Ep. 1 – Robert Kelly on Northeast Asian Security, International Relations, and the Koreas

Recorded one week before his now-infamous interview on the BBC, Robert Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan National University. Dr. Kelly’s research interests include international relations theory in East Asia, U.S. foreign policy in Asia and the Middle East, Korean Foreign Policy, and international financial institutions. Dr. Kelly has written for Newsweek in Korea and Japan, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, and The Diplomat, and he contributes to the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the Economist Intelligence Unit – Asia Group. He is also an avid blogger who runs the Asian Security Blog.


Show Notes

1:37     on thinking of Korea as a career opportunity

2:43     the demand in academia for scholars in Northeast Asia

4:00     on staying in South Korea for so long

5:00     on being an academic in South Korea

7:30     differences between Seoul and Busan

9:00     the implications of an over-centralized South Korea

10:40   how to make Busan more competitive

13:16   what’s it like working at a Korean university

13:48   politicized, factionalized Political Science departments

15:45   what American universities can learn from Korean universities

17:11   two directions for Korean universities to internationalize

19:30   how international relations have changed in Northeast Asia (North Korea)

21:23   what everyone is waiting for in North Korea

22:15   is North Korea really in a period of marketization?

24:20   what the doves need to show about North Korea

25:45   Kaesong Industrial Complex

27:25   US vs Korean academics

29:54   Political Science in South Korea not related to North Korea

30:15   effects of modernization in South Korea

31:40   South Korea’s government system

33:57   South Korea’s views on Japan

36:18   on nationalism in Asia

40:55   why be a professor?

43:22   going to graduate school for Political Science (too much math?)

46:50   the problem with academia in South Korea

47:25   why not to read think-tank papers

48:35   why was the field of International Relations created?

49:10   what are South Korean university students like

49:30   complaints of the Korean education system (hagwon)

53:32   best thing about living in South Korea

55:20   best books / authors on Korea

People, Places, Things Mentioned in the Interview

Agreed Framework

Bruce Cumings


Busan Philharmonic Orchestra

Center for Strategic & International Studies

Comfort women

Dave Kang

Decentralization in South Korea

Dokdo Island

Fourth Estate

Haeundae Beach

Japan’s defense budget

John Bolton

Kaesong Industrial Complex

Korean Bullet Trains

Korean Journal of Defense Analysis (KJDA)

Lowy Institute for International Policy

Marine Le Pen

Market Liberalization in North Korea

Miami University (Ohio)

National University of Singapore

North Korea’s illicit activities


Pusan National University

Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra

SKY universities

Sunshine Policy

THAAD dispute

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

The End of History and the Last Man

The National Interest

The Ohio State University

The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History

Universities in Hong Kong