Gi-Wook Shin
News Type

This essay originally appeared in Korean on June 16 in Sindonga (New East Asia), Korea’s oldest monthly magazine (established 1931), as the third in a monthly column, "Shin’s Reflections on Korea." Translated by Raymond Ha. A PDF version of this essay is also available to download.

“What is it that Korean entertainment has brought? It’s the greatest example of providing something to the market that doesn’t exist, and it’s what I call ‘female gaze’ entertainment.”

On May 19, the Korea Program at Stanford University hosted a conference to celebrate its 20th anniversary. During a panel discussion on the “Korean Wave” (Hallyu), Angela Killoren, the CEO of CJ ENM America, asserted that Korean content garnered global popularity because it satisfied the interests of female consumers. “Hollywood . . . is very male gaze driven,” she noted, while Korean music and dramas “rekindle a sense of romance” and tend to be told from a female perspective. Women are marginalized in patriarchal cultures, and young women in particular have responded enthusiastically to content that resonates with them.

The next day, South Korea’s newly elected President Yoon Suk-Yeol held his first summit meeting with President Joe Biden in Seoul. At the joint press conference following the summit, a reporter with the Washington Post asked President Yoon about the lack of women among his Cabinet nominees. This was a piercing question for President Yoon, who is already seen as an “anti-feminist” by foreign observers.[1] His discomfort at the question was palpable. Of 19 Cabinet nominees, including the prime minister, he had nominated only three women. Among his vice ministers and vice-ministerial appointees, only two out of 41 were women.

Why Diversity Matters

There was widespread public criticism about the overrepresentation of a specific group of individuals among Yoon’s appointees: men in their 50s and 60s who had graduated from Seoul National University.[2] In response, the administration stated that it had selected the most qualified and experienced individual for each position. The Democratic Party of Korea, the leading opposition party, criticized Yoon’s Cabinet appointments for being imbalanced in terms of policy preferences, alma maters, and regional backgrounds. The opposition Justice Party similarly rebuked the skew toward men from Gyeongsang Province in their 60s.[3]

The “female gaze” that propelled the Korean Wave was not the outcome of a strict meritocracy, and it did not arise from efforts to achieve balanced representation. It resulted from looking beyond the horizon of male-centered viewpoints to value female perspectives.
Gi-Wook Shin

Interestingly enough, both sides interpret this as a question of representation. Those who emphasize meritocracy argue that allocating seats to account for the representation of minorities makes it difficult to achieve results. On the other side, those who criticize the lack of diversity support a balanced composition in terms of gender and regional background, among other considerations. Such focus on “balance” and “representation” limits the discussion. Let us return to Killoren’s explanation for the astonishing global success of the Korean Wave. The “female gaze” that propelled the Korean Wave was not the outcome of a strict meritocracy, and it did not arise from efforts to achieve balanced representation. It resulted from looking beyond the horizon of male-centered viewpoints to value female perspectives.

A diverse group of individuals brings a diversity of opinions to the table. The true strength of diversity, however, is that it encourages people to think outside the box. When people encounter and evaluate different viewpoints and alternatives, this fosters creative, original thinking that drives innovation. Organizations and institutions can thus enhance their overall performance by building a diverse workforce.

South Korea is a patriarchal, “super-networked” society that emphasizes ethnic homogeneity and purity. High value is placed on common alma maters, shared regional backgrounds, and family ties. There is a dire need to enhance appreciation for the value of diversity.
Gi-Wook Shin

Ensuring the equitable representation of minorities and protecting their rights is, of course, a fundamental democratic value and a vital policy objective. Nevertheless, it is now time to approach the issue of diversity not only in terms of balanced representation, but also as a question of effectiveness and innovation. It is especially important to ensure diversity within entities like the Cabinet, which requires a high level of intellectual capacity and judgment.

South Korea is a patriarchal, “super-networked” society that emphasizes ethnic homogeneity and purity. High value is placed on common alma maters, shared regional backgrounds, and family ties. There is a dire need to enhance appreciation for the value of diversity. The era of industrialization called for a homogeneous workforce capable of producing uniform, standardized products. In this context, diversity could hamper efficiency. The new era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, built on creativity and innovation, will increasingly require a rather heterogeneous workforce. Diversity should be recognized as an essential virtue that underlies innovation and success. The future belongs to societies and organizations that understand the true value of diversity.

From Representation to Innovation

In the United States, diversity is one of the most important considerations not only in companies’ hiring decisions, but also when colleges and universities hire professors or admit students. Pursuing diversity was once regarded as a means of empowering minority groups by ensuring that they had access and representation. However, it is now commonly understood that an organization’s capabilities and achievements cannot be maximized without diversity. There are many ways to achieve diversity. A range of factors is considered, including race and ethnicity, age, gender, personal background, and past experiences. It is believed that an organization can overcome groupthink and dismantle a rigid internal culture only if it is composed of diverse individuals. Put differently, innovation and success depend on diversity. Schools, companies, and government entities all have a department that is responsible for improving diversity, and there are many organizations that now have a chief diversity officer (CDO) in addition to a CEO and CFO.

This is a relatively recent phenomenon in American history. As a nation of immigrants, the United States initially pursued assimilation. It only recognized English as the official language. This began to change in the 1960s with the civil rights movement and the emergence of feminism. There were calls to protect and empower minorities and vulnerable groups, and these efforts were also institutionalized. Affirmative action is perhaps the most prominent legacy of this era.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925, introducing affirmative action for federal contractors. Affirmative action sought to proactively counter discrimination by providing preferential treatment to minorities that were disadvantaged on the basis of “race, creed, color or national origin.”[4] There was an initial emphasis on addressing racial discrimination, but this later expanded to countering discrimination on the basis of sex or disability. In essence, this is similar to practices that are well known in Korea: creating quotas for individuals of particular backgrounds and giving extra points in hiring evaluations or admissions decisions. These practices were most commonly used by companies and universities.

Affirmative action has always been controversial in the United States, with opponents calling for its repeal. Some argue that it fails to solve the problem by creating reverse discrimination, while others claim that it generates new forms of discrimination. The former is raised primarily among white men, while the latter is voiced by Asian Americans. It was charged that high school students who worked hard to achieve high scores were disadvantaged in university admissions because schools applied racial quotas. Although the Supreme Court ruled the use of racial quotas in university admissions to be unconstitutional in the Bakke decision (1978), critics allege that prominent universities still maintain tacit quotas for African and Hispanic American applicants. This fall, the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in a case brought mainly by Asian American individuals against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina for the use of “race-conscious” admissions programs.[5]

California, where I have lived for many years, is among the most progressive states in the United States. In 1996, however, it became the first state to vote against affirmative action in a statewide referendum when it passed Proposition 209. I was an assistant professor at UCLA at the time, and I vividly remember many heated discussions and debates about this topic among professors, students, local residents, and civil society organizations.

The controversy surrounding affirmative action in California has persisted. Proposition 16, which sought to repeal Proposition 209, was defeated by a wide margin in November 2020. Even in the United States, there is a fraught conversation about pursuing diversity as a means of achieving equitable minority representation. On the other hand, there is a growing recognition that diversity is essential for organizations to innovate and succeed.

Diversity = Innovation

When I write a course syllabus, I include two components in addition to lecture topics, assignments, and grading policies. First, I pledge to observe the Honor Code, which has a long tradition at Stanford. Under the Honor Code, faculty members do not proctor exams. Second, I vow to “respect diversity.” As a professor, I pledge “my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and situations be well served by this course,” and I affirm that “the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit.” I emphasize diversity as an essential element that enhances students’ learning experience. Accordingly, I “present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity,” which includes “gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, religion, political affiliation, culture, and so on.” Faculty members are encouraged to include such language on diversity in their syllabi, although it is not a requirement. Nevertheless, this practice is becoming increasingly widespread among faculty members.

Major U.S. companies such as Google and Microsoft have appointed chief diversity officers (CDOs) and strive to attract employees of diverse races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and gender identities. Diversity tends to be based on inherent components (e.g., sex and race), but it can also be expanded through acquired components, such as studying abroad and gaining other life experiences. These companies seek various ways to improve diversity. They believe that diversity enhances productivity and allows the company to better respond to changes in the external environment. Melonie Parker, Google’s CDO, describes her mission as making “Google more reflective of the world around us.”[6] There is a firm conviction that creativity and innovation arise when individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences exchange new ideas and perspectives.

In diverse teams, individuals are able to consider and evaluate alternatives and novel points of view. If an organization consists only of people with similar educational backgrounds who think in similar ways, it is unlikely that innovative or unique ideas will ever emerge.
Gi-Wook Shin

“Diversity = Innovation” is not just an article of faith. In the United States, researchers have accumulated a considerable amount of empirical evidence in support of this maxim across a variety of disciplines. Scott E. Page, a professor of complex systems at the University of Michigan, describes in great detail in The Difference (2007) how diversity leads to innovation. According to Page, having a diverse team enables cognitive diversity, which is critical to problem solving. When faced with difficult tasks, cognitive diversity allows the team to perform more capably than the sum of its parts.

In “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” Katherine Phillips, the late professor of business management at Columbia University, stresses that diversity makes teams more effective at completing tasks. In diverse teams, individuals are able to consider and evaluate alternatives and novel points of view.[7] If an organization consists only of people with similar educational backgrounds who think in similar ways, it is unlikely that innovative or unique ideas will ever emerge.

At Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, or “the,” which is well known in Korea, diversity is understood as “radical collaboration.” Individuals with different perspectives and experiences collaborate in the classroom and when completing assignments. For instance, a computer science major will work together with a student majoring in the humanities. A prominent example of this way of thought is on display at Stanford’s Institute of Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, where one co-director has a background in computer science, and the other in philosophy.

According to a 2007 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 91% of companies responded that “enhancing the ability of people from different backgrounds to work effectively together” was an “extremely important” outcome of effective diversity management.[8] Catalyst, widely known for its research on the role of women in the workplace, also reported that companies with more women in high-level management positions tend to have transparent management practices and become more profitable through the pursuit of creative business strategies. A 2018 analysis of 1,700 companies by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with “above-average diversity on their management teams. . . reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity.”[9]

It is none other than Silicon Valley, the global leader in technological innovation, that best illustrates the relationship between diversity and innovation.

Some in Korea may respond that the United States is unique in its status as a nation of immigrants. Israel offers an illustrative counterexample. Although it has a strong national identity like Korea, it has relied on a diverse talent pool to build a “creative economy.”

Technology as “a Manifestation of a Culture”

“An iPhone is not a product. It’s a manifestation of a culture.”[10] This statement about the iPhone also perfectly encapsulates the ethos of Silicon Valley as a whole. In April 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited Stanford and hosted a discussion on technological innovation with the CEOs of major U.S. tech companies, including Apple, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and Microsoft. I was also there and I noticed something fascinating about the discussion. While Prime Minister Abe focused on the technological aspects of innovation, the leaders of Silicon Valley all emphasized its cultural aspects. Without exception, they began from the premise that innovation was rooted in culture, not technology. At the core of that culture is cultural diversity.

It has already been over 20 years since I joined Stanford and became a resident of the Bay Area. Having grown up in Korea, where I was taught to be proud of the homogeneity and unity of the Korean people, what struck me most about living here is a way of thinking that places great value on cultural diversity. Simply put, Silicon Valley was not built only by white men. Talented individuals of diverse backgrounds came together, competing and cooperating in their endeavors as they created today’s technological landscape. Immigrants laid the foundations for many of the companies that were launched in Silicon Valley, including Intel, Yahoo, Tesla, Google, and Twitter. The cultural diversity that permeates this region can be felt not only through these companies, but also in its schools, shops, and restaurants.

When people of diverse backgrounds and experiences come together, they create original ideas and put forth new perspectives. In turn, this catalyzes technological innovation. This ethos is deeply ingrained in Silicon Valley’s business culture. One often hears that “Silicon Valley is 90% culture and 10% technology.” This is in exactly the same vein as the above quote about the iPhone as “a manifestation of a culture.”

Some in Korea may respond that the United States is unique in its status as a nation of immigrants. Israel offers an illustrative counterexample. Although it has a strong national identity like Korea, it has relied on a diverse talent pool to build a “creative economy.” It created an ecosystem to support entrepreneurship in the technology sector, thereby overcoming tremendous economic difficulties to become a “startup nation” that has attracted global attention. In this process, 850,000 immigrants who arrived after the collapse of the Soviet Union played an important role. Over 40% of these immigrants were professors, scientists, and engineers with ample research experience. Israel proactively incorporated these individuals into its economy and society. It is common to hear multiple languages spoken on the streets of Tel Aviv. The startup nation did not arise out of coincidence.

To be a “first mover” and not just a “fast follower,” having a heterogeneous workforce could prove to be consequential. Korea is the exact opposite. A social and corporate culture that values and enforces conformity surely cannot be a wellspring of creativity and innovation.
Gi-Wook Shin

In the era of industrialization, it was vital to have a workforce capable of making standardized products. Diversity could reduce efficiency. Ernest Gellner, a prominent scholar of nationalism, traced the origins of modern nationalism to the economic needs of industrialization. The mass production of standardized goods necessitated a homogeneous workforce, and the most effective way of creating such a workforce was to cultivate citizens who shared a common national identity. From this perspective, South Korea and Japan were able to achieve rapid economic development through industrialization because they were able to easily form a homogeneous workforce. A strong sense of ethnic homogeneity played a critical role in this process.

In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, however, a country cannot become a leader if it has a homogeneous workforce. To be a “first mover” and not just a “fast follower,” having a heterogeneous workforce could prove to be consequential. Korea is the exact opposite. Everyone seeks to receive the same education and build the same résumé in a race to the same finish line. A social and corporate culture that values and enforces conformity surely cannot be a wellspring of creativity and innovation. Given such a culture, companies, organizations, and institutions will inevitably settle for drifting along, simply going through the motions. Korean society must find a new source of vitality. Enhancing diversity to stimulate innovation and change could be the answer.

Beyond Homogeneity and Assimilation

The most conspicuous examples in Korea of a lack of diversity, and the harmful consequences resulting from it, are the culture of Korean academia and the country’s policy toward immigrants.

According to a 2014 analysis, 84.1% of faculty at Seoul National University (SNU) consist of the school’s own alumni. The figures for Yonsei University and Korea University are 73.9% and 58.6%, respectively.[11] A report on hiring practices for full-time faculty members at SNU between 2012 and 2019 reveals that of 93 departments, 28 departments consist entirely of faculty who are SNU alumni. For another 40 departments, the proportion of SNU alumni exceeds 80%. Many Koreans assume that I received my PhD from Stanford, and they are genuinely surprised when I tell them otherwise. This applies to faculty at Stanford as a whole. There are only a handful of professors who have received their degrees on “The Farm.” When I applied for faculty positions, I followed prevailing norms in the United States by excluding the university that I had graduated from.

In this sense, the United States is the complete opposite of Korea. There is strong opposition to so-called academic inbreeding, and schools strictly limit the hiring of alumni. Unless there are special reasons to do so, alumni are typically not appointed as faculty members. If they are considered as candidates, alumni are subject to a more rigorous review during the hiring process. In most universities, the proportion of alumni among faculty does not exceed 20%. It is uncommon to see professors return to their alma mater. Those who do typically return after many years, having gained broad recognition in their field while teaching and researching at other schools. The kind of homogeneity and academic inbreeding that is common in Korea is unthinkable in the United States.

It is widely accepted in the United States that the harms of academic inbreeding far outweigh any potential benefits. There is even a study that finds that alumni have 15% lower research output than other faculty and are 40% less effective at communicating with their colleagues at other institutions.[12] There is now a critical discussion in Korea about the hiring of alumni as faculty, but it is unclear how much has changed in practice. It should be noted that many Korean academics obtain their PhD overseas before returning to their alma mater. Nevertheless, it is questionable just how much creative intellectual activity can take place in a department filled with fellow alumni. A friend who is not an alum of the school at which he teaches once told me that “if I attend, it’s a faculty meeting, and if I don’t, it’s an alumni gathering.”

Another example is the government’s policy of assimilation, which is carried out under the banner of “multiculturalism.” Starting in the 2000s, a significant number of migrant workers and female “marriage migrants” began to arrive from China, Southeast Asia, and South Asia as South Korea was faced with a plummeting birth rate, an aging population, and a shrinking labor force.[13] In response, the Roh Moo-Hyun administration (2003–08) adopted “multiculturalism” as a major policy initiative. It is remarkable that a country such as South Korea, which built its national identity on ethnic homogeneity, accepted the idea of multiculturalism. Unfortunately, however, the policy has been implemented in a way that departs from the true meaning of multiculturalism. Most government programs and policies are geared toward the assimilation of foreigners into Korean culture.

There are few, if any, efforts to improve the understanding of foreign cultures among Koreans. For instance, there are programs to teach the Korean language and Korean history to a marriage migrant from Vietnam. There are even classes that teach her how to make kimchi. On the contrary, insufficient attention is given to enabling her Korean husband and in-laws to understand and respect Vietnam’s history and culture.

Furthermore, Korea’s policy of multiculturalism predominantly focuses on marriage migrants and low-skilled migrant workers. There is a prevailing tendency to address migrants as a socially vulnerable group that needs to be protected. Migrants who receive “protection” and “benefits” from the government become part of an invisible hierarchy that places them below Korean citizens. This has become ingrained to an extent such that “multiculturalism” has become synonymous with “helping the poor” in the minds of many Koreans. Because such policies give rise to an implicit hierarchy between natives and migrants, they are often not well received by the migrant population. These policies can also instigate anti-migrant sentiment among the Korean public, which creates a conflict between Koreans and those belonging to multicultural families.

In a 2018 analysis, the Software Policy and Research Institute projected that Korea would face a deficit of 31,833 workers by 2022 in core sectors of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, and virtual/augmented reality.[14] This is why major Korean conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motors, are making a concerted effort to attract foreign talent. From the perspective of foreign workers, however, Korea is not necessarily an appealing destination, given a socioeconomic environment that is still not receptive to diversity. INSEAD ranked Korea 27th out of 134 countries in its 2021 Global Talent Competitiveness Index. In terms of “tolerance of immigrants,” Korea ranked 65th.[15] This is deeply disappointing for a country that now has the 10th largest economy in the world.

Without changes to the socioeconomic environment that immigrants face, it will be nearly impossible for Korea to attract foreign talent. The Ministry of Justice recently announced that it will create a new government agency to oversee immigration issues.[16] However, these institutional measures will not bear fruit until there are efforts to improve public awareness about the importance of ethnic and cultural diversity and how this diversity can spur innovation.

For Korea to take a leap forward, it must demolish the walls of its exclusionary super-networks [...] Diversity should be understood not just as a means to achieve balanced representation, but even more so as an essential ingredient of innovation and success.
Gi-Wook Shin

Demolishing Korea’s “Super-Network”

As I noted in Superficial Korea (2017), Korea is a “super-networked” society. According to one analysis, there are at most 3.6 degrees of separation among Koreans. In a country of over 50 million people, it is possible to connect any two individuals by crossing three or four mutual acquaintances. This is precisely what it means to be super-networked. It is no surprise that Koreans rely so heavily on shared regional backgrounds, alumni connections, and family ties. The denser the connections, the more exclusive and insular each of these groups becomes. Put differently, the barrier to entry becomes insurmountable. As the bonds in the in-group become ever stronger based on shared experiences, hostility toward the out-group intensifies. It is difficult to expect these groups to change. A form of exclusive, group-based behavior has thus emerged in an extremely competitive, super-networked society.

For Korea to take a leap forward, it must demolish the walls of its exclusionary super-networks. In its place, Korea must build a new home that opens its doors to talented individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. This requires Korea to look at diversity in a new way. Diversity should be understood not just as a means to achieve balanced representation, but even more so as an essential ingredient of innovation and success.

During the election campaign, President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s pledge to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family became a political football. Ongoing discussions about the role of this ministry should now move beyond the previous question of how to protect women. By enhancing gender diversity, the government could help transform Korean society by unleashing creativity and innovation. Debates and discussions about specific policies should focus on how to achieve this larger goal.

The Moon Jae-In administration failed to innovate because it relied on a super-network of former pro-democracy activists. President Yoon’s Cabinet appointments, which draw heavily from lawyers and former prosecutors, are raising concerns that this administration could repeat its predecessor’s mistakes by relying on a super-network of prosecutors. The Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Unification; Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport; and Ministry of the Interior and Safety are all led by lawyers who studied in the same university (Seoul National University) and department (Law) as the president. Moreover, the prime minister, presidential chief of staff, and minister of economy and finance (who also serves as the deputy prime minister for the economy) are all civil servants who built their careers in the Ministry of Finance.[17]

In response to criticisms about the lack of diversity among high-level appointments, the Presidential Office insisted that it chose the most qualified and experienced individuals. It may be that these individuals are indeed able to work effectively as a team and draw on their skills to quickly achieve significant results in government policy. However, will this be enough for Korea to innovate and forge a path to success in the rapidly changing environment of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? It would be wise to remember that embracing the female gaze enabled the success of the Korean Wave.


[1] For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see Gi-Wook Shin, “In Troubled Waters: South Korea’s Democracy in Crisis,” Shorenstein APARC, May 3, 2022.

[2] A public research university established in 1946, Seoul National University is widely regarded as the most prestigious university in South Korea.

[3] Regional divides are a major fault line in South Korean politics. The rivalry between the Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces is particularly salient.

[5] Adam Liptak and Anemona Hartocollis, “Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Affirmative Action at Harvard and U.N.C.,” New York Times, January 24, 2022.

[6] See “Melonie Parker, Chief Diversity Officer,”

[7] Katherine W. Phillips, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” Scientific American, October 1, 2014.

[8] Society for Human Resource Management, 2007 State of Workplace Diversity Management, February 2008.

[9] Rocío Lorenzo et al., “How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation,” Boston Consulting Group, January 23, 2018,

[10] Jay Greene, “Steve Jobs and the business of design,” CNET, October 6, 2011,

[11] Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University are commonly regarded as the three most prestigious universities in Korea. They are often referred to as the “SKY” universities, an acronym based on the first letter of each school.

[12] Hugo Horta, Francisco M. Veloso, and Rócio Grediaga, “Navel Gazing: Academic Inbreeding and Scientific Productivity,” Management Science, 56, no. 3 (March 2010): 414-29.

[13] These “marriage migrant” women typically went to rural areas of South Korea, which saw a gender imbalance as many women moved to cities to find employment.

[14] Lee Dong-Hyun, Huh Jeong, and Kim Jeong-Min, “Labor Market Forecast of Promising SW Areas,” SPRi, April 23, 2018,

[15] The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2021: Talent Competitiveness in Times of COVID (Fontainebleau, France: INSEAD, 2021),

[16] See, for example, Lee Sung-Eun, “Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon has big immigration ideas,” Korea JoongAng Daily, May 30, 2022,

[17] This is the former title for the Ministry of Economy and Finance. In Korea, this group of civil servants is referred to as the “mofia,” combining the English acronym (MOF) with “mafia.”

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As reports of leveled mosques, detention camps, and destroyed cultural and religious sites in China's Xinjiang province emerged in the mid-to-late 2010s, the world took notice of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) flagrant oppression of Uighur Muslims and other minorities. Under the Xi Jinping administration, the Xinjiang region in northwestern China has experienced what is perhaps the greatest period of cultural assimilation since the Cultural Revolution. This massive state repression represents a primary research focus for Dr. James Millward, Professor of Inter-societal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, who joined both APARC's China Program and the Stanford History Department as a visiting scholar for winter quarter 2022.

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Millward emphasizes the importance of documenting the scope and scale of the crisis in Xinjiang. "What's happened in the last four or five years in Xinjiang is of great global importance and interest to people," he says, and although it is still early to write the history of this period of repression, "it's important at least to try and get an organized draft of it down and to try to begin to interpret rather than just narrate the litany of things going on: the camps, the digital surveillance, forced labor, birth depressions, and try and put it all into some kind of framework where we can understand it." 

China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang is part of aggressive intolerance of cultural and political diversity that is emerging as a central feature of Xi Jinping’s tenure, explains Millward. The shift in the CCP's assimilationist policies constitutes a complete "reversal of what had been an earlier approach to diversity in China," which allowed for 56 different nationalities to have regional autonomy. His aim is to "point out a really aggressive assimilating thrust under the Xi Jinping regime [...] and then also to look more clearly at settler colonialism in Xinjiang."

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The Xinjiang crisis has affected how the United States views China, bringing an unexpected unity to the usually-polarized American foreign policy arena. "The Xinjiang issue has contributed to the broad-spectrum feeling in the American political sphere that engagement with China has failed," notes Millward. The parallels between China's repression of minorities and some of the worst events in the 20th century in Europe "have brought together the political sides in America and rallied them around a much stronger anti-China stance," he says.

From Millward's perspective, however, it is not only possible but also necessary for the United States to act on Xinjiang and press China on its human rights record while cooperating with China on other issues. "This is the art of diplomacy, you have to compartmentalize and deal with different issues, particularly with two countries as large as the United States and China." In Millward's view, areas pertinent to U.S.-China collaboration are varied and transcend global challenges such as climate change or pandemics. Those are simplistic dichotomies," he says. "We have 300,000 Chinese students in our universities and we welcome them and learn a lot from them [...] We benefit from Chinese expertise in all sorts of ways."

Millward spent a productive winter quarter at APARC. Returning to Stanford as a visiting scholar provided him a unique opportunity to reconnect with his past on The Farm and survey all that has changed in the years since he completed his doctorate under the tutelage of the late Professor Harold Kahn. "The trailer park where I lived as a first-year graduate student is no more, and I couldn't even find the footprint of where it was."

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APARC Visiting Scholar James Millward discusses PRC ethnicity policy, China's crackdown on Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang province, and the implications of the Xinjiang crisis for U.S. China strategy and China's international relations.



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How can we understand the geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China without fueling anti-Asian hate?

Join REDI's student representatives, Maddy Morlino and Miku Yamada, for an open discussion on how we can avoid contributing to racial discrimination when engaging in academic dialogues on U.S.-China competition.

This in-person event will facilitate an open dialogue with participants and invited speakers, FSI Senior Fellow Thomas Fingar and Postdoctoral Fellow, Dongxian Jiang. Since seating is limited, registration is reserved for current Stanford faculty, students, and staff only with a email.

Confirmed attendees will be notified by email on February 22.

Speaker bios:

Thomas Fingar is a Shorenstein APARC Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He was the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow from 2010 through 2015 and the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford in 2009. From 2005 through 2008, he served as the first deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and, concurrently, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Fingar served previously as assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2000-01 and 2004-05), principal deputy assistant secretary (2001-03), deputy assistant secretary for analysis (1994-2000), director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific (1989-94), and chief of the China Division (1986-89). Between 1975 and 1986 he held a number of positions at Stanford University, including senior research associate in the Center for International Security and Arms Control.

Dongxian Jiang is a political theorist and intellectual historian. His primary research interests lie in comparative political theory, the history of political thought, and pressing practical questions of democratic and international politics, including Western and non-Western perspectives on human rights, democracy, good governance, and political legitimacy. He is also interested in the transmission and traveling of political ideas across divergent intellectual traditions. He holds a B.A. in International Politics and Philosophy from Peking University, an M.A. in Political Science from Duke University, and a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University (as of September 2020). Dongxian Jiang is currently Civics Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Political Science, Stanford University.

Registration required:



Thomas Fingar FSI Senior Fellow Speaker Stanford University
Dongxian Jiang Political Science Postdoctoral Fellow Speaker Stanford University

This is a virtual event. Please click here to register and generate a link to the talk. 
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Policies implemented by the CCP in Xinjiang since c. 2016 have become a central issue in PRC international relations, leading to international determinations that those policies constitute genocide; scrutiny of global supply chains for Xinjiang cotton, textiles and polysilicon; US sanctions on companies and individuals and Congressional inquiries directed at Airbnb and other multinationals operating in Xinjiang; and diplomatic boycotts of the Olympics. The assimilationist policies, if most extreme in Xinjiang, are related to the broader Zhonghua-izing campaign against religion and non-Mandarin language and perhaps even to intensified control over Hong Kong and efforts to intimidate Taiwan—an aggressive intolerance of cultural and political diversity that is emerging as a central feature of Xi Jinping’s tenure. This talk will review the Xinjiang crisis to date and suggest how we should understand these events and trends.

Portrait of James Millward
James Millward is Professor of Inter-societal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, teaching Chinese, Central Asian and world history. He joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) as visiting scholar with the China Program for the 2022 winter quarter. He is also an affiliated professor in the Máster Oficial en Estudios de Asia Oriental at the University of Granada, Spain. His specialties include Qing empire; the silk road; Eurasian lutes and music in history; and historical and contemporary Xinjiang. He follows and comments on current issues regarding the Uyghurs and PRC ethnicity policy. Millward has served on the boards of the Association for Asian Studies (China and Inner Asia Council) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society, and was president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society in 2010. He edits the ''Silk Roads'' series for University of Chicago Press. His publications include The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (2013), Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (2007), New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde (2004), and Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in Qing Central Asia (1998). His articles and op-eds on contemporary China appear in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Review of Books and other media.  

Via Zoom Webinar. Register at:

James Millward Visiting Scholar, APARC, Stanford University; Professor of Inter-societal History, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

The REDI Task Force invites you to the next event in our Critical Conversations: Race in Global Affairs series; an exploration of the life of enslaved women. This panel discussion will feature experts of enslavement across the Atlantic including the U.S., Brazil, West Africa, and the West Indies.

What do we really understand about the lives and legacies of African enslaved women across the Atlantic? Enslavement is often rendered through a genderless lens, one in which the category of "race" trumps all else. However, research tells a very different story and one that requires an intimate analysis - enslaved women across the Atlantic held an experience that was shaped uniquely by their race and gender. This conversation will explore how Black women during the slave period acted and reacted to the material forces that shaped their lives in an attempt to not only survive the harsh conditions but to carve out a future for ancestors. This interdisciplinary discussion will draw from various archival sources ranging from Senegambia to Brasil's sugar plantations to articulating novel understandings of enslaved women's selfhood. 

The panel will feature perspectives from three historians to uncover the intimate lives of African women; their kinship, religious, and resistance practices. Tracing a path through different locales, from free to enslaved status, we will discuss not only the lives of enslaved women, but their legacies.

This event is free and open to the public. There will be time for a Q&A.

Note: This discussion will be recorded. 

Speaker bios:

Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies whose teaching and research explores the intersections of race, religion, and gender in the United States. A historian of African-American religion, she specializes in the religiosity of enslaved people in the South, religion in the African Atlantic, and women’s religious histories.  Her first book The Souls of Womenfolk: The Religious Cultures of Enslaved Women in the Lower South (UNC 2021) offers a gendered history of enslaved people’s religiosity from the colonial period to the onset of the Civil War. She is currently at work on her second project, which traces the gendered, racialized history of phenomena termed “witchcraft” in the United States. Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and Forum for Theological Education, among others. She received her B.A. in English from Spelman College, and Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from Emory University.

Jessica Marie Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the Johns Hopkins University and a Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is also the Director of LifexCode: Digital Humanities Against Enclosure. Johnson is a historian of Atlantic slavery and the Atlantic African diaspora. She is the author of Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, August 2020), a winner of numerous awards including the 2021 Wesley-Logan Best Book in African Diaspora History Prize from the Association of American Historians and the 2021 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. Her work has appeared in Slavery & Abolition, The Black Scholar, Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism, American Quarterly, Social Text, The Journal of African American History, the William & Mary Quarterly, Debates in the Digital Humanities (2nd edition), Forum Journal, Bitch Magazine, Black Perspectives (AAIHS), Somatosphere and Post-Colonial Digital Humanities (DHPoco) and her book chapters have appeared in multiple edited collections. She is the Founding Curator of #ADPhDProjects which brings social justice and histories of slavery together. She is also Co-Kin Curator at Taller Electric Marronage.  She is also a Digital Alchemist at the Center for Solutions to Online Violence and a co-organizer of the Queering Slavery Working Group with Dr. Vanessa Holden (University of Kentucky). Her past collaborations include organizing with the LatiNegrxs Project. As a historian and Black Studies scholar, Johnson researches black diasporic freedom struggles from slavery to emancipation. As a digital humanist, Johnson explores ways digital and social media disseminate and create historical narratives, in particular, comparative histories of slavery and people of African descent.

Nohora Arrieta Fernández is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA. She received her Ph.D. in Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies from Georgetown University in 2021. Her current research focuses on art history, visual studies, the history of commodities, and the intellectual traditions of the African Diaspora in the Americas. She has published essays and articles on Latin American literature and visual arts, comics, and the Afro-Latin American Diaspora, and is a collaborator of art magazines as Artishock and Contemporyand. She recently co-edited Transition. The Magazine of Africa and the Diaspora, 130. Her first co-translation project, Semantic of the World, the Poetry of Romulo Bustos, will be published by New Mexico Press (2022).



Online via Zoom


Alexis Wells-Oghoghomeh Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Stanford University
Jessica Marie Johnson Assistant Professor History Johns Hopkins University
Sonita Moss Research Associate Discussant REDI
Nohora Arrieta Fernandez Postdoctoral Fellow UCLA
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Violence against Asians in the United States has come to the forefront of public discourse in the wake of tragedies like the March 16 shooting in Atlanta, Georgia and ongoing attacks on citizens in cities all over the nation. But while the media has made violence and prejudice against Asians more visible, the racialization and discrimination against these communities is nothing new.

The Racial Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (REDI) Task Force at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies dedicated the recent installment in its discussion series, “Critical Conversations: Race in Global Affairs,” to consider the new wave of anti-Asian racism and violence. The discussion featured UCLA sociologist Min Zhou, IDEAL Provostial Fellow Eujin Park, and REDI Task Force Chair Gabrielle Hecht, and was moderated by Gi-Wook Shin, director of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

A Long History of Hate

Like many racialized groups, Asians often face a variety of overt and covert attacks. As identified in the 2021 Stop AAPI Hate National report, overt violence and harassment of Asians includes acts such as yelling, bullying, physical attacks, and the use of racial slurs. Physical assaults increased from 10.2% of the total hate incidents reported in 2020 to 16.7% in 2021, while online hate incidents increased from 5.6% in 2020 to 10.2% in 2021.

For Min Zhou, these numbers are the most current evidence of a reoccurring cycle of violence and antagonism against Asians that reaches back to the earliest history of Asian communities in the United States.

“Historically, Asians have been considered an existential danger to the Western world and to American culture,” she explains. “They have been seen as a threat to the American working class and their struggle for labor dignity and rights.”

The first large migration of Asians into America was in the mid-1800s when workers from China joined laborers in the western United States in the booming mining and railroad building sectors. Initially praised as “useful workers” for their work ethic and willingness to endure backbreaking hours, Asian immigrants were quickly scapegoated as sources of vice and division when work became scarcer in the post-boom, contracting economy. Labor movements successfully codified discrimination against Asians in the 1875 Page Laws and 1882 federal Chinese Exclusion Act, and continued codifying systemic discriminatory practices in the Immigration Act of 1917.

Zhou explains that this kind of targeted discrimination against Asians resurfaces whenever Western society has felt cultural or economic competition with Eastern countries, citing the internment of Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1945 and the increase of violence against Asians following rising economic competition between East Asian and American auto manufacturers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Anti-Asian racism today is nothing new,” cautions Zhou. “It is part of a longstanding history of systemic racism in the U.S.”

Understanding the Current Moment

But history is only one context for understanding violence against Asians. As Gabrielle Hecht, the chair of the REDI Task Force reiterates, “[There is] a tremendous variety of racists tropes, practices, and violence that run through American society that need to be addressed specifically as well as systemically.”

In the case of Asian discrimination, this includes dismantling the perceptions of the Asian American community as either a “model minority” or conversely as “perpetual foreigners.” As Eujin Park explains, both of these characterizations circumscribe Asian experiences into a framework of white supremacy and institutional violence.

Being seen as perpetual foreigners creates a narrative in which it is impossible for Asians to be authentically American or fully assimilate. The perception of being a model minority both upholds the myth that the U.S. is a race-neutral meritocracy and often fuels the perception that violence against Asians is limited to discrete personal experiences rather than part of a pattern of systemic and intersectional problems.

This violence is anti-Asian, but it is also anti-poor, anti-women, and anti-immigrant.
Eujin Park
IDEAL Provostial Fellow

Examining how racialization intersects with sexualization, classism, ageism, and the broader Black-white paradigm of American race relations is crucial to understanding the very different experiences and varying types of discrimination within the Asian American experience. As a group, Asians are incredibly diverse, representing over 30 distinct countries of origin and innumerable cultural and ethnic groups. Over 60 and sometimes upwards of 70 percent of Asian communities in the U.S. are immigrants.

Looking to the Future

These overlapping and complicated realities of demographics, experience, and history mean that truly impactful advocacy against anti-Asian American violence will require equally interconnected and thoughtful partnerships and proactivity.

“This current moment is a significant opportunity for Asian Americans and our allies to expand our understanding of the violence that shapes Asian American lives and to turn our attention toward state and institutional violence,” says Eujin Park.

As for the particular responsibilities the Stanford community has in countering rising anti-Asian hate and violence, APARC Director Gi-Wook Shin, the moderator for the discussion counsels:

“It is not easy to participate in rational and constructive conversations, particularly those that are politically sensitive and involve many emotional components. Still, it is our duty as an academic community to confront these uncomfortable realities and engage ourselves in dialogue and discussions.”

Read More


Statement Against the Rise of Anti-Asian Racism and Violence

Statement Against the Rise of Anti-Asian Racism and Violence
Demonstrators in South Korea sitting on the ground and carrying signs in Korean

Gi-Wook Shin on Racism in South Korea

Protections against gender and sexual discrimination are increasing in South Korea, but addressing longstanding racial discriminations based in nationalism and building a multicultural identity still has a long way to go, says Gi-Wook Shin in a new interview with Asia Experts Forum.
Gi-Wook Shin on Racism in South Korea
Protesters hold signs and chant slogans during a Black Lives Matters Peaceful March on June 14, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

What Japan and the U.S. Can Learn from Each Other

Japan Program Director Kiyoteru Tsutsui explores the cost of racial division versus the cost of homogeneity by comparing the experiences of Japan and the United States.
What Japan and the U.S. Can Learn from Each Other
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The Racial Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Task Force sheds light on historical roots of anti-Asian racism and considers how our troubling times can present an important opening for Asian Americans to challenge racialization and white supremacy.

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This interview with APARC and Korea Program Director Gi-Wook Shin was originally published in Asia Experts Forum, a student-curated journal from the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. Ava Liao, a student journalist pursuing a dual major in International Relations and Media Studies, reported this story.

While Korean national identity was historically defined against Japanese imperialism, in more recent times Korean identity is responding to new influences related to globalization. How has Korean national identity been shaped by the distinctly Korean policy of segyehwa in the face of globalization?

Japanese colonialism was instrumental to the formation of Korean national identity. The Korean peninsula is surrounded by big powers such as China, Japan, and Russia. Even today, these influences are still very strong. A sense of threat is still there. Furthermore, although Korea is divided into North and South, Koreans share a strong sense of ethnic unity. Both North and South Koreans believe that they belong to a single nation, ethnicity, and race. For Koreans, this conflation of nation, ethnicity and race emphasizes the idea that there is a single bloodline going back to Dangun, a common ancestor and the mythic founder of the Korean nation. Even though they are divided, both sides believe that it is unnatural and only temporary and that they will eventually be reunified. 

Korea is very homogeneous; only about five percent of the population is non-ethnic Korean. The issue of maintaining social cohesion in the face of a growing power of globalization ironically strengthens ethnic identity. South Korea is trying to promote Korean culture on the world stage. Look at BTS, for example, and Parasite. Korean culture becoming popular around the world is fairly new and Koreans are really proud of that. The economy has grown greatly, it is a G20 country, and South Korea is proud of exporting its culture so successfully. With globalization, there have also been further efforts to absorb the overseas Korean population into the Korean identity and to utilize them as representatives in their host or resident countries. All these interrelated factors shape Korean national identity.

Your 2012 article “Racist South Korea? Diverse but Not Tolerant of Diversity,” concludes that although South Korea has become multi-ethnic, it has yet to become multicultural. It also outlines how foreigners, migrant workers of Korean ethnicity, and those with darker skin color often face discrimination in South Korea. Have these dynamics changed significantly since 2012?

Not so much. South Korea has been promoting multiculturalism as a policy initiative since 2006, so it is a fairly new phenomenon in Korean society. Foreign brides—from China, Vietnam, and other countries—marry Korean men and move to South Korea. They make contributions to the reproduction of the nation, which has an aging population and a low birth rate. It becomes a question of how to assimilate, and how these foreign brides can be integrated into Korean society. Even though the rhetoric is inclusive, in reality it is not very much so. Foreign brides are taught to assimilate into Korean culture and society, for example, by learning the Korean language, how to make kimchi, and how to respect the elderly. Another respect is in migrant labor, especially unskilled workers from developing countries. They are basically on a temporary visa, have little legal protection, and face a great deal of discrimination. Lower-class ethnic Koreans from China and North Korean defectors are also looked down upon, even if they belong to the same Korean nation. There is a gap between perception and reality. While they are told that they belong to the same nation and ethnicity, in reality, what really matters is class. Class matters much more than ethnicity, nationality, or even citizenship in practice. Foreign brides, migrant workers, and North Korean defectors are treated much poorly in South Korea than say, middle-class Korean-Americans or professionals from developed countries.

Your article also features Park No-Ja’s argument that colorism and white supremacy are inextricably linked in South Korean society. Why is this phenomenon prevalent across East Asia and Southeast Asia?

It reflects the reality of who has power in the world. If you refer back to history, this is very Orientalist thinking. Orientalism is the understanding of the East from the Western perspective, and Asians have not been able to overcome Orientalism. Even in Korea as I mentioned earlier, there is much higher regard for white people coming from developed countries, in comparison to Asians from developing parts of Asia, or Africans. They are not shown much respect. Even with Japan challenging the United States as a competing power in the 1980s and now China, Asians are generally not respected on the international stage as much as Americans, for example. Ironically, that is quite true, or even worse in Asia. 

The Black Lives Matter protest movement that began in the United States has greatly expanded in its global reach, although less so in East Asia. Why has the BLM movement against racism found so little resonance or support in East Asian countries?

If you compare the Black Lives Matter movement to the #MeToo movement, the #MeToo movement had much greater impact in South Korea. BLM has not had very much impact so far in South Korea, Japan, or China for different reasons. Korea had a very strong feminist movement already. #MeToo was immediately embraced by feminists and developed very quickly, but BLM has hardly found any resonance or community in East Asia. 

For Japan and South Korea, ethnic homogeneity is still very strong. There are ethnic minorities, but the population is very small. There have been some movements from ethnic minorities in Japan, but they have very little voice and are not as well-organized as BLM here. In the case of Korea, once again, most ethnic minorities are foreigners and often temporary residents, whereas black people have a much longer history in the U.S. In Korea, the majority came as adults, rather than being born and growing up there. There are some NGOs advocating for the rights of those migrants, but their impact is still limited. China is a different case. The Chinese government officially recognizes 56 different ethnic groups, with Han Chinese being the majority. China is very nervous about the breakup of the national minority structure, which is why they are repressing Xinjiang and Tibet. China suppresses any movements advocating for independence of national minorities. Japan, Korea, and China have not been much receptive to the BLM movement, for these different reasons. 

We can learn a lot from the BLM movement in studying racism in Asia but there exists a separation between Asian Studies and ethnic studies. While race and ethnicity are popular topics of discussion in the U.S., they are not much talked about in Japan or South Korea, which may also explain why there is so little resonance in East Asian countries. We, Asian experts, need to learn from the insights of ethnic studies in addressing racism in Asia.

South Korea notably has no legal protections against racial discrimination. Is this likely to change in the future, given the changing values of the younger generation?

Overall, Korea is improving protection against discrimination, especially with regards to gender and sexual minorities. They are moving in the right direction. In contrast, racial discrimination does not get much attention from the public, the media, or the government because the ethnic minority population is so small. The same goes to religious minority. For example, there are more than 100,000 Muslims in Korea right now, but there are very few Koreans who even know that there are so many Muslims. Most of them do not really understand Muslim culture, and may mainly associate them with terrorists. It is a lack of understanding and ignorance, and even though they exist, Koreans just ignore them. The Black community in Korea is even smaller, so they do not see it affecting Korean society that much. They understand that it is a global issue, but do not see it as their issue yet. 

How has the outbreak of COVID-19 exacerbated racial inequalities in South Korea?

COVID-19 certainly made the situation much more difficult for the foreign unskilled workers in Korea. The majority of them are physical workers in non-office jobs, which means they cannot work remotely. Many of them have been forced out of jobs, so they either have to go back to their country of origin or stay in Korea without stimulus funds or medical and other financial assistance that are available to Korean citizens. Many of them are also illegal or unregistered workers, so they have to hide from the government even if they do have symptoms or come into contact with the virus. Recently, there has been a number of unassisted COVID-19 deaths of unregistered foreign workers in Korea because they avoided seeking medical treatment out of a fear that they might be deported. The pandemic has also increased inequalities for society as a whole, so those already suffering from racial inequality experience it even more. Even here in the U.S., it is one story if a white male spreads COVID-19, but it is another if a Chinese one spreads it. There are similar aspects of racial discrimination in Korea. It makes bigger news if a foreign worker spreads the virus, and feeds into the same kind of prejudice.

Read More

President Moon Jae In of South Korea during his inauguration proceedings.

Democracy in South Korea is Crumbling from Within

South Korea is following global trends as it slides toward a “democratic depression,” warns APARC’s Gi-Wook Shin. But the dismantling of South Korean democracy by chauvinistic populism and political polarization is the work of a leftist government, Shin argues in a ‘Journal of Democracy’ article.
Democracy in South Korea is Crumbling from Within
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Student Documentary Celebrates Transnational Brain Linkages

‘Brain Bridges,’ a documentary produced by senior Dexter Sterling Simpson, illustrates the positive gains of global talent flows.
Student Documentary Celebrates Transnational Brain Linkages
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A Closer Look at Samsung Offers Insights into South Korean Society

On the Business Insider's podcast "Brought to You By. . .", APARC and the Korea Program Director Gi-Wook Shin discusses how Samsung Electronics became so entwined with the history and identity of modern South Korea, and what the internal politics of the company indicate about broader Korean society.
A Closer Look at Samsung Offers Insights into South Korean Society
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Protections against gender and sexual discrimination are increasing in South Korea, but addressing longstanding racial discriminations based in nationalism and building a multicultural identity still has a long way to go, says Gi-Wook Shin in a new interview with Asia Experts Forum.


Join the REDI Task Force for the next event in the "Critical Conversations: Race and Global Affairs" series featuring a conversation about how race and racism effects Asian and Asian-American studies.

This event will examine how race has historically been an important organizing principle in understanding Asia, with critical reflections on how racism has permeated research and teaching on Asia. The panelists will engage in a dialogue between ethnic studies and area studies to learn insights from Asian American studies in enriching Asian studies. 

About the Speakers

Gi-Wook Shin is the director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center; the William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea; the founding director of the Korea Program; a senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; and a professor of sociology, all at Stanford University. As a historical-comparative and political sociologist, his research has concentrated on social movements, nationalism, development, and international relations.

Gordon Chang is Olive Palmer Professor of Humanities, Professor of History, and the founding director of Stanford's Asian American Studies Program. He is the former director of the Center of East Asian Studies. He is interested in several different areas of history, including the historical connections between race and ethnicity in America, on the one hand, and foreign relations, on the other, and trans-Pacific relations in their diplomatic as well as their cultural and social dimensions. He has written and continues to publish in the areas of U.S. diplomacy, America-China relations, the Chinese diaspora, Asian American history, and global history. His most recent books have examined the history of Chinese railroad workers in America in the 19th century.

Sharika Thiranagama is Associate Professor of Anthropology and President of the American Institude of Sri Lankan Studies. Her research explores the intersection of political mobilization and domestic life. Her work focuses on highly fraught contexts of violence, inequality, and intense political mobilization, attempting to understand (rather than romanticize) patterns of sociality and how people actually live together, often in highly fractious and unequal ways, and, to situate these processes in specific historical formations of “privates” and “publics” in South Asia.

Eiichiro Azuma is Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at University of Pennsylvania.  He is author of award-winning Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (Oxford 2005), and coeditor, with Gordon Chang, of Yuji Ichioka, Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History (Stanford 2006) and, with David Yoo, of the Oxford Handbook of Asian American History (Oxford 2016).  The first two books have been translated into Japanese.  His latest monograph, In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire (California, 2019), received the 2020 John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History from the American Historical Association.  Azuma served as the director of Penn’s Asian American Studies Program from 2013 through 2018. 

There will be time for a Q&A. This event will be recorded and uploaded to the REDI website. 

Register here:…

Director, APARC
Shorenstein APARC
Encina Hall E301
616 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305-6055
(650) 723-2408 (650) 723-6530
Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Professor of Sociology
William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea
Professor, by Courtesy, of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Gi-Wook Shin is the William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea in Sociology; senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; the director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center since 2005; and the founding director of the Korea Program, all at Stanford University. As a historical-comparative and political sociologist, his research has concentrated on social movements, nationalism, development, democracy, and international relations.

Shin is the author/editor of twenty-five books and numerous articles. His recent books include Korean Democracy in Crisis: The Threat of Illiberalism, Populism, and Polarization (2022); The North Korean Conundrum: Balancing Human Rights and Nuclear Security (2021); Demographics and Innovation in the Asia-Pacific (2021); Shifting Gears in Innovation Policy from Asia (2020); Strategic, Policy and Social Innovation for a Post-Industrial Korea: Beyond the Miracle (2018); Superficial Korea (2017); Divergent Memories: Opinion Leaders and the Asia-Pacific War (2016); Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea (2015); Criminality, Collaboration, and Reconciliation: Europe and Asia Confronts the Memory of World War II (2014); New Challenges for Maturing Democracies in Korea and Taiwan (2014); Asia’s Middle Powers? (2013); Troubled Transition: North Korea's Politics, Economy, and External Relations (2013); History Textbooks and the Wars in Asia: Divided Memories (2011); South Korean Social Movements: From Democracy to Civil Society (2011); One Alliance, Two Lenses: U.S.-Korea Relations in a New Era (2010); Cross Currents: Regionalism and Nationalism in Northeast Asia (2007); Rethinking Historical Injustice and Reconciliation in Northeast Asia (2006); and Ethnic Nationalism in Korea: Genealogy, Politics, and Legacy (2006). Due to the wide popularity of his publications, many have been translated and distributed to Korean audiences. His articles have appeared in academic journals including American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Political Science Quarterly, International Sociology, Nations and Nationalism, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, and Journal of Democracy

Shin is currently writing two books– Next Korea (in Korean and English) and Talent Giants in the Asia-Pacific Century. The former is based on his monthly columns published in Shindonga, Korea’s oldest monthly magazine, that addressed main challenges and solutions for Korea’s future. The latter is a comparative study of talent strategies of Japan, Australia, China, and India that were instrumental to their rise. In Summer 2023, Shin will launch the Stanford Next Asia Policy Lab (SNAPL) which is a new initiative committed to addressing emergent social, cultural, economic, and political challenges in Asia. Across four research themes– “Talent Flows and Development,” “Nationalism and Racism,” “U.S.-Asia Relations,” and “Democratic Crisis and Reform”–the lab will bring scholars on Asia to produce interdisciplinary, problem-oriented, policy-relevant, and comparative studies and publications. 

Shin is not only the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, but also continues to actively raise funds for Korean/Asian studies at Stanford. He gives frequent lectures and seminars on topics ranging from Korean nationalism and politics to Korea's foreign relations and historical reconciliation in Northeast Asia and to talent strategies. He serves on councils and advisory boards in the United States and South Korea and promotes policy dialogue between the two allies. He regularly writes op-eds and gives interviews to the media in both Korean and English.

Before coming to Stanford in 2001, Shin taught at the University of Iowa (1991-94) and the University of California, Los Angeles (1994-2001). After receiving his BA from Yonsei University in Korea, he was awarded his MA and PhD from the University of Washington in 1991.

Selected Multimedia

Director of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
Director of the Korea Program
Director Moderator APARC
Gordon Chang Professor of History Panelist Department of History
Sharika Thiranagama Associate Professor of Anthropology Panelist Department of Anthropology
Eiichiro Azuma Professor of History and Asian American Studies Panelist University of Pennsylvania Department of History and Asian American Studies

About the Event: The Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (REDI) Task Force invites you to the first event in the "Critical Conversations: Race and Global Affairs" series focused on international research and racism. This conversation is an open dialogue featuring Dr. Christian Davenport, author of one of the pre-selected articles:


About the Speaker: Christian Davenport is a Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Research Professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo and Elected Fellow at the American Association for the Arts and Sciences. Primary research interests include political conflict, measurement, racism and popular culture. He is the author of seven books and author of numerous articles appearing in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science and the Annual Review of Political Science (among others). He is the recipient of numerous grants (e.g., 12 from the National Science Foundation) and awards.

Please register in advance here:

Online, via Zoom: REGISTER

Gabrielle Hecht FSI Senior Fellow REDI
Christian Davenport Professor of Political Science University of Michigan
APARC Predoctoral Fellow, 2020-2021

Anna Zhang joined the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) as APARC Predoctoral Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year. She is a PhD candidate at the political science department. Her research interests include civil conflict, state building, and internal migration. Her dissertation studies China's institutional solution to the challenges of territorial control. 

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