20 episodes

Korean Kontext is an initiative by the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, D.C. Its aim is to provide listeners with a source for broad-based, substantive information about the U.S.-Korean relationship from all angles: political, cultural, economic, and social. Tackling major topics using current and historical context, interviews with prominent policy leaders, scholars,and artists, and in-depth analysis, Korean Kontext is crafted to inform the newcomer and the Korea guru alike.

Korean Kontext Korea Economic Institute

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Korean Kontext is an initiative by the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, D.C. Its aim is to provide listeners with a source for broad-based, substantive information about the U.S.-Korean relationship from all angles: political, cultural, economic, and social. Tackling major topics using current and historical context, interviews with prominent policy leaders, scholars,and artists, and in-depth analysis, Korean Kontext is crafted to inform the newcomer and the Korea guru alike.

    10 Issues for the Korean Peninsula in 2020: KEI Staff

    10 Issues for the Korean Peninsula in 2020: KEI Staff

    2019 was a year of confusion in the United States and the Asia-Pacific.
    After the failed Hanoi summit, the world waited for North Korea to come back to the table, which they did not do.
    The United States and South Korea agreed to a temporary cost-sharing agreement for U.S. troops stationed in Korea - and Korea watchers waited for a more long-term agreement to be settled before the end of the year. This did not happen.
    Meanwhile, people in the United States anxiously waited for Congress to make a decision on whether they would impeach the president or not. 
    Then 2020 started with a bang - the United States nearly went to war with Iran; the impeachment trial of President Trump wrapped up rapidly; the Wuhan coronavirus became the top global threat. Amidst all these rapidly-changing developments, what is KEI keeping its eyes on? 
    KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone, Director Kyle Ferrier, and Director Sang Kim are here to tell us about the top issues they are watching in 2020.
    Please also find their joint blog piece here: http://blog.keia.org/2020/01/10-issues-watch-korean-peninsula-2020/

    • 29 min
    Monetizing The Linchpin: Kyle Ferrier

    Monetizing The Linchpin: Kyle Ferrier

    Do countries need allies? Do alliances necessarily require the member countries to set aside their national interests? These are the questions that the Trump administration has posed with its America-first approach to foreign policy. 
    One of the key claims from the president is that countries like South Korea are not paying their fair share of the defense costs in the security alliance. But who has actually done the math on what the South Koreans are contributing to the alliance?
    KEI Fellow and Director of Academic Affairs Kyle Ferrier has done the math on the value of the alliance - and he believes that the United States is risking a whole lot more than $5 billion by undermining people’s confidence in the U.S.-ROK security alliance.
    You can find his paper "Monetizing the Linchpin" here: 
    http://www.keia.org/sites/default/files/publications/kei_monitoring_the_linchpin_191205.pdf

    • 24 min
    Building a Better Future with Truth: Min Jin Lee

    Building a Better Future with Truth: Min Jin Lee

    Why is it important to tell true stories about the past?
    It is a question that people are grappling with across the world. In the United States, uncomfortable issues like the legacy of slavery have come to the forefront of public debate. Elsewhere, people are examining the accuracy of traditional narratives around colonialism, war, and the origins of the socio-economic order as we know it. 
    It is a difficult exercise for a community, one that might first appear to be opening old wounds rather than healing them. This is especially true at a time when political and economic anxieties - alongside unprecedented changes in technology and human migration - appear to be already unspooling the fabric of society. 
    But author Min Jin Lee insists that we must persist in telling true stories about the past because they inform us about who we are and our relationship with one another. They are the very foundations of building a more peaceful and tolerant world. 
    Korean Kontext caught up with Min Jin Lee at the 2020 Korean American Day celebration in Washington D.C. where she was recognized alongside fellow author Alexander Chee as this year’s honorees for their contributions to American literature and for elevating the voices of Korean Americans in the United States.
    If you have not had the chance to check out our interview with Min Jin Lee’s fellow Korean American Day honoree Alexander Chee, you can find that episode here: 
    https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ipg7r-d0e6d1 
    Also please check out Min Jin Lee's short story Stonehenge here: 
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/06/10/stonehenge

    • 28 min
    Representation and Community: Alexander Chee

    Representation and Community: Alexander Chee

    What is the value of representation in a society? Why consider a female president? or Asian actors in movies? or spotlight Black community leaders? It’s an important question for the United States, which is contending with structural inequities - racial, sexual, and economic - and for the rest of the world as well. 
    Author Alexander Chee has an answer. Diverse voices deserve a place in our society to tell stories only they can tell - and their stories are important to make sense of the world around us that is - not being made more complex - but rather has always been complex. And if you think your local community is simple and homogenous, it is not, it never was. 
    This is the first of two podcasts where we catch up with KEI’s Korean American Day honorees. Today, we speak with Alexander Chee. Currently an associate professor in the department of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth University, he is a journalist, essayist - and author of two novels titled Edinburgh and Queen of the Night. His most recent publication is a series of essays called “How to write an autobiography.” He was honored in this year’s Korean American Day for his accomplishments in modern American literature where he placed society’s rules and norms under a literary magnifying glass. 

    • 26 min
    Korea and the Persian Gulf: Troy Stangarone

    Korea and the Persian Gulf: Troy Stangarone

    2020 is starting off dramatically with the escalation of tensions in the Middle East - The world held its breath while the United States and Iran exchanged both blows and barbs.
    In the weeks that followed, tensions fortunately deescalated. But in the aftermath, the European Union has accused Tehran of reneging elements of the nuclear deal. Although the Trump administration had already abandoned the nuclear deal in May 2018, Tehran’s abrogation could lead to the reimposition of further sanctions. And so, the situation remains deeply volatile. 
    So it’s a good time to review what risks South Korea faces if a conflict flairs up in the Middle East. Would Korean troops be deployed to the region? How long could the South Korean economy last without its vital oil supplies? Are there alternative suppliers? And what would this mean for negotiations with North Korea?
    KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone will answer all these questions in this episode.

    • 27 min
    Sharing the Burden: Song Min-soon

    Sharing the Burden: Song Min-soon

    This week, the United States and South Korea failed to reach an agreement on how to share the cost for U.S. troops deployed on the Korean Peninsula. 
    The two countries had failed to come to an agreement last December as well - ultimately settling on a one-year deal in February of this year where South Korea increased its contribution from around $800 million to nearly $1 billion.
    In the current round of negotiations, the Trump administration has sought a 400% increase. A payment of $4.7 billion that would cover the entire cost of U.S. troop deployment and more. 
    The position of the U.S. government has elicited concerns both in South Korea and the United States. Long-time policy watchers have raised worries that this may weaken the alliance at a vital juncture in U.S. engagements in the region, or push South Korea to take radical steps to better protect itself against the North Korean threat, such as the acquisition of nuclear weapons. 
    Our guest today, former ROK Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, is one of the original architects of the burden-sharing agreement between the United States and the Republic of Korea. He is also a long-time policy practitioner who worked on U.S.-Korea relations. He joins us today to provide his view of relations between the two countries.
    Here is the link to KEI's event on U.S. approach to defense burden-sharing: https://youtu.be/CH0jHNB5OwQ 
    And you can find KEI fellow Kyle Ferrier’s paper on the monetary value of Korea’s contributions to U.S. foreign policy here: http://www.keia.org/sites/default/files/publications/kei_monitoring_the_linchpin_191205.pdf
     

    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

제프리 모어 ,

Mr Geoffrey Moore

Highly informative commentary about developments taking place in the Korea's with an eclectic range of guests. Jenna Gibson is a talented interviewer.

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