2022 Undergraduate Fellow Spotlight: Jennifer Kim

Jennifer Kim is a rising senior at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is majoring in International Studies on the Security, Norms and Cooperation track, and plans on a minor in the Environment. Her international background (born in the US to South Korean parents and raised in the Philippines and China), in addition to her participation in the Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative Mentorship Program at CNS, sparked her interest in diplomacy and nonproliferation. She is especially interested in the intersection of peace advocacy, multilateral diplomacy, international human rights, and the perceptions of security in East Asia, with a focus on China, South Korea, and North Korea. Outside of academics, she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Journal of Asian Studies and the treasurer for Michigan Taekwondo. She also participates as a delegate in the Youth Meeting of State Parties (MSP) for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. She is working towards increasing voices of women of color in US foreign policy and in being a part of the movement for peace. In her free time, Jennifer trains in Taekwondo and likes to cook. 

Final Presentation: Denuclearization, Peace, & Security Interests Concerning the Korean Peninsula

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With my independent project, I wanted to re-examine what denuclearization on the Korean peninsula should involve. All of the major parties involved in the issue agree that denuclearization is pertinent to peace; currently, there is also little movement on providing security guarantees that could ease the way for North Korean denuclearization. With tensions rising between the US and China, and with the new Yoon administration moving South Korea closer to the US, the way forward becomes even more complicated. Given these current geopolitical concerns, I examined how the security interests of six nations – North Korea, South Korea, the US, Japan, China, and Russia – influence confidence-building (or breaking) and the work towards denuclearizing North Korea. To this end, I inspected each country’s security interests, building a map of relationships and a list of policies on peace and denuclearization along the way. I also analyzed and connected these policies to current events in the region, such as the Yoon administration’s conversations with Japanese and US officials on North Korea, helping me understand trends in collaboration. Furthermore, I reviewed literature suggesting scenarios and steps for reunification, which provided a conceptualization of peace as a large puzzle that involves many economic, cultural, political, social, and diplomacy-related pieces. From this, I drew three themes. Firstly, whether the outcome in the long-run involves a reunification or a continued stalemate, security guarantees are important to facilitating denuclearization.  Secondly, ‘peace’ cannot end with denuclearization or reunification; it involves so many moving pieces that can fall out of place if one state’s security interests are not met. And finally, I am left with the question of how denuclearization can be achieved in a way that addresses some, if not all, of the security concerns of these parties.