LATEST RESEARCH

Project | 01

Emulation

A Korean Model of Financial Development

I am working on a book manuscript that explores how and why South Korea’s financial system drastically diverged from the Japanese model of a bank-based one from the early 1980s and how it has been converted into a U.S. model of a market-based system. Unlike existing studies that have emphasized the coercion and normative pressures imposed by the International Monetary Fund or the U.S. government, I argue that voluntary emulation, led by indigenous state elite, have played a more pivotal role in this transformation. In particular, I highlight how Korea’s economic policy networks, which have been constructed by those U.S.-trained economists among high-ranking government officials and academia, have facilitated the rapid financial liberalization and how those organized few have dominated over the majority view in the policymaking even after the democratization since the late 1980s.

Project | 02

Echo Chamber:
Why We failed to Understand North Korea's Resilience 

This research will investigate why and how the North Korean “regime-collapse thesis” was constructed in the U. S. policymaking community in the early 1990s, and look at how this thesis has contributed to repeatedly miscalculating North Korea’s intentions and capability for developing nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs. I will argue in the book that, since the early 1990s, United States policymakers dealing with North Korea have shared a common view that the North Korean regime cannot last long. By underestimating the resilience of the North Korean regime, this shared view—the “regime collapse thesis”—has worked like an episteme or paradigm in the U.S. policymaking community toward North Korea, and it has enabled U.S. policymakers increasingly to rely on sanctions while waiting for the collapse of the regime. During the grant period, I will conduct thorough archival research on the declassified U.S. government and the South Korean government documents related to North Korean policies. I will also conduct in-depth interviews with key decision-makers, not only in the U.S. but also in South Korea, who involved in the policymaking toward North Korea from the early 1990s. 

Project | 03

Global Monetary Spillover & Emerging Market Risks

This research explores (1) why governments in advanced economies, including the United States, the Eurozone, and Japan, have continued the unconventional monetary easing policies since the global financial crisis of 2008, and (2) how such policies have had spillover effects upon the emerging markets.  Few existing studies have explored what politics has enabled the sustenance of such unconventional measures. I will attempt to explain the reasons for the continued monetary easing policies with a “political capture” view: Policymakers have responded according to the interests of major financial institutions of society while caring less about the global spillover effects of their monetary policies. This paper will analyze when and how the rate cut decisions were made. As a case study, I will also investigate the formation, and implementation process of the Japanese government’s Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing (QQME) policies and the spillover effects toward the Asia-Pacific region by analyzing the yen carry trade.  

Project | 04

A Captured State:
Big Business and the State in South Korea

I'm working on a paper that explores how the owners of Korean chaebols (big conglomerate) govern the group of many companies with less than 1% of ownership through cross-shareholding practices, and how they have exerted their power in the national economic agenda-setting and implementation.