Category Archives: Interview

Interview: Lawrence Wilkerson @ The Diplomat

The Diplomat

Interview: Lawrence Wilkerson

A discussion of tensions in East Asia, and some possible solutions

By Emanuel Pastreich

December 03, 2015



What do you see as the underlying sources for the tensions between China and the United States today? 

The tensions between the United States and other ASEAN nations with China over the South China Sea today are extremely serious. The South China Sea and the tensions with Russia over Ukraine are the two greatest sources of possible conflict today and I believe that either problem could lead to war if not properly handled.

The problem is in part one resulting from an American drive to confront China, but it is exacerbated, almost daily, because the Chinese leadership has discovered that nationalism serves as a great replacement for the void in ideology that the death of communism has produced. I fear that as growth slows below 7 percent, the Chinese government will increasingly feel a need to throw nationalist red meat to the Chinese people. I fear that the speculation about a possible military conflict could become a self-fulfilling prophecy and I suggest that America and China, and other nations, take concrete steps to reduce the tension and create a broad dialogue. The United States or China could end up in a situation in which both parties, to avoid a loss of face, are forced to do what they said they would do. In the South China Sea – and in particular around the Spratly Islands – we see the greatest risk of a major confrontation.

All sides should recognize that we have a dangerous situation. Such confrontation is not in the interest of the United States, China or the region.

I am not interested in defending China regarding the South China Sea, but there are those who have argued that although some see Chinese activities in the South China Sea as excessive, or arrogant, China’s actions are certainly not worse than American interference in South America in the 1960s and 1970s and that there is no justification for the United States to get involved in what is essentially a regional problem. What are your thoughts?

The argument regarding the United States’ meddling is a fair one to make. I would rather want to focus on the need to start a broader and more level-headed discussion about territory in the South China Sea that moves beyond an emotional and nationalist fight between the claimants such as Vietnam and the Philippines, and China. Let us also bring in countries like Indonesia who have a stake in the region. I think the best way to address what I personally think is a mistake on the Chinese part is to have other voices say, “Listen China, these claims are causing an unnecessary problem. You are making claims that are far beyond what any international law would codify and approve.”

There are laws and processes that can be invoked to deal with these claims without escalating military tensions. The United States should pull back and not try to make itself the center of attention.

The United States could say, but currently is not saying, “Let’s resolve this dispute in a way that benefits everyone and sets a positive precedent for the future.” Read more of this post

 The United States of Batman

Dissecting American Politics at the Cineplex

with Italy’s leading cultural critic

Giuseppe Sacco


Foto senza Occhialithe dark knight

Emanuel Pastreich

November 7, 2015

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“한국아, 넌 왜 자서전도 없냐” (아시아경제 2014년 7월 8일)

아시아경제 인터뷰

예일대 중문과 및 전체 우등 졸업, 도쿄대 석사, 하버드대 박사. 이어서 서울대 대학원 연구생. 한·중·일 등 동양 3국의 언어와 문학, 문화에 정통한 푸른 눈의 학자가 지난해 <한국인만 모르는 다른 대한민국>이라는 책을 내 ‘이제 한국이 국제사회의 전면적 주도권을 잡을 수도 있고, 시민의 행동을 통해 세계 역사의 방향까지 좌우할 수 있다’고 한국의 가능성을 부각해 주목을 끌었다. Read more of this post

“창조경제 해법요? 전통문화를 공부하세요” (한국경제 매거진)

한국경제 매거진 

2014년 2월 



“창조경제 해법요? 전통문화를 공부하세요”


“한국이 해결해야 할 모든 문제의 답은 이미 한국인이 갖고 있다.” 임마누엘 페스트라이쉬 경희대 국제대학원 교수는 이렇게 말한다. 그러니 ‘우수한 선진 문물’을 배우기 위해 해외 탐방에 나설 일이 아니다. 그저 조선시대의 실록과 같은 역사적 기록물을 뒤지는 것만으로도 미래를 위한 실마리를 찾아내는 데 충분하다. 이방인의 눈으로 ‘한국 문화의 자부심’을 말하는 그로부터 ‘한국의 창조경제’를 위한 조언을 들었다.


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Emanuel interviewed on Arirang’s “The Inner View”




Focus: Emanuel Pastreich

In five installments on Youtube:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Arirang TV Description:

Emanuel Pastreich, who obtained his doctorate at Harvard University, views Korea differently from most people. While Koreans are busy promoting their culture through the Korean wave, or Hallyu, and K-pop, he advocates that we should focus more on the deeply rooted traditions such as the traditional practices related to Chuseok, one of Korea’s most important holidays. He also argues that we should develop the rural areas, which have preserved some of these traditions, to attract foreign tourists because their natural scenic landscape can be compared to Provence in France.

Emanuel has another name, Lee Man-yeol, which was given to him by his father-in-law. It resembles his actual name in its sound, but has a different meaning – ‘a man of many passions.’ He is indeed a very passionate person. While others praised Korea on the conspicuous achievements, he spoke about the beauty of Korea that was yet to be discovered by the global community by looking beneath the surface. He studied the traditions and history of Korea, based on which he attempted to provide solutions for Korea’s future.

“Korea can create a better future for itself by incorporating the administrative system of the Joseon period.”

Everything seems to be evolving very quickly these days, with the traces of the past diminishing just as fast. Emanuel Pastreich says that it is in these times, we need to look to the past to seek solutions for the future.

It has only been 7 years since he set foot on Korean soil, and it hasn’t been easy, adapting to a society that’s different from his home country in many aspects. But on the other hand, coming from a different ethnic and cultural background, he can offer a fresh perspective on various sides of Korea from an objective point of view.


TV조선 인터뷰 2013년 7월 15일

TV조선 인터뷰  2013년 7월 15일 

누구보다 한국을 잘 알고, 한국을 사랑한 세계적인 인문학자, 경희대 이만열 페트라이쉬 교수 스튜디오에 모셨습니다. 안녕하세요.

[주요발언] 임마누엘 페스트라이쉬(이만열) / 경희대 국제대학원 교수
“한국문화, 질 높은 콘텐츠와 제국주의 전통 없어서 인기”
“한국인, 전통문화를 낮게 평가하는 경향 있어”
“전통문화가 뛰어나지만 중요성 인지는 떨어져”
“중국과 별도로 한국 고유의 주자학 전통 있어”
“한국, 선진국과 개발도상국의 사이에 위치해 창조적인 일 할 수 있어”
“한국의 현 정치권 막말 파동, 조용한 것보단 나을 것”
“한국, 이제는 세계적으로 큰 역할하고 있어”
“학생을 가르치며 한국의 미래 조망 좋다고 생각해”
“한국 학생, 다른 나라 학생에 비해 교육 수준 높아”
“남북분단 문제해결에 집착하면 오히려 답이 안 보여”

VOD 다시보기 


”American Professor Searches for the Future in Korea’s Forgotten Traditions” (interview with KOREA.NET)


“American Professor Searches for the Future in Korea’s Forgotten Traditions”

June 17, 2013


Emanuel Pastreich, known around Seoul by his Korean name Lee Man-yeol, has lived in Korea for more than six years. He is a professor at Kyung Hee University’s College of International Studies and the founder of the Asia Institute. Pastreich started his study of Asia at Yale College and continued his education at Harvard University, the University of Tokyo, and Seoul National University. He developed a remarkable affection for Korean culture while doing his comparative studies and recently translated into English the short stories of the intellectual and novelist Park Ji-won (1737∼1805).

Pastreich has a passion for the culture and literature of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) a period that has been, he feels, underestimated by Koreans in their headlong rush into modernity. He is now writing a new book in which he talks about how traditional Korean culture could play a role in contemporary society. This book, titled “Another Korea,” presents overlooked aspects of Korea that he feels are relevant to modern problems. The book will come out in Korean in July 2013.

I spoke with this blue-eyed American, someone who might be better called a “cosmopolitan of 21st century,” recently at a Seoul cafe that he frequents. This balding and bespectacled man, now approaching 50 years of age, related to me in fluent Korean his insights about Joseon-era narratives that most Koreans are unfamiliar with, not to mention Chinese pre-modern novels like The Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei) and The Dream of the Red Chamber (Hóng Lóu Mèng) and Japanese narratives such as the yomihon genre of the Edo period (1603–1867). The conversation showed his broad knowledge of the Korean tradition that ran from the thought and literature of the Joseon dynasty to the issues of contemporary Korean society.

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“희망의이유 70] 임마누엘교수의한국표류기” 환경연합 함께 사는 길



2012 11


희망의이유 70] 임마누엘교수의한국표류기


photo 3

미국에서 태어나고 자란 임마누엘 페스트라이쉬(49세) 씨는 어려서부터 슈퍼맨보다는 공자, 맹자에 더 끌렸다. 그들의 사상과 가르침을 배우고자 스물두 살의 임마누엘은 눈앞에 높인 쉬운 길을 포기하고 대만으로 건너갔다. 영어를 내려놓고 그 나라의 말과 글을 배우고 그 나라의 말과 글로 그들의 가르침과 사상, 고전문학들을 알아갔다. 그래도 부족했던지 그는 대만에서 일본으로 건너가 일본의 고전문학과 문화를 배웠다. 일본을 거쳐 한국을 찾은 그는 박지원의 소설을 읽고 정약용의 사상에 고개를 끄덕이며 한국을 마음에 담았다. 20대를 대만, 일본, 한국에서 보내고 서른두 살 임마누엘 씨는 미국으로 돌아가 그가 배운 것들을 펼쳤다.
그리고 어느덧 중년의 신사가 된 그는 한국을 다시 찾았다. 젊은 날 그가 배운 한국의 고전문학과 전통을 한국 학생들에게 전하기 위해서다.  Read more of this post

Asia Institute “The Outsider in Korean Politics” with Francis Fukuyama


Asia Institute Seminar

“The Outsider in Korean and American Politics”

20th April 2012


Francis Fukuyama

Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow

Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)

Stanford University


Emanuel Pastreich:

Korean politics has been distinguished by the sudden rise of outsiders to prominence, to a degree we do not observe in most other countries. We have witnessed the rise to the presidency of Roh Moo-Hyun in 2002, a complete outsider without the political and financial connections generally assumed to be required in Korea. Then there are such figures as Park Wan  Soon, mayor of Seoul, and Ahn Cholsoo, Dean of the Graduate School of Institute of Technology Convergence, who is generally considered a major candidate for president even without having any political experience whatsoever—and it is certainly not impossible that he could be elected president under the right circumstances.

Francis Fukuyama:

The United States has also seen its share of outsiders who make a bid for political power, and there are times when they receive considerable support from the public. One of the most common patterns is for  an outsider who has made a name for himself,particularly in business, comes forward claiming that he can run the government more effectively with his business experience. The United States has several examples of such figures, such as Meg Whitman, the founder of eBay, who ran for the Read more of this post

Asia Institute Seminar “Populism in Korea” with Benjamin Barber


Asia Institute Seminar]

“Populism in Korea”


May 15, 2012


Benjamin  Barber

Benjamin R. Barber

Distinguished Senior Fellow



President and Founder




Emanuel Pastreich:

Today in Korea much criticism is made of so-called “populism” and the promotion of large-scale welfare programs such as free meal programs for elementary school students. In a previous age, such programs were pretty common in Korea, but of late many write about the dangers of over-dependency on the state. The question is not a simple one, for even if we agree that government should be responsible for educating and feeding all students and even if we thought government should guarantee some form of employment to all students, nevertheless, we would have to recognize that there must be some limit.

Benjamin  Barber:

The problem with this issue is that as soon as someone says something like “dependency on the state” they are making certain quiet assumptions about the key terms for discourse and that framing of the question makes it difficult to respond. Read more of this post