[Rebroadcast] Home is Where Our Story Begins: Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko

November 16th, 2018

This is a re-broadcast of an episode from January - KEI's Jenna Gibson interviews Min Jin Lee, award winning author of Pachinko.

Spanning nearly a century and multiple generations, Min Jin Lee's 2017 novel Pachinko tells the story of a Korean family struggling to find their place in Japan before, during, and after the Korean War. Praised by The Chicago Tribune, NPR, CNN, and others, the novel touches on a myriad of themes, including identity, the role of women, war, and discrimination, all within a rich historical background. In this episode, Jenna spoke with Min Jin Lee about why she started writing Pachinko, how the story evolved over time, and what she's working on next.

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North Korea, The Global Arms Dealer: Dr. Bruce Bechtol

November 9th, 2018

When we think about the threat posed by North Korea, we tend to narrowly talk about the missiles and nuclear weapons that are inside North Korea. But North Korea is also a prolific international arms dealer - it is largely responsible for the missile programs in Iran and Pakistan, not to mention small arms proliferation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite this, other than the occasional news stories about a boat load of North Korean guns in the Caribbean and gas masks that were heading to Syria being intercepted on the high seas, media coverage of North Korea’s arms sales abroad has been scant. And when public attention comes short, it runs the risk of getting left behind in diplomatic negotiations.

Here to give us a better sense of what is going on, our guest today is Dr. Bruce Bechtol, author of “North Korean Military Proliferation in the Middle East and Africa: Enabling Violence and Instability” (Amazon page link here). We discuss how Pyongyang’s global arms sales activities have implications for both the effectiveness of our sanctions policy towards North Korea and Pyongyang’s ability to make its own weapons program more deadly.

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How Things Look from the Peninsula: WSJ’s Jonathan Cheng

November 2nd, 2018

From the United States, events on the Korean Peninsula have moved quickly and dramatically - we were first surprised to find that North Korea had ballistic weapons that could reach continental United States and before we knew it, the president of the United States was meeting Kim Jong-un face-to-face. But what did this all look like in South Korea? The South Korean people have lived with the risk of war for decades - they have also seen their presidents travel to Pyongyang in the past to talk about peace. 

In this context, what has the past year looked like for South Korean audiences?

We speak with veteran journalist and Seoul bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal Jonathan Cheng to get a sense of how things look from the ground.   

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War’s Impact on the American Homefront: Robert Powell and Sam Yoon

October 26th, 2018

What happens if there is a war on the Korean Peninsula? In addition to the incalculable cost of lives lost, a potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula would have an immense, tangible impact on the livelihood of Americans far away from the front lines. Our guests, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Senior Consultant Robert Powell and Korean-Americans for Action Executive Director Sam Yoon, explain exactly what is at stake if the current peace process falters. 

You can also find Robert Powell's special report on this issue here 

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Learning from Past Engagements with Pyongyang: Ambassador Chun Yung-woo

October 19th, 2018

Are negotiations with North Korea headed in the right direction? Between the high-profile summit meetings and images of an inter-Korean team competing in the Olympics together, are we any closer to denuclearization than we were before?

We can start answering these questions by examining where we erred in the past. Ambassador Chun Yung-woo represented South Korea in the final rounds of the Six Party Talks - he watched a deal come together then fall apart. Building on his unique experience, he shares his outlook on current prospects for denuclearization and what might be required to ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula

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Growing Up as a Defector Migrant in South Korea

October 12th, 2018

Life in North Korea is difficult. But when defectors make their way to South Korea, they confront new challenges. This is particularly true for children who have to deal with not only adapting to South Korean society, but also its infamously rigorous education system.

To get a glimpse into their lives, Jenna Gibson sat down with administrators and students from Keunsaem, an afterschool program dedicated to defector-migrant youth from North Korea. In this special episode of Korean Kontext, students from this program tell Jenna about their hopes and aspirations for a unified peninsula. Meanwhile, the school's directors, themselves defectors from North Korea, highlight the role that these students will play in the near future as ambassadors for unification. 

 

  

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[Rebroadcast] Talk to Us in Korean: The Mavericks of Teaching Korean Online

September 14th, 2018

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.

*Rebroadcast from 12/2/15

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[Rebroadcast] Korean American Day 2018: Photojournalist Chang Lee

September 7th, 2018

As part of KEI’s annual commemoration of Korean-American Day on January 13th, KEI honors exceptional Korean-Americans in various fields and industries for their respective contributions to both their professions and the Korean-American community. 

For 2018, KEI honored three Korean-American journalists. Jenna Gibson also sat down with honoree Chang Lee, a photojournalist from  the New York Times. He spoke with Jenna on how he first became interested in photography and his experiences of covering everything from war zones to the Olympics. 

The New York Times featured Chang Lee and his photographs from the Pyeongchang Olympics in a February 15th article, which can be found in the link below.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/lens/a-times-photographers-journey-home-to-the-winter-olympics.html

Note: The interview took place on January 12th and prior to the start of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

*Rebroadcast from 2/23/2018

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[Rebroadcast] Covering PyeongChang: The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng

September 4th, 2018

From February 9-25, athletes and fans from around the world gathered in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. But while the athletes competed for gold, the Olympics also had major political implications, especially after the North Koreans decided to send a high-level delegation to the Games and agreed to field a joint women's hockey team with South Korea.

In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson spoke with Jonathan Cheng, the Seoul Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, about how he and the Journal's team chose to cover all these different aspects of the Olympics, how Korea prepared for the Games, and, of course, the rise of Korea's famous Garlic Girls curling team.

*Rebroadcast from 3/2/2018

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K-pop’s HIgh Tide in the United States

August 24th, 2018

With appearances on major mainstream American TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel and the American Music Awards, BTS have broken into the American market in an unprecedented way this year. With their success and increased popularity for k-pop in the United States, it is clear that Korean pop music is here to stay. But how has k-pop managed to break through in 2018 in a way it has not been able to before?

 

To learn more about the state of k-pop in the United States and how we got to the point where the wave of Korean entertainment is now washing upon American shores, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with journalist Tamar Herman. Tamar, who is a kpop columnist at Billboard and contributor at Forbes, discusses the state of k-pop in the United States, what has brough this recent success in a way that hasn't been seen in the past, and what trends to look for in the future. 

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How Would New U.S. Auto Tariffs Impact Hyundai and Kia?

August 8th, 2018

The Trump Administration is once again considering using Section 232 to impose tariffs on imported goods based on a threat to national security. The President originally used this provision to add tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and his administration is now considering whether to allow tariffs on auto imports as well.

 

To learn more about Section 232 and how it would impact not only car manufacturers, but also local dealers, and even the American consumer, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with representatives from Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia. David Kim, Vice President of Government Affairs at Hyundai Motor Company's Washington Office, and Christopher Wenk, Vice Oresident of Government Affairs at Kia Motors Corportation's Washington Office, discussed the background of 232, how it would impact their operations in the United States, and why it could have adverse effects on every part of the auto industry.

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Behind the Scenes of Repatriating American Soldiers’ Remains from North Korea

August 1st, 2018

On August 1, the remains of what are believed to be 55 American servicemen lost during the Korean War finally returned home, arriving in Hawaii to begin the long process of identification. These are the first remains returned from North Korea since the June 12 Singapore Summit, when Kim Jong-un pledged to begin sending back bodies recovered in North Korea.

 

This week's guest personally participated in previous efforts to recover and return American remains from North Korea during the 1990s and 2000s. Ashton Ormes, a retired U.S. Army colonel, an Army Northeast Asia Foreign Area Officer, and a former civil servant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, sat down with Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson to discuss those experiences, what it was like traveling within North Korea to search for remains, and what is different about this round of repatriations.

 

Col. Ormes also wrote a blog for KEI titled "Five Misconceptions About Recovering the Remains of America’s Korean War Servicemen Missing in North Korea." You can find it on the KEI blog by clicking here.

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Examining Korea’s Economic Growth: A View from the OECD

July 30th, 2018

After more than a year in office, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and has administration have pushed for an economic policy of "income-led growth," which includes a minimum wage increase, providing more public sector jobs, and higher social spending.

 

Dr. Randall Jones, the head of the Japan/Korea Desk at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), returns to Korean Kontext to discuss the 2018 OECD Economic Survey on South Korea and what the results mean for the administration's policy and Korea's economic future.

 

*Dr. Jones last appeared on Korean Kontext in 2016 to discuss the 2016 OECD survey. That episode can be found at this link: http://keia.org/podcast/korea%E2%80%99s-economic-outlook-view-oecd

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Ambassador Chris Hill on North Korea Negotiations

July 13th, 2018

With the Trump Administration's North Korea negotiations ongoing, many analysts have been making comparisons to past talks to try to make sense of the current process, and to predict what may happen in the future. For this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson spoke with a distinguished expert who has firsthand knowledge of negotiating with North Korea during one of those previous processes, the Six Party Talks.

 

Ambassador Chris Hill was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005 to 2009 and served as Head of the U.S. delegation to the Six Party Talks. Ambassador Hill is now the Chief Advisor to the Chancellor for Global Engagement and Professor of the Practice in Diplomacy at the University of Denver.

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[Rebroadcast] Shamans, Goblins, and Ghosts: A Look at Korean Folk Culture

July 5th, 2018

Ghosts and goblins are everywhere in Korean folktales, causing havoc for people through their antics. Equally common are the shamans who act as intermediaries, helping offer solutions to life's supernatural problems.

 

For this week's episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson interviewed Dr. Michael Pettid, of the State University of New York at Binghamton, who specializes in pre-modern Korea, particularly the role shamanism and folk culture has played in Korea. They discuss the history and experience of Korean shamans over the centuries, how they fit into folk tales, and what to do when a hobgoblin tries to steal your shoes. 

 

Please note: this episode originally aired in August, 2016.

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Farewell Podcast with KEI President Donald Manzullo

June 29th, 2018

On June 30, after 5 1/2 years as the head of KEI, Donald Manzullo will be retiring. In honor of his service to the Korea policy community, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with him to chat about his journey to KEI, how things have changed in the last five years since he took over the organization, and his advice for Korea policy watchers going forward.

 

Please enjoy this conversation with President Manzullo, and join us in thanking him for his leadership over the last five years.

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North Korea’s Nuclear Identity

June 22nd, 2018

Now that Trump has met Kim, and with the Singapore Summit laying out the beginning of a path to denuclearization, analysts are still trying to figure out if Kim Jong Un is sincere about the possibility of giving up his nuclear arsenal. 

 

This week's guest, Dr. Marco Milani, has focused on North Korea's nuclear program as a part of the regime's identity and security - not just as a guaranteur of physical security, but legitimacy and economic security as well. But that doesn't necessarily mean they won't give them up within the right context. Check out this week's episode to learn more about his research.

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Can Science Diplomacy Help South Korea’s Foreign Policy?

June 19th, 2018

South Korea's government has increased its focus on different forms of diplomacy in recent years, from the more traditional government-to-government outreach of the Moon Administration's North Korea policy to a greater appreciation for public and cultural diplomacy. But one area that could benefit from more attention is the realm of science diplomacy.

 

This week's guest is Dr. Olga Krasnyak of Yonsei University, who recently wrote a paper for KEI's Academic Paper Series entitled "Science Diplomacy: An Underestimated Toolkit of South Korea’s Foreign Policy." In this episode, she explains what exactly science diplomacy entails, how some countries have used it successfully, and what South Korea can do to boost its foreign policy through science diplomacy projects.

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Summit Sum-Up: A Conversation with Ambassador Jim Zumwalt

June 13th, 2018

With the world's attention on Singapore on June 12, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un walked across a stage flanked by American and North Korean flags, and officially made history. Afterward, they released a Singapore Statement that laid out some common goals that both sides agree to implement. But anaysts point out that much of that Statement is vague at best, and skepticism about the success of future talks is still high.

In this week's episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with Ambassador Jim Zumwalt, who is CEO of Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, to discuss his thoughts on how the summit went, what the two countries need to do in the coming weeks to move the process forward, and how other regional players like Japan and South Korea have reacted to the big meeting.

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Singapore Summit: Ambassador Joe Yun on the Big Trump-Kim Meeting

June 6th, 2018

With U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un headed to Singapore next week for the first ever U.S.-DPRK summit, people around the world are watching to see how the two leaders will interact, what outcomes they will announce after their meeting, and how the two countries move forward after June 12.

 

With this historic event just around the corner, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with distinguished North Korea expert Ambassador Joe Yun. Ambassador Yun, who retired as the State Department's Special Representative for North Korea Policy earlier this year, is now watching these issues closely as a Senior Advisor for both the Asia Group and the U.S. Institute for Peace. In this episode, we discuss with him his predictions for the summit, how he sees the role of other countries like South Korea, Japan, and China, in these discussions, and what he hopes not to see as part of the outcome on June 12. 

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Covering the Korea Beat with Elise Hu

May 24th, 2018

Covering news on the Korean peninsula can be a hectic task. With all the rapidly evolving developments in economics, politics, and society, it's often hard for journalists who cover the peninsula to keep up with everything that they need to cover on a daily basis. NPR journalist Elise Hu talks about her experiences working as the first NPR chief in Seoul with KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone. She discusses her hectiv first day, how things have changed drastically in both North and South Korea over the last year or so, and what life is like as a foreign correspondent.

 

*Please note: The podcast was recorded before the announced cancellation of the Trump-Kim summit.

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The Art of the Deal? A Proposed Framework for the Trump-Kim Summit

May 16th, 2018

With the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore still on the calendar at least for the moment, pundits and analysts alike have been predicting the outcomes or sharing their advice for how the United States should deal with North Korea. From Dr. Stephen Blank's perspective, we've been looking at this issue all wrong for decades - this isn't primarily a nonproliferation issue, he claims, but a regional security one.

 

In a recent paper for KEI, Dr. Blank lays out why he thinks we need to approach the talks with North Korea differently, and lays out a diplomatic framework for the Trump Administration that could help them reach a more sustainable solution - and one that takes into account American interests in East Asian security. In this episode, he discusses his research, his proposed framework, and why it's important to weave more academic thinking and research into policy discussions.

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Kim Jong-un’s Public Relations Strategy

May 8th, 2018

After a year of threats and weapons tests in 2017, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has shifted course and embarked on a diplomatic campaign. The normally reclusive Kim Jong-un made his second trip to China earlier today to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping mere weeks after his first visit, and he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April for the first inter-Korean summit in over ten years. With a pending summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korea's recent diplomatic efforts have sparked global speculation on what North Korea is hoping to achieve.

As part of KEI's Academic Symposium, Eun A Jo, Assistant Editor for The Asan Forum, presented on Kim Jong-un's public relations strategy as part of a panel on North Korea's diplomatic outreach in 2018 hosted by KEI. She spoke with Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson about her presentation and what utility diplomacy has for Kim Jong-un.

Note: The interview was recorded on April 19th before the Moon-Kim summit held on April 27th.

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Navigating the Moon-Kim Summit

April 26th, 2018

On the eve of the third inter-Korean summit, stakes are understandably high for what the meeting will mean for the future of inter-Korean relations and North Korea's weapons program. In over a half-century since the end of the Korean War, the two countries have struggled to find a substantive peaceful resolution to their decades-long conflict. North Korea's recent diplomatic outreach has brought up questions of the reclusive country's motives and how peace could realistically be acheived. 

General Chun In-bum (retired) of the Repubic of Korea Army recently presented on North Korea's outreach at KEI as part of KEI's Academic Symposium. He sat down with Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson to discuss the upcoming summit and what may be on the table for both countries.

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Moon Jae In’s Summit Strategy - What Do South Koreans Think?

April 24th, 2018

On April 27, South Korean President Moon Jae In will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a historic summit that may include discussions of major changes for the peninsula, including denuclearisation and an official peace treaty to end the Korean War. But what do the South Korean people think about their president's new outreach?

 

Yonsei University Professor John Delury joins Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson to discuss this and other issues ahead of the historic summit this week.

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K-Pop on the Radio: The Korean Wave in the United States

April 17th, 2018

800px-KCON_17_LA_P1030683__36028678263_.jpgWith the exception of Gangnam Style, few mainstream radio stations have ever even thought to play Korean pop music. But in the last year or so, the United States has seen a surge of interest in k-pop, with superstars BTS appearing on the American Music Awards, Jimmy Kimmel and the Ellen Show, and with radio stations around the country starting to introduce some k-pop into their playlists.

 

Katie Brownlie is no stranger to the emergence of k-pop in the United States - she has been a fan of Korean pop music for about a decade, and has run a k-pop themed radio show on 90.3 FM the Core at Rutgers University for more than three years. In this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson talks with Katie about her show, about her love of k-pop, and about the genre's growing popularity in the United States.

 

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

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How has the KORUS FTA Helped American Farmers?

April 6th, 2018

After a year of discussions, the Trump and Moon Administrations recently announced their tentative agreement to update the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), focusing almost entirely on the automotive sector and a few other spots, including pharmaseuticals. But one are that was left completely untouched was agriculture, perhaps due to the fact that the United States saw significant improvements in ag trade to Korea following the implementation of KORUS. Now, with the Trump administration saying they may continue to discuss changes to KORUS, American farmers are continuing to watch the discussions closely.

 

In this episode of Korean Kontext, Jenna Gibson sits down with David Oppedahl, a Senior Business Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Veronica Nigh, an Economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, to discuss what KORUS has meant for the American agriculture industry, and what to keep an eye on as the agreement continues to go into effect.

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Korean American Day 2018: Documentary Filmmaker Julie Ha

March 28th, 2018

This week's episode is a conversation with the third and final honoree for Korean American Day 2018! This year's theme - Recognizing Leaders in Journalism - fits this week's guest perfectly. She had a long career in print journalism, including with KoreAm, a magazine focused on telling stories for and about the Asian American community. Now, she is focusing her skills on a documentary film project called "Free Chol Soo Lee," about a Korean American man wrongly convicted of murder and the huge grassroots movement to free him.

 

Julie is joined in this episode by her co-director, Eugene Yi, who also shares his experiences as a journalist and filmmaker focusing on telling stories about the Korean American community.

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The Power of Sanctions: How Restrictions Have Shaped North Korea’s Economy

March 20th, 2018

Looking at the trade numbers between China and North Korea, trade expert Bill Brown is confident that China has finally become serious about enforcing international sanctions against the DPRK - but only in the last three months or so. Brown, who is a nonresident fellow at KEI and who writes extensively on China-DPRK trade and the economic effects of sanctions, believes this could be a tipping point for North Korea's domestic economy.

 

In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson asks Brown why he thinks China has finally decided to crack down on its trade with North Korea, what effects this may have on the economy and Kim Jong-un's decision-making process, and more.

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[Rebroadcast] Korean Diaspora in Central Asia

March 8th, 2018

Central_Asia.jpgIn the late 1930s, nearly 200,000 ethnic Koreans were forcibly removed from the Soviet Far East, packed into trains and sent to Central Asia. More than 70 years later, their descendants still live in the former Soviet Union, most of them in what is now Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.  

 

Victoria Kim grew up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, knowing that her grandfather was Korean. But it wasn't until much later that she began looking into what that meant - how her grandfather and other Central Asian Koreans arrived in Uzbekistan and made their lives there. This story became a multimedia project called "Lost and Found in Uzbekistan: The Korean Story."  

 

In this week's episode, which originally aired in 2016, we talk with Victoria about the experience of Central Asian Koreans in the 1930s until today, how her project delved into these stories, and much more.  

 

To view Victoria's project, please click here.

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Covering PyeongChang: The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng

March 2nd, 2018

From February 9-25, athletes and fans from around the world gathered in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. But while the athletes competed for gold, the Olympics also had major political implications, especially after the North Koreans decided to send a high-level delegation to the Games and agreed to field a joint women's hockey team with South Korea.

 

In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson spoke with Jonathan Cheng, the Seoul Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, about how he and the Journal's team chose to cover all these different aspects of the Olympics, how Korea prepared for the Games, and, of course, the rise of Korea's famous Garlic Girls curling team.

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Korean American Day 2018: Photojournalist Chang Lee

February 23rd, 2018

28210519939_9dde14a60e_z.jpgAs part of KEI’s annual commemoration of Korean-American Day on January 13th, KEI honors exceptional Korean-Americans in various fields and industries for their respective contributions to both their professions and the Korean-American community. 

 

For 2018, KEI honored three Korean-American journalists. Jenna Gibson also sat down with honoree Chang Lee, a photojournalist from  the New York Times. He spoke with Jenna on how he first became interested in photography and his experiences of covering everything from war zones to the Olympics. 

 

The New York Times featured Chang Lee and his photographs from the Pyeongchang Olympics in a February 15th article, which can be found in the link below.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/lens/a-times-photographers-journey-home-to-the-winter-olympics.html

 

Note: The interview took place on January 12th and prior to the start of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

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President Trump and North Korean Human Rights

February 13th, 2018

At his first State of the Union, President Trump took an interesting approach to integrating North Korea policy into his speech. By inviting North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho and the parents of Otto Warmbier to the speech, the President focused on highlighting their suffering at the hands of the Kim regime instead of the harder military or policy options that have been floating around Washington recently.

 

Rosa Park, Director of Programs and Editor at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, the organization that helped organize logistics for the defectors who met with President Trump after the State of the Union, spoke with Korean Kontext about President Trump's strategy and his continued focus on the human elements of North Korea policy.

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Korean American Day 2018: Broadcast Journalist May Lee

February 7th, 2018

This year for KEI's Korean American Day celebration, we chose to honor three great Korean Americans in the field of journalism and the media. One of this year's honorees was broadcast journalist May Lee, who is a correspondent at CGTN America and founder of Lotus Media House, who has covered major news events around the world and in the United States, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.

 

In this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson talks with May about how she got into journalism, what it is like to be one of the few Korean Americans on TV, and how the changing media landscape of today has affected her and her work.

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Prepping for the Paralympics in PyeongChang

January 31st, 2018

jsh_korea_society.pngOn February 9, years of hard work will culminate in the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. A month later, on March 8, the 2018 Winter Paralympics will continue to bring excitement to PyeongChang.

At a recent event organized by The Korea Society in New York, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson was able to speak briefly with Jung Seung-Hwan, one of the stars of the South Korean Para Ice Hockey team. They discusses his background in ice sledge hockey (now known as para ice hockey), his goals for PyeongChang, and how he got the nickname "Rocketman."

 

Photo courtesy of The Korea Society

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A Conversation with Min Jin Lee, Author of the Acclaimed Novel Pachinko

January 22nd, 2018

Spanning nearly a century and multiple generations, Min Jin Lee's Pachinko tells the story of a Korean family struggling to find their place in Japan before, during, and after the Korean War. It is a story that touches on a myriad of themes, including identity, the role of women, war, and discrimination. Pachinko has been widely praised, earning a place as one of the best books of 2017 on lists from The Chicago Tribune, NPR, CNN, and many more. 

 

Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson spoke with Min Jin Lee over the phone about why she started writing Pachinko, how the story evolved over time, and what she's working on next.

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Exploring North Korea Through Art: A Conversation with Mina Cheon

January 11th, 2018

Mina_Cheon.jpgA woman in hanbok joyfully rises above Mt. Baekdu, arms raised, in a art piece entitled Umma Rises: Towards Global Peace. This is just one of many recent art pieces by artist Mina Cheon featuring her North Korean persona, Kim Il Soon. Using her colorful and provocative style of "polipop" art, Cheon has been exploring issues such as information flow into North Korea, propaganda, and motherhood.

Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson recently sat down with Cheon to discuss her creative inspirations, some of her recent and past work related to North Korea, and much more.

 

To see some of Cheon's work and learn about her recent exhibition at the Ethan Cohen Gallery in New York, please click here

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What Can North Korean Soap Operas Tell Us About Kim Jong-un’s Priorities?

December 11th, 2017

A group of women gossiping about the new neighbor. A feisty middle schooler using a homemade drone to prank his classmates. A young military officer seeking information from his past. These themes could be from any American TV show. But they are, in fact, storylines from a new wave of soap operas produced by the North Korean state.

 

Former AP journalist Jean Lee, now a Global Fellow at The Wilson Center, analyzed four of these North Korean soaps for a new research paper commissioned by KEI. In this episode of Korean Kontext, she discusses some of her observations, including a shift from emphasizing military service to emphasizing family ties and a focus on youth and the next generation of North Koreans - themes which may indicate some of Kim Jong-un's main domestic priorities.

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Is the THAAD Row Over? The Future of South Korea-China Relations

December 4th, 2017

DSC_0401.jpgAfter more than a year of tensions over the Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system that is now deployed in South Korea, Seoul and Beijing seem to have made steps toward thawing relations. But is the row over THAAD really over? Will South Korean business see a return to normal in China? And what will the Chinese learn from this experience of using economic leverage to influence South Korean political decisions?

 

Bonnie Glaser, senior advisor for Asia and director of the China Power Project at CSIS, joins Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson to discuss the latest in South Korea-China relations, as well as what it means for security and diplomacy in the region moving forward.

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[Rebroadcast] Marriage Migrants and Multicultural Families in South Korea

November 21st, 2017

38226324122_a70643de10_k.jpgFor many years, South Korea has been a homogeneous country. But with more foreigners coming to live in Korea, that is starting to change. In fact, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs estimates that the number of multicultural families in Korea could reach nearly 750,000 by 2020.

This week's guest is Dr. Daisy Kim, who studies these multicultural families, with a particular focus on marriage migrants - women who move to Korea to marry a Korean man. We discuss some of the particular issues these women and their families face, what the Korean government has done to support them, and much more.

Note: This is a rebroadcast of an episode from August 11, 2016.

Image from Steve Baty's photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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How do South Koreans View Donald Trump?

November 13th, 2017

38226324122_a70643de10_k.jpgWith President Donald Trump finishing up his first official trip to Asia, including a stop in South Korea last week, this week's episode of Korean Kontext asks: what do South Koreans think of President Trump? 

 

KEI program manager Juni Kim has been following the polls, and has found that while very few members of the Korean public have confidence in President Trump, their views of the United States as a whole remain high. In this week's podcast, host Jenna Gibson sits down with Juni to discuss some of the polling in South Korea about the United States and its leader, as well as how he thinks President Trump's trip to Korea could affect his approval rating among Koreans.

 

Image from Republic of Korea's photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Previewing Trump’s Trip to Asia

November 3rd, 2017

33109582956_08249e03d6_k.jpgPresident Donald Trump is off on his longest international trip yet, stopping in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. There, he is expected to tackle a range of issues, including responses to North Korea's nuclear and missle programs as well as economic ties between the United States and the Asia Pacific. 

 

In this episode, we talk with Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of IISS–Americas, about his expectations for the trip, how he thinks President Trump will handle the North Korea question, and particularly how his first visit to South Korea will go.

 

*Please note this episode was pre-recorded, some details of the trip may have subsequently changed*

 

Image from North Charleston's photostream on flickr Creative Commons. 

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Healthcare in North Korea

October 29th, 2017

6289228147_1746ce9d73_b.jpgAs a communist state, North Korea has promised to provide its people with basic services, including healthcare and medical treatment. However, particularly in recent years, the cash-strapped Kim regime has been unable to provide even some basic medical services. Famine and poverty have exacerbated the problem, leaving diseases like tuberculosis to run rampant in the DPRK.

 

Researcher Dr. John Grundy, an expert on public health, recently completed a paper for KEI on the functionality and limits of the North Korean healthcare system as it evolved from 1953 to the present. In this episode of Korean Kontext, he sits down with host Jenna Gibson to discuss his paper and some of the unique challenges North Korean healthcare faces today.

 

To read Dr. Grundy's paper, please click here.

Image from United Nations Photo on flickr Creative Commons.

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The Revolution will be Thumb Drived: North Korean Access to Outside Media

October 20th, 2017

37274035480_25175068ba_z.jpg While North Korea under the Kim regime has tried to maintain tight control of information sources within its borders, the North Korean populace in recent years has found creative ways to access outside media, which includes everything from foreign news broadcasts to the latest South Korean dramas.

 

Nat Kretchen, Deputy Director at the Open Technology Fund, participated in a panel here at KEI this week and discussed his research on North Korea’s developing information environment. Nat sat down with us afterwards to talk more about how everyday North Koreans access information and how the regime is fighting back against the increase of foreign media in the country.

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North Korea’s “Guerrilla Internationalism”

October 13th, 2017

37274035480_25175068ba_z.jpgWith North Korea becoming an increasingly dangerous threat to the U.S. and its allies, it can be all too easy to overlook North Korea’s origins and how its foreign policy first took shape. One of the lesser known aspects of North Korea’s foreign policy was its heavy involvement in supporting non-state actor and rebel movements in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

 

Benjamin Young, a PhD Candidate in East Asian History at George Washington University, recently presented his paper on North Korea’s support of non-state actors as part of KEI’s Academic Paper Series. He sat down with Korean Kontext guest host Juni Kim to discuss how North Korea’s first leader Kim Il Sung’s experiences in guerrilla warfare shaped his foreign policy and what his legacy means for North Korea today.

 

Please note the following corrections:

16:59 - Kim Il-Sung died in 1994

17:49 - The aid agency is called Doctors Without Borders

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American Eggs-ports to South Korea

October 6th, 2017

DSC_0005.jpgU.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong met this week to discuss the future of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). With concerns of a possible withdrawal hovering over the talks, the two countries agreed to move forward on working to improve the agreement, which is surely welcome news for US exporters that have benefitted from the KORUS FTA.

 

This week we sat down with Sam Cho, founder and CEO of Seven Seas Export, to discuss his company's work in exporting American eggs to South Korea and the benefits that KORUS provides to American farmers. We also discuss how Sam got started in the trade business and how the bird flu affected the South Korean egg market.

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Keeping North Korean Human Rights in the Conversation

September 28th, 2017

Olivia_Podcast.jpgWith North Korea launching missile after missile and even conducting a massive nuclear test within the last month or so, attention is understandably focused on how to get the regime in Pyongyang to back down from its provocative actions. But at the same time, there is another important issue that can also affect how the world deals with North Korea - human rights. 

 

Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation researches human rights issues around Asia including the DPRK, and believes that human rights can, and should, underpin our diplomatic and security strategies toward Pyongyang. In this episode, she tells Korean Kontest host Jenna Gibson about how human rights and security are intertwined, how the Trump Administration can weave human rights into their extreme pressure and engagement policy, and what role China plays in the situation.

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Korea’s Role in Regional Financial Cooperation

September 21st, 2017

36374902694_d2394baf66_k.jpgThe Global Financial Crisis highlighted the importance of international coordination to prevent, manage, and resolve financial crises. To this end, global institutions such as the G20 and IMF have garnered significant attention, but complementary institutions at the regional level also play an important role. Though it may not be the largest economy in these initiatives, South Korea has increasingly played a central role in their advancement, such as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization and ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office.

 

In this episode, KEI's Kyle Ferrier sits down with Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Co-director of the London Asia Pacific Centre for Social Science King's College London, to discuss the central role Korea plays in East Asian financial institutions.

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The Debate over Video Game Addiction

September 15th, 2017

3097079659_c9d7c04822_b.jpgWith the increasing prevalence and acceptance of video games and e-sports has also come an increasing concern about potential negative side effects of spending too much time playing video games. From the debate over violent games causing real violence to the concerns about kids becoming addicted to their favorite game, these concerns are nothing new. But the debate continues in the scientific community about whether video game addiction even technically exists and, if it does, how to diagnose it.

 

Seoul-based science journalist Mark Zastrow has looked into this debate both in the United States and in Korea. In this episodes, he shares what he has learned about the different ways each country approaches video game addiction - and what they are doing about it.

 

Image from Joop's photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Creating Consensus on KORUS

September 8th, 2017

Cargo-container-by-Port-of-Tacoma.jpgEntering into effect in 2012, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has brought benefits for both the United States and South Korea. But the Trump Administration recently called for a review of the agreement, even going so far as to suggest that the United States may withdraw from KORUS altogether.

 

To shed some light on the complicated details of KORUS and the U.S.-Korea trade defecit, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with three KEI experts specializing in economics and trade. They discuss the background of the free trade agreement, why President Trump is opposed to it, and how political considerations may sink a good trade deal.

 

Image from Port of Tacoma's photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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