South Korea and Vietnam established diplomatic relations only twenty years ago. Today these former adversaries enjoy unexpectedly cordial and rapidly expanding bilateral ties. Leaders of the two nations—perceiving broadly shared interests and no fundamental conflicts—seek to leverage their subregional influence on behalf of common or complementary policy goals. Today they often profess a “middle power” identity as they explain their foreign policy in terms of such classical middle power goals as regional peace, integration, and common goods.
Broadly similar in many respects, South Korea and Vietnam are nonetheless sufficiently different that a comparison can yield interesting insights—yet there is a dearth of systematic comparative work on the two. While holding a range of views on the contentious concepts of middle power and national identity, the contributors to Asia’s Middle Powers? help readers, both academic and policy practitioners, to gain an enhanced appreciation of South Korea and Vietnam’s regional behavior and international strategies.