Category Archives: Today in Korea

“Eat food. Lose yourself” Korea times

Korea times

“Eat food. Lose yourself”

September 16, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich


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Selection of Emanuel’s book as “Sejong Book” for 2018

오늘 (2018년 7월 6일) 한국출판문화진흥원이 임마누엘 페스트라이쉬 의 책 “한국인만 몰랐던 더 큰 대한민국”을 사회과학 분야에서 2018년도 세종도서로 선정이 됐어요. 한 600부는 전국도서관에서 분배 될 전망 입니다.

Today, the Korean Publication Industry Promotion Agency (KIPIA) selected Emanuel Pastreich’s book in Korean A Greater Republic of Korea which Koreans never Imagined as a “Sejong Book” for 2018. This book will be distributed to libraries across Korea in a special edition.

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“New importance of humanities in fourth industrial revolution” Korea Times

Korea Times

“New importance of humanities in fourth industrial revolution”

June 30, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich




There has been much talk about the importance of the humanities in this age of rapid technological transformation and we see funding for “digital humanities” programs that provide cutting-edge communications technology that is claimed will revolutionize teaching and will provide online videos that effectively present complex information for any number of viewers around the world.

We have scholars in history and in the social sciences who have obtained funding that allows them to bring to bear advanced supercomputing technology on historical or social conundrums.

Massive amounts of textual and statistical information are analyzed by them using supercomputers, and their unexpected discoveries are presented to us via fascinating graphs and charts. Big data reveals to us new truths previously obscured ― although we cannot help but wonder if the amount of time spent reading and pondering is being drastically reduced.
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Itaewon T-Shirts available from the Asia Institute

The Asia Institute is proud to announce the release of our new Itaewon T-shirt. This original design captures perfectly the vibrant, cosmopolitan mood of Itaewon.

Sizes: S, M, L & XL

Price: 17,000 Won


For purchases, please contact Rachel Stine



“평양에 간 폼페요” 다른 백년

다른 백년

“평양에 간 폼페요”

2018년 6월 12일

임마누엘 페스트라이쉬

도널드 트럼프와 김정은의 회담은 나폴레옹 3세조차 시기할 만큼 시끌벅적 했다.  이제는 우리가 정확히 무엇을 목도하였는지에 대해 생각해보자. 북미회담이라는 행사는 마치 헤비급 챔피언 쟁탈전처럼 꽤 노골적으로 홍보되어왔다. 트럼프는 끊임없이 전쟁을 들먹인 해리 해리스(Harry Harris) 대사와 마이크 멀린 (Mike Mullen) 전 합참의장 등 강경파의 도움으로 만약 자기 뜻대로 일이 풀리지 않으면 참혹한 결과가 있을 것임을 암시했다. 모하마드 알리(Mohammad Ali)가 조 프레이저(Joe Frazier)와의 결투 전, 반복해서 프레이저를 조롱한 것과 크게 다르지 않았다. 그리고 트럼프에게는 책임이 따르거나 지루할 수도 있는 실제 입법 행위와 정책보다 이 재미있는 과정이 훨씬 편안한 선택이었다.

리얼리티 쇼에 핵확산방지 전문가 데니스 로드맨(Dennis Rodman)까지 부록으로 붙은 이 만남을 위해 싱가포르가 낙점된 것은 우연이 아니다. 싱가포르는 그냥 국가가 아니다. 아시아와 중동, 동남아시아의 세계자본이 흘러 드는, 이번 회담이 개최된 카펠라 호텔처럼 호화스러운 호텔이 무성한 초현실적 공간이다. 빈곤인구가 적은 싱가포르는 마치 빗장도시처럼 조심스레 역내의 분쟁으로부터 스스로를 차단시켜왔고, 덕분에 싱가포르를 일컬어 ‘사형이 있는 디즈니랜드’라는 우스갯소리를 하기도 한다. 싱가포르의 5성 호텔들은 일반 서민이나 전문가를 위한 시설이 아니다. 이번 행사는 그 의미도 모르는 자가 “CVID” 같이 현란한 단어를 주문처럼 반복해서 외는 목소리로 점철되었다. 진실과 정의에 대한 관심은 어느 곳에도 없었다. 전 과정이 심각하게 반(反) 지성적이었다. 미국은 트럼프가 중간선거까지 버틸 수 있을 정도의 혼란만을 조성하기 위해 이성적인 토론없이 감성과 연계에 기대는 전략을 썼다. Read more of this post

“Establish a South-North dialog about reviving Korea’s traditions” The Korea Times

The Korea Times

“Establish a South-North dialog about reviving Korea’s traditions”

June 12, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Just about everyone has assumed that the ideological divisions between North and South Korea are so great that any discussion of political ideology or governance will be so divisive that it must be studiously avoided. Instead, it is assumed, the focus must fall on neutral issues like trade and investment.

This is a terribly outdated assumption. Trade and investment are not neutral issues and there is plenty of evidence that North Koreans at all levels are disillusioned with the legacy of Kim Il-sung and are skeptical about the high-growth models of China and Vietnam that are so commonly promoted.

South Koreans have become aware of the severe limitations and risks of the export-oriented high-growth, consumption-focused economic system that has driven the country for the last 50 years. Many people on both sides of the DMZ are struggling to formulate an alternative.

Let us think outside the box. Perhaps a serious discussion between scholars and high-ranking officials from North and South about fundamental issues of political philosophy and political economy could be a creative and inspiring moment of tremendous historical significance, rather than the source of ideological conflict?

Do you recall how Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in walked together at the opening of the Inter-Korean Summit while rows of military troops dressed in yellow uniforms of the Joseon Dynasty stood at attention in the background?  Read more of this post


“Efforts made outside Trump-Kim meeting are the most crucial”

June 10, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich


The unprecedented meeting between President Donald Trump of the United States and Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) does have the real potential to transform the world and lead us in a positive direction.

However, Trump and Kim lack the maturity, vision, and understanding to make full use of this meeting. They also have not welcomed the broad participation of ethical and committed citizens throughout Asia, and around the world that is necessary to make this effort successful in the long run.

Now that the summit is already in play, there really is no value in debating whether it should take place. It will take place and we must work hard to make sure that whatever curve ball comes flying out of the Capella Hotel, we are ready as a unified international community to give it our very best Singapore swing.

To start with, this is not an event for the common man, nor for the experts. The exclusive hotels aimed at the super rich that Trump and Kim so enjoy are full of commercial media who are gathering for a spectacle, not for the search for truth or for justice. There will not be many experts in international relations or non-proliferation.

The whole event looks like a mixture of Pebble Beach and reality TV, with the nonproliferation specialist Dennis Rodman thrown in, compliments of the chef. Trump and Kim are focused on what they really care about: image. Read more of this post

Elderly women handing out advertisements

I saw this elderly woman new the government complex in Gwanghwamun handing out advertisements to people walking by. She tried her best, but she was ignored, and even pushed out of the way, by those whom she approached.

For those who were irritated by her efforts, she was just an inconvenience. Certainly, she was offering ads for products that had no appeal for them.

But the more essential issue was how this elderly woman was forced, by a crumbling economy to engage in such an unpleasant and painful job in order to feed herself. We see this happening in Korea more and more frequently.  I doubt that the men and women who sweep by her had ever thought about this fact.

I think they are also for the most part in denial about an equally important point: that they themselves could easily end up like her, or worse, as the global economy continues to implode.

I was not sure what to do myself.

There seems to be so little interest in South Korea in a serious discussion of inequity. But the problem is so severe that I want to suggest that along with climate change, it should be at the top of everyone’s list.  If you look at the leaflets handed out by candidates in the run-up to the regional election next week, these two issues are not even addressed in a meaningful manner.

“Pompeo in Pyongyang” Korea Times June 9, 2018

Korea Times

“Pompeo in Pyongyang”

June 9, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich




Perhaps you watched the forced smiles on the faces of President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as they exchanged words with Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, on the grounds of the White House. Or perhaps you observed how Trump first told the press that he had read the personal letter delivered to him from Kim Jong-un, and then stated a few hours later that he had not even looked at the letter.

If you felt sick to your stomach, it is not because of the omelet that you eat for lunch. There is something so grotesque going on in Washington D.C. today that it rivals the institutional decay under Louis XVI or Nicholas II.

Maybe you had solace in the suggestions that Trump might win a Nobel Peace Prize, or you read the editorials suggesting direct parallel between his daring actions and Ronald Reagan reaching out to Mikhail Gorbachev.

But is the end of the Cold War the more apposite parallel? Perhaps we should remember the treaties for cooperation signed between Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union in another strange historical moment that few of us remember. Read more of this post

“The sleepwalkers reach a fork in the road” Korea Times


Korea Times

“The sleepwalkers reach a fork in the road”

May 26, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

When the Trump administration illegally threw away the nuclear agreement with Iran, usurping the authority of congress, not to mention those silly little people called the “citizens of the United States,” and then it went on to openly support the brutal killing of unarmed protesters in Jerusalem with high-powered weapons by Israeli military/police forces, many thought we had hit rock bottom.

But in fact, now that the Federal government has been practically emptied of men and women of any ethical standards, we learn that we are just getting started.

Blaming Trump does not help much of anything. We have a massive institutional collapse taking place which is rendering the United States essentially ungovernable. The group around Donald Trump who are now calling the shots are a priceless collection of extremists, drawn to the sugar daddy like flies. They are not conservatives in any sense of the word. They are essentially psychotic, caring nothing about a future of severe climate change, and or nuclear war, or for that matter about their own children. They are the superrich, or they service the superrich, and they have effectively taken the final step of severing the ties between the United States and the so-called international community.
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