The Politics of Peace and Security in Northeast Asia: Lessons from Anti-Base Protests on Jeju Island

Dr. Andrew Yeo, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics at Catholic University of America

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Why do government policymakers and peace activists often come to radically different conclusions on issues pertaining to peace and security? Drawing on insights from the literature on contentious politics and international relations theory, I argue that the politics of peace extend from different views regarding the nature of existing power relations and the legitimacy and moral purpose of the state. To test my argument, I examine the conflict between state and civil societal actors over the construction of a South Korean naval base and use discourse and content analysis to assess different interpretations regarding peace and security in relation to the naval base. Although the hope is to see David defeat Goliath, my findings are less sanguine: activists are not only physically overpowered by the state, but at the ideological level, their frames and discourse are frequently drowned out by a powerful discursive structure embedded in the logic of realism. This research has implications not only for national security policy in South Korea, but for international relations in Northeast Asia more broadly as middle powers position themselves between Beijing’s rise and Washington’s strategic rebalance to Asia.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Freeman-Spogli Institute (FSI)
Shorenstein APARC