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Presented By: Nam Center for Korean Studies

Nam Center Colloquium Series | Washington’s Democracy in Asia: South Korea and the Prospects of a Global Partnership

Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, RAND Corporation

Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, Rand Corporation Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, Rand Corporation
Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, Rand Corporation
Please note: This session is planned to be held both in-person and virtually EST through Zoom. This webinar is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Once you've registered, the joining information will be sent to your email.

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Seoul and Washington recently agreed to cooperate on a “global partnership” that re-imagines the Republic of Korea – United States alliance as something well beyond a defense agreement. The United States is keen to have South Korea defend and promote democratic values in the Asian region. A second successive government in Seoul aims to increase the country’s global standing. These aspirations appear to have converged on the global partnership. An assessment of the prospective success of the current initiative can be aided by examining and attempting to explain the record to date. Why has South Korea not yet played a greater leadership role among democracies in Asia? The country has the credibility, the democratic record, and the regional ties to do so. While discussion of the country’s regional and international roles has tended to frame South Korea as a middle power state, an alternative line of inquiry begins with semantic ambivalence and the subjective context of South Korea’s external engagement. In particular, conflicting meanings of democracy, historically-rooted understandings of the connection between nation and democracy, and ideas about the relationship between the nation and the external world raise challenges to the emergence of South Korea as a regional democratic leader. The relationship with the United States is critical to understanding these challenges.

Erik Mobrand is Korea Policy Chair and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He studies political transformation in Asia with Korea as a central reference point. Mobrand is the author of Top-Down Democracy in South Korea (University of Washington Press, 2019) and articles on topics including corruption, political parties, law and politics, criminality, gender and politics, management of cities, and Korean relations with Southeast Asia. In 2016, Mobrand joined Seoul National University as an associate professor in the Graduate School of International Studies. He previously served as assistant professor of political science at National University of Singapore. He received a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University.

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Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, Rand Corporation Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, Rand Corporation
Erik Mobrand, Korea Policy Chair, Rand Corporation

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