CSIS Office of the Korea Chair and the USC Korean Studies Institute announced eleven NextGen Scholars awards for 2018-2019. These scholars were selected in a national competition. The awardees all displayed exemplary scholarship in wide-ranging disciplines, from political science, communication, Korean history, international relations, and education, to networking and security.

This program allowed for deeper and more vigorous dialogue and research not only on topics of immediate concern to the bilateral relationship, but also the range of issues that affect the U.S. and Korea. It also identified, nurtured, and built a community of American public intellectuals across a wide range of sectors and facilitate spin-offs of policy-oriented research teams and projects.

You can also see what our 2018-2019 NextGen scholars are up to on our NextGen Facebook page.

This program is made possible in part by generous support from The Korea Foundation.

Meet our 2018-2019 NextGen Scholars:

Joan E. Cho is Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of Korean Political Economy at the College of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University and Associate-in-Research at the Council of East Asian Studies at Yale University. Her primary research and teaching interests include authoritarian politics, democratization, and social movements in Korea and East Asia. Her works on authoritarian media control and South Korean democracy movement are published in the Journal of East Asian Studies and the Routledge Handbook of Korean Culture and Society. Cho is currently working on a book manuscript, The Authoritarian Roots of Korean Democracy, which examines how generational differences in political values and behaviors shaped under the past authoritarian regimes contributed to political polarization in the democratic period. She holds Ph.D. and A.M. degrees in political science from the Department of Government at Harvard University and B.A., cum laude with honors, in political science from the University of Rochester.

Aram Hur is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Her research lies at the intersection of comparative and international politics, with a focus on East Asia. She is interested in how identity politics shapes the way new or marginalized citizens integrate into democracies: how they develop a sense of democratic responsibility, whether and how they participate politically, and what that means for the resulting health of democracies. Dr. Hur was selected by the Office of the Provost as a Faculty Fellow in NYU’s Postdoctoral and Transition Program for Academic Diversity in 2015. At Wagner, she is currently finishing her first book manuscript titled The Dutiful Citizen: How Nationalism Shapes Moral Obligations to the State, as well as ongoing projects on the political integration of North Korean refugees, national minorities, and immigrants. She received her Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and B.A. from Stanford University.

Katrin Fraser Katz is a former director for Japan, Korea, and oceanic affairs on the staff of the National Security Council, where she served from 2007 to 2008. Previously, she was a special assistant to the assistant secretary for international organization affairs at the U.S. Department of State and an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. Dr. Katz’s research, which has been supported by grants from the Korea Foundation and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, explores the interplay of cooperation and conflict in East Asia’s political, economic, and security dynamics. In 2017, she received the inaugural Sherman Family Korea Emerging Scholar Lecture Series award from the Korea Society. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University; a master’s degree in East Asian and international security studies from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she was awarded the John C. Perry Scholarship for East Asian Studies; and a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in international relations and Japanese from the University of Pennsylvania.

Stephanie K. Kim is an Assistant Professor of the Practice and the Faculty Director of the Higher Education Administration program at Georgetown University. Dr. Kim's research focuses on comparative higher education, with a special focus on globalization and higher education reform, organizational change, and transnational mobility patterns of students and scholars across Asia. Her scholarship has appeared in journals and volumes across education and area studies, including Compare, Comparative Education, and the Journal of Korean Studies, and has been prominently featured in major media outlets. She is currently working on a book project on higher education reform and evolving student mobility patterns between South Korea and the United States. Dr. Kim holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, a master's degree in Global Affairs from New York University, and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan.

Hanmee Na Kim is an assistant professor of East Asian History at Wheaton College. Before heading to Wheaton, she was a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Southern California Korean Studies Institute. She received a Ph.D. in modern Korean history at the University of California, Los Angeles, M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and B.A. with honors in International Studies from the University of Chicago. Her current research interests and work are on Korea-U.S. diplomatic/cultural/intellectual interactions (1866-1945) and Korean students in the U.S. (1884-1960).

Jiyoung Ko is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Bates College. Dr. Ko is an international security scholar with a regional focus on Northeast Asia. Her research interests include alliance politics, nuclear proliferation, and nationalism. Her work focuses on South Korea's nuclear forbearance and the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence, and the management of public opinion on asymmetric alliances. She is currently completing her book project that examines how popular nationalism affects the likelihood of international conflict. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Notre Dame International Security Center, and is an organizer of the International Relations and East Asia Online Colloquium. Dr. Ko received her Ph.D, M.Phil, and M.A. in Political Science from Yale University, and a B.A. and a M.A. in Political Science from Korea University.

Tom Le is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Pomona College. His research interests include militarism norms, U.S-ROK and U.S.-Japan alliances, Japanese security policy, East Asia regionalism, and war memory and reconciliation. His work has been published by Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, the Diplomat, among others. His current book project titled Japan’s Aging Peace: Security Among Militarisms examines how demographics shape Japanese security policy and cultural norms on militarism. He is an Adjunct Fellow at Pacific Forum and was a Fulbrighter and Pacific Forum CSIS Sasakawa Peace Foundation non-resident fellow. He received a Ph.D. and a M.A. in political science from University of California, Irvine, and a B.A. in history and political science from University of California, Davis.

Will Scott spent the falls of 2013, '14, and '15 teaching Computer Science in Pyongyang. These trips seeded his fascination with the state of consumer technology in the DPRK. Will completed his doctoral work at the University of Washington, studying distributed systems and networking. His postdoctoral work at the University of Michigan has focused on disconnected networks, and online information controls.

Meredith Shaw is the managing editor of Social Science Japan Journal and an associate professor at the University of Tokyo. She obtained her Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California. She specializes in cultural politics and social movements in East Asia. Her work has been published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Global Asia, and The National Interest.

YoungJu Shin is an Assistant Professor at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Her primary line of research focuses on health communication and culture with the focus on prevention intervention. She has conducted a series of studies that examined differential roles of family, school, media, and culture for youth substance use prevention intervention. She is also interested in immigrant families and health during the acculturation process, specifically investigating the effects of a role reversal between parent and child in Mexican immigrant families and their communication privacy management and identity negotiation. She received a Ph.D. in health communication from Pennsylvania State University, a M.A. in organizational professional communication from Ball State University, and a B.A. from Yeungnam University, with a dual major in Korean language and literature and media and communication.

Benjamin R. Young is an incoming assistant professor in Cyber Leadership and Intelligence at Dakota State University starting in Fall 2019. He currently is a fellow in the Strategy and Policy Department at the U.S. Naval War College. Most recently, he received his Ph.D. in Asian history from George Washington University in May 2018. He is currently working on his first book, entitled Guns, Guerillas, and the Great Leader: North Korea and the Third World, 1956-1989. He has published scholarly articles on North Korea’s diplomatic history in Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, Journal of Northeast Asian History, British Association of Korean Studies Papers, and the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. He is also a regular contributor to NKnews.org and has written pieces for The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Reuters. His research has been supported by the Fulbright Foundation, the Cosmos Club, and the U.S Department of Education. He has intensively studied the Korean language in the U.S, South Korea, and the ethnic Korean region of China. In addition to visiting North Korea, Japan, and Russia, he has also lived in South Korea and China. His main research interests revolve around U.S-Korea relations, North Korean diplomacy, African-Asian relations, Marxism in the Third World, development in the contemporary Global South, the radical 1960s, and socialist internationalism.

NextGen Scholars Op-eds

As part of the U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars program, our eleven scholars will publish an op-ed as part of the program. These op-eds were workshopped at the Los Angeles Program, with feedback provided by the program chairs and the Senior Advisory Board throughout the program.


Katrin Katz, “When Tokyo and Seoul Fight, a Complacent Washington Loses”, The Diplomat, March 26, 2019.

In this article, Dr. Katz argues that conflicts between South Korea and Japan plays into the hands of North Korea and China, and while U.S.’ mediation this time around may not reap immediate success, the costs of complacency are certain.

Stephanie Kim, “The US admissions scandal shows that perceptions of opportunity are narrowing,” Times Higher Education, March 28, 2019.
In this article, Dr. Kim argues that if Americans lose faith in alternative routes to success, entry to top universities could become as cut-throat as it is in South Korea.


Benjamin Young, “Why the Second Summit Between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un Failed,”  History News Network, April 7, 2019. In this article, Dr. Young explains why the Hanoi Summit was a failure whilst urging that the autocratic nature of the Kim regime and human rights issues not to be forgotten, despite the friendlier atmosphere of the U.S.-North Korea relations today.


Tom Le, “America's New Danger Zone: Divisions with Japan Could Wreck Negotiations with North Korea,” The National Interest, April 9, 2019. In this article, Dr. Le argues that Pyongyang has succeeded in weakening relations between the Washington and its allies.


NextGen Scholars Program

The 2018-2019 NextGen Scholars participated in three sets of programs:

  1. Washington D.C. for briefings with policymakers in the U.S. government;
  2. Los Angeles for academic mentoring and media training;
  3. Seoul for briefings with policymakers and exposure to media and opinion leaders.

Seoul Program (Summer 2019)

On July 31 – August 2, we held the Seoul Program of the U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program in Seoul, South Korea. At the Seoul Program, the NextGen scholars participated in a series of meetings at the Blue House, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Unification, the U.S. Embassy Seoul and the Institute for National Security Strategy to discuss U.S.-ROK relations, U.S.-DPRK relations, inter-Korea relations, and ROK-Japan relations. The scholars also had the opportunity to meet with the NextGen senior advisors in Korea and members of the business and media communities to discuss their work. They also visited the new Chey Institute for Advanced Studies to learn about their initiatives. Lastly, the scholars spoke at about their research to professors and students at public events held at Korea University and Seoul National University.

U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program

The Los Angeles Program

The Los Angeles Program was held at the University of Southern California from March 13 to March 15, 2019. The theme of the Los Angeles Program is academic professionalization and media training. The NextGen Scholars participated in writing workshops for their op-eds with Mr. Evan Ramstad (journalist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune), Dr. Bridget Coggins of University of California, Santa Barbara, and program chairs Dr. Victor Cha of Georgetown and Dr. David Kang of USC. They also underwent media training and film taping of the “Korea Questions” videos at both the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Ahn House. The scholars participated in professionalization sessions on publishing and interviewing, and also met with the Consul General of the ROK in Los Angeles for a dinner on U.S.-ROK relations.

 U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Los Angeles Program U.S.-Korea NextGen Scholars Program

The Washington Program (December 2018)

The Washington Program took place in Washington, D.C. from December 5 to December 7, 2018. The Washington Program was the first opportunity for the eleven scholars to meet each other. The three-day program consisted of workshops, field visits, presentations and networking meals. They met with policymakers, academics, and journalists. The goal of the program was to introduce the scholars to the workings of Washington, which was accomplished through presentations by Korea experts, current and former government officials, and field visits to government departments and Congress.