In-depth essays offer insights into fast-evolving Korea
Herald Media has published "Insight into Korea," a collection of in-depth essays on the country`s fast-evolving politics, diplomacy, economy, and culture. It is an ambitious attempt to present various analyses by Korea experts.
The book is the culmination of the special feature series of the same title, launched in June this year by The Korea Herald. A total of 31 contributors provided their perspectives on diverse facets of Korean society, dissecting key issues and offering possible solutions. Their essays attracted keen attention from Korea watchers both at home and abroad.
<**4>"The series covered most, if not all, of the central aspects of Korea`s transformation during the past two decades," says Yu Kun-ha, managing editor of The Korea Herald, in the preface to this book. "By providing an insightful analysis of the difficulties Korea is facing, the contributors inspired contemplation about the country`s future and the ways to address these challenges."
All of the contributors are regarded as leading experts on Korea, and the book is designed to offer not only an overview of key issues facing Korean society, but detailed analyses of dramatic changes that are reshaping Korea.
The primary strength of the book lies in the contributors` expertise in their respective fields. The writers include Bruce Cummings, chairman of the History Department at the University of Chicago; David I. Steinberg, distinguished professor at Georgetown University; Meredith Jung-En Woo, professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; David C. Kang, professor at the Tuck School of Business, Ruediger Frank, professor of East Asian political economy at the University of Vienna; Hagen Koo, professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and James H. Grayson, director of the Centre for Korean Studies at the University of Sheffield, England.
The book, priced at 15,000 won ($16), has five chapters: Politics, diplomacy/National security, Economy, Society, and Culture. Each essay is accompanied by a brief introduction about the contributor, along with related graphics and photos.
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In-depth essays offer insights into social changes in Korea
Herald Media has published "Social Change in Korea," a collection of 30 essays on the deep and far-reaching social changes here, representing the first collective attempt by a group of Korean sociologists.
The English-language book covers major spheres of social life in Korea, touching upon many of the significant aspects of social change in Korea over the years, especially during the past two decades.
"These essays can be a very useful complementary textbook for any course taught in English, as well as being a quick but comprehensive introduction for general readers," says Kim Kyong-dong, co-editor of the book and honorary professor of the Sociology Department of Seoul National University.
<**10>The central theme of the book, says Yu Kun-ha, managing editor of The Korea Herald, can be summed up by this question: Where is Korean society headed? During the past decades, Korea has made significant progress in many respects, but it still faces many tough challenges to become a fully democratized and globalized nation - a key theme that the book tackles in detail.
The book consists of eight chapters. Part I introduces social change in Korea through a thematic approach and Part II deals with the demographic and ecological bases of social life. Part III covers the cultural landscape in terms of changing values, ideological confusion and multiculturalism and Part IV focuses on the changing patterns of social organization.
Part V sheds light on recent changes regarding marriage, the family and women in society and Part VI illustrates the issues regarding civic organizations, labor relations, education and religion. Part VII is devoted to the structural aspects of change, such as class structures, social mobility, and poverty. Finally, Part VIII looks toward the future by exploring the issue of national identity in the era of globalization.
"Social Change in Korea," is the second volume of the "Insight into Korea" book series.
The first volume was published in December 2007 while the third one, focused on political change in Korea, is set to come out in the first half of 2008. For more information, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Korea Herald publishes book on political change
<**2>The Korea Herald has published "Political Change in Korea," the third book in the "Insight into Korea" series. The volume has 35 essays analyzing contemporary Korean politics. Written by top Korean political scientists, the in-depth analyses were all published in the paper between December 2007 and May 2008.
"Political Change in Korea" is intended to help readers better understand the tremendous changes that have reshaped the Korean political landscape since June 1987. The civilian uprising that took place 21 years ago set in motion a democratization process that has transformed Korea from authoritarianism to a liberal democracy.
Korea`s transition to a vibrant democracy has been hailed by many foreign analysts. They regard Korea as a model, for it has achieved the twin goals of democratic development and rapid economic growth.
But many analysts also note that Korea`s political development lags behind its economic development. Some describe Korea as a country with a First World economy and Third World politics. A Korean business tycoon once rated Korea as second-class in economic prowess, third-class in government efficiency, and fourth-class in political performance.
"Most authors in this book discuss Korean politics from a critical perspective," said Yu Kun-ha, managing editor of The Korea Herald, who promoted the book project. "While acknowledging the progress Korea has made in democratization, at the same time, they point out the long road ahead in attaining full-fledged liberal democracy."
The book has eight parts. In the Introduction, professor Yang Seung-ham of Yonsei University sketches the 20 years of democratization in bold strokes. The first chapter offers six essays focusing on Korea`s political culture. The authors note that, while Korean politics have become cleaner as a result of continuing efforts to reform the political culture, corruption is far from being eradicated.
The nine essays in the second chapter highlight the instability of Korean political parties and the dominant influence of regionalism on party politics. Their outlook for the future of Korea`s parliamentary democracy is less than upbeat, as the political parties, the most important institution in a representative democracy, are still weak and poorly institutionalized.
The third chapter presents five essays dealing with the election culture. One major achievement of Korea`s democratization efforts during the past two decades is the consolidation of procedural democracy. The chapter shows how Korea has successfully organized a series of free and fair elections since 1987.
The fourth chapter covers issues related to the president, including the controversy over the proposed constitutional amendment to change the current five-year, single-term presidency to a four-year, dual-term system.
The main theme of the fifth chapter is the failure of the National Assembly to meet the expectations of the public. Frequent deadlocks in the Assembly, often resulting from confrontations among political parties, tend to raise questions about the efficacy of parliamentary democracy and to spur participatory democracy.
The sixth chapter deals with the relationship between politics and other institutions such as the press, the judiciary, civil society organizations and various interest groups.
In the concluding section, professor Lee Jung-bok of Seoul National University notes that, although it is difficult to imagine Korea returning to old authoritarianism, Korea`s democracy is not a mature liberal democracy yet.
"Political Change in Korea represents the renewed commitment of The Korea Herald to its `Insight into Korea` book series, which was launched in June 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1987 civilian uprising," said Yu. "Our intention is to produce a series of English-language books that can help foreign readers grasp the transformations in contemporary Korean society."
The Korea Herald publishes book on national strategy
<**5>The Korea Herald has published "A New National Strategy for Korea," a book designed to help the nation chart a course to a more secure and prosperous future.
The book offers 36 essays focusing on the key elements of Korea`s new strategy to safeguard national security, promote democracy and spur economic growth. Written by prominent Korean and foreign scholars, the articles were all published in The Korea Herald between February and April of 2008.
The authors analyze the challenges facing the Lee Myung-bak government and suggest ways to address them. Collectively, they delineate an overarching strategy that can ensure Korea`s security and prosperity.
The scholars seek to formulate a new national strategy which takes into account the changes that have occurred domestically and internationally since 1987, the year Korea embarked on a path toward democracy.
The approach they suggest differs not only from the developmental-state model followed by President Park Chung-hee in the 1960s and 1970s, but also from its variants pursued by the succeeding governments.
"A New National Strategy for Korea" consists of four parts. In the introduction, Park Kie-duck, the president of the Sejong Institute, a private nonprofit research foundation, outlines his vision of Korea in the 21st century - "a peace-loving, advanced and strong state." To attain this vision, Park says that Korea needs to pursue "global diplomacy" - a diplomacy which encompasses the entire world (globalism), involves all key issues (encompassment), and draws in all concerned parties (multilateralism).
The 12 essays in the first chapter echo this principle. Emphasizing the need for Korea to broaden its diplomatic horizons, the writers focus on the world`s major countries and the regions with which Korea should enhance its ties.
The chapter`s last essay, written by Chung-Ang University professor Kim Tae-hyun, calls for "dignity in foreign policy." He argues that Korea`s diplomatic posture should be principled - in other words, based on universal values such as human rights and environmental protection - in order to enhance the nation`s international prestige and make the Korean people feel dignified.
The second chapter is devoted to inter-Korean relations and the alliance with the United States. The authors call for increased reciprocity in engaging with North Korea, and elevating the military alliance with Washington to a strategic partnership based on common values such as the commitment to democracy and free-market principles.
One essay in this section, authored by Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, calls on the Seoul government to develop a detailed blueprint of its vision and goals, similar to that of the U.S. National Security Strategy.
One theme that runs throughout the 12 essays in the last chapter is how to reformulate Korea`s economic development strategy. Na Seong-lin, an economics professor at Hanyang University, outlines a new growth paradigm based on improving productivity rather than increasing capital and labor input. Randall Jones of the OECD formulates a similar approach by emphasizing the importance of innovation in transforming Korea into a knowledge-based economy.
"A New National Strategy for Korea" is the fourth book in the "Insight into Korea" series published by The Korea Herald. Launched in June 2007, the series is designed to produce English-language books that can help readers better understand the transformations in Korean society since 1987. The three previous books were "Insight into Korea," "Social Change in Korea" and "Political Change in Korea."
Herald publishes in-depth book on Korean Wave
<**3>The Korea Herald has published "Korean Wave," a book designed to offer a firsthand account of the fever for Korean popular culture in Asian countries and beyond.
Korean popular culture first began fascinating people in neighboring countries such as China and Taiwan in the late 1990s. The phenomenon spread quickly to other Asian countries, and became known as the Korean Wave.
The book includes 38 essays, most of which were written by foreign journalists and scholars who describe and analyze the reception of Korean pop culture in their own countries.
"Korean Wave" has five chapters. In the introduction, Sung Sang-yeon, a professor in the Department of Musicology at the University of Vienna in Austria, discusses how the Korean Wave started and why it has spread throughout Asia and other parts of the world.
The essays in the first chapter provide a sketch of the Korean Wave in 20 countries, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, China, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, the United States, Australia, Argentina, Spain and Poland.
The second chapter focuses on the future of the Korean Wave. Some critics have argued that Korean cultural products have already lost much of their overseas appeal, and predict that it will not be long before the Korean Wave will be replaced by a "wave" originating from a different Asian country. But most authors in the second chapter seem to share the view that, although the Korean Wave has weakened in some parts of Asia, it will never die out because Korean popular culture has embedded itself into many Asian countries.
The articles in the third chapter profile some of the key players in the Korean Wave, including Bae Yong-joon, an actor who is adored by overseas fans of Korean dramas and films. Robert Cagle, who teaches cinema at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, calls him "the face of South Korea."
In the last chapter, Kang Chul-keun, a professor at the Institute of Hallyu Culture at Kyung-Hee University in Seoul, calls for a new approach to the dissemination of Korean popular culture throughout Asia so as to enhance cultural exchanges between Korea and other countries.
The articles in this book were all published in The Korea Herald between January and June of this year, and foreign scholars and journalists joined the project to provide diverse perspectives and in-depth analyses.
"Korea Wave" is the fifth installment of the "Insight into Korea" book series spearheaded by The Korea Herald. It is a project aimed at helping foreign readers better understand the transformations of contemporary Korean politics, economics, society, and culture.
Korea Herald publishes `Financial Industry at a Crossroads`
<**6>The Korea Herald has published "Financial Industry at a Crossroads," a book sketching a new vision for the Korean financial industry based on a balanced review of the restructuring drive implemented in the wake of the 1997-98 financial crisis.
The book offers a total of 30 essays written by researchers of the Korea Institute of Finance, one of Korea`s leading economic research institutes. These essays were all published in The Korea Herald between March and June 2008.
"Financial Industry at a Crossroads" comes out at a time when the financial firestorm stemming from the burst of the U.S. subprime mortgage bubble threatens to push the global economy into a second Great Depression. Korea is not immune to this global financial disaster. Recently, the Korean currency suffered a sharp drop amid a dollar drought and foreign investors` continued dumping of Korean stocks.
The unexpected turbulence in Korean financial markets was puzzling, given the strong fundamentals of the Korean economy. Korea compares favorably with other countries in terms of economic growth, foreign exchange reserves and fiscal soundness. Furthermore, unlike in 1997, the financial health of Korean corporations is much better than that of their rivals in the United States, Japan, Germany and Great Britain.
But underlying these sound macroeconomic fundamentals and corporate balance sheets were the structural and regulatory problems of the Korean financial system. In "Financial Industry at a Crossroads," the KIF researchers analyze some of these problems. For instance, they note that the Korean foreign exchange market is relatively small and hence cannot absorb exogenous shocks.
It was not just the small foreign exchange market that amplified the volatility of the Korean currency. Domestic banks also contributed to the worsening of the won`s vulnerability.
They hoarded dollars to hedge against the currency risks stemming from their foreign exchange futures trading with Korean shipbuilders and investment companies.
To meet their dollar demand, they relied on short-term borrowing from abroad, sending Korea`s short-term external debt on an upward spiral. This in turn fueled fears about the health of the Korean economy, aggravating instabilities in the financial markets.
The authors also highlight the soaring loan-deposit ratio of domestic banks. According to them, Korean banks have shown an increasing reliance on high-cost purchased funds to meet their growing demand for loans. This phenomenon reflects their inability to secure stable core deposits through the development of innovative products.
A heavy reliance on purchased funds is worrisome because it makes banks vulnerable to market risks. When investors lose interest in CDs and bonds issued by banks, the flow of funds to banks can stop abruptly, which can paralyze the entire financial system.
These problems, the authors note, illustrate the insensitivity to risks by the Korea`s financial regulatory authorities as well as the banks themselves. Throughout the post-crisis reform drive, Korean financial regulators encouraged banks to upgrade their risk management systems. As a result, risk management became a new mantra for banks. The recent turmoil, however, demonstrated that there is still much room for improvement in the risk management culture of the financial industry.
In this respect, the KIF researchers stress that the reform journey is not yet over for Korean financial institutions and regulators. Based on their assessment of the achievements and limits of the restructuring process since 1998, the authors chart the future course of the journey.
They emphasize that the financial industry should depart from past legacies and adopt a system more pertinent to growth, innovation and capability, building upon the improvements achieved during the past 10 years.
"Financial Industry at a Crossroads" is the seventh book in the "Insight into Korea" series published by The Korea Herald.
The series was launched in 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary of the civilian uprising in June 1987, which put Korea on a path to democracy. The purpose of the project is to present a comprehensive analysis of Korean society`s transformation during the past two decades.
The preceding six books in the series are "Insight into Korea," "Social Change in Korea," "Political Change in Korea," "A New National Strategy for Korea," "Korean Wave" and "Big Bang in Capital Market." These books are available at amazon.com and major Korean bookstores including Kyobo.
For further information, call (02) 727-0205-6.
The Korea Herald publishes `Big Bang in Capital Market`
<**8>The Korea Herald has published "Big Bang in Capital Market," a book analyzing the challenges Korea faces in its bid to create a vibrant capital market.
The book offers 22 in-depth articles assessing the Korean government`s scheme to create a big bang in the capital market. The articles were all written by researchers of the Korea Securities Research Institute and published in The Korea Herald between April and September in 2008.
The book`s release comes at a time when the recent downfall of top U.S. investment banks calls into question the wisdom of the Korean government`s scheme, given that its centerpiece is the creation of powerful investment banks which can compete in the global arena.
Isn`t the government`s plan based on a wrong model? Hasn`t the era of investment banking come to an end with the ongoing turmoil on Wall Street? Isn`t it necessary to revise the game plan before it goes into effect in February 2009?
To these questions, "Big Bang in Capital Market" gives unambiguous answers: It is not investment banking per se that is challenged. What has been found defective is the Wall Street model of investment banking. The authors of the book provide a penetrating analysis of the problems of what they call Wall Street`s "free-lunch model."
The KSRI researchers also stress that the U.S. financial meltdown should not derail the Korean government`s own push for financial deregulation. In the United States, excessive liberalization is regarded as one of the causes of the debacle. But in Korea, this is not the case. The authors argue that the Korean financial industry needs to be further deregulated for future development.
They also emphasize that financial companies should foster a sound risk management culture. The difference between Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, they explain, was their attitude toward risk management. Goldman Sachs responded to the early signs of the crisis by actively reducing its exposure to subprime mortgages, while Merrill Lynch continued to increase its exposure to the risky assets. The researchers suggest that Korean regulators and financial companies should seek to build a model which addresses the weaknesses of the Wall Street benchmark.
"Big Bang in Capital Market" is intended to help market participants better understand the challenges they will face as the Korean government is determined to revamp the financial industry. It is also designed to introduce foreign investors to the far-reaching reforms Korea has been pushing to upgrade its capital market.
"Big Bang in Capital Market" is the sixth book in the "Insight into Korea" series published by The Korea Herald. The Korea Herald launched the series in June 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1987 civilian democratic uprising. Its intention is to produce books that can help foreign readers better understand the transformations of contemporary Korean society. The preceding five books are "Insight into Korea," "Social Change in Korea," "Political Change in Korea," "A New National Strategy for Korea," and "Korean Wave." These books are available at Kyobo and other major bookstores.
The Korea Herald publishes `Insight into Dokdo`
<**13>The Korea Herald has published "Insight into Dokdo," a book analyzing the conflicting positions of Korea and Japan regarding Dokdo, a group of islets in the East Sea, from historical, political and international law perspectives. The book is intended to increase global awareness of the validity of Korea`s sovereignty over Dokdo. Its 22 essays introduce some of the latest achievements made by Korean and foreign scholars in establishing historical facts and clarifying the legal issues regarding Dokdo. The papers were, all but one, published in The Korea Herald between July 2008 and January 2009.
The 22 authors include Shin Yong-ha, chair professor at Ewha Womans University and professor emeritus of Seoul National University in Seoul; Seichu Naito, professor emeritus at Shimane University in Japan; Mike Launius, professor of political science at Central Washington University in the United States; Ji Guoxing, professor of political science at the Modern Management Center in Shanghai, China; Zou Keyuan, Harris Professor of International Law at the Lancashire Law School of the University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom; and Jon M. Van Dyke, professor of international law and international ocean law at the University of Hawaii Law School in the United States.
The authors share the view that Korea`s claims are much stronger than Japan`s. They note that Korea`s position will be further strengthened as the amount of historical and legal evidence in Korea`s favor will only increase over time.
Some of the papers in this book revisit Japan`s illegal seizure of Dokdo a century ago to highlight the imperial roots of Japan`s claim to the island. Japan`s imperial past also constitutes the backdrop of its territorial disputes with China over the Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyudao Islands in China) and with Russia over the Northern Territories (called the Southern Kurils in Russia).
"One hallmark of imperialism is shameless greed for territory," said Shin Yong-ha. "Japan`s position on Dokdo and the Senkaku Islands indicates it is still under the influence of its imperial past."
"Insight into Dokdo" is also motivated to push the Korean government toward a more proactive response to Japanese challenge. The official Seoul policy has been until recently what is called "keep-quiet diplomacy." Seoul refrained from actively promoting Korea`s sovereignty over Dokdo under the belief that active campaigns would only cause the issue to develop into an overt international conflict.
"It`s time for Seoul to rethink its Dokdo policy because `calm diplomacy` is self-defeating," said Rhee Sang-myon, a professor of the College of Law, Seoul National University. "While Seoul remained calm over Dokdo, Tokyo made quiet but consistent efforts to promote its claims." Rhee`s interview with The Korea Herald is also included in the book.
Hence, the authors stress that Seoul should begin a determined campaign to rally support from the international community. One foreign scholar who is disappointed by Seoul`s timid policy even suggests that it form a coalition with China and Russia to confront Japan on territorial issues.
Some of the authors are particularly critical of Seoul`s stance on the fisheries accord between Korea and Japan. They note that Japan became more aggressive over the islets following the conclusion of the fisheries agreement in 1998. These scholars call for an outright abolition of this accord since it is fundamentally flawed. They point to the arrangement which puts Dokdo in an "intermediate fisheries zone," giving room for Japan to challenge Korea`s exclusive right to Dokdo. We believe this argument deserves a more serious examination.
"Insight into Dokdo" is also intended to make up for the dearth of foreign-language books which cover the complicated aspects of the Dokdo issue more extensively than available pamphlets.
"We do not claim that the book covers all the issues related to Dokdo," said Park Hyun-jin, an adjunct professor of the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security who co-edited the book. "But it represents the first major attempt to synthesize historical, political and legal analyses, thus providing a comprehensive understanding of the issues."
The book targets a broad readership - foreign scholars, journalists, government officials, political leaders as well as ordinary citizens who seek a deeper understanding of relations among Northeast Asian countries.
"Dokdo offers a key to understanding the geopolitical dynamics in the Northeast Asia region," said Yu Kun-ha, managing editor of The Korea Herald, who planned and implemented the special report and book project. "For observers of this dynamic region, it is very frustrating to see relations among its main players strained by Japan`s insistence on unjustified territorial claims."
This is especially true for Korea and Japan as they stand to gain enormous political, economic, cultural and security benefits by developing collaborative relations. Unfortunately, Japan`s untenable claim to Dokdo has impeded the two countries from enjoying these benefits.
"Insight into Dokdo" is the eighth book of the "Insight into Korea" series published by The Korea Herald. The series was launched in 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary of the civilian uprising in June 1987, which put Korea on a path to democracy. The purpose of the project is to present a comprehensive analysis of Korea`s transformation during the past two decades.
The preceding seven books in the series are "Insight into Korea," "Social Change in Korea," "Political Change in Korea," "A New National Strategy for Korea," "Korean Wave," "Big Bang in Capital Market" and "Financial Industry at a Crossroads." These books are available at Kyobo, other major Korean bookstores and on Amazon.com