Korea: Circles and Squares

Insights into Korea's Sudden Rise

Pastreich opening remarks at Arirang Institute & Asia Institute seminar security implications of reunification

The Asia Institute and the Arirang Institute teamed up for a seminar on the larger security implications of a possible reunion of the Korean Peninsula with a group of military experts on April 9, 2014. The discussion involved two active duty military officers and three experts international relations. In his opening remarks, Emanuel Pastreich, director of the Asia Institute, tried to set the tone and identify underlying security issues behind the current standoff on the Peninsula as a means of moving forward towards reunification.



“Security Implications of Korean Reunification”

Hosted by the Asia Institute and the Arirang Institute

April 9, 2014


University of North Korean Studies (북한대학원)

Opening Statement


Emanuel Pastreich

April 9, 2014



The introduction to the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms (“Samgukji” in Korean) starts with this simple summary of history: “every country which is divided for a long time will inevitably be reunited. Every country which is united for a long time will inevitably be divided.” There is certain inevitability to reunification that stems from geopolitics, although the time scale cannot be easily predicted. This state reminds us of tectonic shifts: we know that the geomorphic changes underground take millennia, but that the earthquakes which take place at the end take only a few seconds and are unpredictable.

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“America’s Homegrown Terror” (Foreign Policy in Focus April 7, 2014)

Foreign Policy in Focus

April 7, 2014

“America’s Homegrown Terror”


Emanuel Pastreich & John Feffer


The U.S. security complex is up in arms about cyberhackers and foreign terrorists targeting America’s vulnerable infrastructure. Think tank reports have highlighted the chinks in homeland security represented by unsecured ports, dams, and power plants. We’ve been bombarded by stories about outdated software that is subject to hacking and the vulnerability of our communities to bioterrorism. Reports such as the Heritage Foundation’s “Microbes and Mass Casualties: Defending America Against Bioterrorism” describe a United States that could be brought to its knees by its adversaries unless significant investments are made in “hardening” these targets.

But the greatest dangers for the United States do not lurk in terrorist cells in the mountains surrounding Kandahar that are planning on assaults on American targets. Rather, our vulnerabilities are homegrown. The United States plays host to thousands of nuclear weapons, toxic chemical dumps, radioactive waste storage facilities, complex pipelines and refineries, offshore oil rigs, and many other potentially dangerous facilities that require constant maintenance and highly trained and motivated experts to keep them running safely.

The United States currently lacks safety protocols and effective inspection regimes for the dangerous materials it has amassed over the last 60 years. We don’t have enough inspectors and regulators to engage in the work of assessing the safety and security of ports, bridges, pipelines, power plants, and railways. The rapid decline in the financial, educational, and institutional infrastructure of the United States represents the greatest threat to the safety of Americans today. Read more of this post

네이버  독서클럽 과 아시아인스티튜트 북콘서트 2014년 4월 26일 3-6

AI logo small









임마누엘페스트라이쉬 (이만열 )




시간: 2014년 4월 26일 3-6 PM

장소: 숙명여대명신관 702호강의실

马友友 (亚洲研究所 贝一明 所长)




(亚洲研究所 贝一明 所长)




这新的尝试就是在哈佛学习人文学科。他读了许多哲学书,包括亚里士多德的著作,他完全沉浸在西方古典的世界里。相反,我痴迷于亚洲的传统文化,很长时间以来,一直用心体会并为之全力以赴。从这一点来说,我和他是分别在两种不同的文化中各自寻其所好。他每次来我们家的时候,一定要去一个地方。那就是我家附近的一家小寿司店,叫“横滨人”(正如字面意义,指的是从横滨来的人)。马友友特别喜欢这家寿司店,所以每次来旧金山都一定要来这里吃寿司。这家店虽然很小,但是干净整洁,能看出来主人在照明上也花了一番心思。虽然不是装饰华丽的高级饭店,但是所有的海鲜和食材都选用最上等的,而且服务也很周到。 Read more of this post

“年轻人如何成为领导者?” 贝一明 (Emanuel Pastreich) 亚洲研究所 所长



贝一明 (Emanuel Pastreich) 亚洲研究所 所长




领导力看上去就像个买书的骗局,它分散了人们对当前社会中实际问题的注意力,有时候,它只是一个方便的托辞来证明富人们已经拥有的权力和影响力的正当性。有个很好的例子来说明这种虚伪性:把拉斯克奖(Lasker Award)授予比尔·盖茨和梅琳达·盖茨以奖励他们对公共卫生事业的贡献。这个决定真是可笑,其实获奖者并没有为公共卫生事业做出任何牺牲,因为相较于他们超过720亿美元的身价,他们为公众健康捐的那点钱实在是少得可怜。也许盖茨可能是真正的关心公共卫生,但是其领导力更多关于他们的个人财富,而非其他事务。



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Musicals in Seoul

One fascinating aspect of Seoul culture is the vitality of the big stage musical. Seoulites are fascinated with musicals and see an attraction in them unlike most other cities. Many are imported from Broadway, but there are many homegrown versions as well. Here is a small selection of posters that I recently photographed.

IMG_0273IMG_0274IMG_0275IMG_0280IMG_0281IMG_0277IMG_0278IMG_0279 Read more of this post

“Facebook and the Future of Global Governance” Truthout


April 3, 2014

“Facebook and the Future of Global Governance”


Emanuel Pastreich




Facebook has become a critical platform for international exchange that allows people around the world to seek out peers with similar interests and to begin serious exchanges with them about how to create a better world. Although Facebook is a for-profit organization that treats its users as potential advertisers and uses personal information gathered from postings as a private commodity for sale to third parties, nevertheless Facebook is still the best means to reach out to a broad audience and to develop a global audience.

Facebook was not intended for serious intellectual and political exchange. At present, you cannot easily seek out other people with common interests (or by region) using a search on Facebook and you cannot systematically store the materials that you send or receive through Facebook for easy reference. Information posted is designed to essentially disappear within a few days. In addition, there is no way for third parties to develop original apps to run on Facebook that would allow users to expand its functionality or customize their pages. There are many ways that those actually using Facebook can carry out the innovations necessary to make it a meaningful means of sharing information.  Read more of this post

村上春树 (亚洲研究所 贝一明 所长)




(亚洲研究所 贝一明 所长)





事实上,虽然村上春树作为现代文学的代表人物名声远扬,但他同我当时的研究领域——古典文学毫无关联。可能正因如此,我几乎没读过他的书。和他深交后我也依然没去了解他的创作风格。我只是通过阅读文学评论家的文章,对他有那么一丁点儿的了解。当时的评论家谈到他的作品时,虽然并没有特别评论他作品中描写的日本社会,但是却评价他的作品已达到了现代文学的巅峰。我正是在那年夏天第一次见到他。 Read more of this post

“THE TRIALS OF AN AFRICAN KOREAN” (Joongang Daily April 2, 2014)

Joongang Daily

April 2, 2014




Emanuel Pastreich


My colleague at Kyung Hee University Ed Reed related to me a scene he witnessed at Incheon International Airport recently. A man of African descent was waiting at immigration in the line clearly marked as “for Koreans.” Three people came up to him in turn and told him to please move to the line for “aliens” to the right. The man was clearly upset by the constant attention, but stood his ground. And then, when he actually reached the immigration officer he revealed that he was in fact a Korean citizen.

Cases like this in Korea are frequent. The number of non-ethnic Koreans with Korean citizenship is increasing rapidly, more rapidly than the thinking of most Koreans can evolve to imagine a multiethnic country.

For that reason it is hard for Koreans to come up with an inspiring long-term vision for what a multicultural Korea would be like – but that is exactly what we need to do right now.

The term “multicultural” (damunhwa) has been misunderstood in Korea to apply exclusively to the families formed by Korean men who marry non-Korean women from Southeast Asia and China. Although such families must be integrated as part of a future Korean culture, they do not represent true multiculturalism.

The challenge of multiculturalism is one of creating an overarching culture for Korea that can then absorb and integrate other cultures. The base culture for a multicultural Korea must be broad enough and tolerant enough to embrace (and transform) not only foreigners but also Koreans, such as overseas Koreans, adoptees and North Koreans.

One mistake we see frequently is that Koreans assume that a multicultural, Read more of this post

“어느 ‘아프리카계 한국인’의 비애” (중앙일보 2014년 4월 1일)



“어느 ‘아프리카계 한국인’의 비애”


2014년 4월 1일


임마누엘 페스트라이쉬


필자의 경희대 동료인 에드 리드 교수는 얼마 전 인천공항에서 목격한 광경을 들려주었다. 한 흑인이 출입국 심사장의 ‘한국인’ 심사대 줄에 서서 기다리고 있었다. 친절하게도 세 명의 한국인이 차례로 그에게 다가가 곁에 있는 ‘외국인’ 전용 창구 쪽에 줄을 서라고 일러주었다고 한다. 무척 언짢은 듯했으나 완강히 버티고 서있었다. 이윽고 그가 출입국 심사를 받을 차례가 왔다. 알고 보니 그 ‘흑인’은 대한민국 국적을 가진 어엿한 한국인이었다.

한국에서 ‘다문화’는 보통 동남아나 중국 출신의 외국인 아내와 한국 남성이 이룬 가정만을 지칭하는 용어로 그릇되게 통용되고 있다. 물론 이들 또한 한국 문화의 일원으로 받아들여야 한다. 그러나 이들 가정만 다문화라고 하는 건 분명 어폐가 있다. 한국 사회에서 다문화는 타 문화를 흡수하고 통합할 수 있는 포용적인 문화를 만드는 것을 의미해야만 한다. 다문화의 기반은 외국인들을 수용하고 변화시키는 것뿐 아니라 해외 동포, 입양아 심지어 북한 동포들까지도 끌어안는 포용적인 문명이어야 한다.

국제화가 성공하려면 원래 있던 전통을 현대 사람의 눈으로 재해석하는 과정이 있어야 한다. 전통적인 가치 체계, 철학, 문학에 깊이 뿌리내리지 않으면 안 된다. 한국 문화가 싱가포르나 홍콩과 전혀 차이가 없다면 한국이라는 국가에 대해 자부심과 사랑을 느껴야 할 이유가 있겠는가.

다문화 한국 사회는 이곳을 조국으로 여기게 된 모든 귀화 외국인들을 품을 수 있어야 한다. 또한 그들을 공동체의 일원으로 화합시킬 기초는 바로 한국 고유의 문화여야만 한다. 외래 ‘선진국’의 문화를 받아들여 한국 사회에서 꽃피우게 하는 것보다 한국의 토착 문화를 보편적인 것으로 만드는 게 훨씬 타당성 있는 이야기다. Read more of this post


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