Meet the Prof: Yongwook Ryu

8 Apr 2019


What are your research area and interests?

My field is International Relations, and my research focuses on both Northeast and Southeast Asia, that is, China, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and ASEAN. I emphasize the importance domestic politics and ideational factors for our understanding of regional inter-state relations.

What excites you about Asia?

Asia is the most important region of the world, and I think that Southeast Asia will grow in significance and prestige in the future. Power has shifted from the trans-Atlantic to the Pacific, and will continue to shift to the Indo-Pacific, with Southeast Asia being at the center of this long-term trend. Asia has been and will remain the most action-packed part of the world, and I want to become part of it.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Zhuangzi. I like Chinese philosophy, especially Lao-Zhuang philosophy. It offers a very different and balanced way of looking at life and putting things into perspective. In particular I like his story-telling way of conveying his message, and some of the stories he tells in the book are very beautiful. I have a list of questions I want to ask him, which includes but are not limited to the following: what is the purpose and meaning of life, what is true harmony, and what to make of current China from his perspective. One day if I develop a sophisticated understanding of Chinese philosophy, I might write a book on IR and Lao-Zhuang Philosophy.

What is the one thing that you cannot leave home without?

My daughter’s kiss on my cheek!

What is your favourite food/hobbies in Singapore?

I am not so fussy about food, so long as it is not spicy, so it is hard to pick my favourite food here. Much to my surprise, I really like kopi at toast box, and am still trying to figure out the differences between kopi O, C, Kosong, etc. My hobbies are workout, playing the saxophone, and strolls in parks. My recent activity in Singapore has been to explore different neighborhoods and try to find nice cafes with good ambience.

Any messages or tips for your students at the LKYSPP?

Take Zen approach to the grade you get, because learning is more than the grade. Also, find your own voice and identity in this world and make a difference!

Learn more about Assistant Professor Ryu's research and profile by visiting his faculty profile page.