Commentary: Seoul and the role of middle powers in a fragile region
PEACE, DEVELOPMENT, SOFT POWER AND GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
Beyond the Indo-Pacific region, South Korea has sought to make a larger global footprint inside and outside the reach of the US alliance.
South Korea sent 3,600 troops to Iraq between 2004 and 2008, and a contingent of 500 troops to Afghanistan from 2010 to support reconstruction and peacekeeping efforts.
Until last month, the Korea International Cooperation Agency operated a civil servant training institution to strengthen the administrative capacity of Afghan government officials. Capitalizing on its own economic success, Seoul also highlighted its development model which has caught the attention of sub-Saharan African countries among other developing countries.
In Afghanistan, the absence of American forces resulted in the evacuation of embassy personnel from most (if not all) of the American allied nations, including South Korea. Aid and development operations have ceased due to the uncertainty and dangers of the Taliban regime.
However, Seoul’s decision to evacuate Afghan families, at the risk of great danger and potential internal reaction given the strong anti-Muslim sentiment among them, indicates that South Koreans are ready to contribute to the good. global common when needed.
Accounts highlighting South Korea’s past as a war-torn country with fleeing refugees in the 1950s suggest the country’s willingness to ‘pay it forward’, reflected in Korea’s steady growth. South of its official development assistance (ODA) budget (despite the decreases in 2020 linked to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic).
South Korea’s soft power, including the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas, also enables the country to tackle complex global issues such as sustainable development, climate change and global poverty. .