14 Nov 2023
Brown Bag Seminar, 16:00 - 17:00, Anna Nussbaum Auditorium, World Trade Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, Bern, Switzerland OR Online

Brown Bag Seminar: "Middle power and power asymmetry: how South Korea’s free trade agreement strategy with ASEAN changed under the New Southern Policy"

Sohyun Lee, from Queen’s University in Belfast, joins us at the WTI for the 3rd Brown Bag of fall 2023.


The political economy literature extensively discusses how great powers use asymmetric power relations as a tool in trade negotiations, yet discussion regarding how asymmetric power relations can account for the variety of power asymmetry dynamics in international relations, especially in the cases of middle power countries such as South Korea, is scarce.

This paper examines how South Korea’s free trade agreement (FTA) strategies with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were enabled under the Moon Jae-in administration’s New Southern Policy (NSP) by analyzing the sources of South Korea’s power asymmetry with ASEAN. Understanding power asymmetry as an evolving process, this paper takes the constructivist approach to middle power to demonstrate how South Korea’s development of a middle power identity shaped the country’s negotiation leverage in trade negotiations. This enabled South Korea to secure in-depth FTAs with ASEAN at the bilateral level under the NSP, despite ASEAN members’ initial reluctance.

About the speaker

Dr. Sohyun Zoe Lee joined Queen's University Belfast as a Lecturer in International Political Economy in 2020.

Her scholarly interests lie in the broad field of international relations and international political economy, with a more specific focus on the political economy of free trade agreements (FTAs), regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific, and South Korean foreign economic policy. She is particularly interested in the processes and practices involved in FTA negotiations through the examination of interactions among various domestic stakeholders.

Dr. Lee also collaborates closely with policymakers, providing expertise in trade policies. Her work has appeared in the Pacific Review and Contemporary Politics, among others. From 2018 to 2021, she served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University.

She is currently on sabbatical leave, visiting the World Trade Institute, funded by AHRC.

We strongly encourage you to attend this event on-site. In case you cannot be present in person, you can use the following Zoom link to tune in virtuallyhttps://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0udu2sqD4oHda16IL2cQvJ_RQP1PEqPwEz

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