Celeste Arrington

photo: Celeste Arrington
Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
465 Monroe Hall
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Comparative politics, South Korea, Japan, North Korea, state-society relations, law and society, media and politics, Northeast Asian security

Curriculum Vitae 

Professor Arrington specializes in comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan. Her research interests include civil society, social movements, democratic governance, law and society, policymaking processes, the media and politics, and qualitative methods. She is also interested in the international relations and security of Northeast Asia and transnational activism. 

Her book, Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in South Korea and Japan, was published by Cornell University Press in February 2016 and was selected to be part of the Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute publication series at Columbia University. It examines how people who claim to have suffered due to state wrongdoing or negligence hold their governments accountable and why some victim groups obtain more redress than others.

Professor Arrington is currently writing a book analyzing lawyers' roles in the growing prominence of litigation, the courts, and rights language in Japanese and Korean politics. The book project focuses on policies related to persons with disabilities and tobacco control. Other projects explore lawsuits for historical redress, how activist lawyers organize, the North Korean human rights issue in cross-national perspective, disability rights, and litigation as a form of political participation.

Professor Arrington earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. from Princeton University. She was an advanced research fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University in 2010-2011. During the 2011-2012 year, she was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She is also a member of the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future and its U.S.-Korea Scholar-Policymaker Nexus. In 2017-2018, she is a fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University.


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley


Accidental Activists: Victims and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea, (Cornell University Press, 2016).

“Leprosy, Legal Mobilization, and the Public Sphere in Japan and South Korea,” Law & Society Review Vol. 48, no. 3 (Sept. 2014), pp. 563-593.

“The Abductions Issue in Japan and South Korea: Ten Years after Pyongyang’s Admission.” International Journal of Korean Studies 17:2 (2013): 108-139.

“The Politics of NGOs and Democratic Governance in South Korea and Japan,” (with Lee Sook-Jong). Pacific Focus 23:1 (2008): 75-96.

“Democratization and Changing Anti-American Sentiments in South Korea.” (with Oh Chang Hun). Asian Survey 47:2 (2007): 327-350.

Classes Taught

  • PSC 2368 Politics in the Two Koreas
  • PSC 6374 Korean Politics
  • PSC 3192W Civil Society in East Asia
  • PSC 6388 States and Societies in East Asia