Inter-Korea summit meeting and the peace process in the Korean peninsula #KoreaSummit #USNorthKorea

Upon the request of the LSE media team, I had a chance to elaborate on my own thoughts regarding the recent Inter-Korea summit meeting on 27 April, and also the role of the US. The series of videos were released on 30 April, and what I said then still seems to be relevant to the forthcoming North Korea-US summit meeting that is about to go ahead on 12 June. Here are the links to the interview clips:

LSE Thinks | Why have the leaders of North and South Korea started negotiations?

LSE Thinks | What has been the role of the US in peace negotiations between North and South Korea?

Below is a written version of what I have tried to say in this series of video interviews.

  1. What has brought about this ‘renewed’ enthusiasm for negotiations between the two Koreas and the US?

It is important to understand how these negotiations have historically developed. The popular discourse seems to regard the current negotiation as very new. However, the two Koreas already had two summit meetings, once in 2000 between President Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Jeong-il, the father of the current leader of North Korea, and again in 2007 between President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jeong-il.

While peaceful negotiations were already in place more than a decade ago, the process stopped during the last ten years between 2008 and 2017 when the two successive conservative governments of South Korea were reluctant to promote inter-Korea cooperation and at times hostile towards peaceful engagement.

The candle light revolution in South Korea in 2016 and 2017, praised by the world as the example of democracy, has led to the change of government, led by President Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer turned politician. And, the new South Korean government has been committing to the peaceful engagement with North Korea, and to mediating the relationship between North Korea and the US.

It is also important to highlight the fact that the general population in South Korea has been largely in support of peaceful negotiation with North Korea to resolve the military confrontation. Surveys indicate that a large majority of the South Korean population supported talks with North Korea rather than military resolution. This was despite the missile threats from the north and the development of nuclear programmes. The South Korean government and President Moon Jae-in’s firm position for ‘no war on the peninsular’ was strongly supported by the public opinion.

  1. What will be the implications of the negotiations for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula?

I think both Koreas are quite serious about the need of producing peaceful co-existence for the survival and development of North Korea. In particular, it is important to understand that the 2018 inter-Korea summit meeting took place within less than a year of South Korean president’s terms of office. And, he has another four years before his presidency comes to an end. There is ample momentum that can build up to produce positive outcomes. Denuclearisation is not just about demobilising North Korea’s nuclear programme. It is also about ending the military confrontation between South and North Koreas, who are technically at war, only suspended by the armistice signed in 1953 between North Korea and the United Nations force led by the US. Ending the war and signing a peace treaty has been the stated aim of both Korean governments, and I think there is a very good chance this is going to happen, now that all regional powers are expected to agree to this transition.

  1. What will be the implications of the negotiations for the people in the peninsula and the economy of the Korean peninsula?

All regional economies, and by extension the global economy, will definitely gain a lot from the anticipated transition from armistice to peace treaty. At the moment, nearly two million armed soldiers are confronting each other on the peninsular as of now, excluding the US force stationed in South Korea. The regional insecurity and uncertainty will reduce substantially, triggering more investment to arrive in the peninsula. South Korea has been struggling to create a new momentum for economic development, and the opening of the North Korean economy will provide the new avenue of economic growth. North Korea would emerge as an attractive destination for global investors.

It is also not just about the investment. There will be additional resources to be secured by reduced military spending. According to the World Bank data, in 2016, South Korea’s military expenditure amounted to 2.6% of its GDP, higher than the average for the world (2.2%) or for East Asia and the Pacific region (1.7%). This is equivalent to 10.4% of the South Korean central government expenditure (World, 8.1%). We do not have data for North Korea, but the ratio would certainly be much higher. Imagine the reduction of military spending that can be released for investment in social and physical infrastructure.

Obviously, there is much to learn from the neighbouring country, China, and from former East Germany, in terms of how to transform a planned economy into a market economy. The key concern is more about how the North Korean economic reform would proceed without widening social discrimination, economic injustice and regional inequalities. Overcoming the political and ideological differences is another big challenge. A peace treaty would provide time and space for this challenging process to be initiated.

Uneven development of housing and real price increase in South Korea

“The Economist house-price indices”…/graphicd…/2018/02/daily-chart-5…

The Economist has provided interesting visualisation of housing price index for 27 economies and 20 cities in the US. They have correctly identified that “FINANCIAL media focus most of their attention on stocks and bonds, but the world’s biggest asset class is actually residential property. With an estimated value of about $200trn, homes are collectively worth about three times as much as all publicly traded stocks.” Property wealth is what underpins most people’s prospect of well-being.

According to the data, Britain has seen a 211% real price increase of real estate between 1986 and 2017. I assume this is the national average, and London would have experienced a much higher increase. In South Korea, 30% increase in real price terms between 2000 and 2017, but 0% increase between 2009 and 2017. After the 2008-9 global financial crisis, it may be hypothesised that South Korea has experienced a greater degree of uneven development of housing market, which concentrates on Seoul and other major metropolises.

The Economist 데이터 시각화 정보에 따르면, 한국의 부동산 가격이 일단 2000년도에 비하면 2017년 4분기 현재 무척 (30%) 오른 것으로 나온다. 2009년에 비해서는 0%. 이는 전국 평균 가격일 가능성이 높으니, 불균등 발전에 따라 서울과 지방의 차이, 또는 대도시와 군소도시의 차이 등을 볼 수는 없는 데이터인 듯. 오히려 2008년 금융위기 이후 전국적으로 불균등 발전이 더욱 심화되었으며, 이것이 0%로 수렴되었다고 봐야 하지 않을까 싶다. 부동산 가격에 대한 체감지수, 언론의 관심은 대부분 수도권, 특히 서울을 대상으로 할 때, 위의 데이터에 근거해서 그다지 오르지 않았다고 결론을 내리는 것은 서울과 대도시의 특수성을 간과하게 되는 듯 해서 서울/대도시 중심의 부동산 이데올로기를 더욱 공고히 하는데 기여할 듯 싶다.

반면 영국은 2000년 대비 82% 실질가격 상승으로 나타나는데, 1986년과 비교해 보면 실질가격 기준 211% 상승한 것으로 나타난다. 런던 가격을 따져 보면 이보다 훨씬 더 많이 상승했을 것이라 생각한다.

From The Economist (2018)

A short column in Korean on Gentrification: Whose City?

Having heard about a talk that I gave at The Hope Institute (see the summary of the talk here; also my contribution to The Hope Institute blog here), an editor of a magazine called Monthly Coffee asked me if it’s alright for them to publish a one-page summary of my talk. Then, I literally re-wrote it, and it’s out now as shown in the attached JPG file. Come to think of it, given the preponderance of instances of commercial gentrification affecting a number of small cafes and art spaces in Seoul, I would have given a ‘lighter touch’ and a different take on the column if I were given more time. In the column, I tried to emphasise the importance for all citizens to realise that gentrification is non-discriminatory for most citizens, and that most of us are compelled to live a life of nomads (as displacees and being under constant displacement pressure) under gentrification as urban disaster. The nomad and disaster analogies come from my earlier encounters with TakeoutDrawing in Itaewon, Seoul, which has been launching an inspirational fight against its landlord (Psy, the pop singer) to resist displacement pressure.

046 커피칼럼.indd

젠트리피케이션 없는 세상 꿈꾸기 (Dreaming about a world without gentrification)

지난 해 10월부터 12월 사이 두 차례 한국을 방문하였고, 지내는 동안 젠트리피케이션을 화두로 많은 만남을 가졌습니다. 앞서 가졌던 고민의 깊이가 더욱 깊어졌고, 답답하고 아픈 현실에 마음 아팠지만 수 많은 실천의 몸짓을 통해 긍정의 에너지도 얻었습니다. 앞으로 해야할 일을 생각하며 신발끈을 다시 고쳐 맵니다. 아래 글은 희망제작소 ( 에 초청기고한 것 입니다. 희망제작소 웹페이지에 게시한 글은 다음 링크 참조하세요:

This is a short commentary contributed to an NGO based in Seoul, South Korea. I visited Seoul on two occasions between October and December 2015, had an opportunity to meet many people and organisations to talk about gentrification in Seoul, what damages it brings to people and neighbourhoods, and what we can do about it. It had been a very thought-provoking experience, with a lot to think about to make a difference in the future by working in solidarity with many who are already making a difference in their own place.


젠트리피케이션 없는 세상 꿈꾸기

신현방 (런던정경대 지리환경학과 부교수)

2015년 서울은 한국 젠트리피케이션 논쟁에서 의미있게 기억될 것입니다. 우선, 지자체가 젠트리피케이션으로 인한 임차상인의 피해를 줄이기 위해 적극적으로 개입을 시작한 해입니다. 9월 23일 성동구에서 ‘서울시 성동구 지역공동체 상호협력 및 지속가능발전구역 지정에 관한 조례’를 선포하였으며, 곧이어 두 달 뒤 11월 23일에는 서울시에서 성동구 조례를 참조하고 발전시켜 ‘젠트리피케이션을 막기 위한 종합대책’을 발표하였습니다. Continue reading

LSE Comment and Opinion | From Beijing to Rio: Whose Games?

This is a commentary of mine posted on the LSE web site on 22 October, entitled From Beijing to Rio. It builds upon my research on mega-events in China to discuss lessons that can be learnt from China for Brazil’s forthcoming FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. I thank Candy Gibson at LSE Media for the help with editing.

“The excessive amount of money spent on a mega event inevitably sucks up public money to address social needs – and it hasn’t gone unnoticed in Brazil.” Hyun Bang Shin explains why the world’s attention on Rio in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup may reveal more than its government desires.

The eyes of the world will be on Brazil in the next couple of years when Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, but at what cost? Continue reading

2030세대와 한나라당 – 드림콘서트 기획을 보며

서울시장 선거 열풍이 지나간지 며칠 채 지나지 않았는데, 재밌는 소식이 들린다. 안철수/박경철의 청춘콘서트, 문재인의 북콘서트 등에 시샘을 냈는지, 한나라당판 청춘콘서트인 ‘드림콘서트’가 개최된다는 것이다 (기사 참조: 전국 순회를 하며, 드림멘토와 오피니언 리더를 초빙해서 젊은 대학생들 대상으로 한다는 것. 며칠전 서울시장 보궐선거에서 20, 30, 40세대가 압도적으로 통합야권 박원순 후보를 지지한 것을 보고 충격 받은 한나라당의 몸부림 같기도 하고, 선거 며칠 뒤 바로 기사 나오고 장소 섭외도 완료(?)된 것 보니, 미리 문제의식 갖고 있던 당내, 당외 인사들 몇몇이 사전준비를 했던 것 같기도 하다. 한나라당 여의도연구소에서 주최한다고 하니 나름 여권내에서 ‘바른 말’하기로 유명한 정두언 의원이 추진하는 것 같기도 하다.

기사가 나오자 마자 트위터, 페북 등 온라인 여기저기서 소리가 들린다. 멘토로 선정된 이들에 대한 평가와 실망도 나오고, 짝퉁으로서 얼마나 잘 되겠냐 라는 소리도 나오고. 하지만 내 생각으로는 드림콘서트가 되었든, 뭐가 되었든 한나라당에서 (또는 후에 이를 이을 짝퉁 ‘한나라당’에서라도) 이런 기획들을 제대로 했으면 한다. 멘토를 선정하더라도 진정 ‘보수의 가치와 행동규범’을 지지하고, 이를 삶으로서 보여주는 사회인사를 선정, 이들을 본받으라고 젊은이들에게 얘기하였으면 한다. 최소한 가진 자의 ‘노블리스 오블리제’를 실천하는 이, 민족에 대한 무한 애정으로 친일청산에 입바른 소리 할 수 있는 인사를 내세우고 이를 논의하는 드림콘서트가 되고, 당내/당외 뜻있는 인사들은 한나라당의 문제점은 무엇이고 당을 개혁하기 위해 이런 보수의 가치를 지지하는 젊은이들을 영입해서 보수진영 개혁의 동력으로 삼았으면 한다.

현재의 한나라당을 보며 뜬금없이 중국 공산당이 생각난다. 재작년 중국 어느 도시에서 현지 연구조사 활동을 하던 중 도움을 주던 어느 중국 대학생과 중국 공산당에 대해 장시간 얘기할 기회가 있었다. 그 학생은 학사졸업을 앞두고 있었는데 이미 공산당에 가입했던 것으로 기억한다. 대략 당원수가 8000만명 정도 된다는 중국 공산당은 전도유망한 중국 대학생들에게도 (모두에겐 아니겠지만) 선망의 대상이 되며, 공산당 가입은 여러 절차와 추천을 거쳐 이루어지는데, 그 학생은 중국 공산당의 관료주의 및 일부 부패 등 여러가지 문제점을 자기도 충분히 인식하고 있으며 이를 고쳐야 할 것 이라고 한다. 중국 공산당이 중국의 발전에 기여할 것이라는 것을 믿으며, 여기에 자기도 기여하고 싶다는 희망도 피력하면서. 문제는 이런 비판의식과 당에 대한 충성이 얼마나 오래 유지되고 기층당원에 전반적으로 확산되냐 일텐데 이는 앞으로 두고 볼 일이다. 문제점이 많은 중국공산당의 발전적 미래는 이런 젊은층들의 활약에 달려 있다고 봐도 무방할 것이다.

위의 얘기를 꺼낸 이유는, 우리나라에서 보수를 지향하는 사람들이 어느 정도 세력을 형성하고 있다면, 제대로 된 보수정당이 출현하고 자리매김하기 위해선 앞서 얘기한 중국의 어느 청년공산당원 처럼 당에 대한 비판과 문제의식을 지닌 보수당원을 한나라당과 같은 보수정당이 확보해야 될 것이며, 내부로터의 개혁을 이루어야 할 것 이라는 점이다. 그리고 그 젊은 보수지지층이 멘토로서 삼을 수 있는 제대로 된 role model을 내세워 그들과 함께 묶을 수 있어야 할 것이다. 문제는, 과연 이것이 가능하냐는 것.

며칠 전 서울시장 보궐선거에서 젊은 세대 중에서도 대략 2~30%가 한나라당 후보를 지지한 것으로 조사되었다. 이들을 무시할 수 없다면, 이들이 개혁적 보수로 발전할 수 있도록 하는 것이 한국 진보정치의 발전을 위해서도 바람직 할 것이다. 고(故) 리영희 선생님께서 ‘새는 좌우의 날개로 난다’고 하셨는데, 한국에선 ‘좌’를 논하기엔 ‘우’ 자체가 너무도 수구화 되어 있다. 한국에서 ‘좌’를 지지하는 사람들에겐 이중고다. 진보정치의 뿌리를 내리기에도 여러가지 험난한 여정이 놓여 있는데, 제대로 된 파트너 ‘우’가 없어 그 길이 더욱 가시밭길이다.

한국 보수의 발전은 결국 지난 선거에서 한나라당을 지지한 20~30세대가 얼마나 제대로 된 보수로 성장할 수 있느냐에 달려 있을 것이다. 그리고 이런 견인을 과연 현재의 수구보수세력이 할 수 있을 것이냐는 것은 또 다른 문제이다. 오히려 중도에서 좌우로 요동치며 다소 ‘우’로 가 있는(?) ‘민주당’과 같은 정치세력이 분화하면서 정치지형이 재편되고 새로 ‘좌우’가 성립되면, 그 때 새로운 ‘우’가 이들 젊은 보수를 끌어들이는 것이 더 한국의 ‘좌’를 위한 길이 되지 않을까? 앞으로 두고 볼 일이다.

칠레에서의 학생 시위 격화, 남 일이 아니다

칠레 수도 산티아고에서의 학생시위가 격화되었나 봅니다 ( BBC 기사 참조). 산티아고에서는 지난 5월 부터 무상 공교육, 교육의 질 개선 등을 내건 학생투쟁이 이어지고 있습니다. 과도한 교육비, 등록금 등이 큰 이유 중 하나로 알려져 있지요.

BBC 기사에 따르면 칠레의 경우, 2007년도 기준, 전체 교육비 중 40%가 일반 국민의 주머니에서 나온다고 하는군요. OECD 국가 중 최고치라고 합니다 (칠레는 2010년 OECD 가입). 좀 더 자세한 내용은 OECD에서 발간하는 Education at a Glance 2010: OECD Indicators를 참조하면 알 수 있습니다 (바로가기: 2011년도 보고서; 2010년도 보고서)

2008년도의 경우, 칠레에서의 전체교육비 가구 분담 비율은 39.2%로 다소 낮아지지만, 여전히 최고수준입니다. 반면 대학교육비만 따지면 2009년 79.3%로 무척 높군요. 조사된 OECD 국가 중 최고치. 학생들이 뿔날만도 합니다.

다른 사례로, 지난 9월 나온 영국 일간지 기사를 보면 ( 영국의 대학등록금 인상으로 인해 OECD 국가중 등록금이 3번째로 가장 비싸진다고 합니다. 그런데 영국 보다 더 높은 곳은 미국과 한국(!) 영국 대학등록금이 인상되어 일본, 호주 보다 높아지고, 프랑스, 네덜란드, 스웨덴에 비할 바도 안된다고 하는데, 한국은 이들보다 경제력이, 생활수준이 얼마나 높길래 대학등록금은 OECD에서 미국 다음으로 높은 것일까요?

좀 더 자세히 한국 상황을 살펴 보면, 2008년 기준, 전체 교육비중 일반가구 분담률이 29.5%로 조사된 OECD 국가 중 칠레에 이어 2위. 공적 부담율은 59.6%로 칠레에 이어 두번째로 낮고, OECD 평균 83.5%에 비해 턱없이 낮습니다. 한국 정책입안자들이 그렇게 좋아하는 미국만해도 전체 교육비 중 공적 부담율이 71%나 되며, 일반가구 분담률은 21% 이지요. 대학교육비의 경우, 한국은 일반가구 분담률이 52.1%로서 칠레에 이어 OECD 최고수준. 공적 분담률은 고작 22.3%로 칠레 이어 OECD 최저수준. 과도한 대학등록금, 일반가계에 큰 부담인 것이 국제통계로도 확인됩니다.

칠레 만큼 심각한 우리나라 교육, 민간 부문에 의한 의존도가 높다는 미국보다 더 악화된 상태입니다. 유럽 국가들에 비해서 교육비의 많은 부분이 우리 부모님, 학생들 주머니 쌈짓돈으로 지탱되는 교육이 우리나라 현실이지요. 교육개혁, 사학개혁의 또 하나 이유입니다. 우리나라 학생들이 이러한 문제의 심각성을 좀 더 제대로 인식하기를 바랄 따름입니다.

1781 Globe at the Chateau de Versailles: G. de Coree (Sea of Korea)


How to name the sea between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese islands has been subject to disputes between the concerned governments for some time now. The Japanese government prefers it to be named as the Sea of Japan, and their international dominance during its imperial expansion period from the late 19th century led to the consolidation of this name in a number of historical archives. When the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB) was established in 1921 (later re-named as the International Hydrographic Organisation), it published its first resolution on the “Limits of Oceans and Seas” that adopted the inclusion of Japan’s preferred name, Sea of Japan. Korea did not get a chance to voice out at this time and in subsequent years due to the country’s colonial occupation by the Japanese (1910-1945) and the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-1953). Continue reading

South Korea’s Gwangju uprising in 1980 and people’s protests in Egypt in 2011

Coming across with all the news reports about people’s protests against dictatorship in Egypt reminds me of South Korea’s own history of democratisation movements, which often ended in the bloodshed due to brutal suppression by the military, police or thugs.

One major uprising that still haunts people’s memory in South Korea is the violent oppression of people’s uprising in one of the southern provincial capital cities, Gwangju in Cholla South Province. In May 1980, ordinary people bravely stood up against the military government. In the course of this uprising, civilians were forced to arm themselves in order to defend them against military forces that repeatedly attempted to suppress them. For a brief period, the city was in an autonomous status, an urban commune that was governed by the people themselves with no real disorder and violence. Eventually, the city fell. More than 2,000 people were thought to have died or gone missing due to the military operation that ended on 27th May 1980. The operational code name for this military exercise that resulted in the massacre was ‘splendid holiday’.

Owing to the severe military containment of the city at that time, much of the national population were not aware of what was really going on in that part of the country. Reports were repeating government accusations that communists were behind these protests, and no exact details of military action were delivered. For many years, talking about Gwangju uprising was a taboo. One of the causes that drew university students towards student movement was knowing the truth about Gwangju uprising. Some rare video footage could be found on these YouTube links:

Gwangju massacre (Part 1)

Gwangju massacre (Part 2)

Gwangju massacre (Part 3)

In 1987, another big round of people’s uprising took place in Seoul, which led to the concession by the military government that agreed on a direct presidential election. Although this did not led to the change in power due to the division within the opposition leaders at that time, one of the key factors that led to this concession was the non-intervention by the military force at that time. Military actions in the form of coup d’etat no longer took place since 1980. I suppose there were too many risks involved for the military to intervene, now that they had witnessed escalating protests and discontents and that the whole world was carefully following the development of democratisation movements in places like Seoul. Perhaps, Seoul’s status as the host city of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games was another reason for such world-wide attention, making it even more difficult for the dictatorship to make any wrong moves.

Civil uprising in June 1987

Now that I see the series of protests in Egypt, my only hope is that the military does not intervene and let the people decide the course of history.

Total incompetence of Lee administration in South Korea fails to contain the spread of foot and mouth disease

I still remember the pig that was being taken away from my grandmother’s house when it was sold to a butcher. This was when I was a very small child probably before schooling age. It was a big pig, at least in the eyes of a small child. Several adults had to wrestle with the pig, pulling the rope that was securely tied around its neck and legs, in order to tow him towards the vehicle that was to carry him to the slaughterhouse. Somehow, the pig knew about its destiny, I think, as it was resisting the men with all his might, crying out as loud as it could. It was a shocking, horrible scene.

In South Korea, as of now, horrible acts of killing pig and cattle stock are being carried out on a daily basis. The Lee administration in South Korea is showing total incompetence in containing the ‘foot-and-mouth’ disease, which broke out in November 2010. The Lee administration failed to take any significant actions in its early days of outbreak. Now it’s killing animals en masse. One of the most recent reports here: It is reported that more than 2 million pigs and cows have been killed since its outbreak, many of them being buried alive. Yes, alive! Continue reading