Category Archives: Today in Korea

“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.

“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