Occasional Papers

COVID-19 and Foreign Policy in Australia and South Korea: Learning Lessons from Middle Powers in Hard Times

As befits two countries that are deemed to enjoy some of the world’s highest levels of global health security (Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2019), Australia and South Korea have experienced relatively few daily infections and cumulative deaths by world standards during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their vaccination rates are above the global average (Ritchie et al., 2021). For South Korea in particular, responding effectively to the pandemic has become part of its ‘national brand’: Across more than 8,000 news articles, news transcripts, and other texts published in the first six months of 2020, there was ‘an overwhelming representation of positive sentiments about South Korea’s COVID-19 efforts’ (Lee and Kim, 2021, 391).

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