China’s Korean Policy Under Xi Jinping

Calling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority,” American officials are emphasizing the critical role of China in pressuring Pyongyang to denuclearize. President Donald Trump, who long criticized China for “having done little to help,” now praises Chinese leader Xi Jinping. But has China’s North Korea policy actually changed that dramatically?

Wang Jianwei photoThat’s the fundamental question Professor Jianwei Wang of the University of Macao will take up in a brown bag seminar presentation sponsored by the East-West Center Research Program Thursday, May 18, 2017. The seminar will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

Wang, who is currently a POSCO visiting fellow at the East-West Center, will examine the extent to which Xi Jinping’s Korean policy differs from the policies of his predecessors. In particular, he will look at Xi’s approach to balance relations with North Korea and South Korea, how his Korean policy influences Sino-American relations, and the prospects of more consequential cooperation between the United States and China on North Korea?

Jianwei Wang is a professor in the Department of Government and Public Administration and director of the Institute of Global and Public Affairs at the University of Macao. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His teaching and research focus on Sino-American relations, Chinese foreign policy, and East Asian international relations. He has published extensively in these areas.

For further information, contact Cynthia Nakachi ( in the East-West Center Program Office.

Memory of a Revolution Revisited at the End of East-West Road

Kim Suk seminar artCenter for Korean Studies visiting scholar Suk Kim will discuss his ongoing writing projects in a seminar Thursday, April 13, 2017, at the Center. Kim’s presentation, “Memory of a Revolution Revisited at the End of East-West Road,” will take place in the Center’s conference room at 11:00 a.m.

Kim SukSuk Kim is an assistant professor in the Department of English Literature at Kyung Hee University, where he teaches twentieth-century British and American literature. He earned his Ph.D. in English and American literature at New York University in 2006 with a dissertation on the works of James Joyce.

Kim’s talk will thematically string together the central theses of two of his critical writings in progress. He will, he says, “draw attention to the legacy of revolution whose timeless injunction for a genuine change invites the improbable juxtaposition of the late ‘Candlelight Revolution’ in South Korea (which is credited with overthrowing the kleptocratic regime of Geun-hye Park) with the biographical memoir by Kim San and Nym Wales titled Song of Ariran: A Korean Communist in the Chinese Revolution (1941).”

Kim elaborates further: “There are, of course, many types of revolution, just as there are as many ways of defining them. Nonetheless, insofar as every theory of revolution presupposes the coming of a certain end of the world, an irreparable rupture to the idea as well as the experience of life as we have known it (be it sociopolitical, politico-economic, ‘tele-technological,’ and so on), the two disparate subject matters (a historic event and a literary text) conjoin to remind us, via the performative eventfulness they respectively enact, what may be at stake in endeavoring a genuine transformation apropos of an individual subject as well as the collective subjectivity: namely, the sustainability of such conceptual binaries as the East and the West, the human vis-a-vis the animal(s), not to mention the very idea of being versus haunting in our globalized age.”

Center for Korean Studies events are free and open to all. For further information, including information regarding access for the handicapped, telephone the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956-7041. The University of Hawai‘i is an equal opportunity/affirmative action Institution.

Political Economy of South Korea and the Northeast Asia Region

Jonathan Westover speaks about political economy of South KoreaThe East-West Center Research Program will present a discussion of aspects of the political economy of South Korea and the Northeast Asian region on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at 12 noon in Burns Hall room 3012.

The speaker will be EWC POSCO Visiting Fellow Jonathan Westover. His topic is “The Evolving International Political Economy of South Korea and the Northeast Asian Region: A Focus on Shifting Workplace Orientation, 1981-2014.”

According to Westover, cross-disciplinary research on worker attitudes and workplace conditions has linked worker experiences to many individual, organizational, and social outcomes. Such research has failed, however, to shed light on why cross-national differences in worker satisfaction and engagement and their determinants persist. Some research suggests that differences are due to cultural factors, but this approach has failed to show why countries with similar cultural orientations still experience significant differences. Thus there remain questions about the causes of the differences and the long-term effects of sustainable economic development and labor prosperity. Moreover, few studies have looked at changes in work quality cross-nationally from the perspective of workers while accounting for country-contextual characteristics.

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Institutionalization of Corruption in South Korea

Olli Hellmann speaks on corruption in South KoreaThe East-West Center Research Program brown-bag presentation on Wednesday, June 1, 2016, will feature politics specialist Olli Hellmann speaking on “The Institutionalization of Corruption in South Korea.” Hellmann is a lecturer in politics at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and is currently a POSCO visiting fellow at the East-West Center. His presentation will take place from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

According to Hellmann, South Korea appears to be struggling more than other industrialized democracies to combat corrupt practices by public office holders. His presentation will argue that conventional anti-corruption approaches have failed to uproot corruption in South Korea, as particularistic exchanges are institutionalized in informal networks that connect political elites to private business. By generating social capital and harboring corruption-specific know-how, these networks can evade monitoring and resist punishment. Through a comparison with other capitalist countries in East Asia, he will trace the institutionalization of corruption back to the “critical juncture” at which organizations for mass mobilization were first established in the mid-twentieth century.

Olli Hellmann’s research on party organization and party systems in East Asia has been published in a monograph titled Political Parties and Electoral Strategy: The Development of Party Organization in East Asia (Palgrave Macmillan) and in a number of peer-reviewed journals, such as Party Politics and the Journal of East Asian Studies. More recently, his research has shifted toward issues of state building and corruption. Funding for this new research has come from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Academy/DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Partnership.

For further information, contact the East-West Center Research Program.

Water Management and Climate Policy in South Korea

The East-West Center Research Program will present a noontime brown-bag talk on water management and climate policy in South Korea Wednesday, May 18, 2016, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall 3012. The speaker will be Hyun Jung Park, currently a POSCO visiting fellow at the East-West Center. Her presentation is titled “Evaluation of Adaptive Water Management in the Context of South Korea Climate Policy.”

area of water management and climate policy studyTo cope with growing water demand and climate-related stresses, the Republic of Korea government conducted the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project. Completed in 2011, the project included the Han, Nakdong, Kŭm, and Yŏngsan rivers and applied a control-based approach relying heavily on technical solutions. The project was implemented under the slogan “low carbon and green growth,” but there were no clear explanations of how it contributed to the “low carbon” goal.

Hyun Jung Park’s research aims to find evidence to confirm whether it was a project for “low carbon” by estimating greenhouse gas emissions and removals due to the land-use changes caused by the project. Her study focuses on 40 kilometers of the Nakdong River, which represented 7 percent of the area of the restoration project. Park will share the results of her investigation (for example, big changes in patterns and capacities of greenhouse gas emissions/removals in the river basin and high level of carbon emissions particularly due to the reduced forest land). She will also discuss policy recommendations for effective water management in the context of Korea climate policy.

Hyun Jung Park is an independent scholar from Seoul. Until recently, she worked as a program officer for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where she generated analytical reports and methodological guidelines/tools for policy-standard units in the Sustainable Development Mechanism Programme. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. in public policy from Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, a master’s degree in city/environmental planning from Seoul National University, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kyung Hee University.