Category Archives: International Relations

Cooperation in the Future of East Asian Security (April 12 TAI Seminar)


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The Asia Institute


The Tomorrow



Wed, April 12, 2017

5-6 PM



Cooperation in the Future of East Asian Security

How the United States can work together with Korea, Japan & China


Opening Remarks:

Rei-Kyung Lee


The Tomorrow


Emanuel Pastreich


The Asia Institute



Lee Jong-heon 

Deputy Secretary General

Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat 


Although the media is full of reports about increasing tensions in East Asia, the rapid development of technology and the impact of climate change is such that there is increasingly a need for global cooperation in security especially in the fields of non-traditional security. This seminar brings together a group of experts and world citizens to discuss how the United States and Korea can cooperate with China and Japan to respond to new security challenges such as cyber attacks, drones, organized crime, immigration challenges, spreading deserts, and other risks related to the onset of climate change. The seminar will also touch on the possible uses for an East Asian arms control treaty and other general agreements on emerging technologies.  

Sookmyung Women’s University

Centennial Hall








“Has the Conservative Party in South Korea Lost its Grip on Power?” Emanuel @ The Real News

The Real News

March 16, 2017

“Has the Conservative Party in South Korea Lost its Grip on Power?”


Jaisal Noor Interviews

Emanuel Pastreich


South Korea Conservatives


South Korea is continuing to feel the aftershocks of the impeachment and ouster of its conservative president, which followed months of protest after she was implicated in corruption. On Wednesday, South Korea’s prosecutor summoned former conservative President Park for questioning in the country’s far-reaching bribery scandal.

All this comes at a time when tensions are escalating between North and South Korea and the United States. South Korea, under pressure from the U.S., agreed to deploy the controversial THAAD missile defense system and is carrying out joint operations, which includes hundreds of thousands of troops with the United States. This prompted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Ye to question, quote, “If the two sides — referring to the U.S. and North Korea — are really ready for a head-on collision.”

A snap election must be held in two months and the Liberal Party is highly favored. That said, it’s still unknown what other factors may play into the process.


INTER: Describe what the scene is right now, because on the one hand, you have domestic instability in South Korea, there’s going to be a new president elected within two months. At the same time, things are… some have described it as the worst situation between North Korea and the United States and South Korea in some time now. What does it feel like to be there? Describe the mood and the scene there.

EMANUEL PASTREICH: Well, I think, of course, the protests have died down and people are back to work. So, it is normal in that respect. However, these two aspects, both the increasing tensions with North Korea, and also combined with U.S. relations with China, which have of course become much worse under the Trump administration. And China has responded by limiting economic business interactions with South Korea, which has had a tremendous impact on the economy. You can see the economy, I think, is being seriously affected now. So, I think there’s a lot of anxiety and concern about what will happen.

There is a little bit of hope that a new president, and may be the end of the 10-year Conservative presidencies in a row, that this might bring some new opportunities. But I think over all, its overshadowed by a certain degree of angst and foreboding concerning the future particularly of the Korean Peninsula, but also that as the Trump administration is increasingly had to take some more bellicose view of China. And has downplayed, I think, the previous efforts to engage and encourage cooperation, that there are deep, deep worries.

INTER: And so, what party does this favor, this instability, favor? Because we’ve seen in many elections around the world instability leads to the rise of the right. And, of course, the right seems to be quite discredited now, although, you know, supporters of Park remain steadfast.

So, I want to ask you: what could the larger geopolitical implications be if there is a liberal or progressive candidate that wins the election coming up?

EMANUEL PASTREICH: Right. Well, Korea, I think, is somewhat different from the United… well, I wouldn’t say it’s different fundamentally, but that there hasn’t been the rise of a charismatic right wing crypto-populist candidate in Korea yet. We don’t see anyone like that. I think Korea as a whole has undergone a very serious issue of superannuated society. One of the most rapidly aging societies in the world, and that support for President Park now – or former President Park is really limited, and primarily with people in their say, over 60, who remember how her father, President Pak Chong-hee, who was a very authoritarian and also charismatic political leader built Korea up, that there’s a certain nostalgia for that.

But I think the odds of a Conservative win — the parties, by the way, in Korea, change rapidly. It’s not like the United States, where we’ve had Republican and Democrats for the last 130 years. But rather… or more – but rather, depending on the election, people will make out new names. But the politicians don’t change. The conservative side seems unlikely to win, but there is a scenario, because there are two large parties. There’s the People’s Party of Ahn Cheol-soo, and then there’s the Minjoo, or Democratic Party, and if both parties run, both field candidates, and they both do well, you have a three-way split, there is an opportunity or a possibility that the conservatives might be able to win a third term.

INTER: And so, you know, to be clear, what would the impact be? What would the result be if there is a hot conflict between North and South Korea? Because we’ve seen these rising tensions — the North Korean missile tests, which are happening. Now there are these joint operations that are happening between South Korea and the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of troops are taking part in that. So, if there is a hot conflict, even with this missile defense system they’re testing now, from what I’ve read it’s only about 50% effective.

So, just for our viewers to understand, what would that impact be?

EMANUEL PASTREICH: Well, I think people are more concerned about it now than they have been previously, in part because the Trump administration is both inexperienced and, unfortunately, unpredictable. Being unpredictable is a positive if you’re in pro-wrestling. But in international relations, and other fields, it’s much better to be predictable.

So, there is an increased risk. I think we don’t know, there have been incidents on the DMZ previously, right? With shootings or the use of artillery. And so, some small contingent incident is possible. But something larger, a bigger conflict, certainly cannot be ruled out. But actually, since we haven’t had one on an enormous scale since the Korean War, doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and there are forces that… I think what’s most worrisome is the United States used to have a much more stable policy.

But we’ve been invading a lot of countries, as you know, recently, so it’s sort of stable architecture of a divided North and South Korea, and a mutually economically engaged United States and China, and a relatively peaceful and not militarily ambitious Japan, that these sort of set factors for the last 50 years are all in play now. None of them are guaranteed as stable.

If there actually was a conflict — I’m not a fortune-teller, so I can’t tell you what would happen — but I think the danger that it would lead to some confrontation including China or that the United States’ response, like THAAD, for example, THAAD of course is not an active attack on North Korea or on China, but it’s very present. It’s perceived as a threatening decision by Beijing.

INTER: And, finally… I’m sorry to interrupt, but we just have a minute left. We wanted to ask you, it’s on a lot of people’s minds. Why impeachment removal of a conservative president in South Korea, but not the United States yet. Talk about the parallels and the differences.

EMANUEL PASTREICH: Well, it’s a fascinating question. And Korea has been relatively transparent, and the Constitutional Court that rendered the ruling, was all made up of appointees by the conservative government. So, I think there was a real responsiveness to the overwhelming anger and outrage among the population. And there were continuous, very well organized demonstrations, peaceful demonstrations. The United States, we hear a lot about impeachment, but the actual process, or the potential, you just don’t really see anything happening, at least that’s my impression.

So, however, the larger geopolitical implications of this shift, because Korea is both divided in North and South, but also conservative, progressive within the country, we still don’t know, and there are some worrisome aspects of this.


“Manifesto to the Europeans” and a call for sanity at the outbreak of the First World War

Wilhelm Foerster, Georg Friedrich Nicolai, Otto Buek and Albert Einstein signed a “Manifesto to the Europeans” at the start of World War I in which they took issue with the drive for military solutions promoted in Germany at the time. They were responding to the so-called “Manifesto of the Ninety-Three” issued by prominent German intellectuals giving their full support for Germany’s war aims. These four men were the only ones who dared to sign the document.

Its content seems most relevant in our own age.


“Manifesto to the Europeans”

October 1914


While technology and traffic clearly drive us toward a factual recognition of international relations, and thus toward a common world civilization, it is also true that no war has ever so intensively interrupted the cultural communalism of cooperative work as this present war does.  Perhaps we have come to such a salient awareness only on account of the numerous erstwhile common bonds, whose interruption we now sense so painfully.

Even if this state of affairs should not surprise us, those whose heart is in the least concerned about common world civilization, would have a doubled obligation to fight for the upholding of those principles. Those, however, of whom one should expect such convictions — that is, principally scientists and artists — have thus far almost exclusively uttered statements which would suggest that their desire for the maintenance of these relations has evaporated concurrently with the interruption of relations. They have spoken with explainable martial spirit — but spoken least of all of peace.

Such a mood cannot be excused by any national passion; it is unworthy of all that which the world has to date understood by the name of culture. Should this mood achieve a certain universality among the educated, this would be a disaster. It would not only be a disaster for civilization, but — and we are firmly convinced of this — a disaster for the national survival of individual states — the very cause for which, ultimately, all this barbarity has been unleashed.

Through technology the world has become smaller; the states of the large peninsula of Europe appear today as close to each other as the cities of each small Mediterranean peninsula appeared in ancient times. In the needs and experiences of every individual, based on his awareness of manifold of relations, Europe — one could almost say the world — already outlines itself as an element of unity.

It would consequently be a duty of the educated and well-meaning Europeans to at least make the attempt to prevent Europe — on account of its deficient organization as a whole — from suffering the same tragic fate as ancient Greece once did. Should Europe too gradually exhaust itself and thus perish from fratricidal war? Read more of this post

“Letter to Ban Ki-Moon from the midst of the gathering darkness” (Kyunghyang Shinmun January 26, 2017)

 Kyunghyang Shinmun

“Letter to Ban Ki-Moon from the midst of the gathering darkness”

January 26, 2017


Emanuel Pastreich

I know that many have approached you about the possibility of your serving as president of Korea after the anticipated impeachment of President Park. You have a unique set of skills and a broad range of friends in the international community that would serve you well. Today, you are surrounded by people asking for your help in this moment of tremendous uncertainty in Korea. But I hope that you have a moment to step back from the crowd and contemplate your role in history now that you have become such a critical figure.

There are several people out there who are entirely capable of serving as the president of the Republic of Korea. But there is an even more critical job, and you are the only one who is qualified to play that role as the former Secretary General of the United Nations.

Last week Donald Trump was sworn in as the president of the United States, someone who has openly opposed a commitment to universal standards on human rights and who has taken as a central advisor John Bolton, a man who is committed to taking the entire United Nations system apart. In addition, President Trump has nominated for secretary of state Rex Tillerton,  the former CEO of EXXON, , a man who has no interest in the response to climate change and who has advocated that the United States move to stop all Chinese actions in the South China Seas—an act that many experts think could lead to nuclear war.

The scale of the geopolitical crisis today cannot be overstated and Korea, located at the center of Northeast Asia, with close ties to both the United States and to China, will be one of the first victims of such a new cold war, or hot war. Korea needs you, and your network, to start an entirely original and powerful initiative that will offer an alternative to military conflict, get the focus back to climate change, and set the foundations for long term solution to address this crisis head using a coalition of the committed throughout the region.

Read more of this post

Asia Today

The Korea that can say “No”

 January 27, 2017

Emanuel Pastreich


Back in the 1989 the Japanese conservative politician Ishihara Shintaro wrote a best seller entitled The Japan that can say “No” in which he argued that Japan was punching beneath its weight. He imagined a self-confident Japan that was capable of refusing unreasonable demands from the United States and maintained a healthy equal relationship.

Ishihara is a cynical right-wing politician, but there is something of real relevance for the Republic of Korea today in his words.

The rise of the Trump administration means that Korea must be able to say “no.”

Members of Trump administration has made hostile statements about China that are so out of line with American policy, and so provocative, that Korea cannot have anything to do with its actions.

Read more of this post

“Korea Must take control of the Security Narrative Right now!”

Korea Must take control of the Security Narrative Right now!

Emanuel Pastreich


January 21, 2017

Read more of this post

Who has how many nuclear weapons?

In a period of increasingly irrational discussions concerning the nature of the threat of nuclear weapons, I find this very straightforward chart to be quite helpful.



“Meeting the Great Data Challenge: The Case for a Constitution of Information” in Global Asia (January 2017)






Meeting the Great Data Challenge:

The Case for a Constitution of Information



Rapid advances in technology — from exponential increases in computational power to the miniaturization of surveillance drones and other means of gathering data on all of us — combined with the increasing ability to manipulate digital information and the emergence of virtual reality as an affordable medium of experience, are posing existential questions for human civilization as we have known it for millennia. In response, Emanuel Pastreich calls for a global constitution of information.

Obama’s visit to Hiroshima

United States President Barack Obama plans to visit Hiroshima next week, the first United States President to do so in the formal capacity of his office.


The New York Times published an editorial on April 12, 2016 entitled


From Hiroshima to a Nuke-Free World


Which seemed to imply that this symbolic act suggests the United States is moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.


The facts suggest the complete opposite and therefore the visit seems extremely dubious in its intention.

President Obama has overseen the beginning of a one trillion dollar program to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons in blatant violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty, a policy decision which can only encourage other nations to develop nuclear weapons as the United States is not adhering to the very rules under which it claims it can stop others from developing weapons.

These new nuclear weapons include compact nuclear devices that are tempting to use (intentionally) at the tactical level. Therefore they not only violate the Non Proliferation Treaty, they introduce the potential for the first time in history that the move from a gun to a howitzer to a conventional missile to a compact nuclear weapon to a multi-megaton warhead will be but a natural progression. There will no longer be a clear   “line in the sand” between conventional and nuclear war. That makes nuclear war much easier. And in light of the the planned post-election squeeze on Russia, we are looking at the potential of nuclear war reaching the probability we saw in the 1950s and 1960s, and most likely the highest risk that mankind has ever seen.

For someone who is allowing this to happen to go to Hiroshima is so ridiculous as to be funny if it were not so very very sad.

“페이스북 독립선언이 필요한 이유” (허핑턴포스크)




“페이스북 독립선언이 필요한 이유”

2016년 3월 1일



임마누엘 페스트라이쉬


친애하는 페이스북 시민 여러분께.

오늘은 1919년 3월 1일 한국인들이 일제 강점기에 일본제국에 대항하여 항쟁한 날을 기리는 97번째 삼일절입니다. 오늘 우리는 또다른 제국에 대해 독립선언을 해야만 할 필요가 있는데 그것은 바로 가상 공간에 존재하는 페이스북이라는 제국입니다. 한국은 1999년에 싸이월드를 만듦으로써, 인터넷 소셜 네트워크를 그 어느 나라보다 먼저 개발한 선구자 역할을 해왔으나, 지금은 페이스북이 한국의 소셜 네트워크뿐만 아니라 전 세계를 독점하고 있습니다.

페이스북은 마크 저커버그의 컴퓨터 프로그래머 집단 이상의 의미를 지니고 있습니다. 페이스북은 오늘날 사람들이 국경을 넘어 서로 소통하고 협력을 하기 위한 네트워크를 형성하는 가장 효과적인 수단입니다. 페이스북은 전례 없는 국제적 네트워크로 우리 세대의 문제점들을 해결하는 데 큰 기여를 하고 있습니다. 하지만 이제 우리는 우리들을 지배하고 있는 제국으로부터 독립을 선언해야 할 때입니다.

인터넷은 종종 Layer 1부터 Layer 7까지의 구분된 시리즈로 개념화됩니다. Layer 1은 우리의 의사소통을 뒷받침하는 케이블의 물리적인 연결을 의미하고, Layer 7은 인터넷 전반에 걸친 어플리케이션의 작동을 의미합니다. 하지만 페이스북의 전 지구적 공동체는 문화적, 사회적, 정치적이라는 점에서 Layer 7보다 더 높은 Layer 8을 형성하고 있습니다. Read more of this post