Category Archives: Guest Report

“Prospects for Korean as an International Language” (Guest Report)

“Prospects for Korean as an International Language”

 Craig Urquhart

Guest Report for Circles and Squares  

November 29, 2012

 

Living in Korea, I often hear things like this from boosters or those within institutions:

l  “Hangeul should be used by more languages around the world. It’s possibly the most regular and best alphabet ever invented. I predict that one day it will be used everywhere.”

l  “Korean can become a true international language.”

l  “Korea is moving up, and one day we’ll be number one!”

l  “Don’t you think Korean food is the best in the world?”

l  “Korea is the most convenient country in the world. It’s the best.”

Often, when these themes are framed as questions, there’s an implicit assumption that if you disagree, you’re a critic, and critics of Korea who aren’t accepted as ideologically proper Koreans are dismissed or viewed with hostility. The opinions of many questioning Koreans, let alone foreign-born Koreans and foreigners, are often not welcome. From a foreigner’s perspective, I’ve found that in personal life, it’s socially dangerous to be anything but hopelessly positive about Korea or Korean culture. In theoretical or academic discussions, a similar veil descends over many people, blinding them to what seems to be something more accurately approaching reality. Read more of this post

“Social Impacts of the Taean Oil Spill: An International Perspective” (guest report)

Senior associate of the Asia Institute Charlie Wolf produced this thoughtful report on the Taean Oil Spill and its larger implications which I think fits in nicely with my previous postings.

Charlie Wolf

 

 

Social Impact Assessment Center

(senior associate of the Asia Institute)

“Social Impacts of the Taean Oil Spill: An International Perspective”

 

Presented at the Taean International Environment Forum

“Lessons Learnt from the Taean Oil Spill & Marine Conservation”

 

Held at Anmyundo, Taean, Chungnam Province, Korea,

 

8 December 2008.

 

Taean Oil Spill Wolf Report

“The Fukushima Disaster Opens New Prospects for Cooperation in Northeast Asia” (Markku Heiskanen)

This article by Asia Institute Senior Associate Markku Heiskanen on NAPSNET sums up well many of the topics we have been discussing at Asia Institute and dovetails well with my upcoming article.

The Fukushima Disaster Opens New Prospects for Cooperation in Northeast Asia
By James Goodby & Markku Heiskanen

June 28, 2011

I. Introduction

James Goodby, former American ambassador to Finland and Markku Heiskanen, former Finnish diplomat and Senior Associate of The Asia Institute in Daejeon, South Korea, write that “[t]he nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has dramatically demonstrated the interdependence between the countries of Northeast Asia. This crisis poses a palpable threat to Northeast Asia, and is not an issue of military conflict, but rather of environmental pollution, as radioactive materials spread across national frontiers. It is an example of a number of transnational issues that can be addressed effectively only through cooperative actions.”

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.

II. Article by James Goodby & Markku Heiskanen

-The Fukushima Disaster Opens New Prospects for Cooperation in Northeast Asia
By James Goodby & Markku Heiskanen

Read this report online at:
http://www.nautilus.org/publications/essays/napsnet/forum/Goodby_Heiskanen_Fukushima%20

The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has dramatically demonstrated the interdependence between the countries of Northeast Asia. This crisis poses a palpable threat to Northeast Asia, and is not an issue of military conflict, but rather of environmental pollution as radioactive materials spread across national frontiers. It is an example of a number of transnational issues that can be addressed effectively only through cooperative actions. It is hard to find any positive thing to be said about this disaster except to express the hope that this common threat can rally Northeast Asia to recognize that degradation of the environment is an immediate threat. If it can lead the nations of Northeast Asia to divert more of their budgets to non-traditional threats, it could be a unique gift presented by this crisis.

The massive release of radioactive material is a serious threat with implications for all of us and requires renewed examination of nuclear safety globally, not just in Japan.

The countries in Northeast Asia are heavily dependent on nuclear power. China already has 13 power reactors and 25 more are being built. Others are planned. In Japan there are 50 main reactors. There are 21 nuclear reactors in South Korea. North Korea has one. Given this concentration of reactors in areas where earthquakes and other natural disasters have happened fairly frequently, it would be prudent to consider whether additional safety measures are called for.

The full support of the entire international community is needed to address nuclear reactor safety. Top experts from around the world should be mobilized to discuss how radioactivity from damaged reactors can best be contained. International research teams should work around the clock to develop new systems to prevent and respond to similar crises.

We need full funding support to quickly make the solutions proposed viable. There are two possible avenues for progress in this area: one is the Nuclear Security Summit scheduled to meet in Seoul in 2012; the other is to proceed within the framework offered by the Six-party Talks.

This process should and can be started without delay in Northeast Asia. The six-party talks, aimed since 2003 at solving the North Korean nuclear issue, offers a ready-made forum for such a regional conference in Northeast Asia with the participation of Japan, China, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States. There is a specific working group on economy and energy ready to tackle this issue. European expertise could be utilized in the process. If those talks are not reinstated soon, a forum might be found within the framework of preparatory work for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.

Although the main target in the talks should be urgent development of a regional energy safety system, in the longer run what should emerge is a fully developed regional energy system. The ultimate goal should be a Northeast Asia Energy Development Organization including all the countries of the region. This proposal, and how to realize it, could be discussed in the run-up to the Seoul Summit. The President of South Korea already has suggested that North Korea participate in the Seoul Conference. It would be natural to invite North Korean energy experts to participate in the preparatory talks if an item such as is suggested here were on the agenda.

A version of such an organization was established in 1995 as the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), in which the EU also participated, to fulfill the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework. It was founded by Japan, South Korea and the United States. KEDO was terminated in 2006 after evidence of uranium enrichment activities in North Korea was revealed. Finland was the first general member of KEDO.
A new and more comprehensive energy organization should include China, Russia, Japan, the United States, the ROK and the DPRK. The EU might also participate in some fashion. The mandate should be to promote energy security and safety in Northeast Asia and contribute to economic development. It should have a standing secretariat; broad oversight should be provided by a Council of Ministers. The European Atomic Energy Community’s charter suggests some relevant missions.

The provision of nuclear fuel services could be multilateralized within this framework, allowing the sharing of both North and South Korea in the ownership and the output of one or more nuclear fuel service facilities in China, Russia, and Japan. The condition must be, of course, that the DPRK re-commits to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including its status as a non-nuclear weapon state. And that means a confirmed dismantling of its nuclear weapons program.

The European post-war experience of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), founded in 1951, has lessons which may be useful in the present situation. The insight of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman and his intellectual collaborator, Jean Monnet, was that if Franco-German production of coal and steel were placed under a common High Authority, it would plant the seeds of peace between Germany and France. Today’s European Union traces its origins to Schuman’s declaration of May 9, 1950, celebrated today as “Europe Day”.

We can turn the disaster in Japan into a process towards a new era of peace and security in Northeast Asia.

http://www.nautilus.org/publications/essays/napsnet/forum/Goodby_Heiskanen_Fukushima%20

Ionizing Radiation Toxicology Report by Vince Rubino

Here is a report by my colleague Vince Rubino who is a reseacher at the Korean Institute for Toxicology about the toxicology and radiation of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant incident.  Here’s a quote:

The tsunami damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant has released radioactive materials into the environment including nuclear fuel cycle fission products such as cesium-137 and activation products such as cobalt-60.  These radioactive material releases increase the likely-hood of exposure to low-level ionizing radiation in the general population.  The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has announced radioactivity exceeding legal limits has been detected in milk certain vegetables produced in the Fukushima area, and measurements made in a number of locations have shown the presence of radioactive material on the ground. Tokyo drinking water exceeded the safe level for infants.  Seawater near the Fukushima plant has been found to have elevated levels of iodine-131, far beyond legal limits.  Cesium-134 and 137 concentrations have also been discovered to be far beyond the legal limit near the damaged power plant.  Many factors go into the determination of whether or not there is harm to people or other organisms that may be exposed to ionizing radiation. Factors include the type, intensity and duration of the radiation exposure, as well as the state of health, age, sex, diet and other variables related to the person or organism.  The study of the mechanisms by which radiation exerts toxicological effects is an evolving field of toxicology.  Research utilizing convergence technology can focus on identifying biomarkers and improving understanding of the specific mechanisms by which ionizing radiation generates toxicologically relevant end points.  Published reviews of the biological effects of radiation and more in-depth discussion are available.

The full version of the report is in PDF format and can be downloaded here: Ionizing Radiation Toxicology by Vince Rubino.