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.


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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[Rebroadcast] How to Write About North Korea

August 31st, 2017

jean_lee_hr_0_2.jpgMany of the news stories about North Korea that make their way into the Western media fall into one of two categories: 1) breaking news about provocations and the nuclear crisis or 2) look at the crazy thing Kim Jong Un did today. As a journalist who covered the DPRK from both Seoul and Pyongyang, Jean Lee is working to get past the caricatures that often make their way into how we see North Koreans. 


Jean, who is now a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center, is here in DC for an event she organized about this very topic. The seminar features journalists, novelists and historians who all face unique challenges in gathering information and writing about the DPRK. She agreed to sit down with us while here in town to give us a preview of the roundtable, which took place on December 7, 2016 at the Wilson Center.


To hear more from Jean and learn about her work covering North Korea, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @newsjean.

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[Rebroadcast] Behind the Scenes of South Korea’s Space Program

August 24th, 2017

Pinkstonpodcast_2.jpgWith the recent retirement by Yi So-yeon, South Korea’s remaining astronaut, many have turned attention to Korea, wondering whether there is a future for its space program. According to Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis GroupSouth Korea’s space program is a necessary and integral part of President Park Geun-hye’s future economic policies. Furthermore, it can and is being used used to enhance its relations with its allies. Challenges that do arise include how its space program affects the security situation in the region and whether enough data is being shared between countries to properly manage peaceful exploration and usage of space.
Please click here to read his recent KEI APS paper on South Korea’s space program and to view the September 10, 2014 program.
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[Rebroadcast] Kevin O’Donnell: National Director of Peace Corps

August 17th, 2017

In this episode from 2011, we spoke with Kevin O'Donnell, who, after decades on a private sector career path, became the first-ever Peace Corps country director for South Korea, followed by a term as national director of the Peace Corps. Mr. O'Donnell shares with us his accounts of moving to Korea for the first time, some of the challenges he faced during a budget crisis, and the relationship between the Peace Corps and its host nations.

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Keeping up with North Korea

August 10th, 2017

Composite_Kim_Trump.jpgThe last month has seen two North Korean ICBM tests, a new round of UN sanctions, and threats exchanged between Washington and Pyongyang. To catch up on the latest developments from the Korean Peninsula and try to make sense of some of the rhetoric that has been coming out of the Trump Administration, three members of the KEI staff sat down with Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson for this episode of the podcast. 


Mark Tokola, KEI's vice president, Troy Stangarone, our senior director, and Kyle Ferrier, director of academic affairs and research, discuss a variety of topics related to North Korea, including the difference between a preventative strike and a pre-emptive one, possibilities for the use of cyber attacks, and some of the strengths and weaknesses of the new UN sanctions.


Photos from the U.S. Coast Guard and Prachatai on flickr Creative Commons.

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Korean Study Abroad on the Decline?

August 4th, 2017

20170623_145808.jpgAfter more than a decade as the number three sender of foreign students to the United States, last year South Korea dropped to number four, after several years of declining enrollments. Why, after years of sending tens of thousands of students of all ages to study in the United States, are Koreans less keen on coming to the U.S.?


To answer this question, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with education expert Vincent Flores, EducationUSA's Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for Northeast Asia and the Pacific, who is based in Seoul. Flores shares some of his thoughts on why the numbers are dropping, and also gives some insights into what EducationUSA and American colleges and universities are doing to try to reverse this trend.

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Should the U.S. be concerned about Chinese-North Korean relations?

July 28th, 2017

35570246025_119d78479d_k.jpgAs North Korea's largest trading partner and political ally, China is a crucial factor in any potential solution to curb North Korea's weapons programs. President Trump expressed hope earlier this year that China would help in the U.S.'s effort to restrain North Korea, which he would later tweet that it had "not worked out." How important is China to North Korea, and what does this mean for the national security of the U.S. and its Pacific allies? What measures can be taken to encourage China's cooperation in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program?


On this week’s episode, we spoke with Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World, about China and North Korea’s relationship and what it means for the future of U.S. and South Korean national security.


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Learning Korean and Supporting Seniors: SAY’s Two in One Model of Teaching

July 21st, 2017

Founded in 2014, Korean startup SAY (Seniors and Youth) is a Korean tutoring company with a social mission behind their work - helping Korean retirees find meaningful work. To do this, they have set up a company that connects young foreigners who are eager to learn the Korean language with older Koreans who are eager to share their time and experience.


In this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sits down with two of SAY's founders, Yongmin Cho and Quan Nguyen, to discuss the origins behind the company, their social mission, and how Korean learners can benefit from their lessons.


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Colonel Edward Forney and the Hungnam Evacuation

July 14th, 2017

DSC_0014.jpgIn December 1950, while fighting the advancing Chinese army and bitter Korean winter, Colonel Edward Forney and other American and Korean officers managed to evacuate all troops as well as 100,000 North Korean refugees out of the port city of Hungnam. 


Now, 67 years later, Colonel Forney's grandson, Ned Forney, was invited to Washington, DC to take part in a ceremony at the National Marine Corps Museum's new memorial for those who faught in the Chosin Reservoir battle that made the Hungnam Evacuation possible. The ceremony was part of the recent visit by new President Moon Jae-In, whose parents were among the refugess saved by Colonel Forney during the evacuation.


In this episode, Ned discusses the history of the evacuation, his grandfather's role, and President Moon's personal connection to this story.

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A Discussion with Charlie Rangel, Former Congressman and Korean War Veteran

July 7th, 2017

KEI_-_KWAR_HILL-1028.jpgOn June 26, a day after the 67th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, KEI hosted an event on Capitol Hill to honor three current and former members of Congress who are veterans of the conflict in Korea. One of them was former Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, who fought in several major battles in Korea, earning a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with Valor, and three battle stars.


While in Washington for the reception, Rangel sat down with KEI President Donald Manzullo, who served with Rangel in the House of Representatives for many years. In this episode, the two discuss Rangel's time fighting in Korea, his thoughts about how far South Korea has come since he first arrived there in 1950, and his service in Congress.

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Going Together to the Twenty-First Century: U.S.-Korea Cooperation on Science and Technology

June 29th, 2017

34352885680_135d8ef96e_k.jpgWith this week's summit between American President Donald Trump and Korean President Moon Jae-In, it's worth looking back at one of the major positive outcomes from the previous U.S.-ROK summit - a joint statement on "New Frontiers of Cooperation," highlighting areas of science and technology for future U.S.-Korea cooperation. From cybersecurity to clean energy, then-Presidents Obama and Park agreed to push forward together on a variety of science and tech projects.


Now, a year on and two new presidents later, how have the two countries been doing on these projects? And what will science and technology cooperation look like under these new administrations? Sean Connell, Director of Business Recruitment at the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County in Washington State, shares his thoughts on this week's episode of Korean Kontext.

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How do American News Outlets Cover Korea?

June 21st, 2017

DSC_9042.jpgNorth Korea is no stranger to news headlines in America. The provocative actions of the secretive nation have made them a prime target for constant media coverage stateside. On the other hand, South Korea often gets overshadowed by the North in American news despite being an important economic and security partner. 

In this special episode, we talk with Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson about how North and South Korea are covered in U.S. media outlets and the implications for public awareness of Korean issues in America. Jenna recently traveled to South Korea to present at the World Congress for Korean Politics to present her research, and we discuss the findings from her media content analysis. 

Image from Korea Economic Institute of America.

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Prepping for PyeongChang: Looking Ahead to the Winter 2018 Olympics

June 14th, 2017

32280775730_45dcb4dc15_k.jpgIn February 2018, the South Korean city of PyeongChang will play host to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. With less than a year to go, Korea has been hard at work preparing for the big event, making sure fans from around the world feel welcome in PyeongChang.


Recently, host Jenna Gibson sat down with two officials involved in the planning for the Olympics. In this episode, Ok Hee Kang, Executive Vice President of the International Tourism Promotion Division at the Korea Tourism Organization, and Sunny Kim, Head of the Key Client Team for the Organising Committee for Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, both share their perspectives on how the preparation are going so far and how American fans can get involved.

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Visit Korea: American Tourism to South Korea on the Rise

June 5th, 2017

DSC_0554.jpgIn 2016, the number of American tourists visiting South Korea grew 12 percent, continuing a trend of slow but steady growth over the last few years. What is making more Americans curious about travelling to Korea? And what kinds of activities are they doing once they get there? 


In this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sits down with Sung Kim of the Korea Tourism Organization's New York office to discuss recent trends in tourism to Korea, and how they are trying to encourage more Americans to visit the Land of the Morning Calm.


Photo by Jenna Gibson, KEI.

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Discussion with North Korean Defectors

May 26th, 2017

hqdefault.jpgIn this special episode of Korean Kontext, KEI's Juni Kim sat down with three North Korean defectors who have settled in South Korea. Each of them has a different story of life in the DPRK, escape, and eventual resettlement in the South.


In this episode, they discuss their stories, including their experiences obtaining outside information while living in North Korea and what it's like to be sent back and imprisoned for trying to escape the country. They also discuss a bit about what it's like adjusting to life in South Korea.


These three defectors were in Washington, DC as part of a program sponsored by Woorihana and No Chain. They spoke at KEI on May 2, and the video of the event can be found on YouTube by clicking here.

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Talking Trilateral: U.S.-South Korea-Japan Relations

May 18th, 2017

34308267335_0562adbb3c_k.jpgIn the past decade, South Korea-Japan relations have seen several periods of hightened tension. At the same time, the two countries, along with their ally the United States, have faced an increasingly threatening posture from North Korea, leading to renewed calls for deeper trilateral cooperation.


This week's guest, CSIS Pacific Forum Executive Director Brad Glosserman, is an expert on trilateral relations between these three countries, which he explored in his book "The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States."


With new administrations in Seoul and Washington, along with continued provocations from Pyongyang, will we see a breakthrough in triateral cooperation between these three partners? And what role does national identity play in maintaining (and possibly moving past) the current stalemate?

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President Moon Jae-In Takes Office in Seoul

May 10th, 2017

On May 10, former human rights lawyer Moon Jae-In officially became the next president of South Korea, filling an office that had been empty since former President Park Geun-Hye's impeachment earlier this year. Moon, who is from the progressive Minjoo Party, has indicated he may make some major changes in South Korea's foreign policy, particularly when it comes to engagement with Pyongyang.


Here to discuss the new administration and their approach to foreign policy is Dr. Choi Kang. Dr. Choi is Vice President for Research at The Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. He sat down with host Jenna Gibson to talk about his expectations for President Moon's policy toward North Korea, how he will navigate the relationship with President Donald Trump, and how domestic constraints may affect his administration.

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Addressing Continuity in South Korean Foreign Policy

May 4th, 2017

The upcoming presidential election in Korea on May 9th will place many key issues under the microscope. One meriting serious consideration that has featured less prominently in the political discourse is continuity in foreign policy. Korean policy-making processes empower each president to make their own mark on Korea’s foreign outreach, and simultaneously make it difficult to maintain initiatives from the previous administration. Constitutional reform is one of several changes that could help lessen the impact of leadership transitions on international priorities.


In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Jeffrey Robertson, an assistant professor at Yonsei University and a Visiting Fellow at Australia National University, to discuss the importance of maintaining continuity through multiple presidential administrations. 

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North Korea Sanctions: The View from South Korea

April 24th, 2017

After the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex last year, economic ties between North and South Korea have all but ceased. And as sanctions measures continue to tighten, the international community has chosen to keep exerting greater and greater pressure on the regime in Pyongyang.


Amid tensions on the peninsula, this week's guest sees an opportunity for more "smart" sanctions, those targeted directly at the inner circles of the regime that are less likely to harm the average North Korean. In this episode, Kim Joong-ho, a Researcher at the Export-Import Bank of Korea, shares his thoughts on sanctions from the South Korean perspective, and looks ahead to the possible policies of the new administration that will soon be in place in Seoul.


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[Rebroadcast] Examining the Korean Economy

April 13th, 2017

TomByrne_2.jpgIn this episode of Korean Kontext, guest host Kyle Ferrier, KEI's director of academic affairs and research, sits down with Korea Society President Tom Byrne. Before joining the Korea Society earlier this year, Tom worked for Moody's Investor Services, where he was senior vice president.


Kyle and Tom discuss the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis as well as the 2008 Global Financial Crisis from the Korean economy's perspective. They also talk about sources of risk in the Korean economy today, the potential impact of the Fed raising interest rates, and much more.

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South Korea’s Growing Role in Myanmar

April 7th, 2017

Fumagalli.jpgEver since Myanmar's political and economic opening several years ago, countries have been looking to get in on the ground floor to build ties with this emerging economy in Southeast Asia. And South Korea has put itself in the game in a big way - devoting millions to development projects in Myanmar and encouraging private sector investment in the country. 


This week's guest, Dr. Matteo Fumagalli, recently wrote a paper for KEI about South Korea's role in Myanmar, including room for improvement when it comes to strategic planning. In this episode, he sits down with Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson to discuss the economic and security implications of Seoul's burgeoning ties with Naypyidaw.


To read Dr. Fumagalli's full paper, please click here.


Image from LG전자's photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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Korean American Day 2017: Chemical Engineer Dr. Kook-wha Koh

March 31st, 2017

Dr_Koh.pngDr. Kook-wha Koh first arrived in the United States in 1965, studying chemical engineering at the University of Iowa. She has since become a successful entrepreneur, founding Chrysan industries to provide important lubricants for Michigan manufacturers. Because of her contributions to science and to her community, KEI chose Dr. Koh as one of our 2017 Korean American Day Honorees.


This is the second of our interviews with our three 2017 Korean American Day honorees. To listen to the episode with NASA engineer Dr. David Oh, please click here!

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An American Executive in a Korean Chaebol

March 24th, 2017

31964695974_9b6a4bf8b8_z.jpgAs the highest-ranking non-Korean executive at Hyundai Motors headquarters, Frank Ahrens spent three years gaining an insider's perspective on Korean corporate culture. In his new memoir, "Seoul Man," Ahrens recounts the ups and downs of his journey as an American trying to acclimate to daily life in Korea and to working life inside one of the country's top chaebols.


We talk with Frank this week about his experiences joining Hyundai and his new book. Frank became a director at Hyundai Motor in 2010 and was promoted to Vice President of Global Corporate Communications two years later. He created the company’s first English-language corporate media site, including a blog and Twitter feed, and helped establish the company’s first public relations operation in the Middle East in Dubai.

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