• Bianca-Renée Hellberg-Stender
4. semester, Udviklingsstudier, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
Following the emergence of the Coronavirus Disease 19, commonly known as COVID-19, in December 2019, the world has been changed as a global pandemic affects the lives of millions. While COVID-19 is not the first threat to global public health in the 21st century, it is the largest one when compared to SARS and MERS. Due to the recency of the outbreak as well as the unprecedented scope, no government had emerged as a global leader in the realm of pandemic, epidemic, or endemic responses, and governments searched for the most suitable and effective response measures to contain the spread.
This thesis examines how the South Korean government uses the COVID-19 pandemic in its foreign policies to improve its position in the international system. It pays special attention to the way in which South Korea communicates its COVID-19 response in three documents published by the government and considers the emphasised values and mitigation efforts. Moreover, it asks whether Seoul is making a conscious effort to distance itself from Beijing or whether it is attempting to gain recognition on its own.
Conducting an in-depth desk review of three government publications and employing the theories of social constructivism and soft power after defining the key concepts of public diplomacy, nation branding, and niche diplomacy, this research finds that policymakers in Seoul combine traditional diplomacy in the form of bilateral and multilateral engagement with public diplomacy and nation branding activities in an attempt to gain soft power by highlighting values such as openness, transparency, civic engagement, innovativeness, and democracy. It argues that Korea’s middle power identity determines its behaviour in the international system, thus leading to its focus on multilateral cooperation and niche diplomacy.
It is interesting to note that the South Korean government does not participate in what has been referred to as the “blame game” between the United States and China. While officials in Seoul never clearly compare the Korean and Chinese responses, the emphasis on democratic principles suggests that the use of COVID-19 in Korean foreign policy might indeed be regarded as an attempt to step out of China’s shadow and into the spotlight.
While this thesis acknowledges that it is difficult to measure soft power and, thus, the success of public diplomacy and nation branding, it comes to the conclusion that South Korea increased its soft power in the short term. Whether this will translate into long-term influence must be investigated in future research.
SpecialiseringsretningChinese Area Studies
Udgivelsesdatomaj 2021
Antal sider62
ID: 413008521