(Questions below are taken from a recent interview with a local broadcaster in South Korea):
1. What would you pick as the five most important happenings in Korea this past year?
5. Summer Olympic results for S Korea
4. North Korea 3.0: The rise of Kim Jong Un & DPRK missile launch
3. Apple v Samsung mega turf battle – billion dollar US verdict
2. Korea’s 1st female president-elect
1. Psy’s unexpected “Gangnam Style” global mega-hit
2. It is hard to think of what to say about Psy’s “Gangnam Style” mega-hit song that has not been said already. But Koreans know that this was hardly Psy’s first album or his first song. What do you think we’ll see from him in the next year?
Hopefully not a song dubiously titled as “Gangnam Style II” – which is often the local tradition here in terms of following up hit Korean brands and titles. Hopefully it will be a surprise in terms of expectations for his new fan base. It will be tough to top a song that carries the record-breaking distinction of having over a billion Youtube hits. He’s been around for over a decade, with arguably his next big hit a decade ago with his 2002 FIFA World Cup spirited “Champion” song, which was a local but not global sensation. If PSY is smart, he will try to include cameos with global (not just Korean) stars from a diversity of genres – from rap to maybe even country.
3. About the Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit, the legal implications are already determined in many countries and still being fleshed out in others. But how has this changed the company’s reputation locally?
Locally, Samsung will always be the “company to beat” so to speak since Korea is its home turf. Internationally, Samsung is certainly making headway, almost nearing the reputational level of Apple. Samsung Electronics’ share prices will reflect this.
4. North Korea’s missile launch. We all thought this would fail, but it didn’t. Does this mean we have to re-consider a lot of what we assume about NK?
Yes, North Korea’s missile launch is what I called a “game changer” on my earlier research blog from day one. Even if its missile, the Eunha 3, is based on decades-old Soviet-based technology, and even assuming its satellite is nonoperational, the embedded successfully tested ballistic missile technology still has the unsettling potential to cause potential harm up to and around the U.S. coastline.
5. South Korea’s new president-elect, Park Geun-hye, was the readers’ choice for Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Some of the prominent images associated with North Korea in the Western world are semi-comical and ironic depictions of Kim Jong-il (김정일) in, say, Team America: World Police. Do you think the world’s public takes his son seriously as a threat?
Yes, since a “threat” is often defined as something or, in this case, someone, who is predictably unpredictable and/or predictably irrational. Examples include the two missile launch attempts just this year–the April attempt being unsuccessful, while the second attempt earlier this December being successful. This environment of predictable unpredictability by Kim Jong-Un will not dissipate in 2013, if anything, his regime may ramp up pressure and/or test the new South Korean president.
6. Regarding Park Geun-hye’s (박근혜’s) election — she is the first woman leader in South Korea. Her gender was not a big part of the controversy around her. Has South Korea in 2012 entered what you refer to as a “post-patriarchal society”?
Gender was interestingly not an issue in South Korea’s recent presidential election. This should actually be heralded as a significant landmark in South Korean politics in that she was a candidate who happened to be female, rather than a female presidential candidate in that order. It is the first step towards a post-patriarchal society in South Korea.
7. All of these taken together — how do you think they changed Korea’s image abroad? How have they changed how Koreans view themselves?
The two most well-known people in the Korean peninsula are Psy and Kim Jong-Un. Both are unlikely characters who each individually continue to mystify the global arena.
In short, 2012 was a year of the “unlikely becoming likely” – from missile launches to music videos. It certainly gives us reason to wait with bated breath in terms of what 2013 has in store for us, now that we’ve confirmed that 2012 would not be the end of the world.
Click HERE or view below an interview with Jasper Kim, Founder/CEO of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, with Channel News Asia (CNA) re: South Korea’s new president-elect, Park Geun-hye: