Jeffrey Robertson


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South Korea’s international relations have been extensively studied, from its security policies to its approach to foreign aid. But while the country’s diplomats are at the center of its relations with the world, little research has been done on their actual work and South Korea’s diplomatic culture.

To hear more about South Korea’s diplomatic style, we had the honor of meeting with Professor Jeffrey Robertson. He spoke to us about the importance of understanding countries’ diplomatic styles, South Korea’s diplomatic culture as well as its unique characteristics and the generational change it is currently undergoing.

Jeffrey Robertson is a Visiting Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy (APCD) at the Australian National University (ANU) and an Assistant Professor at Yonsei University. In the past, Professor Robertson worked for the Australian Government in the field of foreign policy and North Asia; his most recent book “Diplomatic Style and Foreign Policy” (Routledge) explores the insight gained through the recognition and comprehension of diplomatic style.

At the moment I believe there is almost a generational divide in South Korean diplomatic style. The older generation, in their foreign policy interests, have a very narrow range: they are interested in economic development and they are interested in demonstrating that South Korea is the legitimate Korean nation here, focused on North Korea. The younger generation has much more diverse interests, their foreign policy interests range from development to particular countries to human rights – a much greater variety of interests.

The interview was recorded on May 26th, 2016 in Seoul