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Vinson Fellow to explore issues affecting Korean Peninsula

October 11, 2017 | Students

By Rachel Kelley

Rachel Kelley

Vinson Fellow to explore issues affecting Korean Peninsula

I am a fourth-year Foundation Fellow majoring in International Affairs, with a double minor in French and Korean. Throughout my college career, I have focused on security studies. Last fall, I studied terrorism and asymmetric warfare at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. This past summer, I conducted research on nuclear issues at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, culminating in a presentation about public acceptance of nuclear power at the 2017 International Conference on Nuclear Nonproliferation.

I applied to become a Vinson Fellow out of a desire to further research topics related to the Korean peninsula, as the Institute’s International Center has a strong South Korea program and it’s director Rusty Brooks is very knowledgeable about Korean issues and has many contacts here and abroad. My fellowship will provide excellent support and guidance for my research, allowing me to develop a stronger and more in-depth project.

Recently, tensions increased on the Korean peninsula, so I believe it is crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of North Korea and North-South relations. I am planning to center my research on North Korea and work to understand the driving factors behind the government’s policies, behaviors and actions. With Dr. Brooks’ guidance, I hope to explore the interplay of those elements with the preservation of the Kim regime and North Korea as a whole, using international relations theories to explain these behaviors.

My goal is to develop meaningful analyses and conclusions and use that research as a building block in my future career and other endeavors. I hope to become more knowledgeable about North Korea, and the Korean Peninsula as a whole, and use this information to ameliorate international relations, understanding, and cooperation.


A senior from Marietta, Rachel Kelley is majoring in International Affairs and French, with a minor in Korean Language and Literature. She has completed fellowships with UGA faculty in Bali, South Korea, New York and Washington, D.C., and studied in France and  England. Her research interests include exploring international business and its connection to cultural competency and understanding. She hopes to become a foreign service officer or analyst upon graduation.