Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds There is a tendency for scholars, commentators, and politicians to label South Korea as a ‘middle power’ because of its physical, economic, and military capacity. Furthermore, analysts often point out that South Korea should play the roles on ‘middle power’. If so, the first question that arises is what is ‘middle power’?
Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds As will be discussed in more detail through an article at each step, ‘middle power’ is a somewhat tricky concept in the sense that there are different approaches to defining ‘middle power’: one based on state foreign policy behaviour and the other based on measurements of capacity of a state. The behavioural approach emphasizes the tendency of middle powers’ behaviour, such as to pursue multilateral solutions to international problems, and to make compromise in international disputes, and to demonstrate good international citizenship. On the other hand, middle-power is also often understood in terms of measurements of capacity. And this approach defines middle powers as states positioned in the ‘middle’ of an international hierarchy based on comparative measurements of physical, economic, and military capacity.
Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds We will think about this definition issue with the case of South Korea in more detail later. In a related vein, we will also discuss who plays the roles on middle power in global politics. More importantly, we will try to understand “Can weak or middle powers influence great in major powers? If so, how?” And these questions that I just raised are crucial, especially from the perspective of this course, entitled ‘Korea in a Global Context.’ As compared with the existing studies on great powers, there is a shortage of scholarly literature on weak or middle power. Nevertheless, I believe the literatures listed below will be able to aid you in understating South Korea’s foreign policy and middle power diplomacy.
What is a 'middle power'?
A brief introduction
There is a tendency for scholars, commentators, and politicians to label South Korea as a ‘middle power’. Furthermore, analysts often point out that South Korea should play the roles of a ‘middle power’.
If so, what is a ‘middle power’? Let’s watch this introductory video.
© Yong-Soo Eun, Hanyang University