Becoming the center of

exchange and learning

KWON Soyoung

Director, Schar School of Policy and Government

Center for Security Policy Studies, George Mason University


Despite being a new research institute, George Mason University's

Center for Security Policy Studies Korea has breathlessly sprinted

forward over the past one year. It is already achieving notable

performances by coordinating with the research center back home even

before its establishment in 2018 and by carrying out numerous projects

such as a symposium on international security, special lectures by

experts, and field trips.

It’s been a year since the school's foundation. Tell us about the projects or research performance achieved so far.

The role and direction of the research center in Korea that I pursue is “Public diplomacy on policy.” The aim is to bridge the gap between American and Korean experts related to policy. Every year, we assign one theme related to security, invite experts from the relevant fields and host a symposium on international security.

Then, we draft a report on the details of the symposium and distribute it to the experts in both the US and South Korea. Last year, the symposium was about climate change and environmental security and this year, we’re planning to host a symposium on the theme, “US-South Korea Alliance” in September in the main camps in the US. Besides, it is continuously sharing information and insights between the US and South Korea through special lectures on security, field trips with student fellows and blogs while discussing about various security issues.

Research performance is also worthy of note. A representative case would be the Rodong News big data analysis project which was designated as a project for research on establishing a foundation for unification with Seoul National University’s Unification and Peace Research Center as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Public Diplomacy Bureau’s research and service. The Seoul National University project involves predicting how North Korea would respond to the actions of Korea and the US and scientifically establishing a North Korean research data system. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ research and service is a research matrix focusing on the systematization of Korean sports public diplomacy governance and was an opportunity to prove the expertise and research competence of George Mason’s Center for Security Policy Studies Korea.

What is the meaning of the research results of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its impact on domestic diplomacy and security fields?

As a sports public diplomacy coordinator, I proposed establishing governance according to the role and structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to found a subcommittee of the Public Diplomacy Committee, and to diversify content in linkage with the New Southern Policy and New Northern Policy. In the final report, I presented an execution roadmap for each model of public diplomacy cases and suggested advanced sports and public diplomacy policy projects using them, thinking that it was necessary to advance the governance system that can lead the management from policy planning to performance feedback with an aim to build a sustainable development system of sports and public diplomacy. With this research findings, diplomacy is expected to be reinforced through the transition of policy awareness that South Korean sports would be able to contribute to the national good and international society as a tool for public diplomacy and international cooperation, and the expansion of the roles of sports and public diplomacy as an attractive form of capital for securing international networks and the support of citizens worldwide in the path to peace in the Korean Peninsula, while expanding governance and reinforcing the initiative by securing a wider range of channels in the international exchanges and cooperation of South Korean sports.

Is there a research plan related to COVID-19?

We are interested not only in military, security and diplomatic issues but also in non-conventional security and human security, encompassing the climate, refugees, women, under-development, and epidemiological issues caused by pathogens such as the recent COVID-19. Characteristic of human security is that it is not an issue that can be independently resolved by one country but demands the collaboration of many countries to find resolution. Accordingly, the roles of international organizations that connect countries are required and the roles of responsible countries, or the so-called “superpowers” are also important. Next year, we would like to plan the symposium under the theme “International security in the post COVID-19 era” by inviting experts from South Korea and the US.

What kind of opportunities would the research center offer to GMUK students?

Our nickname is “Incubator.” It has been named as such because it is an environment that supplies nutrition to students, nurtures, and prepares them. It would not be an understatement to say that we have pursued building a research center centered on students with the Korean branch being a research center of the students, by the students, and for the students. Our research center plays the role of selecting outstanding students from the Global Affairs Department as fellows, and helping them reinforce their competencies and form networks so that they can become experts in the fields of their interest.