This paper was originally published as World Economy Brief by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP).
South Korea's enormous foreign policy challenges are not in dispute. It is less conventional to see these challenges as drivers for diplomatic innovation.
The country's diplomacy abroad is constrained by peninsular concerns and, recovering from the national political trauma in 2016-17. Also, instructed by the presidential Blue House, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is focusing more on consultation with the domestic public than ever before. Considering the recent development in the country's diplomacy, little more than a year into the Moon Jae-in administration is a good time to take stock of how the South Korean government is dealing with key aspects of diplomatic modernization. In this regard, the aim of this paper is twofold: One is to examine the current state of South Korean diplomacy and its main issues while the other is to look into how the domestic challenges for the country's diplomacy paradoxically offer an unusual window for diplomatic innovation.
In this policy brief, Jan Melissen and Hwa-Jung Kim discuss where "K-diplomacy" is going. The South Korean experience can inform the diplomacy of other middle-size countries faced with developments testing their status in world affairs.