While South Korea has become a major economic power, it is surrounded by far larger players in Asia. It may never be able to play a leading role in shaping both regional and international affairs, but is currently looking for ways to assert itself on the global stage. These aspirations are typical of what scholars define as a Middle Power – an international actor that is neither small nor large.
Our guest for this episode is Scott Snyder, who has written extensively on Korea, its middle power diplomacy and its efforts to find a voice in international politics. We talked about Korea’s role in the G20, its summit diplomacy of the past years and its efforts to cooperate with other middle powers.
Scott Snyder is senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), based in Washington D.C. He has edited and co-authored several publications, the most recent of which being The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States (Columbia University Press, 2015).
Prior to joining CFR, he was a senior associate in the international relations program of The Asia Foundation, where he founded and directed the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He was also a senior associate at Pacific Forum CSIS and a Pantech visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.
Scott Snyder received a BA from Rice University and earned his MA from the regional studies East Asia program at Harvard University. He was also a Thomas G. Watson fellow at Yonsei University in Seoul.
He currently writes for the CFR blog Asia Unbound.
[Korea’s middle power diplomacy] does represent an effort to look for ways to add value and to provide leadership and give back to the international community […] — and is appropriate for the level of distinction with which the Korean economy has performed. If you’re a top twenty economy, you should be expected to make top twenty contributions in other areas. […] I think it is admirable and appropriate that South Korea […] is looking for ways to actively make contributions to the international community.
The interview was conducted on April 27th in Seoul.