Author: Kyu-Deug Hwang.
* The first version of this paper was presented at the Fifth European Conference on African Studies (ecas 5), which was held on June 27-29, 2013 at iscte-iul Lisboa, Portugal. I am deeply grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on the previous drafts. This work was supported by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund of 2014.The rise of China as an emergent global power in gaining access to energy and mineral resources is one of the main factors for reinforcing Korea’s aid to Africa. Although Korea recognizes the limits of searching for ways of furthering its ‘resource diplomacy’ based primarily on economic pragmatism, the Korean government has strived to utilize foreign aid as a tool for soft power. Korea’s perspective is to play a bigger role in addressing global issues as well as to aspire in becoming a middle power, in the sense that it is not regionally influential in spite of its growing powers. Given that middle power diplomacy tends to pursue a norm-based approach and also provides knowledge and/or ideas relevant to a unique niche that it finds important, it is characteristically soft power-oriented. Taking into account the non-material or ideational factors as well as material ones, constructivists in the field of international relations (ir) recognize the power of ideas, norms, institutions, and interests, which contain the core elements of what Nye calls soft power. In this context, this paper attempts to illuminate some of the important questions as to why and how Korea has endeavored to focus on developing its soft power strategy toward Africa in the new millennium.