Sung-Yoon Lee

Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School

  • BA, New College
  • MALD, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
  • PhD, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University


Sung-Yoon Lee, Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies, and Assistant Professor, teaches courses on Korea and U.S.-East Asia relations. He is a former Research Fellow with the National Asia Research Program, a joint initiative by the National Bureau of Asia Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Associate in Research at the Korea Institute, Harvard University. In 2005, he launched at Harvard’s Korea Institute a new seminar series, the “Kim Koo Forum on U.S.–Korea Relations.” He has taught courses on Korean political history at Bowdoin College (2000), Sogang University (2007), and Seoul National University (2012, 2013). Recent publications include “North Korean Exceptionalism and South Korean Conventionalism: Prospects for a Reverse Formulation?” Asia Policy 15, “The Pyongyang Playbook,” Foreign Affairs, “Engaging North Korea: The Clouded Legacy of South Korea’s Sunshine Policy,” AEI Asian Outlook, and “Life After Kim: Preparing for a Post-Kim Jong Il Korea,” Foreign Policy. His essays have been published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Asia Times, The Weekly Standard, Christian Science Monitor, Far Eastern Economic Review, and Imprimus. A frequent commentator on Korean affairs, Lee has appeared on BBC, NPR, PBS, PRI, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBC, NECN, Al Jazeera, among others, and has testified as an expert witness at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on North Korea policy.

Curriculum Vitae - Sung-Yoon Lee

Professional Activities
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Politics, The Fletcher School (1998-2005)
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Tufts University (2000-2005)
  • Kim Koo Research Associate (2005-2006), and Associate in Research (1999-present), Korea Institute, Harvard University
  • Visiting Professor of Korean Studies, Sogang University (Summer, 2007)
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, Bowdoin College (Spring, 2000)

Research Interests
  • political philosophy
  • democracy
  • Confucianism
• “The Boy Who Would Be King,” NBR Expert Brief, National Bureau of Asia Research, December 28, 2011.
"The Folly of Fabled Sentimentality: South Korea’s Unorthodox Courtship of North Korea,” The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Special Report, November, 2006.
• "Dependence and Defiance: Historical Dilemmas in U.S.-Korea Relations,” Korea Policy Review, The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Summer 2006
• "The Pyongyang Playbook,” Foreign Affairs, August 26, 2010.
• “Nuclear Diplomacy vis-à-vis the DPRK: A Dead-End Street,” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs (Summer/Fall 2003), Vol. 27: 2.
• “The Mythical Nuclear Kingdom of North Korea,” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs (Summer/Fall 2005), Vol. 29:2.
• Sung-Yoon Lee, "The United States Should Make North Korean Human Rights a Priority," in Louise Gerdes, ed., Opposing Viewpoints: North Korea and South Korea (Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2007).

"Ain’t No Sunshine,” Foreign Policy, August 24, 2009.
"Target Pyongyang’s Palace Economy,” The Far Eastern Economic Review, July 20, 2009.
"Pyongyang Home Truths: Does Hillary Clinton understand the North Korean regime and how to deal with it?” Wall Street Journal Asia, February 13, 2009.
• "A Three-Handed Approach to Pyongyang," Asia Times Online, December 17, 2010.
• "Pyongyang's Latest Ploy," Wall Street Journal Asia, March 25, 2012.
• "U.S. Misses History Lesson on Korea,” Asia Times Online, July 2, 2010.
• "Why North Korea's Rocket Mattered," The New York Times, April 14, 2012.
• “Containing the Young Kim,” Wall Street Journal (US and Asia editions), December 21, 2011.
• “Hitting North Korea,” The Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2010.
• “In North Korea, Peace is War,” Asia Times Online, August 13, 2010.
• “Keeping the Peace: America in Korea, 1950-2010,” Imprimus, December 2010 (forthcoming).
• “Life After Kim: Planning for a Post-Kim Jong Il Korea,” Foreign Policy, February 16, 2010.
• “North Korea’s Carrot-and Stick Strategy,” The Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2011.
• “Take Advantage of Kim’s Bad Timing,” Wall Street Journal Asia, June 7, 2010.
• “The Winter of Kim Jong-il’s Discontent,” The Christian Science Monitor, January 5, 2011.




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The Fletcher School, Tufts University, 160 Packard Ave
Medford, MA, 02155

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