South Korea and the G20, by Nick Borst

South Korea has traveled a tumultuous economic path over the past decade, facing economic collapse during the Asian Financial Crisis and then an unexpectedly quick recovery as that crisis passed. The arrival of the current global economic crisis and the skill with which the South Korean economy weathered turbulent economic conditions has led to a resurgence of interest in South Korea’s development model and given the country newfound importance in global economic decision making. This has also coincided with the rise of the G20 as the world’s premier economic forum. As a member of the G20, South Korea has pushed for the organization to enact a variety of changes to the global economic system. These changes have focused on preventing trade protectionism, putting forward its model of growth and financial regulations as an example, and acting as an advocate for the interests of developing nations. South Korea has also lobbied aggressively for hosting rights for a G20 summit and will be hosting the organization in Seoul this November. During the meeting, South Korea is likely to push for the G20 to address a wider scope of issues, such as climate change, as well as advocating for greater institutionalization of the G20 structure. A successful hosting of a G20 summit will be a pivotal moment for South Korea. It will mark South Korea’s full transition into the community of developed economies and its role as a major contributor to crafting of global economic policy. Unfortunately, achieving these goals is easier said than done; as several difficult problems will continue to plague the organization. The G20’s lack of a permanent secretariat, widely divergent interests between member nations, and lack of enforcement mechanisms will present many problems in implementing the agreed-to agenda as well as hinder the organization from addressing other noneconomic transnational issues.

“South Korea and the G20″ is an excerpt from Part III of hte 2009 SAIS U.S.-Korea Yearbook.


Nick Borst is an M.A. candidate at SAIS concentrating in China studies with a specialization in emerging markets. He holds a B.A. in political science and international studies from the University of Arizona and certificates in Chinese and American studies from The Johns Hopkins University. Nick also studied Chinese language, foreign policy, and political economy in Beijing and Nanjing. After graduation, Nick moved to China and worked for an American educational services company that helped facilitate study abroad opportunities in the U.S. for Chinese students. Most recently, Nick worked for the Department of Treasury analyzing emerging markets in Asia.