GIGA Focus International Edition English

South Korea as a Global Actor: International Contributions to Development and Security

Number 2 | 2012 | ISSN: 1862-3581

  • South Korea recently hosted two major international events: the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in December 2011 and the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012. Both meetings underscore South Korea’s ambitions to increase its involvement in global development assistance and security.


    The Korean president Lee Myung-bak is pursuing a policy of international contributions with his “Global Korea” national security strategy. Foreign deployments of the South Korean military and an increase in development assistance are expressions of this policy. However, not only humanitarian reasons, but also the desire for global visibility, recognition and influence play a role in this context.

    • South Korea joined the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee at the end of 2009; ten years previously this committee had still classified the country as a recipient state.

    • When deploying its military to foreign countries, South Korea’s priorities are non-military assignments such as civil reconstruction, political consulting or medical support.

    • The activities in the field of development assistance and security constitute core elements in the expansion of the country’s role in international relations.

    • Considering South Korea’s economic and political development since the state’s inception in 1945, its further ascent in global politics cannot be ruled out.


      How to cite this article

      Olbrich, Philipp, and David Shim (2012), South Korea as a Global Actor: International Contributions to Development and Security, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 2, Hamburg: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA),


      The GIGA Focus is an Open Access publication and can be read on the Internet and downloaded free of charge at According to the conditions of the Creative-Commons license Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0, this publication may be freely duplicated, circulated, and made accessible to the public. The particular conditions include the correct indication of the initial publication as GIGA Focus and no changes in or abbreviation of texts.

      The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

      Philipp Olbrich

      Philipp Olbrich

      David Shim

      David Shim

      Former Doctoral Researcher

      GIGA Working Papers | 08/2009

      A Shrimp amongst Whales? Assessing South Korea’s Regional-power Status

      David Shim

      Former Doctoral Researcher

      GIGA Focus Asia | 10/2009

      Green Growth, Green Economy und Green New Deal. Die „Vergrünung“ nationaler Politik in Südkorea

      David Shim

      Former Doctoral Researcher


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