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Institute for Korean Studies conference features discussion with recent ambassador to South Korea

Korean democracy and the peninsula’s future are focus of daylong conference

For Immediate Release Oct 16, 2017

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A policy discussion with a recent U.S. ambassador to South Korea and a keynote by the author of award-winning books on the Korean War highlight the second annual conference of Indiana University’s Institute for Korean Studies on Friday, Oct. 20.

The daylong conference, “Assessing Korean Democratization and Democracy: From Molotov Cocktails to Candle Lights,” is free and open to the public. The event, in the Global and International Studies Building auditorium, marks a year since the inauguration of the Institute for Korean Studies in the IU School of Global and International Studies.

Discussion will focus on a turbulent year in South Korea and its implications. Protests filled the streets as a corruption scandal enveloped President Park Geun-hye, whom a South Korean court removed from office in March. The political turmoil came as tensions rose between North Korea and the United States.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens will discuss U.S. and global policy regarding Korea with School of Global and International Studies Dean Lee Feinstein. Stephens served as ambassador in South Korea from 2008 to 2011 and had previous experience in the country as the internal political unit chief at the U.S. embassy in Seoul and as a teacher in the Peace Corps.

As principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2005 to 2007, she was involved in the Six-Party Talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program. Feinstein, former U.S. ambassador to Poland, served as an advisor on nonproliferation issues as principal director of policy planning to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Bruce Cumings, author of the two-volume book “The Origins of the Korean War” and “The Korean War: a History” will deliver the keynote address. Cumings has challenged conventional thinking on why the U.S. intervened in Korea. He contends the war had more to do with internal conflicts between North and South Korea and less about halting the spread of communism.

His first volume won the John King Fairbank Book Award of the American Historical Association, and the second won the Quincy Wright Book Award of the International Studies Association. Cumings was the principal historical consultant for a six-hour PBS documentary “Korea: the Unknown War.”

Between these two sessions, researchers specializing in South Korea will discuss other aspects of democracy in the country. This panel includes Paul Chang, assistant professor of sociology at Harvard University and author of “Protest Dialectics: State Repression and South Korea’s Democracy Movement, 1970-1979”; Tae Gyun Park, professor of Korean studies and associate dean of the Seoul National University Graduate School of International Studies and author of “An Ally and Empire, Two Myths of South Korea-United States Relations, 1945-1980”; and Youngju Ryu, associate professor of modern Korean literature at the University of Michigan. Ryu is the author of “Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee’s Korea,” about the use of literature as resistance against South Korean authoritarian rule in the 1970s.

The conference starts at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20. More information is available on the Institute for Korean Studies site.

The Institute for Korean Studies in the IU School of Global and International Studies launched in September 2016 through generous support of the Korea Foundation. Two grants from the Korea-based Academy of Korean Studies, including one valued at $1 million, helped establish IU as the academy’s hub for Korean studies in the Midwest. Seung-kyung Kim became the inaugural director of the institute and the inaugural Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies in 2015.

Established in 2012, the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington promotes understanding of contemporary and global issues, informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. The school represents one of the nation’s largest investments in global studies.

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