Whither South Korean Niche Diplomacy in an Era of Competing Triangulation?

  • Brendan M. Howe
Keywords: South Korea, middle power, niche diplomacy, foreign policy, East Asian triangle, peacebuilding, geopolynomic


South Korea is a self-identified middle power impacted by three geopolynomic triangulations. First, the geostrategic US-China-Japan triangle, wherein the smaller power finds itself surrounded by regional and global behemoths. Second, the South Korea-North Korea-Southeast Asia geoeconomic peace and development triangle, with Seoul at the apex. Third, the South Korea-Japan-ASEAN geopolitical triangle. Preoccupation with survival in a hostile operating environment has meant the first triangle has most impacted South Korea’s foreign policymaking. The Moon Jae-in administration, with its New Northern Policy and New Southern Policy, partially shifted emphasis to the second triangle where, not only is there more bang for South Korea’s niche diplomatic buck, but also a chance to spill over into the third triangle of potential non-traditional security cooperation between Seoul and Tokyo. With the incoming conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration, these considerations demand even greater attention. This article weighs the competing triangulated demands to offer foreign policy prescription.

How to Cite
Howe, Brendan M. 2022. “Whither South Korean Niche Diplomacy in an Era of Competing Triangulation?”. Korea Europe Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Politics, Society, and Economics, no. 2 (June). Berlin, Germany. https://doi.org/10.48770/ker.2022.no2.9.
Original articles