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[Rebroadcast] Talk to Us in Korean: The Mavericks of Teaching Korean Online

It started in 2009 with a few audio lessons. Within just six years, Talk to Me in Korean has grown into a huge hit, with millions of listeners from all over the world visiting the site to improve their Korean language skills. The organization has now expanded to include video lessons, textbooks, and even a coffee shop. In this episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson connects with TTMIK founder Hyunwoo Sun to discuss how how he got the idea for the site, how they have dealt with its...


[Rebroadcast] 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...


[Rebroadcast] Covering PyeongChang: The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng

From February 9-25, 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 Street Journal,...


K-pop’s HIgh Tide in the United States

With appearances on major mainstream American TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel and the American Music Awards, BTS have broken into the American market in an unprecedented way this year. With their success and increased popularity for k-pop in the United States, it is clear that Korean pop music is here to stay. But how has k-pop managed to break through in 2018 in a way it has not been able to before? To learn more about the state of k-pop in the United States and how we got to the point...


How Would New U.S. Auto Tariffs Impact Hyundai and Kia?

The Trump Administration is once again considering using Section 232 to impose tariffs on imported goods based on a threat to national security. The President originally used this provision to add tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and his administration is now considering whether to allow tariffs on auto imports as well. To learn more about Section 232 and how it would impact not only car manufacturers, but also local dealers, and even the American consumer, Korean Kontext host...


Behind the Scenes of Repatriating American Soldiers’ Remains from North Korea

On August 1, the remains of what are believed to be 55 American servicemen lost during the Korean War finally returned home, arriving in Hawaii to begin the long process of identification. These are the first remains returned from North Korea since the June 12 Singapore Summit, when Kim Jong-un pledged to begin sending back bodies recovered in North Korea. This week’s guest personally participated in previous efforts to recover and return American remains from North Korea during the...


Examining Korea’s Economic Growth: A View from the OECD

After more than a year in office, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and has administration have pushed for an economic policy of “income-led growth,” which includes a minimum wage increase, providing more public sector jobs, and higher social spending. Dr. Randall Jones, the head of the Japan/Korea Desk at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), returns to Korean Kontext to discuss the 2018 OECD Economic Survey on South Korea and what the results mean for the...


Ambassador Chris Hill on North Korea Negotiations

With the Trump Administration’s North Korea negotiations ongoing, many analysts have been making comparisons to past talks to try to make sense of the current process, and to predict what may happen in the future. For this episode, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson spoke with a distinguished expert who has firsthand knowledge of negotiating with North Korea during one of those previous processes, the Six Party Talks. Ambassador Chris Hill was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian...


[Rebroadcast] Shamans, Goblins, and Ghosts: A Look at Korean Folk Culture

Ghosts and goblins are everywhere in Korean folktales, causing havoc for people through their antics. Equally common are the shamans who act as intermediaries, helping offer solutions to life’s supernatural problems. For this week’s episode of Korean Kontext, host Jenna Gibson interviewed Dr. Michael Pettid, of the State University of New York at Binghamton, who specializes in pre-modern Korea, particularly the role shamanism and folk culture has played in Korea. They discuss the...


Farewell Podcast with KEI President Donald Manzullo

On June 30, after 5 1/2 years as the head of KEI, Donald Manzullo will be retiring. In honor of his service to the Korea policy community, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with him to chat about his journey to KEI, how things have changed in the last five years since he took over the organization, and his advice for Korea policy watchers going forward. Please enjoy this conversation with President Manzullo, and join us in thanking him for his leadership over the last five years.


North Korea’s Nuclear Identity

Now that Trump has met Kim, and with the Singapore Summit laying out the beginning of a path to denuclearization, analysts are still trying to figure out if Kim Jong Un is sincere about the possibility of giving up his nuclear arsenal. This week’s guest, Dr. Marco Milani, has focused on North Korea’s nuclear program as a part of the regime’s identity and security - not just as a guaranteur of physical security, but legitimacy and economic security as well. But that doesn’t necessarily...


Can Science Diplomacy Help South Korea’s Foreign Policy?

South Korea’s government has increased its focus on different forms of diplomacy in recent years, from the more traditional government-to-government outreach of the Moon Administration’s North Korea policy to a greater appreciation for public and cultural diplomacy. But one area that could benefit from more attention is the realm of science diplomacy. This week’s guest is Dr. Olga Krasnyak of Yonsei University, who recently wrote a paper for KEI’s Academic Paper Series entitled “Science...


Summit Sum-Up: A Conversation with Ambassador Jim Zumwalt

With the world’s attention on Singapore on June 12, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un walked across a stage flanked by American and North Korean flags, and officially made history. Afterward, they released a Singapore Statement that laid out some common goals that both sides agree to implement. But anaysts point out that much of that Statement is vague at best, and skepticism about the success of future talks is still high. In this week’s episode, Korean...


Singapore Summit: Ambassador Joe Yun on the Big Trump-Kim Meeting

With U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un headed to Singapore next week for the first ever U.S.-DPRK summit, people around the world are watching to see how the two leaders will interact, what outcomes they will announce after their meeting, and how the two countries move forward after June 12. With this historic event just around the corner, Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson sat down with distinguished North Korea expert Ambassador Joe Yun. Ambassador Yun, who...


Covering the Korea Beat with Elise Hu

Covering news on the Korean peninsula can be a hectic task. With all the rapidly evolving developments in economics, politics, and society, it’s often hard for journalists who cover the peninsula to keep up with everything that they need to cover on a daily basis. NPR journalist Elise Hu talks about her experiences working as the first NPR chief in Seoul with KEI Senior Director Troy Stangarone. She discusses her hectiv first day, how things have changed drastically in both North and South...


The Art of the Deal? A Proposed Framework for the Trump-Kim Summit

With the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore still on the calendar at least for the moment, pundits and analysts alike have been predicting the outcomes or sharing their advice for how the United States should deal with North Korea. From Dr. Stephen Blank’s perspective, we’ve been looking at this issue all wrong for decades - this isn’t primarily a nonproliferation issue, he claims, but a regional security one. In a recent paper for KEI, Dr. Blank lays out why he thinks we need to approach the...


Kim Jong-un’s Public Relations Strategy

After a year of threats and weapons tests in 2017, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has shifted course and embarked on a diplomatic campaign. The normally reclusive Kim Jong-un made his second trip to China earlier today to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping mere weeks after his first visit, and he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April for the first inter-Korean summit in over ten years. With a pending summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korea’s recent...


Navigating the Moon-Kim Summit

On the eve of the third inter-Korean summit, stakes are understandably high for what the meeting will mean for the future of inter-Korean relations and North Korea’s weapons program. In over a half-century since the end of the Korean War, the two countries have struggled to find a substantive peaceful resolution to their decades-long conflict. North Korea’s recent diplomatic outreach has brought up questions of the reclusive country’s motives and how peace could realistically be...


Moon Jae In’s Summit Strategy - What Do South Koreans Think?

On April 27, South Korean President Moon Jae In will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a historic summit that may include discussions of major changes for the peninsula, including denuclearisation and an official peace treaty to end the Korean War. But what do the South Korean people think about their president’s new outreach? Yonsei University Professor John Delury joins Korean Kontext host Jenna Gibson to discuss this and other issues ahead of the historic summit this week.


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...