Korea University Department of Political Science and International Relations

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Comparative Politics


Comparative Politics is the most comprehensive and diverse area of study in Political Science. As a field of study, Comparative Politics focuses on domestic political processes and phenomena. Its methodology seeks to understand or explain, through a Comparative examination of similarities and differences, a range of political experiences and phenomena among states and societies. Within Comparative Politics area host of subfields and specializations: political process theory, political institutions and systems, the state and civil society, political economy, political sociology, political psychology, and regional or area studies.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, legal and systematic approaches dominated the field of Comparative Politics. In addition, the geographic focus was generally limited to the United States and Europe. After World War II, however, the field began a significant transformation. The socialist and central independent states were a particular area of new research, and efforts were made to apply systemized and scientific principles to the field. One important theoretical development was the emergence of behavioralism. More recently, rationalistic theories adopted from economics and psychology have emerged as a new theoretical paradigm, and the geographic domain of the field has expanded to include the entire globe and whole regions.

Professors of Comparative Politics in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Korea University have vigorously continued new and progressive studies adaptable to Contemporary politics. They have always remained on the Cutting-edge of research in the field since the early days of the Department to the present. The Department s faculty, for example, were pioneers in the areas of economic development and democratic political systems, which were Central Concerns in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s, the faculty was instrumental in the development of Korean political science as they addressed the issue of the "ideal political system for the Country given the external and internal Conditions it faced. The 1980s was a period of transformation for Korean politics and society and for the social sciences as a whole. During this period, the faculty endeavored to present a new vision for Korea a new perspective, based on a Critical rethinking of history and society, through which to view Contemporary Korean politics. During this same period, the faculty responded to new theoretical developments in Critical political economy and dependency by adapting, but also refining and further developing these theories in terms of Korea's experience. Finally, in the 1980s, the faculty played a Central role in developing regional studies, including a renewed focus on socialist systems such as China.

The 1990s have seen even greater changes: the Collapse of socialism, the rise of neoliberalism, the Coming-of-age of the global economy, the Consolidation of Korean democracy, and so on. In this milieu of change, the Department s faculty have been extraordinarily busy in conducting new research that addresses both theoretical and practical challenges. These include research on economic and political reform in China and the Soviet Union, ethnic Conflict, democratic transformation in the former Soviet bloc, economic transition in Latin America (in Comparison to Korea), the linkage between globalization and democracy, the Success and challenges of Korean democracy, among numerous other projects. In addition, faculty research has expanded to incorporate individual political behavior and preference, systematic studies of the public media, and the Combining of systematic political methodology and practical issues.

The Department's faculty is comprised of renowned professors:
Professor Nae-Young Lee has launched competitive and new areas of study on elections and international relations through media survey data.
Professor Hyuk-Yong Kwon is an expert in public policy and studies in political economy.
Professor Hyung-Min Joo specializes in Communism (Soviet Union & North Korea), political economy of the shadow economy, and social theories of power/resistance.
Professor Joo-Youn Jung is researching comparatively on political institutions and eco policies of East Asian cases, especially focusing on Chinese case.
Professor Jai-Kwan Jung has expertise in Contentious politics and Comparative political institutions.
Professor Jae-Hyeok Shin Conducts research on Southeast Asian politics and electoral institutions.