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Southeast Asia Center

The political and economic importance of the ASEAN Community, with its high growth potential, to Korea is increasing. Taking note of this trend, the Southeast Asia Center (SEAC) seeks out research topics combining regional and thematic approaches, performs research tasks designated by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other agencies, and nurtures the next generation of Southeast Asia researchers. As part of the Basic Research Program designed to produce new research topics and build the foundations for and expand the studies of the Southeast Asian region, the Center has been hosting regular seminars with prominent foreign scholars specializing in Islamic finance and Halal certification.

Research Topics

In 2016, SEAC carried out research of consumer culture and consumer strategies in the retail market under the topic of “Culturally-Sensitive Management and Marketing Strategy and Sustainable Economic Cooperation: Focusing on Indonesia and Malaysia as a Malay-Islam World”. The researchers examined different types of consumption—Islamic, ethnic, by high and medium income groups, by the younger generation, and of local food—in Indonesia and Malaysia. In the study of the retail market, they investigated how the sales strategies of distributors and purchasing strategies of consumers aligned and differed from each other on the examples of hypermarkets, convenience stores, and shopping malls. SEAC also continued its research of the Mekong River Basin, looking into the problems of climate change, hydropower generation, and connectivity as well as legal issues in development, strategy by country, and the current situation and challenges in the governance. The Center is increasing the depth of its studies by conducting focused research and comparative analysis in parallel.

Major Research Outcomes

In 2016, SEAC researchers performed individual research on religion, ethnicity, class, and other characteristics of the Indonesian and Malaysian regions. An examination of the development of Halal consumption in Indonesia and the introduction of Halal certification and Halalization in the Malaysian food market shed light on the influence of Islam in modern society. A study of middle-class consumers investigated the function of a shopping mall in Indonesia as a public space and its utilization by consumers. An ethnicity-related analysis dealt with the questions of how representative indigenous ethnic foods are being commercialized and what meaning the formation of national identity through food has in the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society of Indonesia. In regard to ethnic consumption, researchers examined characteristic features of the food of Chinese Malaysians, the ways ethnicity is differentiated through food consumption, and cultural traits that are forged in that process. Research conducted in the Jakarta metropolitan area focused on the lifestyle of the Indonesian urban population. Yet another study, on the distribution market, revealed changes in Indonesian convenience stores and their usage by consumers due to restrictions on foreign investment. Through these projects, the SEAC team looked into various aspects of consumer culture and trends in Indonesia and Malaysia while engaging in collaborative research on the social enterprise and market expansion strategies in Southeast Asian countries.

In a similar vein, the Mekong region project examined individual topics, such as energy cooperation by agent, connectivity, legal considerations, and resolution of disparities, and attempted a comparative analysis from different angles including exchanges, cooperation, and alternative economy in the civil society, profit-sharing, border trade, resolution of environmental disputes, and governance. The Basic Research Program hosted a series of guest lectures on Islamic capital and Halal, in its search for extended networks, research pool expansion, and new research topics in line with the current demand caused by the rise of the Islamic economy and the related intellectual needs of Korean businesses and government,.

The Basic Research Program hosted a series of guest lectures on Islamic capital and Halal in its search for extended networks, research pool expansion, and new research topics in line with the current demand caused by the rise of the Islamic economy and the related intellectual needs of Korean businesses and government.

The findings of research projects were shared through panels of presentations at the Korean Consumption Association, Korean Association of Southeast Asian Studies, and other venues. The Mekong project achieved significant progress in reaching to the general public through cooperation with the ASEAN-Korea Center.

Outlook and Tasks for the Future

SEAC plans to integrate findings of individual research projects on consumer culture in Indonesia and Malaysia into a single volume to be published in the first half of 2017. It will also set up a plan and identify individual research topics to obtain support for a project on newly emerging regions to begin in September 2017. The scope of the project will be expanded to include Vietnam and the Philippines. The objectives of the Mekong project are to offer recommendations on profit-sharing, border trade, and legal systems for the development and improvement of governance in the Mekong region and to devise a detailed proposal for cooperation between public and private sectors in Korea and government authorities of the Mekong River Basin. The four-year Basic Research Program starting from 2017 aims to find synergy effects in connection to research on more established emerging regions (such as BRICs) and carry out a new research project on Southeast Asian Islamic economy.


Oh, Myung-Seok et al (2016). <Looking into the Core Places of Migration: Vietnam>. SNU Press

Eom, Eunhui et al (2016). <Geographies of Developing Areas: The Global South in a Changing World>. PURUNGIL

Choi, Kyunghee et al (2016). <ASEAN Community and Managing Traditional and Non-Traditional Security>. SEJONG PRESS

Eom, Eunhui (2016). Ecotourism as Community Development Tool in Rural Villages of Indonesia and Cambodia. Journal of the Economic Geographical Society of Korea Vol. 19, No. 2

Choi, Kyunghee (2016). <ASEAN Community and Managing Traditional and Non-Traditional Security>. SEJONG PRESS


Myung-Seok Oh (Dept. of Anthropology)

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.)

Research Fellows:
Eunhui Eom (SNUAC)
Jihyouk Lee (SNUAC)
Joonpyo Lee (SNUAC)
Bubmo Jung (SNUAC)
Kyunghee Choi (SNUAC)

Research Assistants:
Donghyuk Shin (SNU)
Eunjung Jeon (SNU)
Jaieun Lee (SNU)
Miyoung Noh (Sungshin Univ.)

Seongmin Nam (Kwangwon Nat’l Univ.)
Sola Kim (SNU)
Singh Krishna Kumar (SNU)