Public Diplomacy: Reappraising the South Korean Case through an Evolutionary Approach
(Vol.57. No.3 autumn, 2017 pp.83~111)
[Download PDF]
Despite a rising academic interest in South Korea’s public diplomacy, little is known
about its origins and evolution. Most existing studies have focused on the modern period
of South Korea’s public diplomacy, in particular the government’s new foreign policy
agenda since the late 2000s. Contrary to popular belief, this article argues that the
recent infiltration of public diplomacy into South Korea’s foreign policy represents de
jure intensification of activities that de facto have been practiced from the second half
of the 20th century. The present research divides the evolution of South Korea’s public
diplomacy into four periods: origins, diversification, polycentrism, and institutionalization.
Each period has its own specific patterns, ends, and means. For instance, whereas
the origins period arose with cultural and sports diplomacies, diversification included
specific areas of engagement with foreign publics through official development assistance,
knowledge, and exchange diplomacies. In turn, polycentrism has structurally
transformed public diplomacy from a solely state-led activity into a polycentric framework
of public and private partnership. Lastly, the institutionalization period represents
the government’s recent efforts to establish a universal coordinative authority above its
public diplomacy, which represents a fragmented set of activities conducted by various
governmental institutions.
Keywords: public diplomacy, soft power, origins, diversification, polycentrism, institutionalization
Types: Articles
Subject: Korean Studies , Political science
About the author(s)
Muzaffar S. ABDUAZIMOV was Lecturer at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and currently works in public sector. E-mail: