South Korea can play a greater role in reestablishing the spirit of multilateralism in the post-COVID world.
That's according to Martin Wolf, Chief Economic Commentator of the Financial Times in an interview with Arirang.
"(23:56) So obviously everybody knows South Korea has done incredibly well in managing the pandemic and European countries, North American countries, South American countries, and certain, including the UK have done very, very badly. And that surprised me. It surprised me the divergence was so massive"
The pandemic has been regarded as a litmus test of sorts of Western powers and their values, as countries struggled to make a coherent national response.
Wolf said the virus has also highlighted the geopolitical leadership vacuum in the world, as major powers failed to show cross-border cooperation and some resorted to blaming each other for the virus.
But as countries try to emerge strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic, Wolf stressed the need for multilateral cooperation in the face of countless global challenges from public health and climate change to trade wars and dealing with an unpredictable China.
He emphasized the role of middle power countries.
"(13:05) Countries like South Korea should also play a very big role in trying to stabilize the multilateral order and think more broadly to think globally, because despite the shift back to nationalism, it's obvious that we share one world. We do have one world economy to a significant degree. We can't change that. We share the world from an environmental point of view and we have to cooperate, including of course, with China."
U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden has promised to put America back at the head of the table of global affairs. While Wolf says there's no question about the need for U.S. leadership, he says the strength of it is less certain at this point.
"(3:24) There isn't another leader, at least, for the West, for the democratic world, if that's going to survive at all, really it's not plausible we can do without American leadership or at least an enormously powerful American role. We've experienced that with Mr. Trump. So II think there'll be a lot of goodwill towards him (Biden) and there will be hope that it will work out. But it's going to be very difficult to restore the unquestioned primacy of the U.S. before the last 10 years and particularly before the last four years."
With or without U.S. leadership, Wolf said structural problems across societies and widespread disillusionment with the pre-pandemic world order won't go away in one or two years, compromising both national and global unity in moving forward.
Leadership remains a crucial role, yet with a lingering question mark in the post-pandemic world.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.