South East Asia Center


Regional Research

Director: Myung-Seok Oh (Dept. of Anthropology)
Co-Researchers: Myungkoo Kang (Dept. of Communication), Taeyoon Kim (Institute of Green Bio Science and Technology), Hyungjun Kim (Dept.of Anthropology, Kangwon Nat’l Univ.), Changjo Yoo (School of Business, Dongguk Univ.), Sunjin Yun (Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Head of Mekong Research Team), Sangkook Lee (Dept. Of Cultural Anthropology, Yonsei Univ.), Suehyun Lee (School of Business, Dongguk Univ.), Seungho Lee (Graduate School of Int’l Studies, Korea Univ.), Eungchel Lee (Dept. of Cultural Anthropology, Duksung Women’s Univ.), Joonpyo Lee (Visiting Fellow, SNUAC)
Research Fellows: Eunhui Eom (SNUAC), Yohan Lee (SNUAC), Jihyouk Lee (SNUAC), Bubmo Jung (SNUAC), Kyunghee Choi (SNUAC)

− Attention to the potential for dynamic change and growth among rising states within ASEAN since its founding
− Implementation of research pertaining to Islamic culture, consumer culture of the middle class (Halal, malling,urbanization), Korean businesses entering ASEAN (history of businesses entering ASEAN, CSR, etc.), and developmental strife and environmental cooperation in the Mekong Delta region
− Socialization of knowledge and information toward promoting regional understanding (fostering regional specialists, and publishing policy reports)
− Establishing a Southeast Asian research hub endowed with theoretical, practical, and creative research capabilities
− Illuminating the tasks of sustainable economic and developmental cooperation between ASEAN and Korea and proposing alternatives proposing alternatives

Developing two Research Foundations in Accordance with ASEAN’s Dynamic Changes

Since September 2012 SEAC has been carrying out research on the South­east Asian maritime region (title: Cultural-sensitive Market Strategies and Sustainable Economic Cooperation with Southeast Asia’s Malay Muslim World) as part of the Research on Emerging Economies Projects funded by National Research Foundation of Korea. In addition, since December 2014, SEAC has been putting effort into another research project (title: The Di­lemma and Governance of Development and Environmental Cooperation in the Mekong River Basin) supported by National Research Foundation of Korea. On a more specific note, the latter research project was extended into an independent research team after two years of incubating with support from SNUAC’s Asia Basic Research Program beginning in 2013. The formation of two research strands has indeed enabled SEAC to carry out comprehensive research on the entire Southeast Asian region.

Major Research Outcomes

With the official launch of the ASEAN Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, the necessity for comprehensive research on Southeast Asia has increased. In an effort to become the research hub for comprehensive Southeast Asia studies, SEAC has conducted research and in-depth field surveys on various regional issues. In addition, for pursuing the socialization of various academic research activities, policy consulta­tion, networks, knowledge, and information, SEAC has put much effort into the interdisciplinary joint research team consisting of experts from various academic backgrounds including anthropology, environmental policy, geography, political science, and business marketing.

Specific activities conducted in 2014 include the following: 11 invited-lec­tures given by Korean and foreign experts, an assortment of socializing efforts on accumulated knowledge and information through special lectures and consultations given by research team members (44 events), 5 published reports incorporating the analysis of timely topics and poli­cy-related consultation, 3 public lecture and collective training programs, organization and session participation in 2 domestics academic sym­posiums, and the publication of 27 academic papers and book chapters. SEAC also supported the future generation of Southeast Asian Studies. It recognized research assistants as the succeeding academic genera­tion, not simply as administrative assistants, and provided support for internal seminars and on-site investigations. These actions resulted in two highly-qualified master’s theses related to SEAC’s research agenda.

Finally, SEAC proposed a new policy suggestion for the purpose of improving its own sustainability and research foundation. This activity integrated domestic academic achievements regarding Korea’s devel­opment experience and existing research achievements and academic networks regarding emerging regions, thereby proposing the formation of the “Creative Knowledge-Sharing Research Platform” as a policy task to promote mutual understanding and collaborative development of Korea and the newly emerging economies.

Future Challenges and Outlook

The ASEAN Community was formally established at the end of 2015. It is expected to grow into the 6th largest economy with a GDP of 3 trillion dollars by 2020. With over 600 million people, ASEAN has the world’s third largest labor force which is relatively young and is a promising consumer market whose purchasing power is expected to reach an annual 23 trillion dollars (double the current amount) by 2020. In accor­dance with such changes, the Research Team on Emerging Economies needs to conduct research on consumer market and consumption culture with specific topics such as shopping, food, e-commerce, real estate, and Islamic finance. Such research should be based on the understanding of the Islamic culture, which is a characteristic of South­east Asian maritime region studies.

On the other hand, Mekong states located in Continental Southeast Asia are still in need of developmental cooperation from the outside. Hence, the enhancement of ASEAN’s sustainability requires not only economic development cooperation, but also environmental cooperation. SEAC’s Mekong research team has focused both on Me­kong development and environmental challenges.

Finally, SEAC will concentrate on interacting with all of Asia and the rest of the world, not just with the 10 ASEAN member states. SEAC will also strive to advance various research units in SNUAC as well as joint research projects by focusing on realistic topics such as Islamic culture, ODA, and environment.