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Friday, July 26, 2013
Research Trip Preparation & Vacation at Jeju Island
support of the Sigur Center, I am spending this summer visiting Seoul, Beijing,
and Tokyo in order to conduct
field research on their oil supplier diversification strategies. Interviews, data-gathering, and
writing will, of course, be an important part of these visits, but naturally I
plan to complement the intellectual pursuits and challenges with cultural
excursions and exploration.
My name is Inwook Kim, a 4th-year PhD student in Political
Science and I focus
on energy security. The current project exposes a puzzling difference in oil
import policies among the three major countries in Northeast Asia. In short, the data shows that
only China has been moderately successful in diluting its oil-dependence on the
gigantic Middle East exporters, while origins of imports remain highly
concentrated around the regions for Japan
and Korea (see the bar chart below).
wisdom says that, similar to the logic of building a financial portfolio, the
more diversified China has essentially “spread” the risk of energy crisis normally
caused by abrupt supply disruption, while Korea and Japan remain significantly
more vulnerable to a possible energy crisis.
Oil is an
irreplaceable strategic commodity, and an unanticipated shortage of it can have
a devastating impact on an industrialized economy and the modern military. Accordingly,
oil security has been a primary strategic objective for most oil importers.
Historically, supplier diversification has been regarded as a viable and
effective means of reducing a state’s vulnerability to an energy crisis. Yet, despite
the claimed virtue and shared policy commitments, we still see a divergence in
Northeast Asian states’ ability (and possibly willingness) to diversify their
oil suppliers. Does the conventional wisdom about the “risk-spreading” effects
of diversification still hold against the globally integrated oil market? Are
there any new dimensions about motivation and consequence of diversification policies
that have not been captured in the existing literature? Overall,
how do we account for the puzzling divergence in oil supplier diversification?
these questions hold both theoretical implications and practical relevance, little
has been written on the topic. While preparing for this trip, I collected data
and tried to arrange interviews. Beginning on next week, I’d begin a series of interviews with regional energy
experts with a trip to Tokyo next week and Beijing
in early August. While organizing interviews, I encountered several disappointing declines, but nevertheless, I look
forward to discussing my research questions and arguments with those people who
closely follow the Japanese and Chinese energy policy.
another note, I have spent the last month in Korea. I live and love Seoul, but
rather than adding yet another post about cosmopolitan, vibrant, historic, tasty
Seoul, I want to talk about Jeju Island where I spent a week-long vacation with
family last week. Jeju is located at the south of the Korean Peninsula and is
known for its natural beauty, including volcanic hills and mountains, lava tube
systems, deep forests, and scenic coastlines. The island contains three UNESCO World
Natural Heritage sites: Halla Mountain, Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, and
Geomunoreum. Unfortunately, our trip to Jeju this time did not involve visits
to these sites, and the photos below are publicly available ones.
Seongsan Ilchung Peak
than these well-known must-visits, Jeju has been a frequent vacation
destination for our family for its more low-profile attractions, such as untouched
local villages and roads, nameless hills and hiking trails, small but quiet unknown
beaches, and of course, fresh and savory feasts. They may not be magnificent
and overwhelming, but the island’s culture, history, and geology is so distinct
that the unknown local gems still continue to lure us to the island.
A cliff at Wudo Island
A hiking trail near Seongsan Ilchung Peak
working hard to be a better and larger tourist destination, but my impression is
that its fame tends to be limited in Northeast Asia.
Needless to say, it is a big loss for Jeju and tourists to Korea. For those who
want a rest away from glittering Seoul, Jeju can offer such a perfect and
unique experience. Welcome to Jeju!
Inwook Kim PhD Student, Political Science Summer Field Research Fellow, Sigur Center