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Seeing is Believing: Summit Diplomacy and Public Perception of Security (Dissertation) 

What is summit diplomacy? The existing literature in International Relations (IR) reduces summit diplomacy to face-to-face interactions or negotiations between leaders, overlooking their public dimension. In this dissertation, I draw on critical security studies, sociology, and social psychology to theorize constitutively that summits are performances by foregrounding the audience dimension to argue that summitry is a type of international social practices by states that generate impressions on audiences. To explain what summit diplomacy is by analyzing what it does in terms of audience perception and reaction, I look at the hardest cases – that between adversaries - to explain if and how public summitry shapes people's perception of the enemy. By integrating original diplomatic archives with a focus group study and survey experiments, I show that summits generate impressions among different audiences a state’s intention, status, and its social relations with other states. To strengthen my analysis, I use survey experiments to showcase what summitry visuals mean to lay people and how they relate summit-level diplomacy to their everyday security experiences. To illustrate the varying interactions between summitry performances and audience perception, this dissertation looks at three cases of the first-ever summitry to take place between former and current adversaries: the 1972 US-China summit, the 1983-4 South Korea-Japan summits, and the 2000 US-Vietnam summit.


Making Identity Count Asia 

Reports on South Korea National Identity: 2010 & 2015 (funded by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore)

​External and Internal Challenges to South Korea’s Ontology: South Korea’s National Identity in 2015

In 2015, South Korea’s identity is shaped and influenced by its significant others especially Japan and North Korea. As the country continues to struggle to reconcile with Japan over the colonial past in 2015, it also faces an imminent task of unifying with North Korea as the two Koreas remains divided and at war. The predominance of significant others in South Korea’s identity narratives is also tied with elites’ efforts in 2015 to build a nation based on single ethnicity while emphasizing the narratives that South Korea is an independent, sovereign state and to identity the country as a trading country which does not seem to matter to the mass. There is, however, a moderate consensus in South Korea that the country is, as of 2015, insecure in multiple aspects including security and economics at both group and individual levels. Overall, South Korea in 2015 is in diplomatic and security quagmire with its two nearest neighbors, Japan and North Korea, while internally South Koreans seem dissatisfied both politically and economically. 

Centennial Remembrance of Colonial Rule in South Korea’s National Identity in 2010

The predominant discourse of South Korean national identity in 2010 is Japan as the significant other shared by both the elites and the mass. While the elites continue to educate South Korean youth on the negative aspects and effects of Japanese colonial rule, they face the task of having to maintain good relations with Japan. Other predominant discourses on South Korean national identity include external dependence, domestic political factionalism, status, and mature/developed country. The discourses on economic problems, South Korea as a global actor, and South Korea’s historical other experiencing rapid economic growth are divided between the elites and the mass, mainly because the mass is silent on these. In addition, discourse on North Korea as a significant other, while high in terms of frequency, exhibits mixed valence, indicating that there is mixed perception of North Korea not only among the elites and the mass, but also in terms of how North Korea is identified.

South Korea National Identity Data: 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 [In Progress, funded by Mershon Center for International Security Studies]

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