The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), Stanford University’s hub for interdisciplinary research, education, and engagement on contemporary Asia, invites nominations for the 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award. The award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations with outstanding track records of helping audiences worldwide understand the complexities of the Asia-Pacific region. The 2023 award will honor a recipient whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media. APARC invites 2023 award nomination submissions from news editors, publishers, scholars, journalism associations, and entities focused on researching and interpreting the Asia-Pacific region. Submissions are due by Wednesday, February 15, 2023.
Sponsored by APARC, the award carries a cash prize of US $10,000. It alternates between recipients whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media and those whose work has primarily appeared in American news media. The 2023 award will recognize a recipient from the former category.
For the purpose of the award, the Asia-Pacific region is defined broadly to include Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia and Australasia. Both individual journalists with a considerable body of work and journalism organizations are eligible for the award. Nominees’ work may be in traditional forms of print or broadcast journalism and/or in new forms of multimedia journalism. The Award Selection Committee, whose members are experts in journalism and Asia research and policy, presides over the judging of nominees and is responsible for the selection of honorees.
An annual tradition since 2002, the award honors the legacy of APARC benefactor, Mr. Walter H. Shorenstein, and his twin passions for promoting excellence in journalism and understanding of Asia. Over the course of its history, the award has recognized world-class journalists who push the boundaries of coverage of the Asia-Pacific region and help advance mutual understanding between audiences in the United States and their Asian counterparts.
Recent honorees include NPR's Beijing Correspondent Emily Feng; Burmese journalist and human rights defender Swe Win; former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Tom Wright; and the internationally esteemed champion of press freedom Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of the Philippine news platform Rappler and winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Award nominations are accepted electronically through Wednesday, February 15, 2023, at 11:59 PM PST. For information about the nomination procedures and to submit a nomination please visit the award nomination entry page. The Center will announce the winner by April 2023 and present the award at a public ceremony at Stanford in the autumn quarter of 2023.
Sponsored by Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the annual award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations for excellence in coverage of the Asia-Pacific region. News editors, publishers, scholars, and organizations focused on Asia research and analysis are invited to submit nominations for the 2023 award through February 15.
The Korea Program at Stanford will mark its 20-year anniversary with a conference focused on North Korean issues and South Korea’s pop culture wave (Hallyu), two aspects of Korea that continue to intrigue the public, exploring how to translate this public attention into an increased academic interest in Korea.
Featuring a keynote address by
Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
DAY 1: Thursday, May 19, 9:00 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
9:00-9:15 a.m. Opening and Welcome Remarks
Gi-Wook Shin, Director of Asia-Pacific Research Center and Korea Program, Stanford Michael McFaul, Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford Gabriella Safran, Senior Associate Dean of Humanities and Arts, Stanford
9:15-10:45 a.m. Panel on North Korea
Moderated by Yumi Moon, Associate Professor of History, Stanford
Siegfried Hecker, Professor Emeritus, Management Science and Engineering; Senior Fellow Emeritus, FSI, Stanford Kim Sook, former ROK Ambassador to UN; Executive Director, Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future Joohee Cho, Seoul Bureau Chief, ABC News
11:00-11:50 a.m. Korea Program at Stanford: Past, Present, and Future
Moderated by Kelsi Caywood, Research Associate, Korea Program, APARC, Stanford
Paul Chang, Associate Professor of Sociology, Harvard University Joon-woo Park, former ROK Ambassador to EU and Singapore; 2011-12 Koret Fellow Jong Chun Woo, former president of Stanford APARC-Seoul Forum; Professor Emeritus, Seoul National University Megan Faircloth, Senior in East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford
11:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Lunch Break
12:30-1:30 p.m. Keynote Address by Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
Introduction by H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor; Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford
Moderated by Gi-Wook Shin, Director of APARC and Korea Program, Stanford
2:00-3:30 p.m. Panel on the Korean Wave
Moderated by Dafna Zur, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Director of Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford
SUHO, Leader of EXO Angela Killoren, CEO of CJ ENM America, Inc. Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor of Art and Art History, Stanford
3:45-5:15 p.m. Documentaries on K-pop and North Korean Human Rights (teaser)*
Moderated by Haley Gordon, Research Associate, Korea Program, APARC, Stanford
Introduction of the films by Director Hark Joon Leeand Director of PhotographyByeon Jaegil
Vivian Zhu, Junior in International Relations and East Asian Studies, Stanford Youlim Kim, Third-year PhD student in Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford *The documentaries will not be shown on the livestream
Day 2: Friday, May 20, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
9:00-10:30 a.m. How to Translate Interest in North Korea and K-pop into Korean Studies
Moderated by Gi-Wook Shin, Director of Asia-Pacific Research Center and Korea Program
David Kang, Professor of International Relations and Business, USC Yumi Moon, Associate Professor of History, Stanford Michelle Cho, Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto Dafna Zur, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Director of Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford
10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Future Visions of K-pop
Keynote speech by Soo-Man Lee, Founder and Chief Producer of SM Entertainment
Introduction by Gi-Wook Shin, Director of Asia-Pacific Research Center and Korea Program
Conversation with: Dafna Zur, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Director of Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford SUHO, Leader of EXO
South Korean popular culture has spread to all corners of the globe, including South Korea’s closed-off neighbor to the north. While North Korea’s Kim Jong Un regime has sought to eradicate the presence of K-pop and South Korean television dramas in his country — even threatening execution for those who consume these cultural products — their popularity endures in North Korea. This panel will address questions relating to the spread of the Korean Wave (Hallyu) in North Korea. How widespread is consumption of South Korean popular culture in the North? Are these cultural products contributing to social change in North Korea, and if so, to what extent? Does the Korean Wave have the potential to contribute to political unrest and change in North Korea?
Sunny Yoon is a professor of Media and Communication at Hanyang University in Seoul. Her research encompasses the globalization of Korean media, the interaction of religion and new media, cultural politics, youth culture, and fandom of Korean popular culture. She is the author of Communication Technology and Creative Industries and Global Media and Asian Identity: Cultural Hybridity or Cultural Resistance, and she has authored papers and a book chapter on the impact of mobile media and South Korean media on North Korean youth culture and social change. She has served as Section Head for Visual Culture in the International Association for Media and Communication Research, as well as the editor-in-chief of the journal of Asian Communication Research. She has been a visiting fellow at Yale University and University of Cambridge, as well as a visiting professor at Doshisha University in Japan, National Taiwan University, and King's College London.Professor of Media and Communication, Hanyang University, Korea
Suk-Young Kim is a professor of Theater and Performance Studies at UCLA where she also directs Center for Performance Studies. She is the author of Illusive Utopia :Theater, Film, and Everyday Performance in North Korea (Michigan, 2010), DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border (Columbia, 2014), and most recently, K-pop Live: Fans, Idols, and Multimedia Performance (Stanford, 2018). Her scholarship has been recognized by the James Palais Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, the Association for Theater in Higher Education Outstanding Book Award, and ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowship. Currently She is working on a book titled Way Ahead of Squid Game (forthcoming in 2023), Millennial North Korea: Forbidden Media and Living Creatively with Surveillance (Stanford UP, under contract) and is editing Cambridge Companion to K-Pop. Her comments on Korean cultural politics have been featured in major media outlets, such as Billboard, CNN, NPR, and the New York Times.
Moderator: Haley Gordon, Research Associate in Korea Program at APARC, Stanford University
Like in many other states worldwide, democracy is in trouble in South Korea, entering a state of regression in the past decade, barely thirty years after its emergence in 1987. The society that recently had ordinary citizens leading “candlelight protests” demanding the impeachment of Park Geun-hye in 2016-17 has become polarized amid an upsurge of populism, driven by persistent structural inequalities, globalization, and the rise of the information society.
The symptoms of democratic decline are increasingly hard to miss: political opponents are demonized, democratic norms are eroded, and the independence of the courts is whittled away. Perhaps most disturbing is that this all takes place under a government dominated by former pro-democracy activists.
The contributors to this volume trace the sources of illiberalism in today’s Korea; examine how political polarization is plaguing its party system; discuss how civil society and the courts have become politicized; look at the roles of inequality, education, and social media in the country’s democratic decline; and consider how illiberalism has affected Korea’s foreign policy.
Table of Contents
Korea’s Democratic Decay: Worrisome Trends and Pressing Challenges Gi-Wook Shin and Ho-Ki Kim
1. Why Is Korean Democracy Majoritarian but Not Liberal? Byongjin Ahn
2. Uses and Misuses of Nationalism in the Democratic Politics of Korea Aram Hur
3. The Weakness of Party Politics and Rise of Populism in Korea Kwanhu Lee
4. The Politicization of Civil Society: No Longer Watchdogs of Power, Former Democratic Activists Are Becoming New Authoritarian Leaders Myoung-Ho Park
5. The Politicization of the Judiciary in Korea: Challenges in Maintaining the Balance of Power Seongwook Heo
6. Two Divergences in Korea’s Economy and Democracy: Regional and Generational Disparities Jun-Ho Jeong and Il-Young Lee
7. Democracy and the Educational System in Korea Seongsoo Choi
8. Social Media and the Salience of Polarization in Korea Yong Suk Lee
9. Illiberalism in Korean Foreign Policy Victor Cha
10. The Democratic Recession: A Global and Comparative Perspective Larry Diamond
Korea’s 2022 Presidential Election: Populism in the Post-Truth Era Ho-Ki Kim and Gi-Wook Shin
To celebrate the publication of South Korea's Democracy in Crisis, APARC held a book launch seminar in Seoul on June 14, 2022. The event received extensive coverage in Korean media, including the following:
The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), Stanford University’s hub for interdisciplinary research, education, and engagement on contemporary Asia, invites nominations for the 2022 Shorenstein Journalism Award. The award recognizes outstanding journalists who have spent their careers helping audiences worldwide understand the complexities of the Asia-Pacific region. The 2022 award will honor a recipient whose work has primarily appeared in American news media. APARC invites 2022 award nomination submissions from news editors, publishers, scholars, journalism associations, and entities focused on researching and interpreting the Asia-Pacific region. Submissions are due by Tuesday, February 15, 2022.
Sponsored by APARC, the award carries a cash prize of US $10,000. It alternates between recipients whose work has primarily appeared in Asian news media and those whose work has primarily appeared in American news media. The 2022 award will recognize a recipient from the latter category. For the purpose of the award, the Asia-Pacific region is defined broadly to include Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia and Australasia. Both individual journalists with a considerable body of work and journalism organizations are eligible for the award. Nominees’ work may be in traditional forms of print or broadcast journalism and/or in new forms of multimedia journalism. The Award Selection Committee, whose members are experts in journalism and Asia research and policy, presides over the judging of nominees and is responsible for the selection of honorees.
An annual tradition since 2002, the award honors the legacy of APARC benefactor, Mr. Walter H. Shorenstein, and his twin passions for promoting excellence in journalism and understanding of Asia. Over the course of its history, the award has recognized world-class journalists who push the boundaries of coverage of the Asia-Pacific region and help advance mutual understanding between audiences in the United States and their Asian counterparts. Recent honorees include Burmese journalist and human rights defender Swe Win; former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Tom Wright; the internationally esteemed champion of press freedom Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of the Philippine news platform Rappler and winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize; former Washington Post Beijing and Tokyo bureau chief Anna Fifield; and Editor of the Wire Siddharth Varadarajan.
Award nominations are accepted electronically through Tuesday, February 15, 2022, at 11:59 PM PST. For information about the nomination procedures and to submit a nomination please visit the award nomination entry page. The Center will announce the winner by April 2022 and present the award at a public ceremony at Stanford in the autumn quarter of 2022.
How to Solve the North Korean Conundrum: The Role of Human Rights in Policy Toward the DPRK
APARC's new edited volume, 'The North Korean Conundrum,' shines a spotlight on the North Korean human rights crisis and its connection to nuclear security. In the book launch discussion, contributors to the volume explain why improving human rights in the country ought to play an integral part of any comprehensive U.S. engagement strategy with the DPRK.
Sponsored by Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, the annual award recognizes outstanding journalists and journalism organizations for excellence in coverage of the Asia-Pacific region. News editors, publishers, scholars, and organizations focused on Asia research and analysis are invited to submit nominations for the 2022 award through February 15.
Around the world, democracy is in retreat. In its Freedom in the World 2019 report, the independent watchdog organization Freedom House records the 13th consecutive year of global declines in political rights and civil liberties. “More authoritarian powers are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, dispensing with term limits, and tightening the screws on any independent media that remain,” and “even long-standing democracies have been shaken by populist political forces,” shows the annual study. Internet freedom, too, continues to decline globally amid the crisis of social media, unveils Freedom House’s newly released Freedom on the Net 2019 report. Social media platforms – once considered liberation technologies – have become a conduit for surveillance, disinformation, and electoral manipulation, and “are now tilting dangerously toward illiberalism, exposing citizens to an unprecedented crackdown on their fundamental freedoms.”
These troubling developments are also manifested throughout the Asia-Pacific, where continuous scaling back in U.S. engagement and leadership is raising doubts about American power and purpose in the region, thus empowering forces that undermine democratic norms and processes.
At Shorenstein APARC, we are committed to building a solid foundation of education, knowledge, and dialogue about the critical challenges facing Asian nations and U.S.-Asia relations. That’s why we are dedicating a major portion of our programming this fall quarter and throughout the entire year to elucidating the threats to rights and liberties in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Battle for Truth and Press Freedom in the Philippines
“This is an existential moment for global power structures, turned upside down by technology. When journalists globally are under attack, democracy is under attack.” With these words, the internationally-esteemed investigative journalist and press freedom champion Maria Ressa opened her keynote address upon receiving the 2019 Shorenstein Journalism Award.
As CEO and executive editor of Rappler, she has led the Philippine independent news platform in shining critical light on the Duterte administration's drug war and unprecedented number of killings in the country. President Duterte in turn has made no secret of his dislike for Ressa and Rappler, accusing the platform for carrying "fake news." Ressa has been arrested twice this year, accused of corporate tax evasion and of violating security laws, and slapped with charges of cyber libel for a report that was published before the libel law came into effect. Since Duterte’s election in summer 2016, the Philippine government has filed at least 11 cases and investigations against Ressa and Rappler. “And all because I’m a journalist,” she says.
Ressa detailed the devastating effects that disinformation has had on press freedom, democracy, and civic discourse in the Philippines. “Our dystopian present is your dystopian future if nothing significant is done,” she cautioned. She was joined on the 18th annual Journalism Award panel by Stanford’s Larry Diamond, senior fellow at FSI and the Hoover Institution, and Raju Narisetti, director of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and professor of professional practice at Columbia Journalism School.
Watch Ressa’s keynote and the entire panel proceedings:
North Korea continues to be one of the world’s worst human rights violators, ranking at the bottom of Freedom House’s list of countries designated as Not Free with the worst aggregate scores for political rights and civil liberties. Although North Korea has experienced some degree of social and economic change in recent years, the Kim Jong Un regime continues to tightly control access to information, suppress all dissent, heavily surveil residents, and subject political prisoners to torture, forced labor, and other atrocities.
As momentum for U.S.-DPRK diplomatic negotiations has ebbed and flowed since summer 2018, all eyes have been on the questions surrounding the North Korean nuclear problem, while the human rights problem has received little attention. However, argues APARC’s Koret Fellow in Korean Studies Robert R. King, addressing the North Korean human rights problem is essential to moving the country on denuclearization and security issues.
Ambassador King, former special envoy for North Korean human rights issues at the Department of State, recently spoke at a seminar hosted by APARC’s Korea Program. Creating pressure on the North Korean government from within by its own people is the only way we’re going to make progress on the security front, he claimed. “If we can help generate greater interest on the part of the people in what is happening with their own government, we can create the kind of constraints that democracy imposes on its leadership […] and that is why we need to focus attention, as well as on negotiating with North Korea, on access to information and human rights.”
Listen to highlights from Ambassador King’s talk:
Hong Kong: City in Turmoil
In Hong Kong, millions of people have been protesting for months against rights violations and increasing interference by the Chinese government in local affairs. On October 1, while the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th anniversary with a massive National Day parade in Beijing, on the other side of the border, Hong Kong experienced one of its most violent and chaotic days.
With those contrasting images still fresh on everyone’s minds, APARC and the China Program, along with FSI And the Center for East Asian Studies, co-hosted an expert panel that explained the root causes of Hong Kong’s unremitting protests, examined the future of “one country, two systems,” and considered how the United States and the international community should best respond.
Former Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Government (1993-2001), the Honorable Anson Chan, delivered a piercing keynote address, followed by a discussion featuring Harry Harding, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia, David M. Lampton, APARC/FSI Oksenberg-Rohlen Fellow, and Professor Ming Sing of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Since 1997, Chan asserted, Hong Kong SAR’s successive chief executives have progressively failed to reassure the Hong Kong people that they would do their utmost to uphold “one country, two systems” and to defend Hong Kong’s autonomy. Instead, she argued, they have increasingly come across as “mouthpieces of the central government, towing the Beijing line.” Chan also suggested that “some years back, Beijing began to both lose confidence in the judgment and competence of the Hong Kong administration and to fear that growing sense of people’s identity as ‘Hong Kongers’ rather than Chinese citizens could pose a threat to the long-term, successful integration of Hong Kong into the motherland.” She closed her speech urging the Beijing leadership “to act with greater confidence and to trust us more completely with stewardship of our own future by allowing us to elect our own leaders.”
China’s mass internment of Uighurs and other Muslims in “reeducation” camps and detention facilities and its deployment of high-tech surveillance and police tactics in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have been interpreted as a superpower’s attempt to annihilate the distinct identities of minority groups. Approximately ten million Muslim minorities in the region are under tight control, and over one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have allegedly disappeared into internment camps. While Beijing characterizes the camps as vocational training centers and has claimed that most of the detainees have been released, evidence for these claims is difficult to verify, as information dissemination regarding the region to the outside world is closely guarded.
To shed light into the crisis in Xinjiang, APARC convened a multidisciplinary panel of experts who provided historical context and critical social scientific analysis of the events unfolding in the region.
From top left, clockwise: Lauren Hansen Restrepo, James Millward,, Darren Byler and Gardner Bovingdon.
James Millward, professor of Inter-societal history at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, reviewed the historical background for the PRC assault on non-Han or non-Chinese culture in Xinjiang. Beginning in the early 2000s, the assault has included the razing of old Kashgar; the discouraging and then illegalizing of Muslim symbols such as head gear, prayer, and fasting in Ramadan; the disappearance of Uyghur script; and the securitization of the province by using police patrol, surveillance technologies, facial recognition, and biodata monitoring. The PRC hasn’t applied a single, top-down ethnic policy in Xinjiang, said Millward, but rather has rolled out different tactics it experimented with on local levels in different areas.
Lauren Hansen Restrepo, assistant professor in growth and structure of cities at Bryn Mawr College and an expert on Chinese development planning and urbanization in Xinjiang, explained how we got to the current crisis in the region by connecting seemingly disparate phenomena. She described the shifts in state power in Xinjiang and how, since 2014, “regional planning has broken every logic of urban planning in China,” resulting in the isolation and subordination of Uyghur-dominated urban centers and in the ossification of cities, as control has been seized from local governments and given to socialist land masters.
Anthropologist Darren Byler, whose research focuses on Uyghur dispossession and "terror capitalism" in the city of Ürümchi, the capital of Xinjiang, explained how, amid mass migration of Han people into the resource-rich region, Uyghurs had mostly been excluded from the new economy and how their identity as contemporary Muslims supported a vibrant public sphere not controlled by the state. The Chinese state, in turn, has merged Islamism with radicalism extremism. From the Chinese state and industry perspective, Byler said, the repression of Xinjiang’s Muslims promises stability and the detention camps are used as carriers of economy and new sources of cheap labor.
Indiana University’s Gardner Bovingdon, whose research focuses on politics in contemporary Xinjiang and the region’s modern history, reverted to the question of how we got to the current crisis, which he characterized as “one of the great state-engineered human rights disasters of our time.” He argued that, in the case of Xinjiang, the Chinese party transported and exacerbated a set of policies that had previously been applied to dealing with the Tibet problem. These policies, Bovingdon suggested, “are signs of a flailing, terrified party that doesn’t know what to do with Uighurs, but also feels no constraints from the international community on its behavior. And so the biggest problem now is to find a way to put constraints on a system that has operated untrammeled with devastating consequences.”
The panel "Xinjiang’s Muslims and the PRC" was cosponsored with the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.
On the heels of the abrupt ending of the Hanoi summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with the future of the diplomacy of denuclearization in question, the Korea Program at Shorenstein APARC convened the 11th Koret Workshop, appropriately titled this year “North Korea and the World in Flux.”
The workshop, an annual gathering made possible through generous funding from the Koret Foundation, brought together international experts in Korean affairs for a full day of panel discussions. Participants assessed the U.S.-DPRK summit diplomacy, examined the challenges and opportunities in media coverage related to the negotiations between the two countries, and considered the prospects and pitfalls for summitry with North Korea in the near term. A report on the workshop proceedings is forthcoming.
At a midday public keynote, General Vincent Brooks, U.S. Army (Ret.), spoke before a packed audience about the challenges and opportunities in Korea. Brooks, who recently retired from active duty as the four-star general in command of all U.S. Forces in Korea, provided his unique and very-timely assessment of the situation on the Korean peninsula, and offered his insights on where the diplomacy of denuclearization may go next.
Future Visions: Challenges and Possibilities of Korean Studies in North America — Social Science panel. From left to right: UC Berkeley's Laura Nelson, University of Michigan's Jordan Siegel, Stanford's Yong Suk Lee, USC's David Kang, Harvard's Paul Chang.
How can Korean studies faculty cultivate supportive and critical scholarly communities with graduate students? What can be done to overcome the severe constraints on Korean language training in North America? Why is there a dearth of Korea scholarship in academic literature? And how should Korean studies librarians prepare for the future in the light of new technologies and young researchers’ increasing interest in digital scholarship?
These were some of the questions examined at a two-day conference, “Future Visions: Challenges and Possibilities of Korean Studies in North America,” convened by the Korea Program of Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) on November 1-2. Co-sponsored by the Seoul-based Foundation Academia Platonica, the conference, the first of its kind, gathered distinguished Korean studies scholars from twelve North American institutions to consider the state of the field, assess its challenges, and carry forward a vision for its future direction and potential. Its six unique panels focused not only on the major disciplines of Korean studies—history, literature, and the social sciences—but also on language education, library collections and services, and Korean Wave.
“The presentations and discussions by our fellow experts reflected the breadth and depth of Korean studies in North America,” says APARC Director and the Korea Program Director Gi-Wook Shin. “Our program was established at Stanford in 2001 and has since become a leader in Korean studies in North America, so it is a special privilege for us to bring together colleagues from eminent institutions around the continent to further advance Korean studies education and research in the academic and policy worlds, and to build upon our track record of action and achievements.”
“The field of Korean studies, however,” notes Shin, “has significantly changed over the past seventeen years and it isn’t without its challenges. This is our opportunity to consider frankly where we go next and how we could explore the path ahead together.”
Conference participants indeed engaged in deep conversations and shared ideas and dilemmas regarding teaching in the different disciplines of Korean studies in North America. Harvard sociologist Paul Chang listed three types of challenges facing the field: publication, academic, and professional challenges. David C. Kang, professor of international relations and director of the Korean Studies Institute at the University of Southern California, emphasized the publication challenge: why is it, asked Kang, that top academic journals in the discipline of political science and international relations publish so much more scholarship about Europe than they do about Korea and Asia at large, even while the rise of Asian nations is surely one of the most consequential issues of the twenty-first century? The onus, Kang argued, comes back to East Asia scholars “to produce better and more compelling scholarship, and to better train graduate students.”
University of British Columbia's Ross King and conference participants.
Yet complex issues surround the question of how to broaden graduate coursework—and whether to do so. Korean language and linguistics expert Ross King, head of the department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, was one of several panelists who considered the obstacles to graduate training, among different aspects of academic challenges facing the field of Korean studies. King probed into how Sinocentrism and what he called the “Mandarin conceit”—that is, the notion that training in Literary Sinitic should be predicated on a near-native proficiency in modern Mandarin Chinese—are emerging as a major stumbling block to the study of premodern Korean literary culture. He also pointed to the constraints on language training in both Korean and hanmun in North America, which, he claimed, is why we can probably anticipate continued decrease in the number of ethnically non-Korean (non-Korea-educated) graduate students undertaking graduate study in Korean literature.
University of Washington's Hyokyoung Yi (left) and Stanford's Joshua Capitanio at a panel on library collections and service.
Sung-Ock Sohn, who coordinates the Korean language program in the department of Asian languages and cultures at the University of California – Los Angeles, further shed light on King’s prediction. She explained that while enrollments in Korean language classes have shown a sharp increase in American higher education institutions in the past decade, particularly at the introductory level and among ethnically non-Korean students, there is a high attrition rate of students from an introductory to advanced Korean classes nationwide.
How should the field move forward?
Participants proposed a host of ideas to that end. These included helping graduate students collaborate with colleagues in Korea; dedicating funding for junior faculty to spend periods of time before tenure conducting research and honing language skills in Korea at appropriate institutions, and for mid-career scholars to spend a year in Korea; emphasizing the application of social science theories and methods to premodern and modern East Asia; motivating scholars to apply a comparative lens to the study of the historical and contemporary experience of East Asia; and integrating linguistic and cultural diversity in Korean language classes by, for example, incorporating service learning in authentic contexts and extending the content spectrum to include topics such as Korean popular culture.
K-pop star Siwon Choi (left) highlights closing panel on Korean Wave.
Korean Wave was the focus of the conference’s widely attended closing panel that featured K-pop star Siwon Choi, a member of Korean boy band Super Junior, and multi-platinum music producer Dominique Rodriguez, managing director of SM Entertainment USA. They spoke about the global reach of Korean pop music and some of the ways in which Korean popular culture could stimulate interest in Korean studies. Dafna Zur, assistant professor in Stanford’s department of East Asian languages and cultures, who chaired the panel, challenged her students to consider “what it means not just to monetize culture but to design culture with specific markets and audience in mind.” The Stanford Daily published a detailed article on the panel.
“We are grateful to Foundation Academia Platonica for its generous support of Stanford’s Korea Program at Shorenstein APARC and for making this conference possible through our shared vision for the future of Korean studies in North America,” said Gi-Wook Shin. “Our thanks also go to our many other friends and partners, including the Korea Foundation that has helped achieve great results through its commitment to promoting understanding of Korea in academia and beyond and its support of the overseas Korean Studies Program since its establishment in 1991.”
South Korean TV company SBS NBC filmed the conference that will be featured in an upcoming documentary about Korean studies in the United States.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is often labeled a hermit kingdom, supposedly one of the most isolated, mysterious, and inaccessible countries on earth. A world in black and white. Reaffirming this notion, many who travel there, journalists, academics, and tourists alike, carry a duty to expose hidden truths, to capture “real” life outside of state curated itineraries and staged performances. Photojournalist David Guttenfelder, for example, who spent several years in the Pyongyang bureau of the Associated Press, “felt it was his responsibility to show the outside world the reality away from stage-managed events.” Aside from the obvious problem of separating real life from staged life, the trouble seems to manifest in relentless attempts to reveal the secrets behind the totalitarian curtain. But what if the question is not where one looks, but rather, how?
Like the red safelight in a photographic darkroom, red is the only color that can operate within the logic of silver halide coated papers and chemistries that facilitate the emergence and fixing of an image. With a red light, latent images can come to life, whereas natural light or incandescent light would destroy them. It is the mode of a red safelight, then, that illuminates Laibach’s provocative Pyongyang concert in August 2015. Their controversial performance was not simply the first avant-garde rock concert in one of the most restrictive societies, as is frequently described, but in fact a larger collective performance that transcends the boundaries of north and south, darkness and light, totalitarianism and democracy, what Slavoj Zizek describes as bringing the authoritarian streak out. This talk explores the anxieties, desires, and ambiguities that proliferate at the edges of this event—going to the stage, a Red Stage, that enables the encounter between worlds imagined as radically different.
For more information about this event, please visit the event website:
Hye Sung Kim joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) during the 2017–18 academic year from MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation), one of the leading South Korean TV and radio network companies. During her career as a reporter at MBC, she reported from Baghdad in 2004 on the war in Iraq, and also covered North Korean issues in a weekly news magazine program Unification Observatory in 2013-14.
Kim's research interests focus mainly on inter-Korean relations and the interactions between the powerful nations surrounding the Korean peninsula. During her research period at Shorenstein APARC, Kim will study this subject with a view as a journalist.
Kim received a BA in Aesthetics with minor in International Relations from the Seoul National University.