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South Korea's Public Diplomacy during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Seeking Status as an Authority in Global Governance
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South
Published January 25, 2022
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The COVID-19 pandemic caught almost all countries unprepared. Some countries, including South Korea (hereafter Korea), managed to deal with the pandemic relatively more successfully than others and had a proactive global posture from early on, including providing aid, and public diplomacy campaigns. In this paper, I explore Korea’s COVID-19-related public diplomacy activities and its aims. I analyze Korea’s COVID-19 humanitarian aid trends, its policy documents, and the tweets related to the pandemic posted by the country’s official public diplomacy account. I find that the pandemic catalyzed what Korea had already been aiming to do, which is improve its global status to be among top authorities across various issue-areas. Due to the nature of the pandemic, Korea’s public diplomacy has been themed around international cooperation and solidarity. I suggest that Korea should hold onto its international cooperation emphasis on public diplomacy, to form the basis for its status-seeking as an authority in global governance in the post-pandemic era.

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