Dr. Gi-Wook Shin Addresses Myths and Realities of North Korea

The Center for Asian Business welcomed Dr. Gi-Wook Shin, Professor of Sociology at Stanford, on October 29th for a special lecture titled "Can North Korea Change? Myths and Realities." His lecture addressed the current state of North Korean society, Kim Jong-un's regime and the country's relations with the U.S. and its Asian neighbors. In addition, he provided the audience with his views on whether regime change in North Korea is plausible and whether the country will ever abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Dr. Shin started off his presentation by asking the audience “What is North Korea?” What are the most common perceptions toward North Korea, officially called the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea? A few are Communist, Dynastic, Nationalist and Militaristic.

Dr. Shin went on to discuss the relationship between North and South Korea and the struggles for national representation that still exist. He showed anti-Communist propaganda as examples. At the end of his lecture, Dr. Shin proposed the question of whether unification is feasible between these two very different countries. Only about half of South Koreans think unification is necessary.

Regarding the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea, Dr. Shin said that anti-Americanism serves as an important base of North Korean ideology. They use the “nuclear card” to attain a normalized relationship with the U.S. for the sake of security and economy. Above all, North Korea knows that it won’t be easy to overcome the U.S.’s long-held lack of trust in North Korea.

Dr. Shin is a professor of sociology and director of Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. His research concentrates on social movements, nationalism, development and international relations. In addition to his research, Dr. Shin has published many books which have become so popular that many of them have been translated and distributed to Korean audiences. Dr. Shin received his B.A. from Yonsei University in Korea. He attended the University of Washington, Seattle to obtain his Master's and Ph.D. degrees. Prior to becoming a professor and research director at Stanford, Dr. Shin taught at the University of Iowa and UCLA.