At the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), we foster connections to advance United States-Republic of Korea ties. Through bringing together people with an interest in topics of importance to this relationship, KEI works to further mutual understanding and cooperation between our two countries. As parts of the world begin to recover from COVID-19, the sharing of ideas now to understand the developments of the past year and how they will shape our future is of particular importance. Our 2021 Academic Symposium, through which we endeavor to bridge the academic and policy communities, contributes to understanding crucial questions about the influence of the pandemic on key relationships in the Indo-Pacific region.
This year we were pleased to organize three virtual panels at the annual International Studies Association (ISA) conference after the 2020 in-person event was cancelled due to the pandemic. The conference featured over 5,000 international affairs scholars from around the world with a wide range of research interests and specializations to present papers and hold discussions on contemporary issues. While we missed engaging with and learning from these experts in-person, we look forward to traveling to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2022 conference.
Marking a decade of collaboration, KEI again turned to the scholarship and wisdom of Dr. Gilbert Rozman, Musgrave Professor of Sociology (Emeritus) at Princeton University, to serve as Editor-in-Chief for the Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies volume and advisor to KEI’s programs at the ISA conference. Dr. Rozman once more played a key role in bringing together an outstanding group of scholars and practitioners.
The experts in this volume have addressed themes related to how COVID-19 is affecting the Indo-Pacific region. As the rivalry between the U.S. and China was already heating up early last year, the pandemic added fuel to the fire, accelerating the divide between the two major powers despite a change of administration in Washington. The authors in the first section examine the shifting geopolitical landscape in the region over the past year from the perspectives of China, the United States, Southeast Asia, South Korea, and Japan. The second section analyzes the role the pandemic has played in exacerbating bilateral national identity clashes in the region. Chapters in this section cover the U.S.-China, Russia-U.S., India-China, South Korea-Japan, and China-South Korea dyads. Major disruptions to trade from the coronavirus also added to the mounting concerns about the resiliency of supply chains amid the trade war between Washington and Beijing. Gauging the balance between political and purely business concerns, the authors in the third and final section explore to what extent major economic powers in the region are preparing to diversify their supply chains away from China.
Whether our connection with you is new or continuing, we hope you enjoy and find useful the 32nd edition of the Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies volume.
Ambassador (ret.) Kathleen Stephens
President and CEO
Korea Economic Institute of America