Category Archives: Today in Korea

“Fractured governance fractures the Hanoi summit” The Korea Times

The Korea Times

“Fractured governance fractures the Hanoi summit”

March 1, 2019

Emanuel Pastreich

The sudden cancellation of the joint statement on February 28 at the end of the Trump-Kim Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, was one of the most complex and contradictory historical events in my memory. Of course, the ad-lib briefing by Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo immediately after was not complex at all. It was a banal show for the media that avoided talking about much of anything other than process.

Trump spoke about his “strong relationship” with Kim Jong-un, Shinzo Abe, Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in, sounding like a late-night comedian who is trying to make up content to plug up a sudden hole in the program.

But the positive phrases that Trump threw out could not distract everyone from the growing catastrophe around the world. His sweet words about his “productive time” with Chairman Kim did not serve as a fig leaf to cover up the increasing risk of war on every side.

Let’s be honest. North Korea is not an overwhelming threat to world peace but rather an island of relative stability in the dust being stirred up as the global order that was established in 1945 at the San Francisco conference comes crashing down. The fact that North Korea is a closed and repressive state puts it in good company.

But the United States, now stripped of all expertise in government, the analysis of issues and policy having been radically privatized, and the culture warped by an extreme concentration of wealth, is slipping into a combination of isolationism and militarism that makes just about anything possible. 

That structural transformation, more the opposition in Congress to the reduction of sanctions back home, or the tawdry testimony of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, was the reason that the Hanoi show did not produce anything. 

But the world is not standing still for Trump. India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, stand on the edge of war, in no small part due to the crude political games played by the United States in an attempt to limit Chinese influence. The United States military continues to interfere throughout Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa with impunity and the new Congress seems to be powerless to rein it in. 

South America has been thrown into chaos by the imposition of the far-right government in Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro that threatens not only to make force the favored means of resolving political issues but which embraces the reckless anti-intellectual drive for profit and plans to destroy the Amazon forest, thereby hastening human extinction. 

At the same time, the Neo-Con twins Elliot Abrams and John Bolton are working overtime to push for regime change in Venezuela. They want to take down the government of Nicholas Maduro and seize control of the oil for multinational corporations. In a grotesque move, the right-wing senator Marco Rubio posted photographs on his Twitter account of the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, suggesting that Maduro would be tortured and murdered in a similar manner for resisting the United States. 

Much of the drive to seize resources is being driven by the oil and coal barons the Koch brothers, Charles and Andy. They are a big force in the scramble to get their paws on the coal, gold and other resources in North Korea that would be best left alone beneath the surface. 

That is to say that the summit with Kim Jong-un cannot be understood if one does not know that the economic miracle that Trump describes is actually an economic miracle for global investors, not for North Koreans. Engagement with North Korea cannot be detached from the more hostile moves taking place in Iran and Venezuela. 

But that is only half the story. The push of John Bolton to withdraw the United States to withdraw from the INF treaty (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty) has set us on the track to a major arms race which will be far more dangerous than what happened in the1950s because the technology is so much more advanced. That insanity, combined with the unilateral termination of the nuclear deal with Iran guarantees a massive arms race between Germany, Russia, China, the United States, Turkey, Japan, India, and Iran that may well end in a world war. All of those countries are likely to have nuclear weapons in the not too distant future. 

We can be sure that Kim Jong-un and his advisors are aware of the growing chaos. Behind Kim’s smiles at the banquet was pure dread. The summit succeeded because both sides were willing to embrace a profound form of self-deception. 

The kind words Trump had for Xi at the press conference does nothing to obscure the fact that the Pentagon is making concrete preparations for a war with China. This situation will not get better now that Trump and those around him have embraced sanctions as a form of trade policy and see the threat of war have as a means of squeezing value out of other countries. 

To put it more bluntly, the unleashing of the United States military under the command of psychopaths and without any civilian control could be the greatest catastrophe in human history. 

The response from Democrats in the United States, and from many conservatives in South Korea and in Japan, has been a pile of criticisms that purposely ignore how Trump ignores international law, panders to his fascist base, and embraces of militarism. 

The failure of the United States to demand that all nations adhere to the non-proliferation treaty, the betrayal of Iran and the decision of the Pentagon to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons for the cost of 1 trillion USD in blatant violation of that treaty are taboo topics. 

The rise of anti-intellectualism and the decay of the media

The politics behind the Trump-Kim summit was not simple; the geopolitical shifts taking place today are profound. As the governments of nation states are compromised and taken over by private interests, politicians increasingly are forced to do the bidding of the super-rich. The roadmap for understanding our world changes from day to day. 

Yet the media sees its role as presenting the world in a manner that pleases multinational corporations and investment banks. Media has become, after all, just a business, a form of public relations. There is no intellectual inquiry into the actual state of the world. Moral issues are irrelevant in decisions about news content. Most reports serve to confuse and mislead.

The only content offered in the reports about the summit were details about how the train taken by Kim Jong-un progressed to Hanoi, how barricades set up outside the hotel and the fine points of diplomatic protocol. 

The media is dead and a deep wave of anti-intellectualism has swept the United States, and many other nations that makes critical analysis impossible. Not only is Trump incapable of conceiving of the dangers of our age, but an increasing number of citizens, addicted to online games, pornography or social media have been reduced to babbling fools incapable of understanding complex issues. 

In a sense, the critical question at the end of the summit is not: “When can another summit be held?” but rather “How can we create a culture of communication in which the discussions between institutions are related to the real issues of our age?”

Finally one should ask, what topics were that were left off the agenda for the summit in Hanoi?

Well, what are the important topics of our age? 

The rapid concentration of wealth in the hands of the few was a topic that clearly neither Trump nor Kim wants to discuss. The crisis of climate change which threatens to turn Korea into a desert, combined with the degradation of the air because of unregulated pollution and the increasing use of coal for power was also off limits. The danger of nuclear war and of the growing arms race in the region could not be mentioned (even though it is the central cause for North Korea’s insecurities) because of the tremendous profits to be made through the arms industries in the United States, Russia, Japan, China, and South Korea. Just as before the First World War, armaments and the threat of war are a major source of profits. 

The entire focus of the summit was on how North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons. A small concern in comparison with the thousands of nuclear weapons held by the United States as it threatens more and more wars and refuses even to declare no first use of nuclear weapons. 

But that problem will not be solved through another summit meeting. That problem will only be addressed if we have dialog wherein the real concerns of citizens are reflected, and discourse on real threats in international relations based on scientific analysis is central. Such a transformation will require a change of culture, not of policy or of administration.

“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.

“한반도 평화 및 지구평화” 2018년 11월 11일



“한반도 평화 및 지구평화”

제일차세계대전 종전 100주년을 생각 하면서 


2018 11 11

오후 7-9 PM



Common Foundation



Earth Management Institute



Commons Foundation

commons foundation

The Asia Institute

AI logo small

World Beyond War


Women Cross DMZ


The Korea Peace Movement

Korean Peace Movement-02



 임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

아시아인스티튜트 이사장

“어떻게하면 영구한 평화를 한반도에서 시작 하나?”





청바지 회원

“동북아의 평화 어디부터?”




현재 미국에서 강화되고 있는 군국주의 정책과, 트럼프의 핵무기 폐기 정책을 고려해 보았을 때, 엄청난 지정학적 도전에 마주함으로써 우리는 한반도 평화의 실현 가능한 단계에 있습니다.

이 공개토론은 지금 이 순간 해야할 일은 무엇인지, 현재 북한을 향한 접근이 한반도 전 지역의 영원한 평화로 이어질 수 있는 실질적인 평화 조약을 이끌어 낼 수 있을지를 토론할 수 있는 자리가 될 것입니다.

이 모임은 1차 세계대전 종전 100주년 기념일에 진행됩니다. 한국인들에게는 1차 세계대전이 멀게 느껴질지 모르겠지만, 오늘날의 군사력 증강과 끊임없이 이윤을 추구하는 경제 전략들에서 오는 위험들은 유럽의 비극으로 알려진1차 세계대전이 발발된 상황과 무섭게 닮아있습니다.

이에 관심이 있으신 분들이라면 누구나 모임에 참석하셔서 의견을 나누실 수 있습니다. 본 토론이 효과적으로 진행되어, 우리의 방안들이 구체적인 행동으로 전환할 수 있기를 희망합니다.


커먼즈 파운데이션


서울특별시 용산구 이태원1동 141-8

02 796-1839


“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

“What do Koreans mean by ‘revolution’?” Korea Times

Korea Times

“What do Koreans mean by ‘revolution’?”

October 13, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich


I saw a television commercial for a Korean bank recently in which the word “revolution” (hyeongmyeong, 혁명, 革命) was repeated several times. It was striking that a term once associated with the far left is used now so prevalently in contemporary South Korea.

But what exactly does the term “revolution” mean today, especially in this period of rapid social, economic and technological transformation? Read more of this post

정부혁신취진협의회  (행정안전부)






2018년 10월 11일


@ 서울정부청사


이만열  (교육분야 위원)





“President Moon: It’s time to pardon Park Geun-hye” Asia Times

Asia Times

“President Moon: It’s time to pardon Park Geun-hye”

October 9, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich



Last week’s sentencing of former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak to 15 years in prison and a fine of 13 billion won (US$11.5 million) has sent shockwaves through Seoul, and around the world.

Although many are shocked to learn of the degree of corruption that exists in South Korea, no small number of my friends expressed their delight to see that there is a country that is capable of putting a corrupt leader in jail and making public his malfeasances. Read more of this post

Dire report from Incheon is Korea’s greatest achievement

The Most important thing to come out of Korea recently has nothing to do with North Korea!


A landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change convened by the United Nations entitled “Global Warming of 1.5 C” was released in Songdo, Korea which presents a far more shocking vision for the immediate future than the corporate media was willing to acknowledge before. The report suggests that humanity faces catastrophic consequences of its carbon-centered economy and makes a clear break with the previous assumption that carbon trading schemes are sufficient to address the problem.


The report avoids much of the far more pessimistic predictions of many experts but goes further than any mainstream report so far.


Here is a summary:



This chapter frames the context, knowledge-base and assessment approaches used to understand the impacts of 1.5°C global warming above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, building on the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. Human-induced warming reached approximately 1°C (±0.2°C likely range) above pre-industrial levels in 2017, increasing at 0.2°C (±0.1°C) per decade (high confidence).

Global warming is defined in this report as an increase in combined surface air and sea surface temperatures averaged over the globe and a 30-year period. Unless otherwise specified, warming is expressed relative to the period 1850-1900, used as an approximation of pre-industrial temperatures in AR5. For periods shorter than 30 years, warming refers to the estimated average temperature over the 30 years centered on that shorter period, accounting for the impact of any temperature fluctuations or trend within those 30 years. Accordingly, warming up to the decade 2006-2015 is assessed at 0.87°C (±0.12°C likely range). Since 2000, the estimated level of human-induced warming has been equal to the level of observed warming with a likely range of ±20% accounting for uncertainty due to contributions from solar and volcanic activity over the historical period (high confidence). {1.2.1} Warming greater than the global average has already been experienced in many regions and seasons, with average warming over land higher than over the ocean (high confidence).

Most land regions are experiencing greater warming than the global average, while most ocean regions are warming at a slower rate. Depending on the temperature dataset considered, 20-40% of the global human population live in regions that, by the decade 2006-2015, had already experienced warming of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial in at least one season (medium confidence). {1.2.1 & 1.2.2} Past emissions alone are unlikely to raise global-mean temperature to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels but past emissions do commit to other changes, such as further sea level rise (high confidence). If all anthropogenic emissions (including aerosol-related) were reduced to zero immediately, any further warming beyond the 1°C already experienced would likely be less than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades (high confidence), and likely less than 0.5°C on a century timescale (medium confidence), due to the opposing effects of different climate processes and drivers.

A warming greater than 1.5°C is therefore not geophysically unavoidable: whether it will occur depends on future rates of emission reductions. {1.2.3, 1.2.4} 1.5°C-consistent emission pathways are defined as those that, given current knowledge of the climate response, provide a one-in-two to two-in-three chance of warming either remaining below 1.5°C, or returning to 1.5°C by around 2100 following an overshoot. Overshoot pathways are characterized by the peak magnitude of the overshoot, which may have implications for impacts. All 1.5°C-consistent pathways involve limiting cumulative emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, and substantial reductions in other climate forcers (high confidence). Limiting cumulative emissions requires either reducing net global emissions of longlived greenhouse gases to zero before the cumulative limit is reached, or net negative global emissions (anthropogenic removals) after the limit is exceeded. {1.2.3, 1.2.4, Cross-Chapter Boxes 1 and 2}

This report assesses projected impacts at a global average warming of 1.5°C and higher levels of warming. Global warming of 1.5°C is associated with global average surface temperatures fluctuating naturally on either side of 1.5°C, together with warming substantially greater than 1.5°C in many regions and seasons (high confidence), all of which must be taken into account in the assessment of impacts. Impacts at 1.5°C of warming also depend on the emission pathway to 1.5°C. Very different impacts result from pathways that remain below 1.5°C versus pathways that return to Final Government Draft Chapter 1 IPCC SR1.5 Do Not Cite, Quote or Distribute 1-5 Total pages: 61 1.5°C after a substantial overshoot, and when temperatures stabilize at 1.5°C versus a transient warming past 1.5°C. (medium confidence) {1.2.3, 1.3} Ethical considerations, and the principle of equity in particular, are central to this report, recognising that many of the impacts of warming up to and beyond 1.5°C, and some potential impacts of mitigation actions required to limit warming to 1.5°C, fall disproportionately on the poor and vulnerable (high confidence).

Equity has procedural and distributive dimensions and requires fairness in burden sharing, between generations, and between and within nations. In framing the objective of holding the increase in the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C, the Paris Agreement associates the principle of equity with the broader goals of poverty eradication and sustainable development, recognising that effective responses to climate change require a global collective effort that may be guided by the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. {1.1.1} Climate adaptation refers to the actions taken to manage impacts of climate change by reducing vulnerability and exposure to its harmful effects and exploiting any potential benefits. Adaptation takes place at international, national and local levels. Subnational jurisdictions and entities, including urban and rural municipalities, are key to developing and reinforcing measures for reducing weather- and climate-related risks. Adaptation implementation faces several barriers including unavailability of up-to-date and locally-relevant information, lack of finance and technology, social values and attitudes, and institutional constraints (high confidence).

Adaptation is more likely to contribute to sustainable development when polices align with mitigation and poverty eradication goals (medium confidence) {1.1, 1.4} Ambitious mitigation actions are indispensable to limit warming to 1.5°C while achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication (high confidence). Ill-designed responses, however, could pose challenges especially—but not exclusively—for countries and regions contending with poverty and those requiring significant transformation of their energy systems. This report focuses on ‘climate-resilient development pathways’ , which aim to meet the goals of sustainable development, including climate adaptation and mitigation, poverty eradication and reducing inequalities.

But any feasible pathway that remains within 1.5°C involves synergies and trade-offs (high confidence). Significant uncertainty remains as to which pathways are more consistent with the principle of equity. {1.1.1, 1.4} Multiple forms of knowledge, including scientific evidence, narrative scenarios and prospective pathways, inform the understanding of 1.5°C. This report is informed by traditional evidence of the physical climate system and associated impacts and vulnerabilities of climate change, together with knowledge drawn from the perceptions of risk and the experiences of climate impacts and governance systems. Scenarios and pathways are used to explore conditions enabling goal-oriented futures while recognizing the significance of ethical considerations, the principle of equity, and the societal transformation needed. {1.2.3, 1.5.2} There is no single answer to the question of whether it is feasible to limit warming to 1.5°C and adapt to the consequences. Feasibility is considered in this report as the capacity of a system as a whole to achieve a specific outcome.

The global transformation that would be needed to limit warming to 1.5°C requires enabling conditions that reflect the links, synergies and trade-offs between mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development. These enabling conditions have many systemic dimensions—geophysical, environmental-ecological, technological, economic, socio-cultural and institutional—that may be considered through the unifying lens of the Anthropocene, acknowledging profound, differential but increasingly geologically significant human influences on the Earth system as a whole. This framing also emphasises the global interconnectivity of past, present and future Final Government Draft Chapter 1 IPCC SR1.5 Do Not Cite, Quote or Distribute 1-6 Total pages: 61 human–environment relations, highlighing the need and opportunities for integrated responses to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. {1.1, Cross-Chapter Box 1}

Moon and the opening of the green belts

The decision of the Moon administration to support the opening up of the “green belts” around Seoul to development by construction companies to provide housing suggests that we have ended up with the complete opposite of what the administration originally promised.

The Moon administration is taking the side of investment banks who are making a fortune out of keeping the price up housing high (even though there is a glut of housing still unabsorbed from the Lee Myung-bak era) in order to make sure that upper-middle-class employees of companies who put big money into their houses do not lose their shirts–and also to make sure that “housing retirement pensions” cooked up by investment banks do not lose their value.

North-South Summit and Naver Map

It has been a popular topic in Seoul for the last two days to discuss the sudden expansion of Naver map to North Korea. Although I do not know the exact date of the changes, considerably greater detail has been added for North Korea than was available before. You may remember that for Naver Map, Daum Map and Google Map, North Korea was essentially blank, with the exception of the names of major cities. But this new version displays North and South in the same format and identifies specific buildings, even subway stops, in Pyongyang.




The map for the Korean Peninsula makes no distinction in how roads are shown for the North and for the South. One can easily imagine the roads being connected if you look at this representation.




Here is a map for Pyongyang





Some detail of downtown Pyongyang, including the locations of universities and Pyongyang Station.