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.

Visualizing History: The Politics of North Korean Art

The Light of the People the Great Leader Kim Il Sung by Hong Sŏngch’ŏl, Kim Sŏngch’ŏl, and Hong Gŭnch’an (1990) illustrates the representation of history in North Korean art
The study of visu­al images can illu­mi­nate how a soci­ety recon­structs its past and present. Min-Kyung Yoon will explore this theme by exam­in­ing the inter­play of art, his­to­ry, and pol­i­tics in North Korea in a pre­sen­ta­tion titled “Visu­al­iz­ing His­to­ry: The Pol­i­tics of North Kore­an Art, 1966–1994.”

Yoon, a post­doc­tor­al fel­low at the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies and Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Depart­ment of His­to­ry, will speak Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 29, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. at the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies.

Yoon’s talk will explore the ways visu­al images write his­to­ry in North Korea. As part of wider cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion, art in North Korea is large­ly used to legit­i­mate the North Kore­an state and its lead­ers. From the rise of a dis­tinc­tive North Kore­an ink-and-brush paint­ing in 1966 to the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, Yoon will explore how his­to­ry and the every­day were recre­at­ed in paint­ings to give visu­al form to a social­ist imag­i­nary far removed from the present real­i­ty yet essen­tial for sus­tain­ing the state and its lead­ers. What emerges through this explo­ration is how ide­ol­o­gy in North Korea, often per­ceived as con­stant, has changed, evolved, and engaged with the world.

Min-Kyung Yoon speaks on North Korean artMin-Kyung Yoon research­es the visu­al arts of North Korea. She earned her Ph.D. at Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty in 2014. Pre­vi­ous­ly she was a post­doc­tor­al fel­low at the École française d’Extrême-Orient. She earned her master’s degree in East Asia region­al stud­ies from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty in 2006 and her bachelor’s degree in his­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan in 2004. Her talk is spon­sored by the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies, the UH Depart­ment of His­to­ry, and the Phi Alpha Theta His­to­ry Hon­or Soci­ety.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies at (808) 956‑7041 or (808) 956‑2212.

This pro­gram is sup­port­ed by a Core Uni­ver­si­ty Pro­gram for Kore­an Stud­ies Grant through the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion of the Repub­lic of Korea and the Kore­an Stud­ies Pro­mo­tion Ser­vice of the Acad­e­my of Kore­an Stud­ies (AKS-2015-OLU-2250005).

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.

Call for Papers: World Congress for Korean Politics and Society

KPSA logoThe Kore­an Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Asso­ci­a­tion has called for papers for the 2015 World Con­gress for Kore­an Pol­i­tics and Soci­ety. The World Con­gress is a bien­ni­al con­fer­ence orga­nized by the Asso­ci­a­tion, and co-host­ed by the Korea Foun­da­tion, to dis­cuss inno­v­a­tive and insight­ful ideas on Kore­an pol­i­tics, soci­ety, and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions. This year’s World Con­gress will be held from August 25 to August 27, 2015, in Gyeongju, South Korea. The main theme of the Con­gress is “Bridg­ing the Gap: The Promise of Pol­i­tics in a Polar­ized and Frag­ment­ed World.”

Pro­pos­als for papers, full pan­els, and round­table dis­cus­sions are invit­ed for–but not lim­it­ed to–the fol­low­ing sub­themes: Kore­an Pol­i­tics and Soci­ety; North Korea and inter-Kore­an Rela­tions; Com­par­a­tive Pol­i­tics: Devel­op­ing Coun­tries; Com­par­a­tive Pol­i­tics: Advanced Indus­tri­al Soci­eties; Elec­toral and Leg­isla­tive Pol­i­tics; Polit­i­cal Orga­ni­za­tions and Par­ties; Polit­i­cal Econ­o­my; Glob­al­iza­tion and Local Respons­es; Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions of East Asia; Con­flicts and Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion; Polit­i­cal Thought; Women and Pol­i­tics; and Polit­i­cal Method­ol­o­gy.

The dead­line for sub­mit­ting pro­pos­als is March 31, 2015. Noti­fi­ca­tions of accep­tance will be issued in mid April.

To learn more about the con­fer­ence and to sub­mit pro­pos­als, vis­it the con­fer­ence Web site at

The Kore­an Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Asso­ci­a­tion and the Korea Foun­da­tion will offer up to three nights of accom­mo­da­tions in a con­fer­ence hotel for all par­tic­i­pants from abroad. A lim­it­ed num­ber of trav­el grants also will be avail­able.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, send e-mail to

Colloquium: The Politics of “Arirang”

photo: Byong Won LeeThe Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies fall 2014 col­lo­qui­um series will open Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 18, with an explo­ration of some of the polit­i­cal aspects of Korea’s most famous folk­song, “Ari­rang.” Byong Won Lee, pro­fes­sor of eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, will deliv­er a pre­sen­ta­tion titled “The Pol­i­tics of ‘Ari­rang’: Tri­par­tite Polit­i­cal Dynam­ics of the Kore­an Folk­song in South Korea, North Korea, and Chi­na.” The col­lo­qui­um begins at 4:00 p.m. in the Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies con­fer­ence room.

Ari­rang” orig­i­nat­ed in the cen­tral region of Korea in the mid-1920s as a new folk­song (sin-minyo) and has evolved into the icon­ic song for Kore­ans every­where. In 2011, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment des­ig­nat­ed “Ari­rang” as an Intan­gi­ble Cul­tur­al Her­itage of the eth­nic Kore­ans in the Yan­bian Kore­an Autonomous Pre­fec­ture of Chi­na.

Nation­al­is­tic South Kore­ans were sus­pi­cious of the Chi­nese move as anoth­er of the ongo­ing Chi­nese efforts to appro­pri­ate Kore­an her­itage, includ­ing assert­ing own­er­ship of some his­tor­i­cal events. The South Kore­an gov­ern­ment has been active­ly pro­mot­ing the song inter­na­tion­al­ly as the nation­al musi­cal icon with con­sid­er­able exag­ger­a­tion of its his­tor­i­cal ori­gin. This effort result­ed in the reg­is­tra­tion of “Ari­rang” as a UNESCO Intan­gi­ble Cul­tur­al Her­itage of Human­i­ties in 2012.

By con­trast, “Ari­rang” was rarely men­tioned in North Korea until the ear­ly 1980s. The inser­tion of the song title in the “Ari­rang Mass Games” in North Kore­an is an effort to tone down the strong ide­o­log­i­cal emboss­ment and project a utopi­an Korea under social­ism through the uni­fi­ca­tion of the penin­su­la on North Kore­an terms.

Pro­fes­sor Lee’s pre­sen­ta­tion will exam­ine the tri­par­tite polit­i­cal dynam­ics of “Ari­rang”: (1) as a musi­cal icon through its nation-brand­ing efforts in the Repub­lic of Korea, (2) as a soft image-mak­ing medi­um and ide­o­log­i­cal dis­guise in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic People’s Repub­lic of Korea, and (3) as a polit­i­cal embrac­ing of minori­ties by the People’s Repub­lic of Chi­na.

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to the pub­lic. The Cen­ter is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the UH Mānoa cam­pus. Paid park­ing ($6.00) is avail­able in the park­ing lot mau­ka of the CKS build­ing and else­where on cam­pus. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing arrange­ments for access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041.