El ascendente poder blando de Corea del Sur

CAMBRIDGE – En la reunión de la Asociación de Naciones del Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN) celebrada en Tailandia el mes pasado, la presencia de Corea del Sur fue importante. Corea del Sur ha dejado silenciosamente de estar definida por su problemático vecino, Corea del Norte, y se está convirtiendo en una importante potencia intermedia en los asuntos mundiales. Un surcoreano es Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas; Seúl será anfitrión el año próximo de la Cumbre del G-20; y el país acaba de celebrar un acuerdo de libre comercio con la Unión Europea.

Esto no siempre ha sido así. Si la geografía es destino, a Corea del Sur le tocó mala mano. Encajada en un área en la que tres gigantes –China, Japón y Rusia- se enfrentan entre sí, Corea del Sur ha tenido una historia difícil en el desarrollo de un poder militar lo suficientemente “duro” para defenderse por sí misma. En efecto, a principios del siglo XX, tales esfuerzos fracasaron y Corea se convirtió en una colonia de Japón.

Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la Península se dividió según las líneas de la bipolaridad de la Guerra Fría, y fue necesaria la intervención estadounidense y de las Naciones Unidas para prevenir la subyugación de Corea del Sur en la Guerra de Corea. Más recientemente, a pesar de sus impresionantes recursos de poder duro, Corea del Sur se ha dado cuenta de que la alianza con una potencia distante como los Estados Unidos sigue siendo una útil póliza de seguro de vida en el contexto de un vecindario difícil.  

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