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Peer-Reviewed Articles 

The Dark Matter of World Politics: System Trust, Summits, and State Personhood, with Jennifer Mitzen. International Organization. 2022. (Winner of Best Article Award, Diplomatic Studies Section, ISA 2023)

International Relations (IR) theory has had a trust revival, with scholars focusing on how trust can enhance inter-personal cooperation attempts between leaders. We propose there is another type of trust in play in world politics. International system trust refers to a feeling of confidence in the international social order, which is indexed especially by trust in its central unit, state persons. System trust anchors ontological security, and its presence is an unstated assumption of the IR trust scholarship. In this paper we conceptualize system trust. We illuminate its presence by flagging the production of state personhood in a familiar case in IR trust scholarship, the 1985 Geneva Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev. Inter-personal and system trust perspectives highlight different aspects of the same summit. The juxtaposition suggests new lines of research into: the production of state persons in diplomacy, the relationship between inter-personal and system trust, and the impact of the rise of personalistic/patrimonial leadership on diplomacy and international order.

Summit Diplomacy as Theatre of Sovereignty Contestation. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy. 2022.

The recent revival in the interest in summitry in International Relations scholarship conceptualises it as an elite-centred or foreign policy-focused process targeting foreign governments and publics. This article makes a theoretical intervention on the effects of summitry by foregrounding publics as audiences of international politics who can exercise agency. Because summits are primarily elite-staged performances of Westphalian principles of state sovereignty, they generate a political space for audiences to publicly embrace or contest summitry performances and their meanings of sovereignty. They can do so by co-performing with or by counter-performing elitist summitry performances, which can generate narratives with potential to shape and alter domestic societies in the long run.

Policy Papers

Kim Jong Un's Reconsideration of Diplomacy. 2022 US-Korea Joint Academic Studies: South Korea's Response to New National Identity Pressures. Vol. 33. Korea Economic Institute of America. 2022.

 This chapter argues that the inter-Korea summits of 2018-9 reflect the contesting views of South Korea's identities vis-a-vis North Korea: while the conservatives favor a more hawkish approach that perceives South Korea as a higher-status country than North Korea, which reflects the present-day South Korean identity, the progressives are more future-oriented, viewing inter-Korea relations as between equals, thus favoring engagement and dialogue. In contrast to elites, the public, especially younger South Koreans, is more ambivalent towards unification and North Korea, instead preferring peaceful co-existence and engagement that minimizes security threats from North Korea. South Korea’s aspirational identity of a unified Korea is thus weak in younger South Koreans’ perception of identity. These different views, however, seem to have been attenuated by North Korea and Kim Jong Un's sudden turn to public summitry, as exposure to media representations of the inter-Korea summits influenced the South Korean public opinion towards North Korea, Kim, and inter-Korea efforts in military de-escalation to shift, albeit briefly, in a positive direction. 

Working Papers

The Micro-moves Approach to Securitization and Audience Ontological Agency, with Brian Finch (Revise & Resubmit) 

Mediating Domestic Estrangement: The 1972 US-China Summit and the US Public Perception of Rapprochement 

A Ritual of Reconciliation? Strategic Performance and South Korea-Japan Summits of 1983-4 

Theorizing Public Diplomacy

Performing the Past and the Future: Ceremonial Summitry and Top-Down Reconciliation in US-Vietnam Relations

Apology as Performance in World Politics

State Personhood, Ontological Security, and the Pursuit of Dignity by Japan and North Korea, with Nina C. Krickel-Choi

Works in Progress

What is Summit Diplomacy? Evidence from Focus Group Study and Survey Experiments 

Seeing is Believing: Summitry and Enemy Perception 

The Practice Turn in Ontological Security Studies, with Emmanuelle Rousseau 

Aestheticizing the Self: Post-Colonial Ontological (In)Security and Urban Politics and Policies, with Devon Cantwell-Chavez 

Pre-PhD Program Publications 


Peer-Reviewed Article

The role of identity in South Korea's policies towards Japan. Korean Social Science Journal. 2016. 

This paper asks why South Korea’s relations with Japan is so vulnerable to disputes over history in the post-Cold War period. It argues that South Korea’s identities vis-à-vis Japan and North Korea respectively conflict with each other and leads to inconsistent policy towards Japan that hovers between cooperation and discord. By analyzing South Korea’s relations with Japan as well as its policies and behavior in the post-Cold War period, this paper aims to show how identity factor affects a state’s foreign policy and behavior towards other states. In doing so, it questions the rationality assumption of state behavior in IR and offers alternative explanations on how to better understand “emotional” foreign policies.

Book Chapters

The Meeting of East and West through Xi Yang Lou: A Visit to Yuan Ming Yuan in Sarangbang

Students in Beijing 3: Reconstructing Tianxia through Time Travel. (ed. Young-Sun Ha). Seoul: East Asia Institute, 2016. (E-book, in English)

The Final Days of the Chinese Tianxia Order: A Visit to the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty Memorial Hall II in Sarangbang in

Kyushu: 21st Century Joseon’s Embassy to Kyushu. (ed. Young-Sun Ha). Seoul: East Asia Institute, 2016. (E-book, in Korean)


Rational Emotions: The Role of Identity and Emotions in Dokdo/Takeshima Dispute between South Korea and Japan. EPIK Journals Online. 2015.

The Growing “Discomfort” with Comfort Women between South Korea and Japan. E-IR. November 2015. 

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