Completing a Fellowship in Washington – South Korea and the TPP

Presentation on South Korea's Policy Choices in the TPP Era, East-West Center in Washington, April 10, 2015.

Presentation on South Korea’s Policy Choices in the TPP Era, East-West Center in Washington, April 10, 2015.

On the first day of the year 2015, I moved from Boston to the Greater Washington DC area to serve as Asia Studies Fellow at the East-West Center in Washington. At the EWC, I would focus specifically on intellectual property issues in the TPP negotiations and the ramifications for U.S.-Northeast Asian economic relations. However, for the presentation and the final policy brief publication, I decided to write about the South Korean policy choice toward the TPP as things were speeding up on Capitol Hill to renew the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) via submission of a bipartisan bill. The published policy brief, video of the final presentation, and media coverage of the event can be found here.

While I have moved onto a new fellowship at the APSA Center, there are some important lessons I learned while conducting research in Washington. The biggest lesson is about the specific audience in Washington – there is quite a big divergence between matters of interest in Washington and in Boston. Although academic work also requires brevity and straightforwardness, written work in Washington is all about what people want to know about in a nutshell. Also in terms of speed, the work conducted in policy is much more fast-paced than academia. Things change minute by minute, around the clock, and sometimes that is what makes everything so fascinating and interesting. Academia, on the other hand, requires more rigor and in-depth research that is longer in content and sometimes conducted over a long range of time.

As someone seeking to position oneself between academia and policy in the longer run, understanding that going back and forth will require a lot of energy, work and time has been the greatest lesson learned throughout my days in Washington.

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