Open Forum

2010 was a pivotal year for the Republic of Korea: as host of the G20 Leaders’ Summit—the first non-G7 and non-Western country to do so—the relatively small country earned international recognition as a significant force in the global arena. If the 1988 Seoul Olympics was South Korea’s debut on the international stage, then the Seoul G20 Summit was the equivalent—its opportunity to star in a leading economic role in front of a “standing-room only” global audience, at a crucial time in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. This was an astonishing achievement for a country which exactly 100 years prior had been formally annexed by the Japanese empire, marking a century of struggle to overcome humiliating defeat, division, and internecine war. With Seoul’s subsequent role as host of the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, it emerged from these successful responsibilities as an acknowledged “middle power.”

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