EBS 빅뱅 “이만열 교수”

EBS 빅뱅

2018년 6월 13일

“이만열 교수”



Discussion on North Korean Human rights on Alex Jensen’s TBS eFM show

I had the opportunity to speak about the Trump-Kim summit on TBS eFM’s “This Morning with the inimitable Alex Jensen on June 12 (just a few hours after the summit).

It was a great opportunity to discuss the summit with a variety of experts from around the world.

The discussion is available at

This Morning with Alex Jensen 

“US -North Korea Summit & the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”

The other guest on Alex Jensen’s show was Sarah Son, research director of the NGO Transnational Justice Working Group.

She spent most of her time talking about the abysmal human rights situation in North Korea. I did not disagree as I am certain that North Korea, like many other developing nations, suffers any number of human rights abuses. I also kept my mouth shut as she detailed the prison gulags in North Korea that are so offensive that they must be discussed at the summit.

But that is where it all fell apart. I was asked my opinion and I responded that not only does the United States have the largest prison population in the world, not only does it abuse prisoners as laborers, not only does it have for-profit prisons, but that it is now engaged in the explicitly illegal activity of separating children from parents among immigrants. Such actions are an act of intentional and unnecessary cruelty. It is also a blatant violation of international law—the sort of action the US has condemned other nations for.

Ms. Son was silent on this topic. When she was pressed, she responded that she dealt only with North Korea in her work. She refused to say a single negative word about the Trump administration.

But that was not all. When I suggested that Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un had much in common as the products of inherited dynasties of corruption and power, she was again silent.

The working assumption for Ms. Son was that North Korea was somehow horrible in a sense that no other country in the world is, a miserable universe unto itself.

This argument did not convince me.

Finally, she was not interested in engaging in the question of whether North Korean workers were entitled to protection from exploitation. This part I was not able to press her on—as I wanted to keep it polite. But you listen to yourself.

My impression from what she said is that North Koreans are entitled to “human rights” like advanced Western countries, but that they have no rights to protest against their exploitation by corporations and they have no rights to collective bargaining.




“The malformed summit” Korea Times

Korea Times

“The malformed summit”

June 13, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich


I must admit that when I stared at the jarring image of the “stars and stripes” in alternation with the “blues and reds” of North Korea I thought for a moment that I need to increase my dosage of antipsychotics. I pinched myself twice, but I simply could not wake out of this dream.

And now you too must face the facts. This rushed and bungled U.S.-DPRK summit has plopped in your lap, prematurely, its offspring ― neither fish nor fowl ― with its fetid amniotic sac still attached. And it has turned its twisted maw up toward you, screeching “Feed me!”

Sure, you can talk all you want about how it was spawned by nasty little boys playing unsafe diplomacy in the coatroom. It was international relations at a discount practiced by used car salesmen, strategy thrown together by barkers and pimps, policy fumbled by playboys and freeloaders.  Read more of this post

“평양에 간 폼페요” 다른 백년

다른 백년

“평양에 간 폼페요”

2018년 6월 12일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

도널드 트럼프와 김정은의 회담은 나폴레옹 3세조차 시기할 만큼 시끌벅적 했다.  이제는 우리가 정확히 무엇을 목도하였는지에 대해 생각해보자. 북미회담이라는 행사는 마치 헤비급 챔피언 쟁탈전처럼 꽤 노골적으로 홍보되어왔다. 트럼프는 끊임없이 전쟁을 들먹인 해리 해리스(Harry Harris) 대사와 마이크 멀린 (Mike Mullen) 전 합참의장 등 강경파의 도움으로 만약 자기 뜻대로 일이 풀리지 않으면 참혹한 결과가 있을 것임을 암시했다. 모하마드 알리(Mohammad Ali)가 조 프레이저(Joe Frazier)와의 결투 전, 반복해서 프레이저를 조롱한 것과 크게 다르지 않았다. 그리고 트럼프에게는 책임이 따르거나 지루할 수도 있는 실제 입법 행위와 정책보다 이 재미있는 과정이 훨씬 편안한 선택이었다.

리얼리티 쇼에 핵확산방지 전문가 데니스 로드맨(Dennis Rodman)까지 부록으로 붙은 이 만남을 위해 싱가포르가 낙점된 것은 우연이 아니다. 싱가포르는 그냥 국가가 아니다. 아시아와 중동, 동남아시아의 세계자본이 흘러 드는, 이번 회담이 개최된 카펠라 호텔처럼 호화스러운 호텔이 무성한 초현실적 공간이다. 빈곤인구가 적은 싱가포르는 마치 빗장도시처럼 조심스레 역내의 분쟁으로부터 스스로를 차단시켜왔고, 덕분에 싱가포르를 일컬어 ‘사형이 있는 디즈니랜드’라는 우스갯소리를 하기도 한다. 싱가포르의 5성 호텔들은 일반 서민이나 전문가를 위한 시설이 아니다. 이번 행사는 그 의미도 모르는 자가 “CVID” 같이 현란한 단어를 주문처럼 반복해서 외는 목소리로 점철되었다. 진실과 정의에 대한 관심은 어느 곳에도 없었다. 전 과정이 심각하게 반(反) 지성적이었다. 미국은 트럼프가 중간선거까지 버틸 수 있을 정도의 혼란만을 조성하기 위해 이성적인 토론없이 감성과 연계에 기대는 전략을 썼다. Read more of this post

“Establish a South-North dialog about reviving Korea’s traditions” The Korea Times

The Korea Times

“Establish a South-North dialog about reviving Korea’s traditions”

June 12, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Just about everyone has assumed that the ideological divisions between North and South Korea are so great that any discussion of political ideology or governance will be so divisive that it must be studiously avoided. Instead, it is assumed, the focus must fall on neutral issues like trade and investment.

This is a terribly outdated assumption. Trade and investment are not neutral issues and there is plenty of evidence that North Koreans at all levels are disillusioned with the legacy of Kim Il-sung and are skeptical about the high-growth models of China and Vietnam that are so commonly promoted.

South Koreans have become aware of the severe limitations and risks of the export-oriented high-growth, consumption-focused economic system that has driven the country for the last 50 years. Many people on both sides of the DMZ are struggling to formulate an alternative.

Let us think outside the box. Perhaps a serious discussion between scholars and high-ranking officials from North and South about fundamental issues of political philosophy and political economy could be a creative and inspiring moment of tremendous historical significance, rather than the source of ideological conflict?

Do you recall how Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in walked together at the opening of the Inter-Korean Summit while rows of military troops dressed in yellow uniforms of the Joseon Dynasty stood at attention in the background?  Read more of this post


“Efforts made outside Trump-Kim meeting are the most crucial”

June 10, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich


The unprecedented meeting between President Donald Trump of the United States and Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) does have the real potential to transform the world and lead us in a positive direction.

However, Trump and Kim lack the maturity, vision, and understanding to make full use of this meeting. They also have not welcomed the broad participation of ethical and committed citizens throughout Asia, and around the world that is necessary to make this effort successful in the long run.

Now that the summit is already in play, there really is no value in debating whether it should take place. It will take place and we must work hard to make sure that whatever curve ball comes flying out of the Capella Hotel, we are ready as a unified international community to give it our very best Singapore swing.

To start with, this is not an event for the common man, nor for the experts. The exclusive hotels aimed at the super rich that Trump and Kim so enjoy are full of commercial media who are gathering for a spectacle, not for the search for truth or for justice. There will not be many experts in international relations or non-proliferation.

The whole event looks like a mixture of Pebble Beach and reality TV, with the nonproliferation specialist Dennis Rodman thrown in, compliments of the chef. Trump and Kim are focused on what they really care about: image. Read more of this post

Elderly women handing out advertisements

I saw this elderly woman new the government complex in Gwanghwamun handing out advertisements to people walking by. She tried her best, but she was ignored, and even pushed out of the way, by those whom she approached.

For those who were irritated by her efforts, she was just an inconvenience. Certainly, she was offering ads for products that had no appeal for them.

But the more essential issue was how this elderly woman was forced, by a crumbling economy to engage in such an unpleasant and painful job in order to feed herself. We see this happening in Korea more and more frequently.  I doubt that the men and women who sweep by her had ever thought about this fact.

I think they are also for the most part in denial about an equally important point: that they themselves could easily end up like her, or worse, as the global economy continues to implode.

I was not sure what to do myself.

There seems to be so little interest in South Korea in a serious discussion of inequity. But the problem is so severe that I want to suggest that along with climate change, it should be at the top of everyone’s list.  If you look at the leaflets handed out by candidates in the run-up to the regional election next week, these two issues are not even addressed in a meaningful manner.

Congress Trumped


“Pompeo in Pyongyang” Korea Times June 9, 2018

Korea Times

“Pompeo in Pyongyang”

June 9, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich




Perhaps you watched the forced smiles on the faces of President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as they exchanged words with Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, on the grounds of the White House. Or perhaps you observed how Trump first told the press that he had read the personal letter delivered to him from Kim Jong-un, and then stated a few hours later that he had not even looked at the letter.

If you felt sick to your stomach, it is not because of the omelet that you eat for lunch. There is something so grotesque going on in Washington D.C. today that it rivals the institutional decay under Louis XVI or Nicholas II.

Maybe you had solace in the suggestions that Trump might win a Nobel Peace Prize, or you read the editorials suggesting direct parallel between his daring actions and Ronald Reagan reaching out to Mikhail Gorbachev.

But is the end of the Cold War the more apposite parallel? Perhaps we should remember the treaties for cooperation signed between Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union in another strange historical moment that few of us remember. Read more of this post

“한반도의 평화 더 큰 대한민국으로 가느 길” 2018년 6월 14일 오후 7-9

“한반도의 평화 더 큰 대한민국으로 가느 길”

이만열 (임마누엘 페스트라이쉬)

지구경영연구원 원장

2018년 6월 14일 오후 7-9



서울특별시 강남구 압구정로32길 11 캐럴라인타워

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