To Inform Enlighten and Empower KOREAN AMERICAN SCIENCE AND by MikeJenny


									              To Inform, Enlighten and Empower

  Scientific, technological, social, economic and cultural news for the
                Korean-American professional community

                               ISSN 1089-7518

                           Founded May 23, 1995

    The Korean-American Science and Technology News, KASTN, is a biweekly
global electronic newsletter. It carries news and analyses not only in science and
  technology but also social, economic, and cultural issues as they relate to the
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                           American Scholar (

                 Issue 11-13 (No. 662) June 29, 2011


                    2. CHINA: COLD WAR REDUX?


                           4. WHO SAID THAT?


Monday News Analysis #36
7:40 a.m. Monday 6 June 2011
Shim Jae Hoon

Mr. Shim is one of the foremost columnists of Korea. He writes for YaleGlobal online, (of the Washington Post),, the Korea Herald and comments
on BBC TV/Radio and AFP-TV. For two decades he was a foreign correspondent of the
Hongkong-based Far Eastern Economic Review. He is a special adviser to SKAS.

Corruption and Culture of Nexus

For the past five months, the Korean media have been noisily reporting on investigation
of the collapse of several savings banks and their corrupt dealings with influential
politicians and administration officials.

The corruption involving politicians and civil servants in Korea is partly rooted in the
country’s culture. This being the case, the Korean society remains unable to deal
effectively with corruption without addressing the cultural issues. Examples: family ties,
school ties, hometown ties.

Corruption at high level often involves these connections and nexus. This is the problem
shared by many East Asian cultures, guan xi in China, “konneto” in Japan, jul (string) in
Korea: In the current savings bank scandal, three of the government’s six senior
auditing agents implicated on suspicions of corrupt connections share either school ties
or hometown ties. In the case of Pusan Savings Bank scandal accused of bribing
regulatory officials, most of the bank’s top people came from the same high school in

The Lee Myung Bak administration is replete with officials sharing at least one of these
three nexus – school ties (Korea University), hometown connections (mostly from North
Kyongsang province), and family or social ties with Somang Presbyterian Church. The
previous Kim Dae Jung administration was no exception: it filled top administration jobs,
the judiciary and security branches of government with people from Kim’s Cholla region.
Such recruitment practice helped create the atmosphere of impunity and criminal

Korea’s presidential system of government places too much power in the hands of the
chief executive. He can fire and hire too many people; he even nominates the heads of
the nation’s principal news agency, a daily newspaper, the KBS and MBC television
stations, on the strength of government investment in these media firms. That gives him
the power to influence the media.

He appoints the heads of all financial regulatory agencies, who in turn look over banking
and other financial institutions. The central bank is also government influenced.

This powerful government when combined with cultural problems of connection can
pose formidable challenge against transparency and fairness in government. According
to one recent report, some 45% of board members of the savings bank had come from
administrative, judiciary or legislative branches of government. This bespeaks the
weight the government has in this country.

Korean bureaucrats are notorious for inventing rules and regulations stifling the private
sector business activities. Applying for banking loans, construction permits, business
licenses, all areas of business activities are tightly controlled and governed by a jungle
of regulations and rules. Years ago, a legislator was jailed for taking bribes to help his
friend build a hotel. This case shed the light as much on regulation as on the issue of
corruption. Opening a factory will require approvals from dozens of offices ranging from
fire station, to electric company, to gas utility all under the central government authority.
Corruption begins where regulation starts.

Unless this culture of nexus and regulations were replaced by transparent institutions,
the current reform efforts will repeat the similar waste of time and opportunity of the
past. The fight against corruption needs sustained and structural approaches and
efforts. The problem of Korea’s political corruption goes way beyond the matter of law.
The problem is too deeply entrenched to be resolved by merely amending the existing
laws. Unless the fundamental problems mentioned above are sufficiently addressed, the
blight of corruption is likely to linger on. Corruption in Korea is fundamentally fueled by
the age old culture of venality and personal greed, concentration of power, lack of
institutions transparency. It is no longer the issue of simple poverty.

PacNet #31, June 2, 2011

China Policy: Avoiding a Cold War Redux

Brad Glosserman, Executive Director of Pacific Forum CSIS.

One popular narrative credits the end of the Cold War to a US strategy to bankrupt the
Soviet Union. Well aware of the advantage conferred by its superior economic
performance, Washington pushed Moscow into a military competition that drained the
USSR of its resources. In this narrative, Ronald Reagan’s push to create a missile
defense system – realistic or not – was the straw that broke the Soviet back.

Are Chinese strategists pursuing a similar approach to the United States? Is Beijing
pushing US buttons, forcing it to spend increasingly scarce resources on defense
assets and diverting them from other more productive uses? Far-fetched though it may
seem – and the reasons to be skeptical are pretty compelling – there is evidence that
China is doing just that: ringing American alarm bells, forcing the US to respond, and
compounding fiscal dilemmas within the US. Call it Cold War redux.

China emerged from the 2007-8 global economic crisis with a new sense of its strength
and corresponding US weakness when it comes to money and power. The Chinese
don’t have the new balance of power right – the US isn’t as weakened as many assume
and China has its own problems – but they are right to note both the centrality of
economic strength to international position and a new attitude and atmosphere in the
US. Beijing also senses US overextension and sensitivity to Chinese provocations
(broadly defined).

There is a new economic reality for US security planners. Money is tight. In this era of
new austerity, the US has to make increasingly difficult choices about spending
priorities. Both economic rationality and military purpose have to guide procurement.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates tried to get in front of this process with a budget that
cuts $100 billion in defense spending. He isn’t trying to gut the military as some allege,
but instead seeks to strengthen it with a long-term spending plan. His fear is that in the
absence of such a proposal, ad hoc decisions (decisions not guided by a long-term
strategy) will damage US capabilities.

China is trying to shape that strategy – not just by playing down its potential to threaten
the US but by playing up some of its capabilities. That is one way to read China’s
January 2010 anti-satellite test or the test of the stealth fighter in January of this year
just as Gates was visiting China. China is trying to make its capabilities, no matter how
nascent or premature, the focus of US planning and forcing the US to respond.

While this theory – that China would highlight its own threat to force a US response –
sounds far-fetched, it seems to be working. There is mounting concern in the defense
community over China’s deployment of an aircraft carrier and its anti-access area denial
strategy. That is reasonable: hysteria and dire warnings about a transformation of the
regional balance of power are not.

Some Chinese strategists offer an explanation for the tests that have so inflamed US
sensitivities that fits this grand design. One expert argues that China is hedging – the
tests both maintain Chinese capabilities and signal the US that it can’t hope to make “a
technological breakout” that China will not match. Beijing will not let the US monopolize
high-tech capabilities. The flip side of that logic is that China will do enough to keep the
US on alert, if not hypersensitive to Chinese actions, and that will drive US decision-

Most significantly, the success of the Cold War redux strategy – if it exists – depends on
the US surrendering the initiative to China. There is little evidence that this is
happening. But there is no mistaking the attention to Chinese developments and the
potential threats they pose to US pre-eminence in the western Pacific, the protection of
US and allied interests, and regional stability generally. That is the correct approach –
but US decisonmakers should not hyperventilate about or overinflate the Chinese
threat. As Pacific Forum President Ralph Cossa has noted, “When the Chinese finally
deploy an operational aircraft carrier -- and there is a big distinction between sea trials
and becoming fully operational (measured in years, not months) -- the proper US
response should be to congratulate Beijing on finally achieving the status of the Soviet
(or Ukranian) Navy, circa 1984.”

Budget funds are tight. And, significantly, cracks are beginning to appear within the US.
National politics are increasingly polarized and paralyzed as the country debates how to
get its economic house in order. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial told readers they
have to choose between being a superpower or a welfare state. That is precisely the
choice the new Cold Warriors would want us to face. Nothing could be more divisive or
more capable of short-circuiting US politics. Nothing would be more detrimental to long-
term US interests than to short-change the domestic investments needed to keep the
country strong.

Chosun Ilbo, June 8, 2011

Korean Students Are Badly Served by Their Universities

Korean university students are denied quality education services even though they are
paying exorbitantly high tuition fees, according to an OECD survey that ranks the
country last among member countries in terms of college education environment.

Korean universities have 32.7 students per professor on average, more than double the
OECD average of 15.8. The number is 16.9 in the U.K., 16.2 in France, 15 in the U.S.,
14.4 in Mexico, 11.5 in Germany, 10.4 in Japan, and 8.5 in Sweden.

They are also outranked by their foreign counterparts in terms of the number of library
books per student, an indicator reflecting support for education and research.

According to analysis of university library statistics by the Korea Education and
Research Information Service, the average number of library books per student at top
universities in the country stands at 70, fewer than the 71 at the lowest-ranking among
113 American universities surveyed.

Seoul National University, the highest-ranked in Korea, has a budget of W250,000
(US$1=W1,082) for materials for each student, which is also less than the lowest-
ranking American university's W270,000.

Korean universities invest a relatively small sum in students, compared with the tuition
fees students pay. They spend US$8,920 on each student, far less than the OECD
average of $12,907. Indeed, Korean universities spend less than half the money of
universities in the U.S. ($27,010) and Sweden ($18,361), and little more than half of
those in Australia ($14,726), and Japan ($14,201).

WHATS NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 3 Jun 2011 Washington, DC

My science-reporter friend, Naif, called this week about cell phones.

Here's how it went.

Naif: "Who said there’s no evidence that radiation from cell phones causes brain

Robert: "WHO did, but that was about a year ago."

Naif: "That's what I asked, who did? The International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC) says cell phone radiation may be carcinogenic."

Robert: "IARC is WHO."

Naif: "Why ask me? I don't know who. Besides, shouldn't that be whom?"

Robert: “Last year they said that no adverse health effects have been established for
mobile phone use."

Naif: "That's still true, but who said it?"

Robert: "I told you; WHO said it after a $14 million epidemiological study of cell phone
use in 13 countries."

Naif: "Then who is IARC?

Robert: "Strictly speaking IARC is part of WHO."

Naif: "I don't know who it’s part of. That’s why I asked." 

                     Issue 11-13 (No. 662) June 29, 2011

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