Last summer was the first time I was in Korea for longer than a short visit. It was also the first time I met Korean students, people who worked for the Korean government, and North Korean defectors. In a nutshell, August was a whirlwind learning experience:
- We attended an orientation, where we met the other interns as well as the Vice Minister
- Attended workshops on the new social media of Facebook and Twitter
- Visited the Joint Security Area (JSA)
- Toured the DMZ (during which we had discussions, heard testimonies from the North Korean defectors on the trip, and learned about the historical sites from subsequent tourguide lectures)
- Visited Hana Centers in Gyeonggi Province and learned about the settlement process North Koreans go through when they come to South Korea
- Volunteered and lived amongst the students at the Hangyeoulleh Middle and High School for students who had come from North Korea (Some of us were interviewed for radio programs during this time as well.) Continue reading
GI YOON KIM (edited by CL)
“People jump to assumptions, because it’s easy— I hope to show a bigger picture”
Grace Chae is a Korea Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow at Wellesley College. She received her Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago, specializing in Korean War POWs. Right now she teaches Modern Korean History: From the 1800s to the Present and Prisoners of War: International Norms and Practice at Wellesley College. Continue reading
The day of the Yeonpyeong incident, South Korea as well as much of the international community was in shock. I was standing outside of Soongshil University at the time, and my friend was the one who let me in on the news that as I stood there, hungry for dinner, North and South Korean soldiers were attacking and shooting each other from their respective locations. A few moments later, as we were listening to the radio, North Korea bombed Yeongpyeong Island. It seemed so out of the blue, and I wondered why on earth such a thing was happening. Continue reading
During my time as a Yonsei student, I had the opportunity to ask some of my peers about what they thought of North Korea. This was before the Yeonpyeong incident. I was curious because I didn’t know that much about North Korea myself until college, even though I have relatives from there. And concerning unification issues… it wasn’t until recently that I began to realize this is something South Korea does need to be ready for—whether it takes ten years or ten decades, the possibility of a reunification (like East Germany and West Germany’s on October 3, 1990 after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989) happening to North and South Korea is always there. Continue reading
As a study abroad student through the CIEE program, I was recently privy to attend a talk on North Korea by Professor Andrei Lankov, one of the world’s most renowned scholars on North Korea, a current professor at Kookmin University and even a past attendee of Kim Il sung University.
Professor Lankov’s goal was to introduce and talk about the North Korea regime in one hour or less, and in that time he addressed many off-hand questions I’ve wondered about in the past. Let me share with you what I learned!
1. Current Leadership and the Heir.
One question I’ve always had is why nothing happened to Kim Jong Eun, the third son of Kim Jong Il, when he was studying abroad in Switzerland. He attended classes, met professors and interacted with students to some degree, right? Here was a chance for the regime to end and for North Korea to drastically change! However, Kim Jong Eun wasn’t touted as Kim Jong Il’s son but rather posed as the son of an ambassador. He had personal bodyguards around him all the time, had limited interaction with others around him, and of course, being in Switzerland, was protected (since Switzerland is a neutral country).
And even though many would say that North Korea isn’t even close to collapsing, or changing, or to being an open country, the leadership of North Korea is so old that something potentially good and unexpected can happen soon. The advisors to Kim Jong Il aren’t getting any younger. The average age of the leaders is about 78 years old. This may be a very important factor in how strong the regime continues to be in the next five or ten years. Continue reading
The first Korea Global Forum was held in Seoul, Korea on September 9-10, 2010. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Unification and the Ilsun International Relations Institute, there were 11 countries present, and had Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, William S. Cohen, as the keynote speaker.
As a student reporter for Korea’s Ministry of Unification, I had the chance to meet the Assistant Counselor of the German Embassy in Korea, Matthias Vollert. He agreed to sit down for a quick interview about his impressions and Germany’s part in the Forum:
The very first Korea Global Forum (KGF) was held on September 9-10, 2010, in Seoul, Korea. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Unification and the Ilmin International Relations Institute and sponsored by Dong-A Ilbo, the Forum was created to foster international dialogue about three main issues: recent security developments in the Asia-Pacific region, issues and prospects for the North Korean nuclear problem, and peace on the Korean peninsula and global security architecture.
With the theme being “The Korean Question in a Regional and Global Context”, the Korea Global Forum is meant to be a consultative body of eleven countries: South Korea, the United States, Japan, China, Russia, England, France, Germany, Australia, India and Singapore, with former and present government representatives as well as private sector experts present. Continue reading
Name: Christine Lee
Occupation: Student @ Wellesley College (currently studying abroad at Yonsei University)
Likes: Jamba Juice, white peaches, SHINee, dance parties, cafes
Dislikes: constipation, technological failure, SNSD’s bubble flip-flops, warm orange juice, mosquitoes