Category Archives: Articles

“‘수학’이 다스리는 나라 대한민국” 중앙일보

중앙일보

“‘수학’이 다스리는 나라 대한민국”

2017년 6월 24일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

나는 우리 학생들이 미래를 걱정하며 ‘앞으로 무엇을 해야 할지 막막하다’고 말하는 것을 들을 때마다 몹시 가슴 아프다. 나를 안타깝게 만드는 것은 단지 그들이 좋은 일자리에 취업할 수 있을지에 대한 불확실성만은 아니다. 학생들은 일상의 표면 아래에 감춰진 어떤 보이지 않는 힘이 끊임없이 솟구쳐 올라와 그들의 발목을 붙잡는다고 느낀다. 한국 사회는 그들 모두가 인간으로서 본질적인 가치를 지니고 있다는 것을 인정하려고 들지 않는다.

한국인들이 하는 모든 일은 일단 숫자로 변환된다. 숫자로 순위를 매긴 다음에야 어떤 일의 가치가 인정받게 된다. 그런 과정을 거치는 게 마치 위반하면 안 되는 법칙처럼 돼 버렸다. 한데 랭킹은 우리의 일상적 체험으로부터 멀리 떨어진 곳에 있는 어떤 객관적인 기준에 바탕을 둔 것이어야만 한다.

숫자가 다스리는 나라인 한국에서 사는 우리는 사람들에 대한 판단을 내릴 때에 그들이 주변 사람들과 어떻게 상호작용하는지, 그들이 일상적인 활동을 통해 우리의 문화와 조직에 어떻게 공헌하는지를 고려하지 않는다. 대신 우리는 수학적인 방정식을 동원해 사람의 가치를 결정한다. 예컨대 우리는 ‘몇 개의 IT 기기를 팔았는가’ ‘사회과학논문인용색인(SSCI) 논문을 몇 편이나 썼는가’ ‘몇 대의 자동차를 점검했는가’와 같은 질문을 한다. Read more of this post

Aju Business Daily “Korea faces daunting array of security problems” May 9, 2017

Aju Business Daily

“Korea faces daunting array of security problems”

May 9, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich

 

The Korean peninsula faces a daunting array of security problems that will require tremendous efforts, especially long term, to overcome. The primary problem is not the threats themselves, however, but rather the complete inability of Koreans to conceive of those threats, or to respond to them in any meaningful manner.

The problem is true for those of both progressive and conservative political orientations. There is a very little concept of how serious a security challenge the collapse of the ecosystem or the rising inequality in Korean, and East Asian, society is becoming. In fact, even extremely liberal groups do not offer any opinions on the problems of industrialized society or the privatization of banks — issues that would have been taken quite seriously by even conservatives back in the 1950s.

A consumption- driven culture has taken over Korea for the last twenty years, a culture in which the immediate satisfaction of the individual through the eating, drinking or watching of things that give a short-term thrill is held up as an ideal. The media in Korea is today run for profit and faithfully generates fantastic myths about what “security” means that have more to do with video games than reality. Read more of this post

“Moon’s agenda for summit meeting with Trump” (Aju Business Daily June 8, 2017)

Aju Business Daily

“Moon’s agenda for summit meeting with Trump”

June 8, 2017

 

Emanuel Pastreich

 

 

It is an incredibly difficult moment for a summit meeting between Korea and the United States and it is doubtful that any real breakthrough is possible, but if necessary there are ways to go forward.

The United States is in the midst of tremendous political turmoil and it is up to Korea, and not to the Trump administration to put forth a powerful vision for what is possible.

President Moon should be innovative. For example, he might bring along the presidents of major universities and research institutes as part of a major initiative to promote collaboration in science and technology with the United States. Korea seriously lags behind in international collaboration and this issue is serious, even if it has never been highlighted before. Moon can find a consensus and support far beyond his base if Korea declares that it will be a leader in academic collaboration. Read more of this post

“The Seoul climate conference” JoongAng Daily

JoongAng Daily

“The Seoul climate conference”

June 8, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich

 

 

Around the world people are mourning the declaration by President Donald Trump that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord and recklessly charge ahead in dismantling the programs set up by the Obama administration to limit carbon emissions.

But before we all start wearing black, let us think about this matter a bit more deeply. After all, could it be that rather than assured catastrophe, we have been served up a tremendous historical opportunity to make a quantum leap in the response of the international community to climate change? Could it be that we can at last set out on a brave path toward a binding agreement for a sustainable economy in name and substance without the U.S.?

After all, the U.S. and its corporations did the most to water down the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 and to make it little more than a gentleman’s agreement (read CEO’s agreement) with no framework for how the targets will be reached and no requirements regarding which technologies or policies will be used. Addicted to oil, the U.S. sadly has played the spoiled child in most every effort to come to grips with the current ecological crisis.  Read more of this post

Foreign Policy in Focus “Trump and the Rush to Deploy THAAD” Raekyong Lee

Foreign Policy in Focus

“Trump and the Rush to Deploy THAAD”

May 3, 2017

Raekyong Lee

 

The Korean police swarmed onto the golf course in Seongju, just 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, just before dawn on April 26. The officers pushed aside the dazed protesters and escorted a group of US Army military trailers that carried the critical parts for the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system.

The deployment of THAAD in Korea has become extremely contentious since China expressed its strong opposition. The sudden deployment of the AN/TPY-2 radar system and two missile launchers and interceptors a week before the Korean presidential election on May 9 has created even greater controversy. It looks for all the world like a bid to make deployment a fait accompli even as the liberal candidate Moon Jae-in, who is the frontrunner in several polls, suggests that the system requires further debate. Read more of this post

“Paying attention to global shifts” (JoongAng Daily April 1, 2017)

JoongAng Daily

“Paying attention to global shifts”

April 1, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich

The Koreans whom I meet are confused to a degree that I have never witnessed. It is not merely that they fail to comprehend the profound geopolitical shifts taking place today, but they appear not even to realize that they are confused.

They smile and go about their daily work as usual, but they have no idea what the future holds for them, and they cannot even articulate their concerns. Read more of this post

“Technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science”

paulgoodman_photo02

Paul Goodman’s article in the New York Review of Books from 1969 “Can Technology Be Humane?” contains the famous line which has stuck with me for years:

 

 

“Whether or not it draws on new scientific research, technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science. It aims at prudent goods for the commonweal and to provide efficient means for these goods. At present, however, “scientific technology” occupies a bastard position in the universities, in funding, and in the public mind. It is half tied to the theoretical sciences and half treated as mere know-how for political and commercial purposes. It has no principles of its own.”

I would not say that I agree with Goodman’s rather harsh assessment., but I think he raises the most essential question of what exactly technology does.

Short note from Noam Chomsky

March 12, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich:

Many youth feel trapped. They feel that they live in a system that puts them at a disadvantage and does little to help them. They feel misunderstood and they feel that there is an absolute gap between themselves and those who seem to be deciding how things are done, how society is run. Why do they feel that way?

Noam Chomsky:

Contemporary neoliberalism has created what some call a “precariat” – people living a precarious existence, on their own, cast in a hostile market system with little solidarity, mutual support, stability and security.

 

“The day after the removal” (JoongAng Daily March 15, 2017)

JoongAng Daily

“The day after the removal”

March 15, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich

 

The protests on the day after President Park’s impeachment took the most disturbing form. A large crowd gathered in Gwanghwamun Square to celebrate the unanimous decision for impeachment of the constitutional court. The protest resembled a carnival of celebration, but there were those who actively promoting other issues like the release of the black list, the removal of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system, the rejection of nuclear power and demands for more profound changes in Korean society. For them, impeachment is merely the first step in a more profound political transformation.

There was a line of police buses that blocked the boulevard. This time the police buses were not keeping protesters away from the Blue House, but rather separating the anti-Park protesters from a group of pro-Park protesters who gathered around city hall with their Korean flags (and some American flags) who were led on by rousing speeches in defense of President Park against what they perceive as a political vendetta by an irresponsible group who wish to lead the country astray.

The division of downtown Seoul into East and West reveals more profound fragmentation in Korean society, resulting in part from the growth of a superannuated society which produces a deep gulf in the basic assumptions about how the nation should be run. There are now unresolvable gaps in terms of what is assumed to be true concerning such incidents as the sinking of the Sewol Ferry, the actions of President Park and the imprisonment of the leftist politician Lee Seok-gi. Read more of this post

Digital Times “Because this year forms the close of a long-term cycle, we need political innovation and participatory politics”

The Digital Times

“Because this year forms the close of a long-term cycle, we need political innovation and participatory politics”

Ye Jeen Soo   

2017-03-02 10:29:49

■ 2017 Restart Korea

Insights into deep-rooted problems in the Korean economy by foreign experts

Interview with Emanuel Pastreich

professor at Kyunghee University’s International Graduate School

Emanuel Pastreich (Korean name, Lee Man-Yeol • 53) Professor at Kyunghee University’s College of International Studies is a scholar who knows Korea better than Koreans. When we asked about problems in Korean education, he spoke of the strengths of traditional Korean education, strengths found in the remarkable spirit of the ethical Korean scholar (seonbi) and the traditional spirit of community. Pastreich majored in classical Chinese literature at Yale University and received a master`s degree from University of Tokyo and a doctoral degree from Harvard University. Considered an outstanding scholar, he speaks Korean, Chinese and Japanese fluently. Little things like the kindness he demonstrated when to female employee who brought the coffee revealed that he has much internalized that traditional Korean tradition of courtesy.

We asked him about direction of Korea after the political disruption of the presidential impeachment trial when he visited the Digital Times on February 23.

Read more of this post