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“스마트폰 없는 한국” 중앙일보

중앙일보

“스마트폰 없는 한국”

2018년 12월 7일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

스마트폰이 없는 한국을 상상해 보자는 제안을 할 때마다 한국인들은 내게 무슨 엉뚱한 소리냐는 표정을 지으며 그 이유를 묻는다. 그들은 내가 안경이나 망막에 정보를 투사하거나 전자 칩으로 두뇌에 정보를 직접 전달해 스마트폰을 사용하지 않아도 되는 더 첨단화된 ‘스마트 도시’를 떠올리면서 그런 제안을 하는 것으로 생각하기도 한다. 하지만 내가 제안하는 ‘스마트폰 없는 한국’의 의미는 글자 그대로다. 지금과 같은 스마트폰의 사용은 없어지거나 반드시 변해야 한다.

지하철을 탈 때마다 거의 모든 사람이 스마트폰에 빠져있는 광경을 본다. 한국인들은 주변 사람과 ‘절연’된 상태로 있고 싶어하는 듯하다. 게임에 몰입하거나 초콜릿 케이크나 유행하는 옷이 등장하는 사진들을 빠르게 넘긴다. 동영상을 보는 이도 많다. 우리 시대의 심각한 문제를 다룬 책을 읽는 사람은 찾기 어렵다.

그들은 한국이 기후변화 위기와 미국•러시아•중국 사이의 핵무기 경쟁이나 핵전쟁 위험에 대응하는 방법에 관해 관심을 보이지 않는다. 대부분의 언론 보도는 엔터테인먼트 콘텐트처럼 취급되거나 지나치게 단순화돼 있다. 최근 국회에 계류 중인 법안의 내용은 말할 것도 없고, 현재의 복잡한 지정학적 문제를 알려는 노력도 좀처럼 하지 않는다.

한국의 대기환경을 일례로 보자. 나는 한국인들이 자신들과 밀접하게 관련된 이 문제의 원인을 규명하지 못하는 모습을 보면서 충격과 고통을 느낀다. 심지어 고등교육을 받은 사람조차 한국과 중국의 미세 먼지 배출에 대한 정확한 원인을 모르거나, 한국과 중국의 산업 규제 완화에 대해 소비자로서 무엇을 해야 할지 신중하게 생각하지 않는 것 같다. 다시 말해서 사회적 현상이 마치 페이스북에 게시하는 ‘잡글’처럼 개별 요소로 분해돼 복잡한 현상을 분석하는 능력이 머릿속에서 형성되지 않는 것으로 느껴진다.

스마트폰이 한국인의 두뇌와 사회를 장악해 불길한 방향으로 계속 나아간다면 한국에는 공동체의 목표에 대한 헌신적 삶과 정치적 인식은 쇠퇴해 사라져 버릴 것이다. 그 징후는 이미 나타나고 있다. 충동적이고 불분명한 응답을 장려하는 소셜미디어의 확산과 함께 스마트폰이 이 비극에서 중요한 역할을 하는 것이 두렵다.

스마트폰이 미래 사회에 끼치는 역할에 대한 분석은 다양하다. 많은 전문가가 스마트폰이 우리 삶을 더욱 편리하게 만들고 무한한 양의 정보에 접근하는 것을 가능하게 한다고 한다. 우리가 필요로 하는 것에 잘 대응하게 해 삶을 보다 편안하게 한다는 것이다. 스마트폰은 민주주의의 확장에도 기여한다. 2010년 아랍권에서 일어난 ‘재스민 혁명’은 스마트폰이 대중에게 선사한 ‘정보의 민주화’가 촉발했다고 볼 수 있다. 최근 한국에서 일어난 ‘촛불혁명’도 비슷한 흐름 중 하나다.

그러나 핵심은 ‘정보의 양’이 아니라 ‘정보의 질’이다. 스마트폰을 통해 확산하는 정보가 질적으로 과연 우수하다고 볼 수 있는가. 현재 한국의 기성세대는 스마트폰 없이도 대학 내에서만큼은 민주주의를 꽃피웠던 청년들이다. 그들은 어쩌면 스마트폰이 주는 정보를 비판적으로 사용할 줄 아는 마지막 세대가 될지도 모른다. 정부의 무능을 밝히는 ‘스마트 촛불’은 미래엔 기대하기 어려울 수도 있다.

잡지 ‘하버드 비즈니스 리뷰’ 편집장이었던 니컬러스 카의 저서 『생각하지 않는 사람들』은 인터넷과 스마트폰이 우리의 뇌를 재프로그래밍하고 신경계의 빠른 반응을 부추기지만, 사색과 깊은 사고를 어렵게 만드는 패턴에 뇌가 익숙해지게 한다는 과학적 증거를 제시한다. ‘생각하지 않는 사람들’은 사회의 임박한 위기를 파악하거나 해결책을 제시할 수 없는 시민들이다. 그들이 주류가 돼 사회를 운영하게 된다면 한국은 점점 더 악몽의 세계에 빠지게 될 것이다.

우리는 과즙이 가득한 한 꽃에서 다른 꽃으로 옮겨가는 나비처럼 하나의 자극적 이야기에서 다음 이야기로 흘러가는 일상을 살고 있다. 우리는 무엇인가 잘못되었지만 정확한 문제가 무엇이고, 그것이 우리의 행동과 어떤 식으로 관련이 있으며, 어떻게 이를 해결할 것인가에 대한 계획 없이 그저 막연한 의식을 가진 채 ‘읽기’에서 멀어지고 있다. 이 때문에 우리의 세상 인식 방법을 바꿀 수 있는 특정 기술이 민주적 과정에 어떤 영향을 미치는지 따지고, 그 분석에 따라 그 기술 확산 문제를 어떻게 통제할지도 생각해 봐야 한다. 민주주의는 복잡한 사회•경제•정치적 변화들을 이해하는 능력조차 없이 소셜미디어에서 최신 유행의 상품을 고르는 것처럼 이뤄지는 투표로는 발전할 수 없다.

“Korea without smartphones”

Korea Times

“Korea without smartphones”

December 2, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Imagine Korea withoutsmartphones.

When I make this suggestion, the response I receive from Koreans is one of intense fascination. But the assumption they make is that I am going to describe a futuristic “smart city” in which we no longer will use smart phones because information will be projected on to our eyeglasses, or our retinas, or perhaps relayed directly to our brain via an implanted chip. 

But I mean exactly what I say. The unrelenting takeover ofour brains and of our society by the smartphone is taking an ominous turn. 

Each day I watch almost every person on the subway lost in their smartphones, and increasingly lacking empathy for those around them as a result. They are mesmerized by video games; they flip quickly past photographs of chocolate cakes and cafe lattes, or fashionable dresses and shoes, or watch humorous short videos. 

Few are reading careful investigative reporting, let alone books, that address the serious issues of our time. Nor are they debating with each other about how Korea will respond to the crisis of climate change, the risk of a nuclear arms race (or nuclear war) between the United States, Russia and China. Most media reporting is being dumbed down, treated as a form of entertainment, not a duty to inform the public. 

Few people are sufficiently focused these days even to comprehend the complex geopolitical issues of the day, let alone the content of the bills pending in the National Assembly. 

We are watching a precipitous decline in political awareness and of commitment to common goals in South Korea. And I fear that the smartphone, along with the spread of a social media that encourages impulsive and unfocused responses, is playing a significant role in this tragedy. 

What do those smartphones do? We are told that smartphones make our lives more convenient and give us access to infinite amounts of information. IT experts are programming smartphones to be even more responsive to our needs and to offer even more features to make our lives more comfortable.

But Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows: What the internet is Doing to our Brains” presents extensive scientific evidence that the internet as a whole, and smartphones in particular, are in fact reprogramming our brains, encouraging the neurons to develop lasting patterns for firing that encourages quick responses but that make contemplation and deep thought difficult. 

Over time, we are creating a citizenship through that technology that is incapable of grasping an impending crisis and unable or unwilling to propose and implement solutions. 

If smartphones are reprogramming our brains so that we are drawn to immediate gratification, but lose our capacity for deeper contemplation, for achieving an integrated understanding of the complexity of human society, and of nature, what will become of us?

But consumption, not understanding, let alone wisdom, is the name of the game for smartphones. 

In the case of the worsening quality of the air in Korea, I observe a disturbing passivity, and also a painful failure of citizens to identify the complex factors involved. Even highly educated people seem not to have thought carefully about the exact factors behind the emissions of fine dust in Korea, and in China, and how that pollution is linked to the deregulation of industry, or to their behavior as consumers. 

That is to say those phenomena in society have been broken down into discrete elements, like postings on Facebook, and that no overarching vision of complex trends is ever formed in the mind. 

We float from one stimulating story to the next, like a butterfly flitting from one nectar-laden flower to another. We come away from our online readings with a vague sense that something is wrong, but with no deep understanding of what exactly the problem is, how it relates to our actions, and no game plan for how to solve it. 

There is a powerful argument to be made that certain technologies that can alter how we perceive the world should be limited in their use if there is reason to believe they affect the core of the democratic process. Democracy is not about voting so much as the ability to understand complex changes in society, in the economy and in politics over time. 

Without such an ability to think for ourselves, we will slip into an increasingly nightmare world, although we may never notice what happened.

“NK sanctions: Green light for profit seekers and red light for concerned citizens” Korea Times

Korea Times

“NK sanctions: Green light for profit seekers and red light for concerned citizens”

December 1, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Although the newspapers give us wall-to-wall reports about the tight economic sanctions that North Korea is subject to, sanctions meant to bring it to its knees and make it give up its nuclear weapons program forever, we also observe a steady flow of articles about meetings between government officials, Korean corporations and North Korean officials to discuss investment, infrastructure and other business opportunities. The Japanese and Chinese media have also offered occasional references to such confidential business negotiations.

Then the North Koreans came to South Korea to check out Pangyo’s Techno Valley on November 14 for a special tour of its facilities. That program was obviously only part of a larger program of negotiations and discussions for North Korea’s development.

So what is the point of those “crippling” economic sanctions that limit all interactions with North Korea? Well, it appears as if the sanctions are intended to block the participation of little people in the dialogue with North Korea that is obviously advancing quickly. We have lots of discussions with major corporations and North Korean officials. But we do not have Korean environmental groups, or other NGOs concerned with the environmental impact of the projects being discussed, travelling to North Korea. In fact, we do not even have a discussion in the Korean press about the criteria by which it is determined who is subject to the sanctions, and who is not.

Let us focus in on one important shift in South Korean policy toward North Korea that may have tremendous significance.

When President Moon Jae-in recently shook up his economic team, supposedly to make it more “market friendly,” he appointed, on November 7, Goldman Sachs economic analyst Kwon Goo-hoon as chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, a position with the rank of minister. Kwon had previously been based in Hong Kong.

The official story is that President Moon was moved by Kwon’s talk on KBS about the Fourth Industrial Revolution entitled “Brilliant Insights reaching out 10,000 miles” and then personally decided to appoint him.

The most serious problem, buried by much of the press, is the fact that Kwon will keep his position as an analyst at Goldman Sachs while serving as chairman for this committee. The conflict of interest is blatant, as Goldman Sachs could potentially stand to make billions of dollars from speculation in North Korean development, and other economic interactions of South Korea with Russia and China related to the work of the committee. That would be truer if it has access to juicy information that is not shared with others because of the so-called “economic sanctions.”

The previous chairman of this critical committee for coordinating North Korean policy for government and industry, together with China, Russia and other nations, was the National Assemblyman Song Young-gil, who stepped down in July. Song has had a long and deep interest in North Korea dating back to his undergraduate days, and he was fully qualified, with no conflict of interest, to serve as chairman.

When it came to finding a replacement, there were plenty of government officials, politicians and academics who could easily have replaced Song.

The official statement from the Blue House regarding the reasons for Kwon’s appointment reads:

“In response to the movement of relations with the North into a period of action, Mr. Kwon was most appropriate because of his work with international organizations and investment institutions.”

In a sense, his blatant conflict of interest is presented as his strongest point. Perhaps if you are working with the allegedly corrupt Trump administration there is some truth to that statement.

We can infer something about what Kwon’s role may be from an article that appeared in the Financial Times on November 4.

The opening sentence of the Financial Times article says it all:

“South Korea has named a senior Goldman Sachs economist to help bolster economic ties with North Korea amid growing signs of discord between Seoul and Washington over how to deal with Pyongyang.”

The poorly formed sentence speaks volumes. The author is trying to explain how the decision was made without giving away the story ― he fails of course, and spills the beans.

What does Goldman Sachs have to offer that will “bolster economic ties” with North Korea? Certainly someone who spent the past few years in Hong Kong handling portfolios for a global firm that will try to squeeze money out of anything, from the destruction of rainforests and mining of low-grade coal, to investments in factories around the world that employ people under miserable conditions ― a firm that devotes itself to casino speculation in currencies and in commodities and has no expertise on North Korea as it is lived by North Koreans. More importantly, he has been trained not to care about people or about the long-term of a country.

Goldman Sachs has no interest in educating North Koreans about climate change, in advocating for the right of North Koreans to organize labor unions, or to drink safe water, or ensuring that they will have pensions and excellent medical care.

Kwon will be deeply involved in plans for North Korea’s development but has the wrong motivations and the wrong training to do what needs to be done.

The Goldman Sachs connection is helpful to the Blue House in that it can be used as a conduit in making a deal with the vultures surrounding Donald Trump. Perhaps the relationship will give some financial benefits to some in Seoul when Wall Street carves up North Korea Iraq-style. Certainly Kwon has an acute sense of what those around Trump actually want.

The Financial Times goes on the explain that “Seoul is pushing for greater economic engagement, while Washington has maintained a hard line on enforcing sanctions in an effort to spur the denuclearization of North Korea.” Maybe. But we have not seen a ghost of a trace of efforts to promote denuclearization by Trump and associates.

If Trump was interested in reducing the threat of war in Northeast Asia, he would push the United States to adopt a no “first strike” policy for nuclear weapons and he would honor and expand existing treaties.

The article cites a Blue House official, spokesman Yoon Young-chan stating why Kwon is so qualified,

“(Kwon) is going to provide us with new insight and imagination to create the new growth engine of our economy by pushing ahead with northern economic co-operation, such as energy links and the development of a northern sea route.”

Let us parse this cryptic statement. How might it be that the Goldman Sachs analyst imagines Seoul will create a “new growth engine” through “northern economic co-operation,” “energy links” and “northern sea route?”

The vague term “new growth engine” refers to the false assumption that the speculative activities of investment banks will create real jobs for ordinary people. The incentive for such banks is to drive down wages, not raise them, and they are attracted to North Korea in that its wages are lower, not because of any potential it has to develop its potential or increase its standard of living. The only way to improve the situation in North Korea is to severely limit the actions of foreign banks (much as Park Chung-hee did in the 1960s and 1970s) and build up domestic expertise.

“Energy links” refers to money to be made by investment banks by pumping oil and gas through pipes from Russia, over North Korea, and on into South Korea, and perhaps beyond. The investment banks are deeply concerned with this pipeline. They want to make sure that the operation of the pipeline is private, and it is not cooperative, or run by the government. They want the discussions about who will own and run the pipeline to be opaque and the profits to be made to be kept out of the public record.

Needless to say, there is no discussion in the media about the catastrophic impact of oil, coal and natural gas on the climate regionally and globally. “Energy links” may also refer to strip mining North Korea for coal. One thing is for sure, Goldman Sachs is never going to suggest that the coal should be left in the ground, or the use of fossil fuels be quickly reduced to zero to avoid catastrophic climate change.

There are multiple interpretations possible for the expression “northern sea route,” but most likely it refers to the current bid to make money off of the melting of the Arctic by establishing new sea routes to Europe to the north of Russia, thus further damaging the ecosystem, releasing more emissions and of course making money for a handful of people.

But the kicker in the article is this line, “Amid sluggish growth at home, Seoul has increasingly looked to North Korea, with its untapped markets, substantial mineral deposits and inordinately cheap workforce.” That is to say that the creation of a destructive consumption economy in North Korea, and the construction of highways and apartment buildings will make some people quick cash, even if that process is ultimately destructive to the culture and society of North Korea.

There is a great attraction for some in that coal, iron and rare-earth metals can be mined in North Korea without concern for environmental impact, or for the rights of labor, or concern about where the profits go. What do you think the priority will be for a Goldman Sachs economist?

I find the term “inordinately cheap workforce” to be inordinately offensive. North Korea is attractive to Kwon and his friends because it offers laborers who have a good work ethic and will accept low salaries so they can be used as a substitute for laborers in Vietnam, or Myanmar, or China. The concern is 1000 percent about overseas profits and zero percent about North Koreans.

If anything, investment banks would like to use North Korea as a lever to drive down labor costs in South Korea and perhaps as a hammer to crush South Korean labor unions in the same way that American banks financed right-to-work factories in the South as a means of breaking the power of unions in the North.

What exactly is Goldman Sachs best known for? One of its greatest recent achievements was its work in Greece, where it engineered a program in 2015 that hid the true debt that the country took on and doubled the amount before producing a financial crisis that leveled the country. Goldman Sachs promoted the predatory lending in the United States that brought on the subprime crisis and destroyed many middle-income families in that country, and around the world. Goldman Sachs also lobbied for government policies that cut essential services to ordinary citizens and took advantage of tax dollars to generate private profit.

Goldman Sachs is expert at exploiting local residents to create profits for its clients overseas and engaging in open deceptions about the impact of the policies it pushes. Any careful analysis of its credentials would suggest that its former employees, let alone current employees, should be banned permanently from government work.

Of course, the claim that someone with a Goldman Sachs background could be helpful for resolving problems with the Trump administration is entirely appropriate. The Trump administration is dominated by members of this Goldman Sachs to a degree never seen in American history. The “vampire squid” that makes a profit through parasitic economic leveraging produced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had run various hedge funds and then gutted Sears for personal profit, before taking on the U.S. economy.

The short-sighted, profit-driven view of North Korea is not limited to the supercomputers calculating profits at Goldman Sachs. The National Land Forum on “Land use and infrastructure in an age of North-South Economic Cooperation” that was held on November 19 featured presentations by four professors, all experts in construction and development, who gave their perspectives on the potential of North Korea. The underlying assumption behind all four presentations was that the massive industrialization of South Korea, its tremendous dependency on imports of petroleum, coal and foodstuffs, the development of a consumption society that encourages waste and alienation, and a ruthlessly competitive culture were positive developments that should be introduced into North Korea quickly.

Two talks described North Korea as a “blue ocean” for building infrastructure that would revive the construction industry where some once imagined under President Lee Myung-bak that they would make a fortune in the Middle East and Central Asia.

There was no discussion in any of the talks about educating North Koreans, about training North Koreans to conduct environmental impact studies, about renewable energy, or about the impact of climate change on North Korea. Nor was the need to restore lost soil in North Korea touched on, or the need for reforestation.

Professor Choi Ki-ju of Ajoo University mentioned a fascinating statistic in his presentation. He noted that domestic transportation in North Korea is 86 percent rail, 12 percent highways and roads and 2 percent waterways. South Korea is, according to him, the reverse, with about 85 percent of transportation carried on by highways and roads.

But the implication of his talk was that North Korea should start building freeways and filling them with automobiles that release deadly emissions. The conclusion should have been that South Korea should adopt the healthier ratio that North Korea has kept since before highways were introduced en masse by Park Chung-hee as part of his development scheme.

North Korea does offer tremendous opportunities for South Korea, but the focus on development must change. We need to spend more time thinking about how individuals, families and local communities can work together with North Koreans to build new systems for education, for culture and for public service. A healthy integration will take place between individuals over years. It cannot possibly be achieved by those who calculate short-term profits. Moreover, climate change has altered the entire game so that ideas about development, even from recent history, no longer apply. Anyone who is accustomed to thinking only in terms of profit does not have much of a role in North Korea at this critical moment.

Meditation on John Brown

Meditation on John Brown and his Provisional Constitution and Ordinances 

Emanuel Pastreich

November 28, 2018

John Brown (1800-1859)

Opening of the “Provisional Constitution and Ordinances”

1858

“Whereas slavery, throughout its entire existence in the United States, is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its citizens against another portion, the only conditions of which are perpetual imprisonment and hopeless servitude, or absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence. Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decision of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights which the white man is bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitution and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions.”

Emanuel Pastreich

November, 2018

“Whereas the use of fossil fuels,throughout their entire existence in the United States,is none other than the most barbarous, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of one portion of its elites against the great majority of citizens, creating conditions of perpetual imprisonment in a catastrophic system of consumption and of pollution of the environment that will render the Earth uninhabitable,leading to absolute extermination, in utter disregard and violation of those eternal and self-evident truths set forth in our Declaration of Independence.

Therefore, we, citizens of the United States, and the oppressed people who, by a recent decisions of the Supreme’ Court, are declared to have no rights in the face of multinational corporations pushing fossil fuels, we, bound to respect, together with all other people degraded by the laws thereof, do, for the time being, ordain and establish for ourselves the following Provisional Constitution and Ordinances, the better to protect our persons, property, lives, and liberties, and to govern our actions as we free ourselves from the death march of a fossil fuel driven economy.”

“基辛格博士哪里那么了不起?” 多维新闻

多维新闻

“基辛格博士哪里那么了不起?”

2018年11月24日

贝一明

当前时代,紧张态势升级,国际冲突愈演愈烈。2018年11月,习近平与已过鲐背之年的美国前国务卿亨利•基辛格会面在北京,就此背景下的中美关系问题展开讨论。作为美国人,我认为这并非应时对景之举。把亨利•基辛格当作中国的朋友,这种做法不仅会给中国造成极大损失,而且令身在美国、真正对中国有所了解的专家学者们欲言又止。

 “基辛格博士哪里那么了不起?”

许多中国人认为,亨利•基辛格和尼克松总统是推动中美关系正常化的带头人物,且在华府中的一个对中国关照有加的团体中,此二人为核心。诚然,基辛格发表过许多关于中国的文章,不过毫无疑问,其中有相当数量是由他人代笔的。他的《论中国》(On China)一书倍受青睐,表明即使是美国对中国极为肤浅的了解,也足以使这样的书籍大受欢迎。我强打精神读了读这本书,放下它时心中只有这样的感觉:该书充斥着对基辛格的溢美之词和对于此人同重要人物会谈场面的描写;至于对中国文化与历史的理解,作者一字未提。

更重要的是,当基辛格与尼克松致力于中美关系正常化时,主要是希望在美国资本与中国廉价劳动力之间架起桥梁。他们并没有开拓沟通渠道,令两国个体和民众得以就构建更加美好的世界一事进行深刻对话。

没错,基辛格想要的是自身与中国之间的积极对话,而不是中美两国之间的探讨交流。他当然不希望自己组织的会议上出现熟知毛泽东哲学,或是中国唐宋时期优良治国传统的美国人。

如果说基辛格曾经付出过努力,那么他尽力去做的,是使真正了解中国的中国专家与其他美国人难以对政策施加任何影响。

我们不能忘记提拔了亨利•基辛格的理查德•尼克松总统是如何上位的。当时,谁想靠近中国和前苏联,尼克松就把谁妖魔化,并因此而博得名声。他称研究中国的专家为”卖国贼”和”间谍”,不遗余力地将其清除出政府与学术界。那些主张同中国合作、对社会主义观念表示理解的美国人,也被他抨击为”危险的共产主义者”。

他的中国之行,以及与毛泽东主席的会谈,不过是旨在瓦解苏联、利用中国廉价劳动力的策略之一。他所做的一切,根本不是出于对中国的关心。

基辛格既说不出一个中国词语,也对中国历史一无所知。吊诡的是,某些中国人却认为,由一个认不出、写不了中国字的人来担当”中国专家”实属正常。实际上,近些年来在美国有很多这样不会说中国话的”中国专家”,而且中国人也不对他们做语言和文化了解程度上的硬性要求。

有一件事也许不为众多中国人所知。生于伊利诺伊州的阿德莱•斯蒂文森独具慧眼、博文广识,曾作为民主党代表竞选总统,而他当时的对手是德怀特•艾森豪威尔。早在二十世纪五十年代,他便公开主张将中美关系正常化。他仅仅是一个代表,在他背后,还有很多与尼克松和基辛格截然不同、早就了解中国对美国和整个世界有多重要的人。

基辛格对美国外交政策的主导地位,与美国战略与国际研究中心(CSIS)极具危险性的堕落不可分割——他将这一美国智库用作跳板,登上了中国专家之位。

CSIS曾是极具价值的国际关系信息来源,然而在过去的几年里,它所发布的内容,质量大不如前。

CSIS已经成为美国外交、安全等国家职能私有化的中央舞台。处理美国与他国之间的关系这一任务,之前是交给由公民税款支持的政府官员去做,如今却要由营利性企业来提供资金,而随后签订下的各种协议也被转交给了了无才识的高官。

十年前,就连美国政策的批评人士——比如我——都会被邀请至CSIS研讨会发言。那时的CSIS并不是一个完全开放的机构,但仍为富有意义的讨论敞开了方便之门。如今,时移世易,集结在他们的研讨会中的,大多是鼓动同中国或俄罗斯开战的乌合之众。

以往鼓励畅所欲言的CSIS,其平衡有赖于美国外交政策上两块磁石的相吸相斥。

居于CSIS一角的是亨利•基辛格,他通过将美国外交与安全政策私有化而攫取暴利,同时将该机构用作通道,为自己的公司——基辛格事务(Kissinger  Associates)——吸收订单。

但另一方有吉米•卡特总统的前顾问兹比格涅夫•布热津斯基坐镇。他认为自己不单单是求财之人,而是学者,是公仆。当然,布热津斯基并不贫穷,而且参加过许多从道义上讲有问题的活动,但他秉持公共服务信念。

有些人认为美国在阿富汗一败涂地,布热津斯基是始作俑者,还认为他是冥顽不灵、为增加军费而抓住一切机会给前苏联搅局的冷战斗士。我之前撰文为布热津斯基辩护时,遭到了他们的猛烈抨击。

他们的对布热津斯基的评价堪称准确。然而我身在华府时,对他产生了不一样的看法。我看到他为支持对抗政治恶霸的勇士而劳心劳力,听到他在布什总统任期将满时慷慨陈词,声讨鼓动同伊朗开战的好战分子,这对避免燃起战火起到了至关重要的作用。

我曾多次把自己认为对美国举足轻重的事写在信件和电子邮件中发给他,几乎每次都能收到他的详细回复。他对待工作一丝不苟,并没有因为我不是富豪、跟各大智库和各级政府毫无瓜葛而对我置之不理。

2017年布热津斯基病逝后,各个国家项目对源于军事承包商和外国政府的资金愈发依赖——军事承包商希望煽动冲突,而外国政府想要为自己受益而扭曲美国的政策。CSIS已然沦为政治咨询公司,企业只要付钱就能从那里拿到看似公正客观的报告,以保护自身利益。的确,CSIS从一开始就同公众之间存在利益冲突,不过现在情况更加糟糕。

关于美国政策的辩论更像是一场酒吧里的斗殴。起初人人都摩拳擦掌、跃跃欲试,可几分钟后,”战场”上只剩下穷凶极恶的混混。

这种在外交政策上将知识分子边缘化的做法,与联邦政府上下政策的军事化有直接关系。美国对中东、中亚和拉美的外交政策军事化这一趋势已延续许久。众所周知,美国驻中东主要国家的大使只能谈谈宴会上的虾是煮是炸,真正的决策者是幕后的各位将军。

现在我们看到,美国的军事化已经深入骨髓——特朗普内阁乃至联邦政府中的前军官人数已达到前所未有的程度。新上任的联邦监狱局局长就是曾经担任陆军将领的马克•因奇(Mark Inch)。

事情还不止于此。去年十一月,海军陆战队上将约翰•艾伦(John Allen)被委任为布鲁金斯学会主席。该学会为美国一流智库,曾由博学多问、雷厉风行的非军方人士斯特罗布•塔尔博特(Strobe Talbott)领导——不论各位是否赞同他的看法,此人的优点都无法抹杀;而其前任是才华横溢的外交官迈克尔•阿玛科斯特(Michael Armacost)。

美国政府的体制的基础已腐朽不堪,各个派系(如FBI与CIA,白人民族主义者与全球主义者)之间剑拔弩张,因此像布热津斯基一样的知识分子或许在短期内很难得到重用、发挥影响力。

“The ‘crimes” of BTS” Korea Times

Korea Times

 “The ‘crimes’ of BTS and the hidden issues behind reparations”

November 24, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

The November tour of Japan planned for rising Korean boy band BTS displayed the potential to become a massive commercial and economic success that would go beyond even Psy’s “Gangnam Style” in Japan, and around the world.

The popularity of BTS with young Japanese also had the potential to move relations between the two countries beyond the obsession with history issues and to create a new cultural circulation between ordinary citizens.

After all, BTS had been featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s international edition on October 11 with the provocative headline “How BTS Is Taking Over the World.” That widely read article included a moving video relating how BTS emphasized ethical issues, as seen in their talk at the United Nations in September.

Band member Kim Nam-joon talked at the U.N. about the alienation felt by young people, suggesting they could move forward if they loved themselves and embraced a positive attitude toward the world. This reference to the song and video by BTS “Love Yourself” suggested a way out of the passivity and alienation that overshadows youth.

The Time Magazine article also included a comparison with The Beatles, noting BTS was the first Korean band to sell out a whole stadium in the United States and that they did not need to redo all their songs in English.

BTS had managed to weave together a deep sympathy for the plight of young people in an increasingly ruthless and uncaring economic system together with the dance moves and tear-jerking lyrics that young people can relate to. Others had made such arguments to youth. But their messages were lost on youth who are accustomed to responding to YouTube performances, not lectures and sermons.

Suddenly, on November 8, TV Asahi announced that the live performance of BTS on its popular program “Music Station” the following day had been cancelled. The Japanese media was filled with reports of other cancelations and for a few days it appeared as if Japan had been swept by an anti-Korean wave that endangered the entire tour.

The newspapers in Japan and Korea were full of superficial reports that described cultural and diplomatic “spats” between the peoples of the two countries. The actions of TV Asahi, a for-profit media corporation that obviously took a big financial risk by canceling the broadcast the day before, suggest that something bigger was going on.

Before looking at the mainstream explanation for the cancelations, let us consider the critical events that proceeded TV Asahi’s decision and their implications.

First and foremost, TV Asahi’s decision suddenly to cancel the performance was a violation of contract law. A formal contract for the performance had been signed. But TV Asahi felt free to renege on it, even though BTS honored its side. The only excuse given was that one member of the band had worn a T-shirt a year ago that was judged by TV Asahi to be offensive.

Such actions by a corporation are egregious, but they have much in common with the blatant violations of the rule of law we are witnessing in Trumpian America.

The position of TV Asahi that it could decide on its own that BTS’s actions were offensive and that it could violate a legal contract with impunity is best understood in the context of the new interpretation of economic sanctions advanced by the Trump administration as a means to advance the interests of corporations through economic warfare.

The campaigns against Iran, Russia, Turkey and North Korea under Trump have made such economic sanctions into a weapon for sale to multinational corporations to pursue their own interests. This use of economic sanctions makes a complete mockery of not only international law and contract law, but also of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and trade agreements.

In the case of North Korea and Iran, “economic sanctions” have nothing to do with stopping the spread of nuclear weapons through international agreements (the Trump administration shows deep contempt for non-proliferation treaties) or about ending human rights violations (something that the Trump administration encourages at home and abroad). Rather, economic sanctions serve two critical purposes. They increase pressure on the country targeted so that in negotiations that country will be forced to accept a raw deal to avoid the pain created by economic sanctions.

Economic sanctions also give certain corporations with close ties to the government to have the right to engage in the secret negotiations about economic relations with the country that is subject to sanctions, while NGOs, experts and smaller businesses are completely blocked out.

The Abe administration finds the abandonment of international law, and of diplomacy, by the Trump administration intriguing. Economic sanctions could be a new tool for Japan to use to get what it wants without going through pesky processes like the WTO, which require transparency and accountability.

The cancellation of the BTS appearance can be interpreted as a trial balloon for a new kind of mini-economic sanctions that could be applied even against economic rivals like South Korea that are not branded as threats by the United States. The Abe administration was trying out this suspension of due process to see if it could create an environment in which powerful political figures dictate economic or trade relations without any means of appeal. Perhaps this action was a trial balloon for a new approach to economics better suited to the super-rich who are frustrated by the regulations made by bureaucrats and other little people.

So what was it that prompted the Abe administration to pursue this strategy against South Korea, and specifically BTS?

The answer is not hard to find.

The South Korean Supreme Court issued a ruling on Oct. 30 ordering Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation to pay 100 million won ($88,000) to four Koreans who were forcibly made to work under hazardous conditions in its factories during the Second World War. Several other similar cases are pending that could result in even larger demands for reparations. If the flood gates are opened, thousands of Koreans may seek billions of dollars in compensation from Japanese corporations over the months and years ahead.

This ruling is the first concrete award of damages since the Supreme Court recognized in 2012 the rights of victims to file for compensation against Japanese companies during wartime.

The granting of such compensation may not seem that remarkable. After all, the crimes of the Japanese government during the Pacific War have been extensively documented. But this ruling represents a historic shift in how the suffering of Koreans before 1945 is treated and a breakdown of the consensus that has been in place for the past 60 years that limited how the issue could be discussed and addressed.

The Japanese government claims that all reparations from Japan to South Korea have been paid in full, in accord with the 1965 normalization treaty (Treaty on Basic Relations). That treaty, signed by Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and South Korean President Park Chong-hee, stipulated that $300 million in economic aid, $500 million in favorable loans and some technology transfer from Japan would settle all claims of Koreans against the Japanese government, against Japanese corporations and against Japanese individuals, forever.

The recent ruling is a major risk to the conservatives around Abe, particularly those who have large holdings of stock in conglomerates. They worry that the future debate on compensation will cease to be presented as the fuzzy resentment of the Japanese people by the Koreans.

Such vague ideas of Korean emotions about Japan have aided corporations by keeping public attention focused on intangible bad feelings between the peoples that can never be resolved.

But this ruling is not vague at all, and it is not anti-Japanese. It focuses on the specific actions of two corporations, corporations that have deep pockets and which were liable by international standards for damages. The discussion is no longer about Korean pride now, but rather about corporate liability.

The risks of this ruling for wealthy stockholders in Japan are immense. It is not an issue that matters so much for ordinary Japanese. But powerful forces want the man in the street in Japan to think that somehow the ruling is an affront to all Japanese. 

Aso Taro, finance minister in the Abe cabinet and arch-conservative, is outspoken on the issue of reparations. Aso comes from a family that made a fortune from mining in Manchuria that was undertaken by Koreans (and other peoples) ― many forced laborers ― none of them provided with appropriate safety equipment in the dangerous mines. Aso Taro’s father, Aso Takakichi, was the owner of the Aso Cement Company that profited from the exploitation of forced labor and low-wage labor.

Aso and his friends have been counting on the basic treaty of 1965 to block all demands for compensation. The Japanese government, and Japanese corporations that influence it, have consistently responded to demands for compensation by stating that all compensation issues for the government and for corporations alike were settled by the treaty.

The treaty also dictates that no compensation for damages from before the 1911 annexation will be allowed either, blocking the way for claims concerning the manner by which Japanese corporations illegally seized land and resources in Korea at the end of the Joseon Dynasty and illegally (by Joseon Dynasty law) set up banks and railroads, and bribed Korean government officials.

Of course all that was a very long time ago. But let us not kid ourselves here. There are plenty of precedents for successful lawsuits for compensation for wrongs from 100 years ago. What has altered is the consensus held over the past 60 years that these topics are off limits for demands. I personally think that the irrational assumption that the 1965 treaty ended all possibilities for claims against Japanese companies for damages during the Second World War derives from a series of post-war U.S.-Japan-Korea agreements that remain classified to this date.

But there is more to the story. Although the media presents the court ruling as one favorable to Koreans and unfavorable to Japanese, such an interpretation is dishonest. First and foremost, Koreans, that is to say the people who inhabited the region previously controlled by the Joseon Dynasty, were designated as citizens of the Japanese empire by the Japanese government. They were not legally Koreans during the period in question. Although the status of their citizenship was not the same as citizens of Japan in terms of their ability to advance in government and to own property and businesses (with some important exceptions), they were considered to be Japanese until the Japanese government unilaterally declared them to be Koreans in 1945 without any legal process.

In a sense, when the Japanese government stripped Koreans of their citizenship and refused to give them any pensions or medical or legal aid, it was acting on behalf of Japanese corporations that wanted to cut their liabilities for their actions.

But if the demands for compensation increase, the process will quickly become an issue within Japan itself. After all, there are many Koreans living in Japan who were also stripped of their citizenship in the Japanese Empire in 1945 and who have not had the right to demand compensation.

For that matter, the Japanese government has blocked efforts of Japanese to seek compensation for damages from Japanese corporations for their actions during the Pacific War. If Koreans start getting compensation, there is a risk that Japanese also will start to make such demands. The expert on colonial-era forced labor William Underwood told me that it has been impossible so far for Japanese nationals to sue Japanese companies for conscription either because all Japanese were subject to national conscription from 1939. All that could change and that the myth that reparations are an emotional dispute between the Korean and Japanese peoples will crumble.

But why was the ruling on compensation made at this particular moment? After all, the forced labor issue has not drawn much attention in the Korean mainstream media. The overwhelming focus in the Korean media has been on a handful of surviving “comfort women,” women forced to perform sexual services for the Japanese military during the Second World War.

Perhaps there is something else going on behind the scenes concerning reparations.

We know from various leaks in the media that the Japanese government and Japanese corporations are engaged in negotiations with North Korea behind the scenes concerning the normalization of relations and future economic relations. Most likely those negotiations concern future contracts for the building of infrastructure, the rights to mine and exploit minerals in North Korea and permission for Japanese corporations to build and run factories in North Korea. All of these fields of activity are potentially extremely profitable for Japanese corporations, if destructive for North Koreans.

One topic that certainly came up in those secret negotiations is reparations for the war-time sufferings of Koreans who live in North Korea. The Japanese government never recognized the government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea after the war, and it has never paid any reparations similar to the deal that the Republic of Korea received in 1965. North Korean negotiators know history well and they understand how Japanese politics works. They are probably demanding top dollar for compensation for sufferings and making it the condition for access to the North Korean economy.

The Abe administration most likely wants to make an agreement with North Korea in secret that is similar to the 1965 treaty and that offers a lump sum to be paid to Kim Jong-un and others, along with some technology transfer and some investment opportunities. Considering that North Korea has consistently demanded reparations for damages caused by colonialism, whereas South Korea accepted a less confrontational “economic cooperation” paradigm, North Korea may reach a far more comprehensive agreement for reparations with Japan that South Korea made in 1965 ― even if the details are kept secret.

If North Korea gets a better deal than South Korea on reparations, the entire can of worms that Japanese conservatives thought they had sealed away forever in 1965 could be opened up again. The negotiations about reparations taking place Pyongyang may have forced Seoul to open the way for individual claims against Japanese corporations, and that move could lead to numerous demands from North Korea, South Korea, China, and even within Japan itself.

T-shirts and hats with skulls

Now let us look at the sudden cancelation of BTS’s performance on TV Asahi and how that tale was related in the media in South Korea and in Japan.

The cancelation was presented as an expression of Japanese anger against the cultural insensitivity of Koreans for Japanese suffering in the Second World War.

On October 26, the newspaper Tokyo Sports condemned BTS member Jimin for an “anti-Japanese act” because he was filmed in a YouTube documentary a year ago wearing a T-shirt on Korean Independence Day that featured a photograph of a mushroom cloud in the upper right-hand corner. This shirt was assumed to be anti-Japanese and this offensive behavior by a Korean boy band was quickly picked up by Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean group that then wrote multiple posts about BTS and staged an anti-Korean demonstration dedicated to this T-shirt. A series of other popular entertainment figures subsequently made comments about the T-shirt in question.

It was then that Asahi suddenly cancelled BTS’s performance on its show “Music Station.” NHK and Fuji TV also stated that they would cancel broadcasts of BTS.

The T-shirt, worn on liberation day, features the words “Patriotism, our history, liberation, Korea” repeatedly and shows the atomic bomb to the right. Personally, I think it is inappropriate to link the image of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Japan with the fight for liberation in Korea, but among T-shirts related to Korean liberation that I have seen, this one is relatively tame. I doubt anyone would have found the shirt offensive unless they were told to see it as such.

Perhaps Jimin did not think all that seriously about what the mushroom cloud on the T-shirt signified. But the criticisms in the Japanese media said nothing about the need to increase the understanding of history of young people ― a problem that is at least as serious in Japan as it is in Korea.

Perhaps the T-shirt suggests that the actions of Japan in the Second World War were sufficiently evil as to warrant the use of atomic weapons. Such an opinion is deeply problematic in my opinion, but it is widespread in the older generation in South Korea and the United States. But it is far from clear that the T-shirt had that significance for Jimin. If we want to know what young Koreans think the significance of the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. was, we should ask them directly. TV Asahi never did so.

Other interpretations of the T-shirt are quite possible. Perhaps it was intended to be ambiguous. The T-shirt can be interpreted as a condemnation of the Pacific War as a whole, or even as a tribute to the large number of Koreans who were also killed by the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima ― many of whom were there because they were brought as forced labor.

The other offense of BTS that was raised in the Japanese and international press was the photograph of a one of its members posing with a military hat that features the skull insignia of the SS in one of a series of photographs.

This photograph was also condemned in the media almost immediately after the “controversy” about the atomic bomb. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles condemned BTS for “mocking the past” and went on to say that: “It goes without saying that this group, which was invited to speak at the U.N., owes the people of Japan and the victims of Nazism an apology.” Rabbi Cooper had nothing to say about the praise of finance minister Aso Taro for Hitler, or the popularity of Nazi images in Japanese popular culture, or the broad reception of anti-Semitic writings in Japan that go far beyond anything to be found in South Korea.

There is absolutely no evidence that BTS has an anti-Semitic agenda. But the members were clearly, and offensively, ignorant of the Holocaust and insensitive to the feelings of those who suffered.

Their actions were wrong and they apologized. But such use of images of Nazi origin in Japan, or elsewhere, are extremely common. And many so-called conservatives in the United States and Europe have displayed a deep fascination with the Nazi movement.

I played cowboys and Indians as a little boy in the Mid West. One team played the Caucasian “cowboys” who chased the native American “Indians.” I did not know that I was indulging in a celebration of the genocide of the native Americans in the 19th century ― although that interpretation is not inaccurate.

The show must go on

BTS made an extensive apology for the various offenses and the tour went forward as planned. Although threats of violence and online criticisms continued in Japan, including a bomb threat in Nagoya, the BTS concert at Tokyo Dome brought in over 50,000 fans, and an anti-Korean demonstration of two people.

BTS is not made up of professors of history. I wish that there was not such a strong anti-intellectual trend in contemporary society, but we cannot blame that on BTS. Nevertheless, the band’s songs suggest a sophisticated sensitivity to the condition of youth that might still help Koreans and Japanese to love themselves, and each other.

“북한 경제 개발은 제3의 방식으로 해야” 중앙일보

중앙일보

“북한 경제 개발은 제3의 방식으로 해야”

2018년 11월 9일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

‘은둔의 왕국’ 문이 열리고 있다. 그 문이 완전히 열릴 때 북한은 새로운 실험의 장이 될 수 있다. 정부 운영 방식과 기반 시설 구축 등에서 다른 나라들이 해 보지 못한 것들을 시도해 볼 수 있다.

하지만 새로운 실험의 이익들이 남북한의 평범한 사람들에게 고스란히 돌아간다는 보장은 없다. 언론 보도를 보면, 이미 미국의 자본가와 일본•중국의 투자자들이 북한의 풍부한 광물 자원과 값싼 노동력을 활용해 빠른 부를 창출할 ‘약탈 경제’를 계획하고 있다는 징후들이 발견된다. 그렇게 되면 빈곤한 북한 주민들에게 갈 이익이 국제 투자자들에게 가게 된다. 이것은 최근 이라크에서 나타난 모습이기도 하다.

대안이 있다. 북한이 착취적 성장을 거부하면서도 지속 가능한 경제•정치적 성공에 도달하는 제3의 길이 있다. 그것은 현재 국제적으로 부상하고 있는 ‘글로벌 커먼스(commons)’ 경제를 활용하는 것이다. 협력적 생산 방식으로 사회를 구축하는 커먼스 체제는 이미 곳곳에서 여러 분야로 퍼지고 있다.

북한은 사실상 처음부터 시작하는 것이나 다름없다. 다른 국가들의 문화를 망가뜨린 상업주의나 소비 물신주의도 거의 없다. 그래서 새로움에 대한 상상력의 폭도 넓을 수 있다. 북한은 그 어떤 곳보다도 포괄적인 방식으로 ‘블록체인’이나 ‘홀로 체인’과 같은 ‘검증 인터넷’ 방식을 채택할 수 있다. 의사 결정 과정이 사회 전체에 분산되면 권위주의 정치를 타파할 수 있고, 사회 공동체가 정책의 우선순위를 설정할 수 있는 권한을 가질 수 있다. 북한의 노동력과 광물자원이 착취를 당하는 대신에 자본이 아닌 사람들에 의해 작동되는 긍정적인 세계화의 모델을 개발할 수도 있다.

북한에는 현대적 기술이 거의 없다. 북한의 출발점이 제로(0)이기에 이런 상상을 해 볼 수 있다. 북한의 모든 건물을 태양광 발전에 활용할 수 있다. 북한에서 지역별 경제적 자치를 구축하는 수단으로 암호 화폐 및 크라우드 펀딩을 사용해 지역 협동조합을 육성할 수도 있다. 외국인 투자를 크라우드 펀딩 형태로 만드는 것도 가능하다. 진공청소기, 세탁기, 태양열 발전기 등 주요 물품들을 공동체에 맡기는 공유경제 시스템을 도입할 수도 있다. 북한의 개방은 이렇게 건강한 국제화 모델을 구축할 귀중한 기회가 될 수 있다. Read more of this post

“북한, 새로운 종류의 국가를 위한 ‘비어있는 판 짜기’인가?” 프레시안

프레시안

“북한, 새로운 종류의 국가를 위한 ‘비어있는 판 짜기’인가?”

2018년 10월 29일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬 (레인 핫셀 공저)

 

새롭게 부상하는 북한이 지속 가능하고 협력적인 경제 및 사회 발전의 새로운 벤치마크를 국제사회에 제공할 수 있을까? 지정학적 변화와 새로운 기술 덕분에 국가 ‘커먼스(The commons)’에 대한 아이디어는 점점 더 실현 가능한 것으로 보인다. 남북한 관계가 급속도로 변하고 있기 때문에 이 긴급한 문제는 더 이상 화해 과정의 다음 단계가 아니라, 정치적•경제적 및 문화적 인식에서 한반도가 향하고 있는 곳이다.

새로운 개념과 기술과 함께 제도적 변화를 향한 ‘은둔의 왕국’의 문이 열리고 있다. 정부에 대한 새로운 접근과 새로운 기반 시설 구축은 다른 국가들이 북한을 모델로 삼을 수 있는 고무적인 실험이 될 것이다. Read more of this post

“Corea as Commons” Asia Times

Asia Times

“Corea as Commons”

October 24, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich & Layne Hartwell

 

Could an emergent North Korea provide the world with a new, from-scratch benchmark of sustainable, collaborative economic and social development? With geopolitical change and emerging technologies, the idea of a national “commons” now looks increasingly feasible.

Relations between North and South Korea are changing so rapidly, the pressing question is no longer what the next step in this process of reconciliation will be, but rather where the peninsula is heading in the political, economic and cultural senses.

A door is opening for the institutional transformation of the “Hermit Kingdom” with new concepts and technologies. The implementation of new approaches to government and the building of new infrastructure could make North Korea an inspiring experiment that other nations can model. Read more of this post

“Assessing the Pyongyang summit” Korea Times

Korea Times

“Assessing the Pyongyang summit”

October 14, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

 

 

President Moon’s visit to Pyongyang and his summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un altered the cultural and political landscape of the Korean Peninsula even further than the Panmunjom summit, and most likely ushered in a permanent shift in how Koreans conceive of themselves. So deep are the changes that they remain still invisible to Koreans caught up in the process.

Since the meeting, the media in Seoul has broadcast shows introducing the unique cuisine of North Korea and Naver Maps has, for the first time, started to give some details about downtown Pyongyang on its website. The door seems to be open at last for real exchange in a manner that was not true before, even though sanctions are in place that are meant to block all economic interaction. It has been a weird moment in history for all parties. Read more of this post