David C. Kang

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David C. Kang is Professor at the University of Southern California, with appointments in both the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business. He is also Director of the Korean Studies Institute at USC and University Fellow in the Center for Public Diplomacyp. He describes his research as generally on the international relations of Asia, with specific work on economic development, security relations in the region, and the historical basis of contemporary relations.[1] Since 2006, he has been an associate of the National Intelligence Council.

Previously, he was Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, Yale University, Seoul National University, Korea University, and the University of Geneva.

North Korea

He suggests that the successor to Kim Jong-Il "more belligerent North Korea that is less willing to negotiate with the outside".[2] This came after a U.S. announcement of joint military exercises in the area, which China, quoting Kang, suggested might escalate tensions, although the first recent talks between the North Korean and U.S. military commands were taking place.[3]

Public diplomacy


Illustrating the issues of cross-cultural perceptions in contemporary international relations, he wrote about U.S. perceptions of South Korea regarding Dokdo:[4]

So the Korean mindset makes perfect sense: “Koreans really care about Dokdo; our claim is justified and the more resistance we face, the more emotional we become in order to convince you.” Yet, in American culture, it works in reverse. The more emotional a person becomes, the less he or she is perceived to be serious. The belief in the U.S. is that one needs to “calm down” and that only when the people are rational can we really make headway into solving the problems and issues.

I have been in meetings with sitting U.S., Korean, and Japanese officials, and watched an American official say “Koreans are emotional about this issue,” while the Koreans nod approvingly, thinking the Americans understand how important this is to Koreans. Yet the exact opposite message is sent! The message the American sent was: “You guys are crazy and we just try to avoid you;” not “your emotional claim means you are more serious than the Japanese.” To that end, shouts about politics at a baseball game serve to undermine, not enhance, Korea’s claim on Dokdo in international and, in particular, Western eyes.


  • A.B. International Relations and Anthropology, Stanford, 1988
  • Ph.D. Political Science, Berkeley, 1995


  1. David Kang, Professor of International Relations and Business, University of Southern California
  2. Park Chan-Kyong (14 July 2010), US, S.Korea to hold joint military exercises: Pentagon, Agence France-Presse
  3. Park Chan-Kyong (15 July 2010), "DPRK to hold talks with UN Command", China Daily)
  4. Korea’s Emotional Diplomacy, David C. Kang. Public Diplomacy Magazine. 2009-06-27.