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Jongsung Lee, Youngduk Jang and Youngmi Choi. (2014) A Study on the Independent Development of International Relations Theories in South Korea, China, and Japan. Korean Journal of International 54 (4). 75-124
After World War II, the field of international relations produced a significant increase in studies in the three main countries in Northeast Asia South Korea, China, and Japan primarily relying on theories developed from the West. However, there have been a number of movements from these three countries to develop their own international relations theories. This study aims to trace the movements in each country and compare their collective theoretical achievements. We find that due to facing different international situations, South Korea, Japan, and China have developed their own theories in different ways. Japan was in the lead developing independent theories during the two world wars in the process of pursuing regional hegemony in East Asia. However, its effort to develop independent theories was severely weakened after the war defeat. Given the Chinese movement of liberation and reform since the 1980s, China has actively sought theoretical independence from the West. Its achievements are remarkable in terms of quantity, but it is still curious in terms of quality. Lastly, Korea has improved its ability to develop its own theories, with critical acceptance of theories from the West and has finally started to show remarkable achievements since 2000. We conclude that South Korea with cooperation from Japan and China could play a significant role in the development of independent Asian theories, which would serve to reduce theoretical gaps between the West and the East.
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