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(A Selected List)



The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) annually publishes the ASEAN Investment Report by focusing on the most pressing issues of the time. In recent publications, the phenomena of how a growing number of Korean firms are actively redirecting their investments from China to ASEAN have been called for attention of UNCTAD. We contributed to this study by analyzing Korean MNCs’ investment strategy in the ASEAN region and its effects on local economies and industries. For this research, a comprehensive methodology was used to offer a systematic perspective on the role of FDI in developing economies. Overall, this research provided meaningful implications for other economies to examine and benchmark. This series of publications is also meaningful as each report incorporates recent issues in the global economy such as clusters and digital economy. Since these new global events include important topics that span from e-commerce, FinTech, big data, suppliers, and logistics, the depth and breadth of coverage are critical, and the reports provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of the global economy. More importantly, this investment reports laid out important, foundational ground that links academic theories of FDI with practice. For instance, the drivers, motivations, and strategies of FDI are analyzed by borrowing the Imbalance Theory developed by Moon and Roehl (2001) in order to offer broader and accurate perspectives on how FDI occurs in both ways: from less developed to developed economies and vice versa. In addition, by conducting an integrative approach to FDI by connecting national and firm-level analysis, we offer both policy and strategy implications for all participants of FDI in the end.



Toward the increasing outward foreign direct investment (FDI) of Korea’s multinational corporations (MNC), the Korean government and society have raised criticisms and imposed more pressures on the Korean MNCs to re-shore productions in order to create more jobs domestically. However, this social pressure works against the fundamental logic of industrial transformation and national growth which called for academic attention to analyze the accurate perspectives. To this end, this research was conducted based on the intensive literature review, case studies, and statistical tests in order to demonstrate that the public accusations on the negative impacts of Korean firms’ outward FDI on domestic employment are not accurate. In fact, employments of both Korea and host countries benefited significantly from the outward FDI of the Korean firms (e.g., Samsung Electronics Co.) and there were much more positive spillover effects. Namely, we distinguished between short-term and long-term as well as benefits and costs of outward FDI to both Vietnam and Korea through a holistic and systematic toolset. Through this analysis, meaningful implications were provided by presenting how foreign entry by Samsung in Vietnam was in fact the effect of corporate growth that eventually led to the national and industrial transformation of Korea and Vietnam. For instance, the increasing employment in Vietnam due to Samsung’s FDI occurred in more production-related, low-skilled sectors, while this led to increased employment in Samsung’s high-skill sectors such as engineering, design, and R&D. This proves that outward FDI of firms to a less developed economy (i.e., downward investment) reflects the growth of firm in both size and sophistication, and therefore must be seen as a positive phenomenon that has potential benefits for all participating countries, firms, and individuals.



The protectionist and re-shoring policies of the US Trump government are expected to have a significant impact on FDI as well as the trade. Indeed, UNCTAD's latest report estimated that global FDI inflows declined in 2017, while geopolitical risks and political uncertainties in 2018 increased economic uncertainty, which facilitated negative impacts on FDI inflows into developing countries even more. The competition among developing countries for attracting FDI is thus expected to become more intense. Therefore, India needs to establish more active and effective FDI policies. To this end, this report first examined new challenges of the global investment environment from the perspective of Global Value Chain (GVC), which encompasses not only trade but also various international means including investment and none-equity mode. In this study, we applied comprehensive and rigorous approaches to derive convincing implications for the practitioners. By analyzing the external environment and internal attractiveness of India, in particular, this study presented four fundamental determinants that affect the FDI attractiveness in the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, we conducted a comparative analysis of the 10 major Asian countries that are attracting FDI for manufacturing. Through this analysis, we can better understand the strengths and weaknesses of India, compared to its competitors. Finally, based on the above investigation and analysis, this study presented a series of policy implications and strategic directions for Indian policymakers through the GVC approach.



This project aimed to provide important implications for Guangdong Province’s industrial upgrade by benchmarking Korea’s experiences on industrial upgrade since the 1960s. This study divided Korea’s economic development into three stages: developing stage (1960s and 1970s), transitional stage (1980s and 1990s), and developed stage (since 2000s), and examined the determinants of industrial upgrade. This study selected five labor-intensive industries as case studies to investigate how an industry can be upgraded to a higher end of the industry value chain (i.e., intra industry upgrade). Through extensive studies on Korea’s industrial development, the study found that there are mainly two strategies for industrial upgrade, one is to solve current problems and the other is to create new competitive advantages. Through this analysis, this research revealed that Guangdong should not only focus on industry transfer from the Pearl River Delta to other less developed regions, but also pay close attention to enhancing its core competitiveness within local industries by solving existing problems and creating new advantages. In addition, this study emphasized that the development policy should be designed according to the economy’s development stage (e.g., developing, transitional, and developed). This study provided directions and solutions at the industry level for Guangdong’s future development. Considering the unique economic environment of Guangdong, this study modified Korea’s industry development model to make it applicable to the province, thereby facilitating its industrial upgrade from developing to developed stage. Lastly, this research provided strategic directions of creating international-linking clusters, by cooperating with Hong Kong and Macao, and further expanding its international linkages to emerge as global-linking cluster by acting as a bridge between Northeast and Southeast Asia.



The government of Azerbaijan attempted to transform its oil-based economy to a more diversified economic structure through FDI. In order to promote more FDI, fostering favorable business environment for foreign investors is crucial. In this sense, Azerbaijan should evaluate its overall national competitiveness to figure out how to enhance its strengths and improve its critical weaknesses. However, we found it problematic that most consulting reports on national economic development tend to reflect a biased or partial picture of competitiveness; or even sometimes give policy recommendations that are not applicable to the situations of the country. To give more realistic and strategic policy suggestions, this research conducted a rigorous analysis and then recommended suggestions according to the level of economic development based on policy priorities and terms. Moreover, in the case of Azerbaijan, both inherited and created assets can become the drivers of its economic development. Since Azerbaijan has strong inherited advantage, we suggested that it should make good use of its inherited resources and move toward creating new advantages by diversifying its industries and not diluting its core competencies. In order to do so, this report suggested that Azerbaijan should move toward clean and healthy development. In addition, for a more efficient and faster development, Azerbaijan should seek strategic alliances with multinational firms. This will help Azerbaijani companies benefit from technological spillover and gain managerial competitiveness. With well-designed strategy, our solution suggested that Azerbaijan can become one of the most successful countries in the region and a business hub by connecting the region and the world.



This report aimed to assess the competitiveness of Dubai with a more sophisticated and comprehensive approach and suggested specific policy guidelines to overcome its 2008 economic crisis and find opportunity. First, we looked at Dubai’s overall performance based on eight determinants. Second, we compared Dubai’s competitiveness with that of the other eight Strong-Small Economies (SSEs) from the main-factor and sub-factor levels to present Dubai’s general strengths and weaknesses. Third, we conducted a more rigorous research regarding Dubai’s strengths and weaknesses on a detailed criteria level. Overall, this research utilized 200 criteria for evaluation. Fourth, we suggested a step-by-step approach to improve Dubai’s competitiveness in terms of the priority and term (i.e., Term-Priority Matrix). Finally, we proposed a list of potential benchmark countries which Dubai can adopt to compare and enhance its competitiveness. In addition to this project, our team has published an article in 2016 by focusing on the complementary role of Dubai and South Korea based on the earlier findings of the consulting project. Most existing studies explain national competitiveness from a narrow perspective, for example, only looking into supply or demand as in traditional economics. Our work provided a more comprehensive analysis using the extended model of Porter’s single diamond model. In addition, this paper conducted an intensive empirical study of Dubai and Korea, and proposed a cooperative strategy between the two countries. As geographically and culturally distant countries, Dubai and Korea share complementary resources which can work toward enhancing the overall competitiveness of the two countries when effectively connected.



This research begins by emphasizing on how national competitiveness is not measured by a single index such as GDP or trade balance, but by a composite index comprising all of the important competitiveness variables. For this purpose, an extended version of Porter’s diamond model is used in analyzing Malaysia’s competitiveness. This report investigated the overall picture of Malaysia’s competitiveness structure and provided recommendations for future policy and strategy directions by establishing criteria of prioritization for achieving economic advancement. Malaysia’s competitiveness is evaluated against that of other countries based on the data collected by Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), which has about 100 overseas branch offices. Data published or collected by other reliable international organizations are also used. In addition to this methodology, the two generic strategies – cost and differentiation – are applied to see which strategy is appropriate for Malaysia’s overall strategy formulation. The results showed that Malaysia ranked 28th in the world ranking and 5th in the intra-group among intermediary-medium countries with relatively low ranking of professionals in the Main Factor rankings. Simulations of two generic strategies were used by applying dynamic weighting scheme and it revealed that there were drastic changes in the rankings from 39th to the 16th; this clearly suggests that Malaysia should pursue differentiation strategy in order to enhance its competitiveness. For further development, Malaysia should move from protection to competition, and there should be more growth in the intangible assets within its related and supporting sectors. Based on this analysis, a possible scenario suggested the solution to how Malaysia can reach the 1st rank among the medium-intermediary countries, and the rank 5th among medium-strong countries. This study laid foundations for further research on the industry-specific level of studies for policy and strategy formulation.


  • Enhancing the Education Program of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Board of Trustees, (December 2020 – June 2021)

  • Building the Strategy for the Development of Invest India, KOTRA (July 2017 – June 2018)

  • UNCTAD: Asian Investment Report, UNCTAD, United Nations (2016 – 2019)

  • The Strategy for Korea’s Inward FDI in the New Business Environment, KOTRA (2017)

  • Korean Firms’ Investment in Southeast Asia, UNCTAD, United Nations (2016)

  • Korean Culture, the Ministry of Education and the Academy of Korean Studies (2015-16)

  • The Competitiveness of Samsung, Samsung Economic Research Institute (2014)

  • Korea’s Economy in the Future, KAIST Future Institute (2014)

  • Corporate Social Responsibility of Samsung, Samsung Electronics Co. (2013)

  • Foreign Direct Investment of Samsung, Samsung Electronics Co. (2012)

  • The Competitiveness of Guangdong Area, Government of Guangdong, China (2011)

  • The Competitiveness of Azerbaijan, Korea International Cooperation Agency (2010)

  • How to Attract Foreign Investment, Ministry of Knowledge and Economy, Korea (2009)

  • Dubai’s Competitiveness, Dubai Competitiveness Council (2008)

  • Developing National Advancement Index, Hanbando Advancement Institute (2008)

  • The Strategy for “Invest Korea”, Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (2007)

  • Enhancing Business Cooperation between Korea and Japan, Hitotsubashi University (2006)

  • Foreign Direct Investment by the Korean Firms, UNCTAD, United Nations (2005)

  • Competition and Cooperation between Korea and Japan, University of Tokyo (2005)

  • Malaysia’s Competitiveness, Malaysian Government (2004)

  • The Role of Foreign Direct Investment by the Foreign Firms in Korea, World Bank (2004)

  • Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions, APEC, Singapore (2003)

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