Wooyun Jo is a doctoral researcher currently studying ‘Korea and Great Powers – the Politics of a Divided Peninsula.’

My thesis studies alliance and great power politics, with a major focus on the relationship between a smaller ally and a great power patron state. I provide three case studies of the Republic of Korea-the United States Alliance.

My route into PhD

Before my PhD, I was an artillery officer in the South Korean Army. I served as a Forward Observation Officer (FO), and in this capacity, I collected intelligence and information near the border to accurately direct the fire of an artillery unit from a forward position. My grandfather fought against Communism during the Korean War, and my father also served in the military. This family heritage led me to become an army officer.

I was stationed very near the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), a border between two Koreas. One day, I was completing the mission in my observation post, staring at North Korean soldiers aggressively targeting my team; the question came to me: why should Koreans live under such an eternal conflict? This question followed me for a very long time during military service; therefore, I decided to undertake a PhD to answer the question I got in DMZ.

My experience studying at Loughborough               

I am the Columbus of this research adventure. I love exploring new continents of knowledge, which I can touch before others! This is the greatest joy of studying for a PhD.

Loughborough University provides fantastic facilities for researchers. Our department recently moved to a renovated building with a new desk, chair and computer. These facilities truly help me focus on my research.

I would say that the most different thing about studying a PhD is the curriculum. For PG/UG study, you have a specific timeline and curricula to follow to complete the degree. Still, for PhD, everything is designed by a researcher (with the help of supervisors). Of course, this sense of independence can be a pressure, but managing your own time and research is fantastic.

My advice for future doctoral researchers

My strong advice is to come and join this vibrant research community! You will find yourself as a part of the Loughborough family, and the University will enormously support your success.

I can assure you that Loughborough University provides the utmost support to its PhD students. The University generously supported my fieldwork in Virginia, Missouri, Washington D.C., and Seoul!

My career goals

I am still navigating this adventure and do not know where I will arrive at the end. However, I endeavour to develop my academic career to teach students and research more about Alliance Politics and Great Power Politics.

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