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Students Analyze Contemporary Issues in Korea Study Trip

Korea Study Trip

From March 18 to 22, 2024, 15 Johns Hopkins SAIS students were in Seoul, South Korea as part of the Korea Study Trip capstone course, which aims to analyze contemporary issues confronting South Korea—including traditional security concerns like North Korea, and non-traditional issues such as technology and energy. The trip was sponsored by KDI School of Public Policy and Management, a close partner of SAIS and one of Korea’s most dynamic graduate institutions.

This year, students in the Korea Study Trip capstone course collaborated with the U.S. Department of State to focus on three topics: the ways in which artificial intelligence is disrupting the semiconductor industry, North Korea’s cryptocurrency theft, and opportunities for trilateral cooperation on critical minerals between the United States, South Korea, and Japan.

Through this course, students developed research, analysis, and presentation skills—translating theoretical knowledge into practical solutions for real-world challenges on the Korean Peninsula. Academic goals included understanding South Korea's role in the Indo-Pacific, evaluating the U.S.-South Korea alliance, and producing high-quality outputs to address complex geopolitical dynamics.

“This study trip course provides an excellent opportunity for students to grasp the dynamics of the U.S.-South Korea alliance and South Korea’s evolving role as a pivotal state through conversations with some of the key policymakers, business leaders and analysts in Seoul,” said Professor Miyeon Oh, the instructor for the course. “During the week, students get to experience some of the vibrant culture and history of South Korea while deepening their understanding of the issues that are shaping both South Korea and the Indo-Pacific as a whole.”

Students met with a wide variety of stakeholders, business leaders, and policy makers in Seoul. Highlights included discussions with two economic advisors from the Office of the President of South Korea, meetings with U.S. embassy officials, analysts from Goldman Sachs Korea and UBS Korea, and a visit with the chief executive officer of Theori, a cybersecurity startup in Seoul, to discuss the mechanics of cryptocurrency theft and how to strengthen cybersecurity in the future.

“Having the chance to learn from and speak in person with key representatives from the South Korean semiconductor industry, government, and think tanks was invaluable,” said Gabriel Delsol, a second-year Master of Arts in International Relations student. “Given my past focus on African and European affairs, the Korea study trip offered me a fresh lens to assess technology dynamics in international relations in a new region.”

With the travel concluded, students will now coalesce their research in a group paper and present their findings to the Department of State at the end of the semester.

Study Trip

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