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Korean Kontext

Korea Economic Institute

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Korean Kontext
Korean Kontext

Korean Kontext

Korea Economic Institute

12
Followers
0
Plays
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About Us

News and analysis of issues affecting the Korean Peninsula. Discussions on culture, politics, human rights, economics, and more.

Latest Episodes

Peace Corps Story: Kathleen Stephens

The U.S. Peace Corps was active in South Korea between 1961 and 1981. One of the many volunteers who served in South Korea was KEI president and CEO Kathleen Stephens. Her time in Korea was the beginning of a long journey that would eventually lead her to become U.S. ambassador to the country in 2008. In this episode, we look back on her first visit to South Korea. This interview was conducted by Tyler Lloyd who runs the wonderful podcast series “My Peace Corp Story,” which you can find on iTunes and here: https://mypeacecorpsstory.com/. The episode is a little longer than the usual Korean Kontext episode, but it is highly informative and worth every minute.

47 MINJUL 20
Comments
Peace Corps Story: Kathleen Stephens

Korea, Japan, and the Missing Advocate: Kristin Vekasi and Jiwon Nam

This month, the world was reminded once again that the relationship between the Republic of Korea and Japan is deeply fractious. Japan has imposed restrictions on the export of chemical components for semiconductor chips – accusing South Korea of failing to provide sufficient guarantees that these materials are not being smuggled into North Korea. However, the accusation comes amid a rift between the two countries over the South Korean court’s ruling that select Japanese companies that had forced Koreans into slave labor during the Second World War had to compensate surviving victims. This crisis builds on top of existing tensions around other historical legacy issues stemming from Japan’s 35-year colonial occupation of Korea – including a disputed islet, ongoing controversy around compensation for sexual slavery by the Japanese military, and how Japan writes about these historical events in its textbooks. The U.S. government has encouraged the two countries to make amends for d...

25 MINJUL 13
Comments
Korea, Japan, and the Missing Advocate: Kristin Vekasi and Jiwon Nam

The Great Successor: Anna Fifield

When Kim Jong-il died in 2011, the world held its breath as North Korea entered uncharted waters. No other communist dictatorship in the last century – for that matter no other autocratic state that is not a monarchy – has been able to successfully transfer power to a third generation. Some analysts in Washington and elsewhere raised the possibility of the country collapsing in mere months. But when that didn’t happen, a new theory arose – would he be the great reformer to lead North Korea to the community of nations? 8 years on, that has not yet happened either. We still know so little about the North Korean leader – and so much of how we think of Kim Jong-un comes from media portrayals, the parodies, and assumptions amalgamated from our knowledge of other autocrats. But a new book provides the first comprehensive and readable study of the incumbent North Korean leader. Written by the veteran Washington Post correspondent Anna Fifield, the exhaustively researched new book, tit...

27 MINJUL 6
Comments
The Great Successor: Anna Fifield

Defending Korea, from the Nakdong to the Chosin: Colonel John Stevens

On June 25, 1950, North Korea launched a surprise invasion of South Korea and started a war that is still technically ongoing. But it was – as North Korea’s Kim Il-sung presumed when he launched the all-out assault – almost a short war. The North Korean invasion force was comprised of more than a hundred Soviet tanks and an air force – all armaments that had devastated the German army on the Russian front during WWII. By contrast, the South Korean army had no tanks and an airforce comprised solely of reconnaissance planes. Predictably, South Korea’s capital Seoul fell in three days. And by August, the North Korean forces had nearly reached the southern port city of Busan – the last pocket of territory held by the Republic of Korea. And had it not been for the intervention of the United Nations forces, South Korea as we know it would not exist. Our guest today, Colonel John Stevens is a veteran of the Korean War – he was at the Busan Perimeter, also called the Nakdong Line. He...

19 MINJUN 29
Comments
Defending Korea, from the Nakdong to the Chosin: Colonel John Stevens

How China Sees the Korean Peninsula: Lee Seong-hyon

In light of the meeting between China’s leader Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un this week, we are rebroadcasting an episode from February on Beijing’s foreign policy objectives on the Korean Peninsula. The visit by Xi Jinping comes on the 70th year of official diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – a date that the Chinese leader made sure to emphasize through an op-ed in North Korea’s official state newspaper (see here: https://bit.ly/2Zzu8oW). Our guest, Dr. Lee Seong-hyon, is the Director of the Center for Chinese Studies and Department of Unification Strategy at the Sejong Institute. He sat down with KEI’s Juni Kim to provide us with his views on how China approaches the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and its broader ambitions in the region vis-a-vis the United States.

19 MINJUN 21
Comments
How China Sees the Korean Peninsula: Lee Seong-hyon

At Best Unique, At Worst Delusional - North Korea's Special Economic Zones: Theo Clement

The North Korean economy is changing – we know this because of widely reported growth of private markets since the famine of 1990s. But black markets and illicit activities are not the only drivers of this development. The North Korean state is also actively promoting reform through the development of Special Economic Zones. Dr. Theo Clement sits down with KEI to explain the deep roots of North Korea’s reform efforts and how it influences and is influenced by geopolitics. And most importantly, a police recommendation for how China, South Korea, and the United States should work together to push North Korea towards real reforms. You can find Dr. Clement’s paper titled “From Failed Economic Interfaces to Political Levers: Assessing China-South Korea Competition and Cooperation Scenarios on North Korean Special Economic Zones” here:http://www.keia.org/sites/default/files/publications/kei_aps_clement_190604_final.pdf

25 MINJUN 15
Comments
At Best Unique, At Worst Delusional - North Korea's Special Economic Zones: Theo Clement

Explainer: The Political Origins of Korean Baseball

In May, The Korean-born Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin was named The National League Pitcher of the Month. When you think of Asians and baseball, you might think first of Japan – with famous players like Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish in Major League Baseball. But South Korea also has an illustrious domestic league with competitive players who are breaking ground in the United States. How did baseball get its start in South Korea and where is it going? KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone and intern Haram Chung explain the political origins of the Korean Baseball Organization and the where it is headed on the international stage.

8 MINJUN 8
Comments
Explainer: The Political Origins of Korean Baseball

Explainer: The State of Korea's Childcare Industry

In March, a curious protest took place in Seoul. Private kindergartens were going on strike. Protests by industry groups or workers are not uncommon in South Korea, but something about the protest in the childcare sector struck a raw nerve. What was the industry protesting against? And where are the public kindergartens? KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone and intern Steven Lim answer these questions and address how childcare affects demographic trends.Steven Lim's recent Peninsula Blog article is a good accompaniment for this episode, and we highly recommend you check it out: http://blog.keia.org/2019/05/market-options-fail-children/

12 MINJUN 1
Comments
Explainer: The State of Korea's Childcare Industry

North Korea's Illicit Trade Winds: Hugh Griffith

North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song demanded that the United States release a North Korean vessel that is currently held by authorities in American Samoa, warning that the detention of the vessel would imperil any future disarmament negotiations. But wait, why is there a North Korean vessel in American custody in the first place? To answer that, our guest today is Hugh Griffith, the author of the UN panel of experts report on international sanctions against North Korea. (You can also find the full report here: https://www.undocs.org/S/2019/171) In this interview, he tells Korean Kontext about how North Korea has been using ship-to-ship transfers to evade sanctions and how illicit cybercrime activities now bring in as much revenue for Pyongyang as its weapons sales.

21 MINMAY 25
Comments
North Korea's Illicit Trade Winds: Hugh Griffith

Why North Korea Won't Budge: Ken Gause

It’s been nearly one year since the Singapore Summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un and the two countries are at an impasse. North Korea signals no intention of giving up its existing nuclear arsenal before sanctions relief and the United States has repeatedly underscored that no sanctions would be lifted until Pyongyang makes an irreversible step towards disarmament. But why is this happening? Didn’t North Korea come to the table because international sanctions had become too unbearable? In the face of what the North Korean state media has called the worst drought in 40 years, shouldn’t Kim Jong-un want a compromise? Or perhaps, we need to reexamine our assumptions and look at the world from behind Kim Jong-un’s desk. How would an autocrat change what had been his country’s single-minded objective for decades? Our guest, Ken Gause is the foremost expert on North Korea’s leadership. In this episode, he scrutinizes what we think we know about Kim Jong-un. Ken Gause is ...

25 MINMAY 18
Comments
Why North Korea Won't Budge: Ken Gause

Latest Episodes

Peace Corps Story: Kathleen Stephens

The U.S. Peace Corps was active in South Korea between 1961 and 1981. One of the many volunteers who served in South Korea was KEI president and CEO Kathleen Stephens. Her time in Korea was the beginning of a long journey that would eventually lead her to become U.S. ambassador to the country in 2008. In this episode, we look back on her first visit to South Korea. This interview was conducted by Tyler Lloyd who runs the wonderful podcast series “My Peace Corp Story,” which you can find on iTunes and here: https://mypeacecorpsstory.com/. The episode is a little longer than the usual Korean Kontext episode, but it is highly informative and worth every minute.

47 MINJUL 20
Comments
Peace Corps Story: Kathleen Stephens

Korea, Japan, and the Missing Advocate: Kristin Vekasi and Jiwon Nam

This month, the world was reminded once again that the relationship between the Republic of Korea and Japan is deeply fractious. Japan has imposed restrictions on the export of chemical components for semiconductor chips – accusing South Korea of failing to provide sufficient guarantees that these materials are not being smuggled into North Korea. However, the accusation comes amid a rift between the two countries over the South Korean court’s ruling that select Japanese companies that had forced Koreans into slave labor during the Second World War had to compensate surviving victims. This crisis builds on top of existing tensions around other historical legacy issues stemming from Japan’s 35-year colonial occupation of Korea – including a disputed islet, ongoing controversy around compensation for sexual slavery by the Japanese military, and how Japan writes about these historical events in its textbooks. The U.S. government has encouraged the two countries to make amends for d...

25 MINJUL 13
Comments
Korea, Japan, and the Missing Advocate: Kristin Vekasi and Jiwon Nam

The Great Successor: Anna Fifield

When Kim Jong-il died in 2011, the world held its breath as North Korea entered uncharted waters. No other communist dictatorship in the last century – for that matter no other autocratic state that is not a monarchy – has been able to successfully transfer power to a third generation. Some analysts in Washington and elsewhere raised the possibility of the country collapsing in mere months. But when that didn’t happen, a new theory arose – would he be the great reformer to lead North Korea to the community of nations? 8 years on, that has not yet happened either. We still know so little about the North Korean leader – and so much of how we think of Kim Jong-un comes from media portrayals, the parodies, and assumptions amalgamated from our knowledge of other autocrats. But a new book provides the first comprehensive and readable study of the incumbent North Korean leader. Written by the veteran Washington Post correspondent Anna Fifield, the exhaustively researched new book, tit...

27 MINJUL 6
Comments
The Great Successor: Anna Fifield

Defending Korea, from the Nakdong to the Chosin: Colonel John Stevens

On June 25, 1950, North Korea launched a surprise invasion of South Korea and started a war that is still technically ongoing. But it was – as North Korea’s Kim Il-sung presumed when he launched the all-out assault – almost a short war. The North Korean invasion force was comprised of more than a hundred Soviet tanks and an air force – all armaments that had devastated the German army on the Russian front during WWII. By contrast, the South Korean army had no tanks and an airforce comprised solely of reconnaissance planes. Predictably, South Korea’s capital Seoul fell in three days. And by August, the North Korean forces had nearly reached the southern port city of Busan – the last pocket of territory held by the Republic of Korea. And had it not been for the intervention of the United Nations forces, South Korea as we know it would not exist. Our guest today, Colonel John Stevens is a veteran of the Korean War – he was at the Busan Perimeter, also called the Nakdong Line. He...

19 MINJUN 29
Comments
Defending Korea, from the Nakdong to the Chosin: Colonel John Stevens

How China Sees the Korean Peninsula: Lee Seong-hyon

In light of the meeting between China’s leader Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un this week, we are rebroadcasting an episode from February on Beijing’s foreign policy objectives on the Korean Peninsula. The visit by Xi Jinping comes on the 70th year of official diplomatic relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – a date that the Chinese leader made sure to emphasize through an op-ed in North Korea’s official state newspaper (see here: https://bit.ly/2Zzu8oW). Our guest, Dr. Lee Seong-hyon, is the Director of the Center for Chinese Studies and Department of Unification Strategy at the Sejong Institute. He sat down with KEI’s Juni Kim to provide us with his views on how China approaches the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and its broader ambitions in the region vis-a-vis the United States.

19 MINJUN 21
Comments
How China Sees the Korean Peninsula: Lee Seong-hyon

At Best Unique, At Worst Delusional - North Korea's Special Economic Zones: Theo Clement

The North Korean economy is changing – we know this because of widely reported growth of private markets since the famine of 1990s. But black markets and illicit activities are not the only drivers of this development. The North Korean state is also actively promoting reform through the development of Special Economic Zones. Dr. Theo Clement sits down with KEI to explain the deep roots of North Korea’s reform efforts and how it influences and is influenced by geopolitics. And most importantly, a police recommendation for how China, South Korea, and the United States should work together to push North Korea towards real reforms. You can find Dr. Clement’s paper titled “From Failed Economic Interfaces to Political Levers: Assessing China-South Korea Competition and Cooperation Scenarios on North Korean Special Economic Zones” here:http://www.keia.org/sites/default/files/publications/kei_aps_clement_190604_final.pdf

25 MINJUN 15
Comments
At Best Unique, At Worst Delusional - North Korea's Special Economic Zones: Theo Clement

Explainer: The Political Origins of Korean Baseball

In May, The Korean-born Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin was named The National League Pitcher of the Month. When you think of Asians and baseball, you might think first of Japan – with famous players like Ichiro Suzuki and Yu Darvish in Major League Baseball. But South Korea also has an illustrious domestic league with competitive players who are breaking ground in the United States. How did baseball get its start in South Korea and where is it going? KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone and intern Haram Chung explain the political origins of the Korean Baseball Organization and the where it is headed on the international stage.

8 MINJUN 8
Comments
Explainer: The Political Origins of Korean Baseball

Explainer: The State of Korea's Childcare Industry

In March, a curious protest took place in Seoul. Private kindergartens were going on strike. Protests by industry groups or workers are not uncommon in South Korea, but something about the protest in the childcare sector struck a raw nerve. What was the industry protesting against? And where are the public kindergartens? KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone and intern Steven Lim answer these questions and address how childcare affects demographic trends.Steven Lim's recent Peninsula Blog article is a good accompaniment for this episode, and we highly recommend you check it out: http://blog.keia.org/2019/05/market-options-fail-children/

12 MINJUN 1
Comments
Explainer: The State of Korea's Childcare Industry

North Korea's Illicit Trade Winds: Hugh Griffith

North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song demanded that the United States release a North Korean vessel that is currently held by authorities in American Samoa, warning that the detention of the vessel would imperil any future disarmament negotiations. But wait, why is there a North Korean vessel in American custody in the first place? To answer that, our guest today is Hugh Griffith, the author of the UN panel of experts report on international sanctions against North Korea. (You can also find the full report here: https://www.undocs.org/S/2019/171) In this interview, he tells Korean Kontext about how North Korea has been using ship-to-ship transfers to evade sanctions and how illicit cybercrime activities now bring in as much revenue for Pyongyang as its weapons sales.

21 MINMAY 25
Comments
North Korea's Illicit Trade Winds: Hugh Griffith

Why North Korea Won't Budge: Ken Gause

It’s been nearly one year since the Singapore Summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un and the two countries are at an impasse. North Korea signals no intention of giving up its existing nuclear arsenal before sanctions relief and the United States has repeatedly underscored that no sanctions would be lifted until Pyongyang makes an irreversible step towards disarmament. But why is this happening? Didn’t North Korea come to the table because international sanctions had become too unbearable? In the face of what the North Korean state media has called the worst drought in 40 years, shouldn’t Kim Jong-un want a compromise? Or perhaps, we need to reexamine our assumptions and look at the world from behind Kim Jong-un’s desk. How would an autocrat change what had been his country’s single-minded objective for decades? Our guest, Ken Gause is the foremost expert on North Korea’s leadership. In this episode, he scrutinizes what we think we know about Kim Jong-un. Ken Gause is ...

25 MINMAY 18
Comments
Why North Korea Won't Budge: Ken Gause