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K-Pop on the Radio: The Korean Wave in the United States

With the exception of Gangnam Style, few mainstream radio stations have ever even thought to play Korean pop music. But in the last year or so, the United States has seen a surge of interest in k-pop, with superstars BTS appearing on the American Music Awards, Jimmy Kimmel and the Ellen Show, and with radio stations around the country starting to introduce some k-pop into their playlists. Katie Brownlie is no stranger to the emergence of k-pop in the United States - she has been a fan of...


How has the KORUS FTA Helped American Farmers?

After a year of discussions, the Trump and Moon Administrations recently announced their tentative agreement to update the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), focusing almost entirely on the automotive sector and a few other spots, including pharmaseuticals. But one are that was left completely untouched was agriculture, perhaps due to the fact that the United States saw significant improvements in ag trade to Korea following the implementation of KORUS. Now, with the Trump...


Korean American Day 2018: Documentary Filmmaker Julie Ha

This week’s episode is a conversation with the third and final honoree for Korean American Day 2018! This year’s theme - Recognizing Leaders in Journalism - fits this week’s guest perfectly. She had a long career in print journalism, including with KoreAm, a magazine focused on telling stories for and about the Asian American community. Now, she is focusing her skills on a documentary film project called “Free Chol Soo Lee,” about a Korean American man wrongly convicted of murder and the...


The Power of Sanctions: How Restrictions Have Shaped North Korea’s Economy

Looking at the trade numbers between China and North Korea, trade expert Bill Brown is confident that China has finally become serious about enforcing international sanctions against the DPRK - but only in the last three months or so. Brown, who is a nonresident fellow at KEI and who writes extensively on China-DPRK trade and the economic effects of sanctions, believes this could be a tipping point for North Korea’s domestic economy. In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson...


[Rebroadcast] Korean Diaspora in Central Asia

In the late 1930s, nearly 200,000 ethnic Koreans were forcibly removed from the Soviet Far East, packed into trains and sent to Central Asia. More than 70 years later, their descendants still live in the former Soviet Union, most of them in what is now Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Victoria Kim grew up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, knowing that her grandfather was Korean. But it wasn’t until much later that she began looking into what that meant - how her grandfather and other Central Asian...


Covering PyeongChang: The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng

Over the last several weeks, athletes and fans from around the world gathered in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. But while the athletes competed for gold, the Olympics also had major political implications, especially after the North Koreans decided to send a high-level delegation to the Games and agreed to field a joint women’s hockey team with South Korea. In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson spoke with Jonathan Cheng, the Seoul Bureau Chief for the Wall...


Korean American Day 2018: Photojournalist Chang Lee

As part of KEI’s annual commemoration of Korean-American Day on January 13th, KEI honors exceptional Korean-Americans in various fields and industries for their respective contributions to both their professions and the Korean-American community. For 2018, KEI honored three Korean-American journalists. Jenna Gibson also sat down with honoree Chang Lee, a photojournalist from the New York Times. He spoke with Jenna on how he first became interested in photography and his experiences of...


President Trump and North Korean Human Rights

At his first State of the Union, President Trump took an interesting approach to integrating North Korea policy into his speech. By inviting North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho and the parents of Otto Warmbier to the speech, the President focused on highlighting their suffering at the hands of the Kim regime instead of the harder military or policy options that have been floating around Washington recently. Rosa Park, Director of Programs and Editor at the Committee for Human Rights in...


Korean American Day 2018: Broadcast Journalist May Lee

This year for KEI’s Korean American Day celebration, we chose to honor three great Korean Americans in the field of journalism and the media. One of this year’s honorees was broadcast journalist May Lee, who is a correspondent at CGTN America and founder of Lotus Media House, who has covered major news events around the world and in the United States, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. In this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson talks with...


Prepping for the Paralympics in PyeongChang

On February 9, years of hard work will culminate in the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. A month later, on March 8, the 2018 Winter Paralympics will continue to bring excitement to PyeongChang. At a recent event organized by The Korea Society in New York, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson was able to speak briefly with Jung Seung-Hwan, one of the stars of the South Korean Para Ice Hockey team. They discusses his background in ice sledge hockey (now known as...


A Conversation with Min Jin Lee, Author of the Acclaimed Novel Pachinko

Spanning nearly a century and multiple generations, Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko tells the story of a Korean family struggling to find their place in Japan before, during, and after the Korean War. It is a story that touches on a myriad of themes, including identity, the role of women, war, and discrimination. Pachinko has been widely praised, earning a place as one of the best books of 2017 on lists from The Chicago Tribune, NPR, CNN, and many more. Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson spoke...


Exploring North Korea Through Art: A Conversation with Mina Cheon

A woman in hanbok joyfully rises above Mt. Baekdu, arms raised, in a art piece entitled Umma Rises: Towards Global Peace. This is just one of many recent art pieces by artist Mina Cheon featuring her North Korean persona, Kim Il Soon. Using her colorful and provocative style of “polipop” art, Cheon has been exploring issues such as information flow into North Korea, propaganda, and motherhood. Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson recently sat down with Cheon to discuss her creative...


Is the THAAD Row Over? The Future of South Korea-China Relations

After more than a year of tensions over the Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system that is now deployed in South Korea, Seoul and Beijing seem to have made steps toward thawing relations. But is the row over THAAD really over? Will South Korean business see a return to normal in China? And what will the Chinese learn from this experience of using economic leverage to influence South Korean political decisions? Bonnie Glaser, senior advisor for Asia and director of the...


[Rebroadcast] Marriage Migrants and Multicultural Families in South Korea

For many years, South Korea has been a homogeneous country. But with more foreigners coming to live in Korea, that is starting to change. In fact, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs estimates that the number of multicultural families in Korea could reach nearly 750,000 by 2020. This week’s guest is Dr. Daisy Kim, who studies these multicultural families, with a particular focus on marriage migrants - women who move to Korea to marry a Korean man. We discuss some of the...


How do South Koreans View Donald Trump?

With President Donald Trump finishing up his first official trip to Asia, including a stop in South Korea last week, this week’s episode of Korean Kontext asks: what do South Koreans think of President Trump? KEI program manager Juni Kim has been following the polls, and has found that while very few members of the Korean public have confidence in President Trump, their views of the United States as a whole remain high. In this week’s podcast, host Jenna Gibson sits down with Juni to...


Previewing Trump’s Trip to Asia

President Donald Trump is off on his longest international trip yet, stopping in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. There, he is expected to tackle a range of issues, including responses to North Korea’s nuclear and missle programs as well as economic ties between the United States and the Asia Pacific. In this episode, we talk with Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of IISS–Americas, about his expectations for the trip, how he thinks President Trump will handle...


Healthcare in North Korea

As a communist state, North Korea has promised to provide its people with basic services, including healthcare and medical treatment. However, particularly in recent years, the cash-strapped Kim regime has been unable to provide even some basic medical services. Famine and poverty have exacerbated the problem, leaving diseases like tuberculosis to run rampant in the DPRK. Researcher Dr. John Grundy, an expert on public health, recently completed a paper for KEI on the functionality and...


The Revolution will be Thumb Drived: North Korean Access to Outside Media

While North Korea under the Kim regime has tried to maintain tight control of information sources within its borders, the North Korean populace in recent years has found creative ways to access outside media, which includes everything from foreign news broadcasts to the latest South Korean dramas. Nat Kretchen, Deputy Director at the Open Technology Fund, participated in a panel here at KEI this week and discussed his research on North Korea’s developing information environment. Nat sat...


American Eggs-ports to South Korea

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong met this week to discuss the future of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA). With concerns of a possible withdrawal hovering over the talks, the two countries agreed to move forward on working to improve the agreement, which is surely welcome news for US exporters that have benefitted from the KORUS FTA. This week we sat down with Sam Cho, founder and CEO of Seven Seas Export, to discuss his...


Keeping North Korean Human Rights in the Conversation

With North Korea launching missile after missile and even conducting a massive nuclear test within the last month or so, attention is understandably focused on how to get the regime in Pyongyang to back down from its provocative actions. But at the same time, there is another important issue that can also affect how the world deals with North Korea - human rights. Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation researches human rights issues around Asia including the DPRK, and believes that...


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