Category Archives: Today in Korea


“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.
Read more of this post

Mike Pompeo hears “His Master’s voice!”

Mike Pompeo is not a “secretary of state.” He is a lackey for the coal-fueled far-right Koch brothers and part of their agenda to grab North Korea’s coal, uranium and just about everything else and create an Asian Iraq. He could care less about the details of just about anything. Nonproliferation and the NPT is something he uses to wipe up after his cat throws up.

his master's voice


Pompeo’s work for the Koch brothers, and their family coal and fake science propaganda system, is described in detail in the Real News report below. It is completely accurate. Pompeo is literally for sale to the highest bidder. Have some ideas for how North Korea should be approached? Go ask your friends at Goldman Sach to put some more cash in the Pompeo fund.

Select Committee on Benghazi Report

Mike Pompeo accepted more from the Koch brothers than anyone else in Congress, and that is just the legal stuff!


The masters of the universe who are ready to lead the world into a GMO nightmare, collapsing ecosystem and world war because they are so completely deluded that their billions will save them. Here is a detailed description of how these pretty boys plan to escape. I doubt it will work.


Perhaps Iraq, a market economy nightmare dominated by big oil, is a model for a future North Korea?

Some estimate that as much as 6 trillion USD in resources, coal, uranium, iron, gold, magnesite, zinc, copper, limestone, molybdenum and graphite are beneath the surface in North Korea.


This is one reason why this time it is secret meetings of Pompeo with the top people in North Korea, and not reunions of separated families, which is getting all the attention.

Friends are saying how naive it is for the Trump administration to insist on military exercises while negotiating for normalization of relations with North Korea (and access to North Korea’s coal and uranium for the Koch Brothers, of course). Those friends are the naive ones around here. This strategy is time-honored. Dating back in Asia to the Opium Wars. It is known as “gunboat diplomacy.”


This moment is a critical one for Korea. Will Koreans let multinational banks determine their future? Will they miss the boat because they spend all their time watching games and pornography on their Samsung Galaxies? This is the moment, there can be no doubt!





The Real News Network

April 12, 2018

“What is Pompeo’s Agenda as Secretary of State? Ask the Highest Bidder”







“The rise in fine dust in Korea and the collapse of governance” Korea Times

Korea Times

“The rise in fine dust in Korea and the collapse of governance”

April 26, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich

Koreans have been bombarded over the past few weeks with non-stop news reports about the responses of former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye to the criminal charges they face for corruption. Although those individuals should be held responsible for their actions, one has to wonder whether the personal self-serving actions of those politicians are the most critical issue for the nation, or whether we are being distracted from a more serious problem: the collapse of governance.

Over the past 12 years, starting at the end of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, the capacity of government to identify national problems, to formulate solutions and to implement them effectively over the long-term has declined precipitously. We have witnessed the degradation of the political status of qualified civil servants, the empowerment of big business and the appointment of unqualified political figures to high government positions who proceeded to undercut the authority of the government officials serving under them to do their job.

The promotion of a “pro-business” approach to governance that valued short-term profits over the long-term well-being of the nation did permanent damage to the government itself. Today, politicians spend most of their time trying to promote their image and little time coming up with brave and effective solutions to real problems. The low-key and complex process of solving problems is less important than the image perceived in the media.

At the heart of this war on government is the promotion of deregulation (which means literally de-criminalization). The result of deregulation is that government officials have lost the ability to serve as a check on for-profit organizations. Today, profits for business has become the critical issue in the policymaking process and consequentially the government has lost its ability to formulate and implement long-term policies.

That problem has been made worse because deregulation has been paired with privatization so that infrastructure is run for profit. Such an approach poisons attitudes toward the community at every level.

The clearest example of the collapse of governance in Korea is the inability of South Korea to respond to the devastating increase in fine particulate matter in the air. The government is unable to identify the sources of the pollution for the public, to formulate a long-term solution or to demand that industry make the necessary improvements required to address the problem directly.
Read more of this post

Immigration Policy Committee at Ministry of Justice

Today I was appointed as a member of the Immigration Policy Committee at the Ministry of Justice and had a chance to meet the Minister of Justice, Professor Park Sang-ki.

Here is the certificate that I received today.

image1 (29)

But more interesting indeed was the odd gift I was presented with.


Here is the box.

image2 (9)

Wonder what might be inside?

A pen? A USB? A small electronic device?

But no… a bit of Korean humor about immigration policy.

image3 (2)

Much appreciated.




What happened to progressive media in Korea?

image1 (23)

I had the chance to pick up a copy of  Sisa-in시사인 yesterday at the train station and start ed reading it through. I must admit I was shocked.


When Sisa in was formed in 2007 by a group of journalists who could no longer take the commercialization of Korean media, it featured often extremely insightful articles on current affairs. This group of editors and reporters from Sisa Journal resigned in protest over the deletion of an article that was critical of Samsung and set out to pave the way to a new form of journalism in Korea.

Although I would not say that I agreed with all that Sisa in published ten years ago, and   I found some parts rather self-indulgent, as opposed to analytic, their writing offered a refreshing perspective on contemporary Korea, and often provided details not found elsewhere.

But when I picked up current issue and started reading it, I was immediately struck by how glossy and superficial the analysis has become. Particularly unimpressive was the repetition of positive interpretations of the engagement with North Korea of the Moon and Trump administrations without mention of the complete contempt for international law and diplomacy that has been shown by Trump Administration. Not a word about Trump’s contempt for the international community as shown in his actions on the Iran agreement or the Paris Summit.

Not sure what happened, but I offer some suggestions in my upcoming article on Korean journalism in Korea Times.

“Too good to be true” Korea Times

Korea Times

“Too good to be true”

March 13, 2018

Emanuel Pastreich



So the headlines in Seoul yesterday were splattered again with articles expressing tremendous optimism about the remarkable breakthrough so clearly represented by the agreement of U.S. President Donald Trump to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jung-eun.

There was also no small amount of drivel about how thankful President Moon Jae-in is, or should be, for the tremendous consideration, and genius, shown by master diplomat Trump for this stroke of genius.

Several commentators went as far as to say Trump’s brilliant move is certain to win him a Nobel Peace Prize.

But does anyone really believe that Donald Trump ― a reality TV sensationalist, carnival barker Twitter-as-policy president ― can be trusted with anything, or that he has anything to do with the decision-making process behind this bolt out of the blue?

Maybe you should pull out Naomi Klein’s classic book “The Shock Doctrine” and see how Washington operatives have traditionally employed completely unexpected events, or economic shocks, to shove their unpopular agendas down the throats of people around the world. The purpose is not peace, but rather confusion, and Trump is the emperor of chaos.  Read more of this post

“Operation #MeToo begins” The Korea Times

The Korea Times

Operation #MeToo begins”

February 8, 2018


Emanuel Pastreich




There you have it. South Chungcheong Province Governor Ahn Hee-jung was accused on TV of using his authority to force himself on his secretary Kim Ji-eun and was forced to step down immediately, without any formal investigation. The media basked in the glory of serving as the leading force for the liberation of Korean women from the long sexual oppression at the hands of Korean men.

Agreement on this interpretation of events has been nearly universal in Korea. But there was something just too perfect about the process and about the timing.

Just consider that JTBC’s darling Son Seok-hee interviewed the secretary Kim Ji-eun on his show at the exact moment the Moon administration took the brave step of sending a special envoy to Pyongyang to open the door for comprehensive dialogue that the Trump and Abe administration had fought so hard behind the scenes to stop. Read more of this post