Volume 3


Volume 3 Issue 2 (Spring 2019)

Download individual articles by clicking their respective titles. 


1. “Isolationism, Internationalism, and the USA’s “America First” Policy in Historical Perspective


Author: Christopher McKnight Nichols

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (2), Pages 1 – 22

Document Type: Q & A Interview

Subjects: American History, US Foreign Policy

Keywords: America First, Donald Trump, Populism, Protectionism, Isolationism, Internationalism, National Identity, Randolph Bourne, Liberal World Order


2. “An Inquiry into the Competitiveness of the Trump Administration’s Protectionist Trade Policies: Towards Inbound Investment Policies”


Author: Do Kyung Kim

Affiliation: Seoul National University

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (2), Pages 23 – 45

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: International Economics & Finance, US Foreign Policy

Keywords: Trade Policy, Trade Protectionism, Competitiveness, Trump, Agility, Benchmarking, Convergence, Dedication, ABCD Model

Abstract“The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyze the competitiveness of the Trump administration’s protectionist trade policies. The competitiveness of these policies cannot be fully understood by only focusing on the trade aspect, as it overlooks the crucial nexus between trade and investment, that is, how trade policies affect investment and how investment policies affect trade. Therefore, the paper adopts a framework referred to as the “ABCD model,” which comprehensively combines how the factors of Agility (speed and precision), Benchmarking (learning and best practices), Convergence (mixing and synergy-creation), and Dedication (diligence and goal-orientation) synergistically contribute to the competitiveness of the Trump administration’s trade policy. In doing so, understanding the fundamental motives of President Trump – re-election through job creation – has been deemed essential to gain insight into the rationale behind his more protectionist inclinations. Consequently, the paper reveals that the trade policy of protectionism is not an end, but rather a means (together with favorable corporate tax rates), to foster a domestic environment conducive to attracting inward investment and job growth.”


3. “Re-Examining the Viability of the ROK-U.S. Alliance: Can the Alliance Survive the ‘Illiberal Hegemony’ of the Trump Era?”


Author: Sera Yun

Affiliation: Korea University

Publication Year: 2019

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (2), Pages 46 – 70

Document Type: Academic Essay

Subjects: International Security, International Relations

Keywords: Illiberal hegemony, ROK-U.S. Alliance, United States, South Korea, strategic positioning, Trump, Moon, security, Northeast Asia

Abstract: “The portfolio of foreign policies under the Trump administration has been characterized by a marked departure from liberal to “illiberal” hegemony as well as severance from the traditional pillars of liberal internationalism, testified by the President’s commitment to an ‘America First’ principle. Against this backdrop, this paper investigates the extent of influence that such illiberality has generated on the two nations’ foreign policies and evaluates the degree of threat that such policy divergences pose on the survivability of the decades-long ROK-U.S. alliance. The paper uses cross-comparisons, statistical inferences, geopolitical considerations, and realist assumptions to argue that: despite the perceivable divergences within the ROK-U.S. alliance, its current strategic importance and foreseeable benefits outweigh the illiberal nature of the U.S. hegemony. In the context of an increasingly illiberal world order, this paper posits that strategic alliances cannot and should not rely on the ‘liberal benevolence’ of the other party. Instead, to maintain and strengthen the resiliency and strategic nature of the alliance, parties should continually investigate the sources of their differences and seek for more comprehensive cooperation to bridge gaps. Given the relatively unexplored concept of illiberal hegemony under President Trump and its impact on America’s traditional allies in Northeast Asia, such as South Korea, this paper contributes to current literature by providing a better understanding of the nature, dynamics, and future prospects of alliances in the region.”


4. “A Comparative Analysis of South Korean vs. Indian ODA Strategy in Africa: The Case of South Korean Engagement in Ghana and Rwanda”


Author: Victor Owusu

Affiliation: Seoul National University

Publication Year: 2019

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (2), Pages 71 – 98

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: International Development, International Relations

Keywords: Africa, South Korea, India, Ghana, Rwanda, Official Development Assistance, International Trade, ODA, Investment

Abstract: “Despite South Korean aid to Africa increasing, studies on Asian middle powers’ influence on the continent has primarily focused on China and Japan. South Korea’s ODA to various African states has increased substantially since the late 2000s; however, it continues to receive little public or academic attention. This study explores the motivations behind South Korea’s increasing engagement in Africa with a focus on Ghana and Rwanda as case studies. Furthermore, the research provides a comparative analysis of South Korea’s engagement with Africa to that of India, another rising Asian middle power and a significant donor in Africa. This study uses secondary data sources to critically analyze and evaluate academic literature, reports, books and online newspaper publications to provide insights into the nature of South Korea’s development assistance programs in Africa. The study suggests that South Korea’s ODA allocation to Ghana, Rwanda and other African countries is influenced by the needs of the recipient countries as well as South Korea’s need to secure national security interests and attain greater global status. While South Korea and India’s development assistance programs in Africa are dominated by commercial and natural resource diplomacy, both countries are competing against one another and other Asian powers, like Japan and China, for access to Africa’s raw materials and to secure new markets for companies at home.


5. “Populism as a Threat to Democracy: Drawing Parallels of Populist Elements Between the Presidential Campaigns of Donald Trump (United States, 2016) and Prabowo Subianto (Indonesia, 2014 and 2019)”


Author: Annisa Pratamasari and Fitra Shaumi Az-Zahra

Affiliation: Airlangga University

Publication Year: 2019

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (2), Pages 99 – 127

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: Political Science

Keywords: Populism, Donald Trump, Presidential Election, Presidential Campaign, Prabowo Subianto, United States, Indonesia

Abstract: “In the past few years, populism has been a topic frequently debated in the field of political science. The phenomenon is often cited as an indication of declining democracy in various regions of the world. Frequently cited cases of populism include Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 United States presidential election and the United Kingdom’s dramatic vote to leave the European Union (Brexit). There have also been studies of populism in non-Western countries. Whilst such literature has revealed that each region may feature different forms of populism, this paper argues that there are also cross-regional similarities, particularly in terms of the strategies employed by populist candidates during presidential elections, albeit with different outcomes. This study therefore, aims to draw parallels between the populist elements in the campaigns conducted by two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Prabowo Subianto, in their respective countries. In doing so, the authors attempt to analyze the domestic political settings in post-partum democracies and voter mobilization strategies in the two countries. The paper concludes by postulating the reasons why the two candidates scored different results in their respective election campaigns.”


6. “Trilateral Development Cooperation in North Korea: The Beginning of Regional Development Cooperation in Northeast Asia”


Author: Minhyuk Hong, Heewon Koo, and Jiwon Kim

Affiliation: Kyunghee University, Seoul National University

Publication Year: 2019

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (2), Pages 128 – 148

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: International Development, International Relations

Keywords: North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Trilateral Development Cooperation, Regional Development Cooperation, Northeast Asia, Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS)

Abstract: “This paper seeks to elaborate upon the status and prospects of multilateral development cooperation in Northeast Asia through a comparative review of literature on the development cooperation of South Korea, China, and Japan. This paper categorizes the multilateral development cooperation systems of other regions such as the EU, AU, and ASEAN, in order to provide a model the three countries can follow. The paper also identifies barriers to cooperation in order to explain the current absence of cooperation among the three countries. Finally, the paper interviews the Secretary General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) in order to propose a potential solution. The paper concludes that the potential for cooperation exists, with the ASEAN ‘influx’ system being the most appropriate. Although discrepancies in ideology, practices, and public perception may hinder cooperation, the paper argues that such differences are not exclusive to Northeast Asia and exist more severely in other regions. Subsequently, the competition over soft power is identified as the reason for inaction and a work package based on the TCS’s internal system, as well as recent changes in North Korea’s geo-political stance, is proposed as a solution. The paper provides unique findings that build upon the current atmosphere of cooperation in Northeast Asia, while incorporating lessons from the cooperation systems of other regions. Moreover, it goes a step further by identifying the limitations exclusive to Northeast Asia and providing novel solutions.”


Volume 3 Issue 1 (Fall 2018)

Download individual articles by clicking their respective titles. 

* Note: Manuscripts annotated by an asterisk indicate a thematic article relating to this issue’s soft focus of Changing Dynamics in East Asia.


1. “PyeongChang 2018: Designing a Cold War Olympics in a Post-Ideological Age”*


Author: Stephen J. Beckett

Affiliation: Hongik University

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 1 – 4

Document Type: Short Commentary Piece

Subjects: Political Science, Design

Keywords: PyeongChang, 2018 Winter Olympics, Korea, Munich, Germany, 1972 Summer Olympics, Otl Aicher, Cold War, Design

Abstract“The design of Olympic identity programs is informed by the ideological function of the Games. The idealism of early globalization is reflected in the graphic modernism that reached a high point with Otl Aicher’s identity program for the 1972 Munich Olympics. More recent programs, however, have exchanged modernist idealism for local differentiation. The one exception to this trend is the design program for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which, I argue, represents a momentary return to the idealism of an earlier age”


2. “Palen, Marc-William, The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalization, 1846 – 1896”


Author: Seokju Oh

Affiliation: Seoul National University

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 5 – 10

Document Type: Book Review

Subjects: U.S. Trade Relations, International Economics

Keywords: Marc-William Palen, Cobdenite Cosmopolitanism, Listian Nationalism, Imperialism of Economic Nationalism, Gilded Age.

Abstract: “In The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade, Marc-William Palen traces the ideological debate over the proper course of economic policy, taken place between the Cobdenite cosmopolitans and the Listian nationalists during the Gilded Age. With professional students of social sciences rather than historians in mind as potential audience, this book review introduces TCFT in detail and examines the author’s central concept, “imperialism of economic nationalism.” According to the author, the U.S. experience of economic globalization during the latter half of the nineteenth century reveals that protectionism can be associated with imperialism as easily as it can combine with autarky. The book review also examines the book’s methodology, and illuminates future research agenda for imperial and intellectual historians alike.”


3. “Economic Interdependence and Peace in East Asia: The Role of Regional Organizations”


Author: Dongkeun Lee

Affiliation: Yonsei University

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 11 – 29

Document Type: Academic Essay

Subjects: International Political Economy, East Asian Regionalism

Keywords: Regional Peace, Economic Interdependence, East Asia, Liberalism, ASEAN, ASEAN+3, EAS

Abstract:This research investigates and describes economic interdependence and regional peace in East Asia in the period 1967 to 2016 based on a liberal framework. This study seeks to examine how economic interdependence decreases the severity of military conflict among ASEAN, ASEAN+3, and EAS member-states. Quantitative analysis with regression modeling was used as the primary research methodology, and the result suggests that increased economic interdependence is a key driving factor of peace among the member-states of ASEAN, ASEAN+3, and EAS. Nonetheless, an increased level of democracy does not affect the severity of military dispute in East Asia, nor is the intra-regional trade among ASEAN countries large enough to contribute to the peace among its member states. This paper presents the idea that trade disputes in East Asia would increase the security tension among East Asian countries, as the results suggests economic interdependence is a key driving factor of regional peace among ASEAN, ASEAN+3, and EAS member-states. Since little research on peace in East Asian has been conducted through quantitative methodology, this paper would be able to uniquely contribute to the richness of the discipline of security studies.


4. “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy: Accurate Diagnosis, Imperfect Prescription”


Author: Taehwa Hong

Affiliation: Stanford University

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 31 – 51

Document Type: Policy Paper

Subjects: U.S. Foreign Policy, Indo-Pacific Studies

Abstract:In his landmark book The End of History and the Last Man, political philosopher Francis Fukuyama contended that the end of the Cold War marked the end of this ideological battle in mankind’s history. Liberal democracy had prevailed as the final ideological stage of human evolution, and although there would be sporadic, regional tyranny and authoritarianism, the global trend would overwhelmingly head towards Western-style democracy. However, the 21st century witnessed a seemingly unsustainable governance model in China, where the economy is largely liberalized but political power remains in the hands of the Communist Party. Two decades after exponential economic growth, Beijing has risen as a powerhouse that contends American hegemony both geopolitically and ideologically. Systemic failures of popular democracy, from the chaotic Arab Spring in the Middle East to the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. Presidential election, buttress the Chinese challenge to the Post-World War II liberal order. So far, the American response to China’s rise has been limited by aspirations for cooperation. With China’s growing influence on virtually every continent, the Trump Administration’s Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy provides a strong framework to curb China’s ambition. However, the strategy needs to maintain room for areas of cooperation. It would be in Washington’s interest to bolster key alliances and partnerships on trade, maritime dispute, and preservation of the liberal order. The dynamic between Washington and Beijing is arguably the most important bilateral relationship of the century, and the FOIP strategy will greatly shape their great power relations for years to come.


5. “Passing the Buck to the Local Level: How Authoritarian China Survives”*


Author: Jihyeon Bae

Affiliation: Kyunghee International College

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 53 – 71

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: Political Science, Chinese Politics

Keywords: China, CPC, Authoritarianism, Central Government, Central-local Relations, Wukan Incident, State-Society Relations

Abstract:China’s single party state has received a high level of popular support despite the many protests against its local governments and its authoritarian-style governance. There exist many scholarly debates on how the CPC maintains its resilience. Some suggest a high level of state oppression, while others emphasize Chinese society’s lack of mobilization potential. The purpose of this research is to help explain the CPC’s resilience in the face of protest, particularly focusing on state behavior. To this end, the following paper examines the case of the Wukan conflict by disaggregating the incident into a series of events and employs comparative data analysis to support its hypothesis. The study demonstrates that the central government portrays itself like a ‘good cop’ by shifting criticism to local governments, which it frames as a ‘bad cop.’ Analysis shows that this ‘good cop bad cop’ relationship is maintained in an institutionalized manner, through clear demarcation between central and local governments, as well as salient role differentiation. These findings are applicable to various fields of study. For example, it provides useful implications for understanding the future of China’s authoritarian regime by suggesting that the maintenance of the central-local ‘good cop bad cop’ relationship is a fundamental behavioral institution the CPC relies on, both to manipulate its image in a positive way as well as avoiding negative attention. Consequently, the paper presents this central-local structure as an explanatory variable for the CPC’s authoritarian regime resilience.”


6. “Foreign Policy Analysis of Japan’s Militarization of the East China Sea under the Abe Administration 2014-2015″*


Author: Shugo Okaeda

Affiliation: Korea University

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 73 – 95

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: Japanese Politics, Japanese Foreign Policy

Keywords: Japanese Militarization, East China Sea, Abe Administration, Japanese Security Policy, Japanese Foreign Policy, Japan-China Relations, Assertive China

Abstract: “In the face of the volatility in the East China Sea, marked with the rise of assertive China, Japan’s decision to militarize the region in 2014 and 2015 under the Abe administration represented a significant shift in its foreign policy orientation. This paper will analyze Japan’s militarization of the East China Sea, with particular focus on its consequences and implications. The paper is conducted as a qualitative phenomenological study, which draws upon existing relevant literature and a wide range of primary sources such as statements and speeches of Japanese key political figures as well as officials of other countries concerned. As opposed to the objective illustration of particular events, the primary sources illustrate the growing first-hand threat perceptions among the Japanese policy-makers who found themselves trapped in the destabilizing regional environment, which compelled them to embrace the hardline approach. This paper demonstrates that Japan’s militarization not only failed to achieve the Abe administrations desired outcomes, but also culminated in worsening Japan’s diplomatic ties with its neighboring states and generating a regional security dilemma. This examination is useful for understanding how Japan’s militarization contributed to forming the current volatile security situation in East Asia, especially in its relation with China. Additionally, Japan’s militarization is representative of its changing foreign policy orientation toward China, which is becoming more confrontational and uncompromising. The originality of this work lies in the use of unfiltered perspectives and voices in Japanese political sphere, documented in primary sources.


7. “The Impact of Media on U.S. Policy in Korea from 1945-1950: The Portrayal of Syngman Rhee”


Author: Casey Robinson

Affiliation: Waseda University

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 97 – 118

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: U.S. Foreign Policy, Media Analysis

Keywords: Syngman Rhee, Korean War, Government Documents, Media, U.S. foreign policy, Korea, Newspapers, Editorials, Public Opinion, Congress

Abstract:At the end of the Second World War, there was little American interest in Korea. Most Americans wished for their soldiers to return home and focus on domestic issues. However, by the time the Korean War erupted, public support for a U.S. presence in Korea increased remarkably. There are many factors that contributed to this increase in public support, and the role of the U.S. media is a major one. By downplaying the negativity surrounding U.S. operations in Korea, U.S. media helped to maintain public support for a U.S. presence in Korea. With few concerns about U.S. operations in Korea and a new enthusiasm to confront the communist threat, Americans had little reason to protest U.S. operations in Korea. This article is the first in a series that analyzes the impact of U.S. media on U.S. Policy in Korea. This first article analyzes the case of Syngman Rhee, the first president of the Republic of Korea. The data accumulated shows that there were considerable discrepancies between U.S. newspapers and government documents concerning the characteristics and activities of Rhee. Furthermore, information from government documents suggest that the downplaying of negativity surrounding the Korean situation in U.S. media may have directly benefited U.S. policy on the peninsula.


8. “Intangible Cultural Heritage: Is it a Platform for Cooperation or Competition Between Cultural Diplomacies? The case of South Korea-Japan-China Relations within UNESCO’s ICH Framework”*


Author: Eriks Varpahovskis

Affiliation: Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Publication Year: 2018

Source: Seoul National University Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 3 (1), Pages 119 – 144

Document Type: Research Paper

Subjects: Soft Power, International Relations

Abstract:Scholars from international relations, communication and other related fields discuss the importance and place of Cultural Diplomacy (CD) as a foreign affairs tool. CD is a domain that has been explored by few scholars so far is is on the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) list, by the and was initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where CD is applied and practiced. This paper explores the case of relations among China, Japan, and South Korea as state parties of the Convention on ICH initialized by UNESCO in 2003. The given case study examines CD of the three countries as ICH state parties in terms of the three main areas of their activities: the nomination and inscription of the intangible heritage; the development of ICH in the region and worldwide through providing facilities; and financial assistance to the ICH Fund. The analysis demonstrates that all three selected countries demonstrate collaborative and competitive CD. At the multilateral level, the selected countries conduct cooperative diplomacy while at the bilateral level, countries tend to apply competitive diplomacy. I conclude that the existing ICH legal and procedural framework, as well as the misperception of the values and aims of ICH by the state parties’ governing bodies encourage countries to cooperate and compete. The study is useful as a demonstration of how an international structure like UNESCO’s ICH that pursues good governance and universal values can turn into a battlefield for political competition among the most active member states. The author suggests changes in the legal framework of ICH to encourage non-state actors’ participation and cooperation among the selected countries.”

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