February 6th, 2016
January 28th, 2016
Every year on January 13, the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) sponsors a luncheon in Washington, DC to mark Korean American Day and recognize the local and national Korean American community. As part of the ceremony, KEI recognizes prominent Korean Americans that have made significant contributions in their field. This year, we recognized leaders in the culinary arts, including today's guest.
Chef Rachel Yang is co-owner of three restaurants in the Seattle area: Joule, Revel and Trove. Born in Seoul, she moved to the United States as a teenager, and tries to marry these two cultures in her cooking. In this episode, we discuss Chef Yang's background, her creative process, and how her husband won her over by making kimchi.
January 22nd, 2016
B.R. Myers is the author of “The Cleanest Race” and regular contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic.
January 15th, 2016
January 8th, 2016
December 28th, 2015
December 17th, 2015
Every year on January 13, the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) sponsors a luncheon in Washington, DC to mark Korean American Day and recognize the local and national Korean American community. In 2015, KEI honored Korean Americans leaders in sports. One of the honorees was Toby Dawson, Olympic bronze medalist and now coach of the South Korean national freestyle ski team.
In this episode, KEI senior director Troy Stangarone sits down with Toby to talk about how he got his start in skiing, what it was like to compete in the Olympics, how he dealt with the transition from athlete to coach, and much more.
December 11th, 2015
December 2nd, 2015
It started in 2009 with a few audio lessons. Within just six years, Talk to Me in Korean has grown into a huge hit, with millions of listeners from all over the world visiting the site to improve their Korean language skills. The organization has now expanded to include video lessons, textbooks, and even a coffee shop.
In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson connects with TTMIK founder Hyunwoo Sun to discuss how how he got the idea for the site, how they have dealt with its popularity, and his thoughts on teaching Korean culture along with teaching language.
November 20th, 2015
November 5th, 2015
October 28th, 2015
On a frozen day in December, 1950, as the Korean War raged below him, Jesse Brown crash landed on a North Korean mountainside. A few minutes later, Tom Hudner followed suit, deliberately slamming his aircraft into the mountain in an effort to rescue his friend from behind enemy lines.
This heroic story is the subject of Devotion, a new book by bestselling author Adam Makos. In this episode, guest host Nicholas Hamisevicz sits down with Adam to discuss this incredible story, how he chose to tell it in his book, and the trip Adam took with Tom Hudner in 2013 back to North Korea to fulfill the promise he had made to bring his friend home.
October 20th, 2015
Starting on October 20, 2015, a group of South Koreans will have the chance to cross the DMZ to meet with brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and other family members that they have not seen in 65 years. For this round of meetings, more than 65,000 South Koreans were eligible, but only 100 were chosen by lottery to participate. Many of them are in their 80s and 90s.
In this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sits down with Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director executive director of The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), to discuss this round of family reunions in the larger context of North Korean human rights. They also discuss the growing urgency to reunite families, the politicization of these meetings, and much more.
October 14th, 2015
October 9th, 2015
From 1966 to 1981, around 2,000 Peace Corps volunteers lived and worked in South Korea. After returning to the United States, many volunteers wanted a way to share their Korean experience. So, in the 1990s, they formed Friends of Korea (FOK), an organization dedicated to fostering cultural awareness and friendship between Americans and Koreans. FOK has since grown to include anyone interested in learning more about Korea and promoting ties between Korea and the United States.
In this episode, KEI's Jenna Gibson sits down with Nancy Kelly, president of FOK, and David Lassiter, a member of the Board of Directors. They discuss Nancy and David's Peace Corps experience and their work with Friends of Korea, including a new DVD they have produced on Korea's economic transformation over the past 60 years.
September 29th, 2015
September 18th, 2015
September 10th, 2015
September 3rd, 2015
August 20th, 2015
Nicholas Hamisevicz has been KEI's director of research and academic affairs for four years. Now, he is leaving KEI to pursue his Ph.D at Catholic University.
August 12th, 2015
July 31st, 2015
Over the past few years, North Korea has been holding press conferences starring so-called re-defectors – people who fled to the South and chose to return. Steven Denney and Christopher Green sit down with KEI’s Nicholas Hamisevicz to discuss their analysis of these press conferences and their place in North Korea’s information management strategy.
Please click here to read their recent KEI APS paper on these re-defector press conferences and to view the March 12, 2015 program.
September 16th, 2014
September 2nd, 2014
August 8th, 2014
July 25th, 2014
June 20th, 2014
In this episode, we talk with Dr. Adam Cathcart of the University of Leeds and of Sino-NK about China-North Korea relations. Dr. Cathcart has just written an Academic Paper Series report for KEI examining China-North Korea cooperation in Special Economic Zones along the border and the future of the Chinese-North Korean relationship after the purge of Jang Song-taek. He also recently visited the border region between China and North Korea.
Articles and books mentioned in this podcast:
Adam Cathcart, “In the Shadow of Jang Song-taek: Pyongyang’s Evolving SEZ Strategy with the Hwanggumpyeong and Wihwa Islands,” Korea Economic Institute of America, Academic Paper Series, June 19, 2014.
May 22nd, 2014
Articles and books mentioned in this podcast:
Hayley Channer, “Australia’s Gains in Northeast Asia Pave the Way for Obama’s Trip,” April 22, 2014, East-West Center, Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 258, at http://www.eastwestcenter.org/publications/australia%E2%80%99s-gains-in-northeast-asia-pave-the-way-obama%E2%80%99s-trip
Hayley Channer, “Manufacturing Partners: Japan-South Korea security Cooperation and Australia’s Potential Role,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Strategic Insight, March 2014, at https://www.aspi.org.au/publications/manufacturing-partners-japan-south-korea-security-cooperation-and-australias-potential-role/SI69Japan_ROK.pdf
Hugh White, The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power, Black Inc, Melbourne Australia, 2012.
Hugh White, “Power Shift: Australia’s Future between Washington and Beijing,” Quarterly Essay No. 39.
April 25th, 2014
The Francis Effect is everywhere. Time Magazine named Pope Francis their 2013 Person of the Year, another magazine dedicated specifically to covering Pope Francis has been started in Italy, and politicians and leaders are trying to use the Pope’s messages as support for their own causes. The Francis effect will be large in Asia this year as the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will visit South Korea in August. Moreover, with the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II on April 27, this gives us an opportunity to examine the last time a Pope visited South Korea as well.
October 24th, 2013
Public opinion can help to both shape and inform public policy. A president with strong approval numbers across ideological divides has significant scope to make policy decisions. While a national consensus on an issue can both help to facilitate policy options and limit the scope for compromise on critical foreign policy issues. To discuss this important aspect of the policy process, Korean Kontext sat down with Karl Friedhoff of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies to discuss the favorability of the new Park Geun-hye administration, the future influence of the United States and China on global affairs, as well as the prospect of a new norm in Korea-Japan relations.
October 4th, 2013
In the mid-1990s, North Korea experienced a famine that by some estimates wiped out 10 percent of the population. Though many at the time thought the regime would collapse, it has maintained control on power while at times allowing markets to spring up to supplement the state economy. At various points these openings have led to speculation that North Korea could engage in Chinese style economic reforms.
September 27th, 2013
September 20th, 2013
On April 8, North Korea withdrew all of its workers from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, temporarily placing on hold the last form of cooperation between North and South Korea from the sunshine era. The complex, which employed 53,000 North Korean workers at 123 South Korean factories, served as an important form of cooperation and had become the primary avenue for trade between the two Koreas.
- Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics
- Mark Manyin of the Congressional Research Service (CRS)
March 14th, 2013
South Korea’s nuclear energy industry has for decades been facilitated through close cooperation with counterparts in the United States under what is known as a “123 Agreement”. Today South Korea’s nuclear power program supplies roughly one third of the nation’s electricity and the country has begun a concerted effort to break into the nuclear export market. But as South Korea’s nuclear power industry and infrastructure has grown, so too has its desire for peaceful nuclear sovereignty, something that would entail their acquisition of domestic reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities.
A problem arises from the fact that the current U.S. – South Korea nuclear cooperation agreement limits Seoul’s capacity to acquire the sensitive nuclear technologies required for both reprocessing and uranium enrichment. However, because that treaty expires on March 19 2014, Korean policy makers are currently negotiating with American counterparts to change the terms of agreement.
To date, the U.S. has opposed South Korea’s requests on the grounds of general non-proliferation policy and the complications that such activities might pose for other security issues on the Korean peninsula. On the other hand, South Korea needs to find a solution to its nuclear waste problem, and hopes to join the ranks of U.S. allies like Japan and India trusted with enrichment and reprocessing technologies.
With scope for potential disagreement, the two parties are running out of time to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the dilemma, and even after any updated 123 agreement is filed, it must sit before congress for 90 days, with time reserved for any complications which may arise during the review process.
As debates continue to swirl about the future of U.S. – South Korea nuclear cooperation we invite you to join us for a special podcast that looks at the issue from a number of angles. Panelists include:
- Mr. Gordon Flake, Mansfield Foundation (Washington, DC)
- Mr. Mark Fitzpatrick, International Institute for Strategic Studies (London)
- Mr. Mark Holt, Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC)
- Prof. Seongho Sheen, Seoul National University (Seoul, ROK)
January 24th, 2013
Not everyone in Korea or foreigners abroad want to hear about national advertising initiatives that focus on mainstream issues like K-Pop, Hallyu or ancient Korean Kimchi culture. Instead, many want to know what ordinary Koreans are talking about and how they feel while going about their daily lives. But where do they go to find out about these kind of things without Korean language skills?
Well, stepping in to fill this void last year was a website called Korea Bang, developed by two postgraduate Korean Studies students hailing from the United Kingdom. Geared primarily at offering English translations of Korea’s most popular online stories and related comments, KoreaBang.com has grown rapidly to become one of the most visited English language websites in the world to focus exclusively on Korean daily life and culture.
To find out more, Korean Kontext spoke to one of the sites two founding editors, Mr. James Pearson. Through an in-depth interview with Pearson, we found out how the site plays an important role for both the general public and serious Korea watching communities. Pearson also gave details about the unique lens that the site provides and detailed some of the stories that often lay untouched by English language media.
January 17th, 2013
On January 11, 2013, the Korea Economic Institute of America recently led Washington DC's celebration of Korean American Day by hosting a luncheon event to honor two Korean Americans for their work in giving back to local, regional, and international communities. Joined at the event by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and NBC4 TV Presenter Eun Yang, KEIA recognized the work of One Day's Wages founder Eugene Cho, and Kyung Yoon, co-founder of the Korean American Community Foundation.
After the event and ceremony, Korean Kontext got the opportunity to speak more with Eugene and Kyung, to find out more about their work, how Korean Americans are giving back, and what they thought about being recognized for their endeavors. Join us for a very special podcast with the honorees of Korean American Day 2013!
December 7th, 2012
With North Korea announcing to the world that it will be attempting to launch a second satellite for 2012, many analysts have been speculating as to why Pyongyang is so keen to try another launch just months after the last one ended in catastrophic failure. Marking the 100 year anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, 2012 is a highly symbolic year for North Korea and it seems likely that domestic motivations are playing an important role in understanding the timing of the next launch. But with South Korea’s presidential elections coinciding with the rocket launch window, it is also possible the DPRK may be attempting to influence that the ROK’s electoral outcome.
To make sense of what's going on, Korea Kontext spoke to Mark Fitzpatrick, the Director of Non-Proliferation and Disarmament at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Following North Korea's weapons of mass destruction programs for a number of years, Fitzpatrick has a close understanding of the drivers behind Pyongyang's strategic thinking. Prior to his appointment at IISS, Fitzpatrick focused on non-proliferation issues at the State Department in Washington DC for over 25 years. Among his duties, Fitzpatrick oversaw implementation of the Proliferation Security Initiative, advanced conventional arms and technology controls, proliferation sanctions, and export control cooperation programs.
Join us for a timely and insightful conversation on the impact and consequences of North Korea's next satellite launch.
November 26th, 2012
In this episode we spoke to The Economist's South Korea correspondent, Daniel Tudor. Having been based in Korea for over a decade, Tudor has just finished writing one of the few English language books to have been published in recent years on the subject of the Republic of Korea.
In Korea: The Impossible Country, Tudor examines Korea's cultural foundations; the Korean character; the public sphere in politics, business, and the workplace as well as the family, dating, and marriage. In doing so, he touches on topics as diverse as shamanism, clan-ism, the dilemma posed by North Korea, the myths about doing business in Korea, the Koreans' renowned hard-partying ethos, and why the infatuation with learning English is now causing huge social problems.
In the podcast we touch upon several of these subjects and take a close look at some of the unique qualities that have made South Korea the country it is today. Join us for a fascinating conversation and download the episode today!
October 15th, 2012
With worldwide familiarity of Korean pop culture increasing through the viral exposure of Korean musician Psy’s hit record “Gangnam Style”, this episode Korean Kontext speaks to Mark James Russell, author of “Pop Goes to Korea”.
Having lived in South Korea for over 13 years, Russell is a regular writer on Korean culture and entertainment for the New York Times, Newsweek, and Hollywood Reporter among other titles. Having also spent several years developing and producing several documentaries about Korean pop culture and history, Korean Kontext thought he would make an ideal candidate for trying to understand South Korea’s increasing prominence in the worlds of film, music and art.
What does the rise of Psy tell us about the popularity of Korean music in the United States, how is the internet helping bubble Korean content creators to the top of the game, and what role can government play in catalyzing the cultural output of its people? Mark answers these questions and more in essential listening for anyone interested in Korea’s growing cultural prominence.
September 24th, 2012
In this episode we spoke to B.R. Myers, author of “The Cleanest Race” and regular contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic. Having been raised in South Africa and having received his MA in Soviet Studies just in time for the fall of the Berlin Wall, Myers went on to earn a PhD in North Korean literature in the early 1990s. Now based in South Korea, Myers is an associate professor of international studies at Dongseo University in Busan
From his book “The Cleanest Race”, Myers stands out from the rest for arguing that North Korea's political system is based neither on Communism or Stalinism and that attempts to understand North Korea as a Confucian patriarchy operating within a Cold War framework are misguided. His views have received mixed opinions from the think-tank orthodoxy. While some regard his outlook as a fresh approach to the topic, others have rebutted his interpretation of North Korea as a national socialist country and continue to view it through the lens of cold war politics.
Join us for a fascinating interview with Myers about his feelings on the North Korea watcher community’s reception to his work, his feelings of North Korea's current situation and about the future of North-South relations.
September 4th, 2012
In this interview Korea Kontext speaks with Dr. Jennifer Lind, assistant professor at the Department of Government, Dartmouth College. Well known for her work on North Korea and N.E. Asia security issues, Lind’s research interests includes war memory and international politics, regime change and East Asian stability, and the evolution of nationalism. She’s also well known for a paper she wrote last year with Bruce Bennett of the Rand Foundation, which focused on what force requirements would be needed in the event of a benign collapse of the Pyongyang regime.
With her North Korea focus, in this episode we caught up with Dr. Lind about the DPRK government’s resilience and whether or not it will be possible for Kim Jong-un to make substantial reforms moving forward. If you enjoy the podcast, you may also be interested in reading an additional Q&A with her on the KEI blog website, on the subject of inter-state apologies in N.E. Asia.
August 14th, 2012
In this episode we spoke to comedian and actor Steven Byrne, of the brand new TBS series “Sullivan and Sons”. Known as one of the hardest working and energetic comics in the U.S., since his first show in 1997 Byrne has gradually risen to the top and become one of America’s premiere comics to watch. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Steve Byrne was born to a Korean mother and an Irish father and has been featured in numerous comedy tours and festivals including the The Kims of Comedy with fellow Korean-American comedians Bobby Lee, Ken Jeong and Kevin Shea.
In the podcast Korean Kontext talked to Byrne over Skype about his links to Korea, his decision to pursue a career in comedy, and his new project, Sullivan and Sons. Join us for a fascinating conversation with one of the funniest comedians in the U.S.
July 24th, 2012
Korean Kontext recently spoke to Gordon Flake of the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation for a conversation about Korea's rising prominence as a "middle power". Focussing on South Korea's rapidly strengthening international status, Mr. Flake explained the conditions that helped lead to South Korea's impressive growth, how its influence on the global stage compares to other similarly sized nations, and how its alliance with the U.S. helps contribute to its position.
L. Gordon Flake joined the Mansfield Foundation in February 1999. He was previously a Senior Fellow and Associate Director of the Program on Conflict Resolution at The Atlantic Council of the United States and prior to that Director for Research and Academic Affairs at the Korea Economic Institute of America. He has authored numerous book chapters on policy issues in Asia and is a regular contributor to the U.S. and Asian press. Mr. Flake has traveled to North Korea numerous times. He is a member of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and serves on the Board of the United States Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (USCSCAP) as well as on the Board of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and the Advisory Council of the Korea Economic Institute of America.
June 25th, 2012
62 years ago on this day of June 25, hostilities broke out on the Korean peninsula. It was a conflict that ended only due to what everybody thought would be a temporary armistice agreement. Who would have thought six decades later, a state of war would still prevail on the Korean peninsula and that the DPRK would have develop a nuclear weapons capability?
To remember the past and look forward to the future, in this episode Korean Kontext spoke to current Chairman of The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Korean War veteran, Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr.
Having fought in the Korean war, for the first half of the interview General Gard reflects upon his initial deployment to Korea, details his first impressions of Korea, and describes the complex dynamics that the Cold War presented. In the second half of the interview, Gard sets out his personal views and opinions on why efforts to prevent a nuclear North Korea ultimately failed and what opportunities were missed.
Beyond his contribution to the United States army, Gard served as Executive Assistant to two secretaries of defense; was the first Director of Human Resources Development for the U.S. Army; Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs; and President of National Defense University (NDU).
Gard also served for five years as director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Center in Bologna, Italy, and then as President of the Monterey Institute of International Studies from 1987 to 1998.
The views expressed in this podcast reflect General Gard's own personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Korea Economic Institute.
June 15th, 2012
Korean Kontext caught up with Man Asian literary prize winner Shin Kyung-sook for a chat about her latest novel, “Please Look After Mom". Shin became the first woman and South Korean to ever take the prize after being chosen above better known contenders like Haruki Moorakami and Tahm ima Anam.
"Please Look After Mom", recently translated into English, traces the life of Park So-nyo, a wife and mother who suffers a stroke and becomes separated from her husband on the train when travelling from the countryside into Seoul. As her family search the South Korean capital's streets for her, they remember So-nyo's life and the sacrifices she has made for them. "Please Look After Mom" has already sold almost two million copies in South Korea alone, and is now set to be released in 32 countries.
In our conversation with Shin Kyung-sook, we asked her about why she thought the book had become so popular, what she thought of its reception in the U.S., and for her impressions of modern society and the changing media environment.
May 31st, 2012
In this special episode, Korean Kontext had the opportunity to speak to South Korean Minister for Trade, Bark Taeho, during his latest visit to Washington DC.
KEI’s Vice President, Dr. Abraham Kim led the conversation with Minister Bark, talking with him about Korea’s recovery from the global economic crisis, Korean investment in emerging economies, progress in implementing the KORUS FTA, and Asian regional integration.
Prior to his role with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister Bark was the Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University.
Holding a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Minister Bark has ample practical experience in the field, having been Chairman of Korea Trade Commission, President at the Korean Association of Trade and Industry Studies, and Chair of the Investment Expert Group of APEC. In addition to his impressive professional experience, Minister Bark was a former visiting scholar at both the World Bank and IMF, and also taught at the Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.
May 15th, 2012
For the latest episode, Korean Kontext spoke to Korean-American actor James Kyson. Having made waves for his performance as Japanese character Ando Masahashi on hit NBC television series "Heroes", Korean Kontext caught up with James for a chat about the role, his broader career, and interests outside of acting. Moving to the United States aged ten, we also asked James about growing up in New York City as an immigrant,what he thought about Hallyu – otherwise known as the Korean wave, his views on the prospects for U.S. – Korea relations, and purely out of interest, what his first on-screen kiss was like.
Join us for a must-hear conversation with the one and only Korean-American "Hero"!
April 27th, 2012
In this episode, Korean Kontext spoke to Korean-American actor Steven Yeun. Having acted in several high profile TV shows, Yeun's interest in acting originated during his freshman year at Kalamazoo College after watching improv group "Monkapult". Originally studying Psychology at Kalamazoo, Yeun's parents gave him two years to try acting and it didn't take long for him to win his first roles. Fast-forward to 2010 and Yeun was cast as Glenn in the hugely popular The Walking Dead, a character that put him on millions of TV screens worldwide.
Korean Kontext caught up with Steven over Skype for a chat about his career as a Korean American actor, current role in The Walking Dead, and future career aspirations. Tune in for a fascinating conversation with Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead.
How Korea’s English-Language Media is Changing the World: A Discussion with Sohn, Jie-Ae, Arirang TV
April 5th, 2012
In this episode, Korean Kontext speaks with Ms. Jie-ae Sohn, President of Arirang TV & Radio, Korea's first English language international broadcast system. Ms. Sohn worked as the former CNN Bureau Chief for Seoul and Head Correspondent for South Korea. She was also the spokeswoman for the Seoul G-20 Summit in November 2010. During the interview, Ms. Sohn spoke about modern Korean culture, K-culture, the South Korean elections, the role of women in South Korea, her experiences as a journalist, and more.
March 26th, 2012
Preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons has emerged to be one of the key foreign policy priorities of the Obama administration. Despite efforts among Western powers to form a united front in trying to pressure Iran to become more transparent with its nuclear program, questions remain regarding Tehrans intentions, and talk of war has become increasingly louder in Western media.
In an effort to resolve the issue, President Obama increased the pressure on Iran on December 31 2011, by signing into law the 2012 National Defense Authorization act, a move which laid the groundwork for a policy banning any state from transactions with the Central Bank of Iran. The policy in effect prohibits the signing or continuation of oil contracts with Iran and any third country or company that wants to continue to deal with the U.S.
As a close ally of the U.S. and a country with a clear commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, South Korea has a strong impetus to go along with international efforts to reduce oil imports from Iran. However, being an energy importing country that obtains nearly ten per cent of its oil supplies from Iran each year, South Korea is in a difficult position.
In an effort to better understand the situation and choices that Seoul now faces, Korean Kontext spoke to
- Dr. Matthew Kroenig, Stanton Nuclear Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
- Dr. Balbina Hwang, Visiting Professor at the National Defense University / Georgetown University
- Philip Yun, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Ploughshares Fund
- Tim Boersma, Fellow at the German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Academy
Join us for a stimulating discussion on the complexities of the sanctions situation, South Korea's bilateral relations with Iran, and how North Korea impacts on the decision making process.