Asia’s Quest for Smarter Cities

What Role for South Korea, the United States, and Others in Leading the Way?

On March 2, 2021, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) convened a private roundtable entitled “Asia’s Quest for Smarter Cities: What Role for South Korea, the United States, and Others in Leading the Way?” The event was moderated by NBR Senior Advisor Clara Gillispie, and featured Jung-Hoon Lee (Yonsei University), June Park (George Washington University), and Se Hyun Ahn (University of Seoul). The roundtable was attended by 25–30 experts on smart cities, data policy, innovation, and related areas. Following the panelists’ opening remarks, participants joined in an open discussion on these topics for a lively conversation.

The group discussed the benefits and risks associated with the transition to smart cities, the latest trends and technologies in this realm, the challenges of crafting data policies that ensure citizens’ rights and privacy as the use of data is increasingly incorporated into city planning, and the importance of working with other countries to improve smart city development. The event was part of Ms. Gillispie’s ongoing examination of South Korea’s 5G and data governance policies. NBR is grateful for the support of the Korea Foundation for this project.

Speaker Bios

Clara Gillispie is a Senior Advisor to NBR. Her subject-matter expertise covers topics ranging from technology policymaking to energy security to geopolitical trends in the Asia-Pacific. Ms. Gillispie is the author of numerous policy essays and reports, including “Networked Benefits: Realizing the Potential of 5G in South Korea” (2020) and “South Korea’s 5G Ambitions” (2020). Previously, Ms. Gillispie served as a Senior Director for Trade, Economic, and Energy Affairs at NBR. She was also a 2020 International Visiting Fellow at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, a 2019–20 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie India, and a 2017–18 SAFE Energy Security Fellow.

Jung-Hoon Lee is an Associate Dean of UIC and Professor of Technology and Innovation Management in the Graduate School of Information at Yonsei University in Seoul. He also serves as the chair of the Smart City Committee of Seoul Metropolitan Government, advising the mayor of Seoul, Park Won Soon, for the next three years. Professor Lee has been involved in several leading R&D projects supported by the South Korean government, including developing a national strategy and vision for smart cities, analyzing and designing smart city services and implementation, and developing performance management systems. Active in leading the development of five-year master plans for smart cities, he served as associate project manager for Seoul Metropolitan City and Busan, South Korea’s second-largest metropolis. For more information on Jung-Hoon Lee’s work with smart cities, click here to access his 2019 Smart Cities Index Report.

June Park is a Political Economist and an East Asia Voices Initiative Fellow with the East Asia National Resource Center at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. She works on trade, energy, and tech conflicts with a broad range of regional focuses. Dr. Park studies why countries have different policy outcomes by analyzing governance structures–the domestic institutions, leaderships, and bureaucracies that shape the policy formation process. She is finalizing her first book manuscript, Trade Wars and Currency Conflict: China, South Korea and Japan’s Responses to U.S. Pressures since the Global Financial Crisis. Her second book project, Europe’s Challenges and Responses: Between Faustian Bargains with China and U.S. Pressures since Brexit, examines the policy responses from Germany, France, and the post-Brexit United Kingdom to China and the United States in the era of geoeconomic conflict and artificial intelligence.

Se Hyun Ahn is Professor of the Department of International Relations and Director of the Center for Energy Security Strategic Studies at the University of Seoul. He is also a Senior Advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research. Dr. Ahn is an expert in energy security and diplomacy, oil and natural gas pipeline politics, security issues in Northeast Asia, and U.S.-Russia-China relations. He formerly served as vice president for International Affairs at the University of Seoul, Vice President for Korea University’s International Cooperation Committee, and as a member of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation. Dr. Ahn advises the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.