South Korea and Liberal Internationalism: The Middle Power Theory Reexamined

August 15, 2012 • 7:00 – 8:30 pm EDT

Jongryn Mo
Executive Director, Hills Governance Center at Yonsei University
Professor of International Political Economy, Yonsei University
Senior Research Fellow, ASAN Institute for Policy Studies


Scott Snyder
Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy
Council on Foreign Relations

South Korea is a middle power operating on the global stage. As middle power theory predicts, South Korea has actively contributed to global governance since 2008. But existing middle power theories are not adequate for explaining the timing of South Korea's global leadership, especially its liberal internationalism. Understanding South Korea’s rise as a middle power and its leadership role requires an analysis at three levels: individual, domestic political, and system levels.

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