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The Everyday Politics of the Second Economy in North Korea: A Force for Regime Stability or Corrosion?

21 November 2013 

Speaker: Alexander Dukalskis, Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University; Ph.D. Political Science & Peace Studies Lecturer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Moderator: Charles Armstrong, Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences in the Department of History, Columbia University

Dr. Dukalskis shared his research on the second economy – the markets inconsistent with government ideology or law – and the impact it has on the North Korean regime's stability. Through a discussion on the history of the second economy, a survey of literature on this topic, hypotheses from other totalitarian states, and his original research, Dr. Dukalskis has come to the conclusion – however tentative given the paucity of data in that country – that the underground market has more of a stabilizing than a subversive influence on the government.   This is due to a few factors: there is much official presence and buy-in within the underground markets; they allow the elite of the country to acquire more wealth, keeping them satisfied; they allow small business owners to make enough money to leave the country if they are unsatisfied, thus ridding the country of potential dissidents; and they are tightly controlled, preventing the types of gatherings that can lead to revolutions.

Co-sponsored with the Center for Korean Research, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

Samsung and LG: From Also-Rans to Dominance in the Consumer Electronics Industry

25 April 2013 

Speaker: Robert Myers, Senior Vice President, Fairfield Resources International, Inc.; Adjunct Professor, Entrepreneurship Program, Columbia Business School; Director, Thomas Publishing Company; Former Director of Technology, IBM Japan.

Discussant: K. C. Park, Former CEO, eMagin Corp.; Former Executive VP, LG Electronics; Former Managing Director, Technical Operations Group, IBM.

Moderator: Hugh Patrick, R.D. Calkins Professor of International Business Emeritus; Director, CJEB.

Professor Myers and Mr. Park posited that traditional performance metrics for technology companies – in particular patents, R&D investment, and low cost labor – don’t explain the success of South Korea's Samsung and LG. They speculated that more influential factors were government policies to heavily invest in technology and a business management culture which promoted and exploited foreign-educated managers.

Co-sponsored with the Center on Japanese Economy and Business.

The Economic-Security Nexus in Northeast Asia

7 March 2013 

Speaker: T. J. Pempel, Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. Moderator: Charles Armstrong, Director, Center for Korean Research

Professor Pempel gave a fascinating and wide-ranging talk on the economic and security dynamics in East Asia, first laying out the historical and contemporary tensions that exist in East Asia; its increasing economic interdependency, which tends to reduce tensions; the absence of war since the Korean Armistice in 1953 and Cambodia-China-Vietnam in 1979; and the many effects of China’s rise to being the number two economic superpower on the planet.  Regarding the latter, he outlined the bilateral security tensions with China, particularly with Japan and the United States, concluding that China’s rise will be accompanied by an inevitable change to the status quo, but that this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a threat.

Co-sponsored with the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.