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A Shrimp amongst Whales? : Assessing South Korea’s regional-power status

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  • A Shrimp amongst Whales?
  • Shim, David
  • German Institute of Global and Area Studies


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Title A Shrimp amongst Whales?
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Assessing South Korea’s regional-power status

Material Type Reports
Author(English)

Shim, David

Publisher

Hamburg:German Institute of Global and Area Studies

Date 2009-08
Series Title; No GIGA Working Papers / 107
Pages 26
Subject Country South Korea(Asia and Pacific)
Language English
File Type Link
Subject Government and Law < International Politics
Holding German Institute of Global and Area Studies

Abstract

Recent developments in South Korea’s foreign and security policies as well as major struc-tural adjustments in the military alliance between the United States and South Korea indi-cate a new self-understanding on the part of South Korea in terms of playing a more asser-tive role in regional and even global affairs. Alongside its involvement in the so-called Six-Party Talks—a multinational framework to disarm a nuclear North Korea—South Korea’s civil-military engagement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon demonstrates that the gov-ernment’s foreign policy posture is not only focused on Northeast Asian affairs but is also intended to engage in other international security hot spots. However, although it has con-siderable material resources and capabilities—in neorealist terms constituting the power base of a state actor—South Korea is widely seen as a minor player in world politics. By means of a specific set of indicators—pretension, endowment, influence, recognition—this paper seeks to answer the question of whther South Korea is a regional power. The meth-odological approach used to evaluate its position will be based on analytical frameworks and typologies compiled from the literature on regional powers. Following the introduc-tion of this approach, different concepts of the term regional power and the selection of the methodological instruments are presented. The subsequent section analyzes the selected set of indicators with regard to South Korea’s potential status as a regional power. The concluding chapter evaluates the findings and raises further questions related to the re-gional-power concept.

User Note

GIGA Research Programme: Power, Norms and Governance in International Relations