Monthly Archives: January 2015

Deflation and Inflation

Newspapers everywhere talk about deflation and I guess I understand the argument in a general sense, but I do not believe it. Or maybe I should say that I believe that deflation and inflation can occur simultaneously. That is to say that you can have deflation in the sense that currencies increase in value relative to other currencies, or that products decrease in cost in this confused economic environment. But at the very same time that such a phenomenon takes place only in the limited sphere of economics proper. The truth is that the value of currency, the value of anything, is declining rapidly. Objects are losing all value. Institutions are losing all value. Currency for that matter is based not merely on a equation between money circulated and demand, but rather on ideology itself. In this age we are witnessing a radical inflation of institutions and beliefs that is gutting the world, and specifically the United States. Currency is but a small part of the picture. But I would argue that currency as well, yes, is subject to a radical inflation. That inflation is hidden by the association of currency with other institutions which look stable but are themselves dangerously inflated.




  February 15th, 2015 

  1. Introduction

The next generation is facing the challenges and opportunities born of a rapidly globalizing world, climate change and the rise of the Internet. It is in this context that Sookmyung Women’s University and The Asia Institute will host a forum exclusively for teenagers from Korea, and throughout East Asia, in which they can gather to discuss in earnest the various issues that the world faces, and while interacting with renowned experts in related fields, come up with their own proposals for a better world for themselves and future generations. This unique event can serve as a critical moment in their lives, a stepping stone as they set forth to become global leaders. This East Asia Youth Leadership Forum is focused on the critical question of social networks.

  1. Objectives of the Forum

To give thoughtful high school students first-hand experience participating in a world-class international forum, thereby allowing them to grasp the significance of international to a degree not possible in the classroom, and have an opportunity to express their opinions on important policy issues in a serious debate. To listen to lectures by world-renowned experts both online and offline, thereby gaining new insights into possible solutions to current global challenges; to actively participate in debates concerning the most recent developments into a broad range of fields from politics and economics to technology and culture. To establish an international network that includes committed students from other countries and schools throughout Asia for the purpose of building a brighter future of all. With these objectives in mind, Sookmyung Women’s University and The Asia Institute have organized this international forum for thoughtful and committed youth dedicated to making a difference. We welcome participants from inside Korea and around the world who are ready to meet this challenge. We will do our best to launch you on a successful path towards leadership in politics, economics, arts, academia, technology and diplomacy.

  1. Details of the Forum

On-line social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have taken off at a tremendous rate around the world over the last ten year years and have evolved into a major part of the daily lives of many youth. The tremendous potential of social networks for communication, friendship and creativity attracts us. Nevertheless, much of the cooperation on social networks remains superficial and self-indulgent. The opportunities for forming networks around the world to promote deep communication and collaboration are underplayed or ignored. Oddly, youth are more likely to employ social networks to show each other photographs of cafe lattes or fat cats and dogs than to talk about how we can build a better world. In this one-day forum and workshop, youth from Korea and around the world will come together to consider the potential of on-line social networks and make creative and relevant proposals for how the full potential of this technology can be realized. The forum will include lectures by outstanding experts and also opportunities to work together with other thoughtful and capable youth to build a better world. Read more of this post

아시아인스티튜트 제 2 회 동아시아 청소년 글로벌 리더쉽 포럼 (2015년 2월 15일)

The 2nd East Asia Youth Leadership Forum

제 2 회 동아시아 청소년 글로벌 리더쉽 포럼

“Social Networks and the Potential of Youth”

소셜 네트워크와 청소년의 가능성



  1. 행사 소개

21세기에 들어서서 인터넷의 발달과 더불어 점차적으로 일원화되는 세계 속에서, 증가하는 대한민국의 청소년들이 세계 각국의 청소년들과 함께 현재의 세계가 처하고 있는 다양한 문제들을 주제로 토론하면서 관련 전문가들의 의견을 접하고 긍정적으로 가능한 해결책을 도모함으로써 더욱 더 살기 좋은 세상을 만드는데 일조할 글로벌 리더로 성장하기 위한 발판을 마련하기 위한 글로벌 청소년 포럼이다.


  1. 행사 취지
  2. 실제로 국제적인 토론행사를 통해 학교에서는 다룰 수 없는 최신의 이슈를 학습하고 사고하고 개인의 의견을 발표할 수 있는 기회를 가짐
  3. 세계적인 학자들의 강의를 온라인 오프라인 상으로 직접 경청할 수 있으며, 세계의 다양한 최신의 학문과 국제적으로 이슈화되는 사건과 사고들을 토론을 통해 해결방법을 찾는 방법을 배움
  4. 또한 삼국의 청소년들이 포럼을 통해 우정과 친목을 다짐으로서 국제적인 안목을 기르고 국제적인 청소년 네트워크망을 형성할 수 있는 기회

*이러한 주요 목적을 가지고 국내외의 학생들을 국제기구 진출 및, 정치, 경제,학문, 예술, 경제, 외교등 각 분야에서 넓은 국제무대로 진출하는 대한민국의 인재들을 지속적으로 키워내는 한국을 대표하는 청소년 국제 포럼으로 자리잡고자 함

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“Korea’s greatest threat” (JoongAng Daily January 26, 2015)

JoongAng Daily

“Korea’s greatest threat”


January 26, 2015

Emanuel Pastreich


Koreans are scratching their heads, asking themselves why efforts to address Korea’s dwindling birthrate have been so ineffective.

Although the government has implemented over 100 different policies since 2006 and has allocated a budget of 10 trillion won ($9.3 billion) for the last two years, the number of annual births per 1,000 members of the population is stuck at 1.19. That ranks Korea at No. 220 among nations for its birthrate in 2014. No other major country is even close to that rate.

The reason for the complete failure is simple. Koreans have completely failed to recognize the seriousness of the crisis and have not responded with an appropriate level of commitment in terms of policy or, more importantly, a shift in habits.

A birth rate like this could mean Korea itself will disappear as a culture in 100 years. The Korean language could join Manchu as a dead language that people learn about in history books.

It strikes me as bizarre that Koreans talk about the highly unlikely possibility of North Korea shelling Seoul, but they avoid this far more serious danger completely. Such a low birthrate is certainly a far greater threat than a lack of competitiveness in semiconductors or smartphones. Read more of this post

Semiconductors and apartment buildings

I have always wondered whether there is some connection between the Semiconductors

The landscape of a semiconductor chip in all its glory.

The landscape of a semiconductor chip in all its glory.



Apartment building complex in Seoul.

Apartment building complex in Seoul.

Clash of Clans vs. Clash of Plans

The game “Clash of Clans” has swept Korea, becoming one of the preferred games for kids and for that matter commuters on the subway in Seoul. This poster from the Seoul Metro represents well the rather comic battles between the Nordic clans that was released in 2012 by the video game company Supercell located in Finland.


The poster reads “they are swarming forward”

clash of clans koreans

Gaming has become so completely a part of the lives of young Koreans these days that they tend to compare their own lives to that of the characters in the games that they play everyday. That analogy is implied, but this Advertisement from Kyonggi University makes the analogy quite explicit. The poster is titled “2015 recruiting campaign for new students” and it lists its most practical and applied majors:

Hotel Management
Tourism management
restaurant managment
Hotel restauranting



At the bottom there is a take off on “Clash of Clans”

“the real skills faction is  swarming forward”

The implication being that just like in a video game, having real skills before graduate will put you on the winning side.



Kyonggi University "Class of Plans" sign

Kyonggi University “Class of Plans” sign


Professor Marc Shell visits Seoul to discuss “islandology”

Professor Marc Shell of the department of comparative literature at Harvard University visited Seoul (December 16-26, 2014) to deliver a series of lectures and meet with students and experts. Professor Shell’s recent book “Islandology” considers the cultural and rhetorical importance of islands in human history, looking at examples from ancient Greece to contemporary Denmark. The book features a section on Korea and specifically on the islands of Seoul. Read more of this post

China in Seoul

I went to the bathhouse (Jjimjilbang) at B3 of My City across the street from DDP in Seoul. A great bathhouse, but changing at an unbelievably fast rate. The place is full of Chinese, especially Chinese tourists. And as pictured below, they are being forced to put up Chinese signs everywhere. I find this also in the subways were makeshift signs have gone up all over the place in Chinese. Chinese is crowding out Japanese and English in many places. Glad I majored in Chinese myself.




“여성에 대한 이해 부족이 한국의 위기” (중앙일보 2015년 1월 24일)


여성에 대한 이해 부족이 한국의 위기”

2015년 1월 24일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬



끝없이 추락하는 출산율 문제를 해결하려는 국가 차원의 노력이 매번 물거품이 되고 마는 괴로운 현실이다. 이를 어떻게 풀 것인가를 놓고 한국은 고민하고 있다. 정부는 2006년 이래 100가지도 넘는 정책을 추진하고, 지난 2년간 무려 10조원 넘는 예산을 투입했지만 출산율(여성 1명이 평생 동안 낳을 수 있는 평균 자녀수)은 여전히 1.19명에 머물러 있다. 지난해 한국의 출산율은 세계 220위에 그쳤다. 경제협력개발기구(OECD) 가입국 중 최하위 수준이다.

 출산율을 높이려는 정책이 완전한 실패로 돌아간 이유는 간단하다. 한국인들이 위기의 심각성을 몰라 정책적 차원에서 적절한 대응에 실패했기 때문이다. 이 정도 수준의 출산율이 지속된다면 100년 안에 한국이라는 민족 자체가 사라질 수도 있다. 자연히 한국어도 만주어처럼 역사책에서나 볼 수 있는 언어로 전락할지 모른다.

 한국인들이 매우 희박한 북한의 서울 포격 가능성은 거론하면서도 출산율 저하라는 또 다른 심각한 위험에는 완전히 침묵한다. 쉽게 납득이 가지 않는 대목이다. 낮은 출산율은 반도체나 스마트폰의 경쟁력 하락보다 훨씬 더 심각한 위협이다.

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“Society for the Promotion of the standardization of written language”

The “Society for the Promotion of the standardization of written language” (어문정책정상화추진회, 語文政策正常化推進會 took out a 1/4  page add in the JoongAng Ilbo on January 20, 2015 to promote the use of Chinese characters as an essential policy for Korea. The advertisement notes that Korea teaches the smallest number of Chinese characters to its students, incomparison with China, Taiwan, Japan and North Korea and does not even offer Chinese characters to elementary students. I know nothing about the background of this advertisement, but I have heard the opinion expressed with growing frequency that Korea must use Chinese characters to be competitive.


chinese characters