation.”

In taking part in the last two NATO summits and the recent G7 summit in Japan, the Yoon administration has taken initial steps towards raising Korea’s global profile. Moving forward, how Korea chooses to contribute to global challenges and the development of global norms ― such as the values President Yoon has articulated ― will shape how successful Korea is in becoming a force in the international community.

Additional elements of a pivotal state can be seen in the previous experience of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s “Global Korea” policy. During that period, Korea began to carve out a larger role on the international stage by hosting the G20 during the global financial crisis and the second Nuclear Security Summit advanced by the Barack Obama administration. The Lee administration also worked to site the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund in Incheon and established the Global Green Growth Institute.

However, broader global outreach was scaled back under both the conservative Park Geun-hye administration and the liberal Moon Jae-in administration. Had they maintained the level of international engagement, especially on climate change, Korea may have developed a pivotal role in helping the world to manage the climate crisis. While the Moon administration would eventually embrace dealing with climate change, momentum on Korea carving out a leading role on this issue had been lost.

To read the full article on The Korea Times, please click here.