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    Inter-Korean NLL Negotiations: 3 Takeaways from the 2007 Summit Meeting Minutes

    July 1st, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    The South Korean government recently released the minutes of the historic summit between former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The Inter-Korean Summit was held in Pyongyang in 2007. The motivating factor behind the release of the Summit meeting minutes links to the recent controversy related to whether then President Roh made concessions regarding the Northern Line Limit (NLL), the de facto maritime border since the the end of the Korean War (1950-53) between the two Koreas.
     
    The summit dialogue–which reflects two very different bargaining styles–seems to demonstrate how South Korea appeared to want and value the negotiation more than the North.
     
    Excerpts linked with South-North negotiation strategies from the summit include:
     
    1. Roh Moo-hyun conveyed his detailed desire to resolve the NLL issue through a joint fisheries area and a maritime peace zone, to which Kim Jong-il merely stated that he would raise this issue in a subsequent ministerial meeting.
     
    – South Korea’s negotiation strategy: provide a clear roadmap of how the two sides (the two Koreas) can work in an “integrative” bargaining fashion, in the hope of forging a creative solution (i.e., viewing the NLL issue as a potential forward-leaning “deal-making negotiation” (DMN) rather than a traditional “dispute settlement negotiation” (DSN)).
     
    – North Korea’s negotiation strategy: provide no affirmative answer (to very specific suggestions), and relegate the issue to a lower level ministerial meeting (i.e., stall and demur, thus signaling that the leadership viewed the NLL issue in a Cold War era “DSN” perspective).
     
    2. When Roh asked that they meet again in the afternoon to discuss the matter further, Kim implied that the visiting South Korean president’s afternoon schedule was already full. “And what is there more to discuss? Haven’t we already covered the basic grounds?” he said, indicating he did not wish to push the topic further. Roh, however, insisted on another meeting in the afternoon and Kim finally gave in, saying, “I will agree since you are so persistent”
     
    – South Korea’s negotiation strategy: request more time with the ultimate “decision-maker” in a top-down Stalinist regime, which will maximize the likelihood of a proffered policy being implemented.
     
    – North Korea’s negotiation strategy: try to provide an opportunity for the South Korean leader to “save face” by suggesting that his schedule was already too full, which in a Korean context, is considered as a fairly clear “no” reply. This was followed by Kim Jong-il allowing for more time in the afternoon to meet and chat, which provides the bargaining advantage to North Korea, since Kim Jong-il provided a “[W]hat is there more to discuss?” standard for Roh Moo-hyun to subsequently satisfy for the afternoon talks. In addition, a sense of obligation and burden was placed on Kim Jong-il by Roh Moo-hyun for his insistence on further talks, which in a Korean context, is considered not to be in compliance with “proper” behavior, especially given that the South Korean president is the “visitor” who was essentially making a demand of the “host.”
     
    3. The summit was held in Pyongyang with a short timeframe for an agreement.
     
    – South Korea’s negotiation strategy: try to return to South Korea from the negotiations in Pyongyang with a symbolic and/or substantive agreement with the North that would help with Roh Moo-hyun’s legacy.
     
    – North Korea’s negotiation strategy: have the Inter-Korean summit negotiations held on its own “home turf,” while giving less than a full day between the two leaders to resolve complex historical issues that would normally take significantly longer to accomplish, especially given the relatively little contact between the two Koreas. Here, North Korea knows of its negotiation counterparty’s time deadline, which the North is using to its advantage by stalling the demurring on important issues to the former South Korean leader (who is additionally time-constrained due to the oncoming “lame duck” perception near the end of his constitutionally-mandated one-time five-year presidency, a political time constraint that Kim Jong-il obviously did not face).

      
     
     
     
     
     
     

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    Samsung Electronic’s future growth strategy: what to do when screens can’t get any bigger?

    June 21st, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Jasper Kim of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group is featured in this BBC tech report today as 1 of 4 expert commentators on Samsung’s future growth strategy (below is a short excerpt of the full article found HERE):
     
    In 2011 (in an earlier BBC tech report), I warned the rise of China’s emerging electronics companies was a tangible threat to the world’s bestselling smartphone maker.
     
    As we have seen, emerging tech titans from the mainland, such as Huawei and ZTE, have since made gains. It should serve as a wake-up call to the South Korean firm.
     
    Samsung’s recent string of smartphone successes have largely, but not entirely, been linked to the relatively straightforward formula of offering consumers larger screen sizes with an American-based operating system – certainly evolutionary but not exactly revolutionary on Samsung’s part.
     
    But assuming that we are now at the limits of how big one-hand display screen sizes can get, the focus will shift more towards price points and brand familiarity than a “bigger is better” mentality.
     
    Samsung’s ultra-aggressive and expensive marketing strategy was a key factor in its brand awareness outside of South Korea.
     
    But to capture the billion-plus mainland Chinese market, homegrown firms, such as Huawei and ZTE won’t need to expend the same amount of marketing resources to gain brand familiarity and consumer trust.
     
    Chinese firms will also be naturally positioned to know exactly what its domestic consumer base wants before any other foreign tech firm, including the likes of Samsung and Apple.
     
    Samsung should not rest on its laurels. This week’s introduction of Huawei’s Ascend P6 – the world’s “slimmest” smartphone – is just the beginning of future innovative products to follow.
     
    If Samsung fails to pay heed, the rise of such Chinese tech firms could be tied to the decline of Samsung’s market share in China and beyond.
          
     

     

     

     

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    Korea’s Next War Will be a Cultural One Within: Clash of the Koreans will occur as the country grapples with its identity

    June 15th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    A revised version of this blog can be found HERE in the Wall Street Journal Asia (WSJ, June 11, 2013), Korea’s Immigration Problem
    Seoul needs newcomers to boost its economy and birth rate. But will they stay?

     
    Today, the number of foreigners (non-Korean nationals who reside in the country for over three months) in South Korea stands at nearly 2.5 percent (1.25 million) of the total population, a relatively small percentage, but one that represents a significant increase in just the past few years. This is a broad category that includes migrant workers, business executives, English teachers, and foreign brides, to name a few. Of such group, foreign brides are playing a pivotal role in the changing demographic landscape of modern day South Korea. In the past when marriages with foreigners were near non-existent, today such marriages account for approximately 14 percent (26, 274, in 2010) of all marriages in the country.
     
    Of such marriages, nearly a fifth of every marriage in South Korea’s rural areas now are “international marriages”–often in the form of a marriage between a Korean male with an “imported” foreign bride, typically from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines. Many of these countries have or have tried to place restrictions in one form or another on marriages with male Korean grooms due to mounting evidence of marital problems based largely on cultural clashes between the foreign bride and her Korean groom and the groom’s greater family unit. As is apparent, such marriages are not just a cultural issue, but an economic one as well–both the bride (often from an economically disadvantaged family in a lesser developed Asian country) and the groom (often a rural farmer) each represents the unfortunate lower end of their nation’s economic social class.
     
    Now what happens when such winds of demographic change meet head on with centuries old Confucian values-based South Korea? As many Korea insiders already know, behind the country’s “hardware” of ultra-modern landscape, hip music videos, and trendy electronics that many on the outside associate with modern Korea, is a country’s “software” that can at times still resemble the “Hermit Kingdom” of old mentality, in which foreigners are met with suspicion, fear, and uber-nationalistic tendencies.
     
    The children of South Korea’s emerging multiracial cultural class, who numbered 151,154 in 2011, are also facing unwanted discrimination, both innocent and less-than-innocent, at school by peers and within the nation’s greater homogenous societal fabric. In a recent poll of multiracial students by the National Human Rights Commission, 41.9 percent of those surveyed stated that they have been teased or discriminated against by their fellow Korean classmates for their inability to pronounce Korean words properly. 25.3 percent also encountered discrimination due to just their skin color being different generally, and darker specifically, than that of the typical Korean. This should come as little surprise. In a recent late 2012 survey by the Korea Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, 88.6 percent of Korean adults responded that Korean blood ancestry was important to be recognized as a Korean. In a report issued by Ernst & Young several days ago, Korea’s globalization ranking slipped due in part to its extremely low cultural integration score of 2.62 (out of 10).
     
    What do all these cultural and demographic changes mean for South Korea? In Japan, when Korean-Japanese were overtly discriminated against and not accepted into mainstream society (in which Japanese citizenship is only given based on blood lineage), a certain fraction of such mistreated cultural class turned to underground activities for economic sustenance. Even in places like Sweden and France known for their relative acceptance and assimilation of immigrants, recent cultural clashes have emerged. And of course, in the U.S. case, overt and invidious racial discrimination based on race and skin color, among other things, have led to economic disparity, a sense of social injustice, and urban riots, with vestiges still remaining today, despite having Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
     
    Contemporary South Korea is not at the racial boiling point yet. But it’s not far away either. If anything, South Korean society today is akin to the U.S. of the late 1950s Organization Man era on the verge of entering the early 1960s Beatnik era. While soon thereafter, South Korea’s unprecedented tectonic shifts in demographics and culture will challenge South Korea’s core social dynamics.
     
    If the Park Geun-hye administration is willing to face this burgeoning socio-economic issue head on, it will act to pre-emptively and strategically incorporate such emerging cultural diversity into strengths through a plethora of social support programs in the form of educational subsidies and support programs. Such efforts would reflect President-elect Park’s campaign theme of “economic democratization,” and would convert South Korea’s diversity into a strength. After all, with a focus on creative industries, a shrinking workforce, low fertility rates, and a rapidly aging society, South Korea needs all hands on deck—no matter the cultural background—to keep the Korean economy afloat and strong in the twenty-first century.
     

     
     
    Asia-Pacific Global Research Group

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    How Asians Say “No” (without saying it): Top 5 Indirect “No’s”

    May 31st, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    East-West cultural differences exist that may make it confusing as to when a reply from those in Korea, China, and Japan is a “no” or “yes.”
     
    In the West (a low context environment, in which more focus is placed on the communication itself than the communication context), a premium is placed on clarity, which in turn, means brevity and direct communication. But in the East (a high context environment, in which more focus is placed on the context of the communication than the communication itself), communication can be more indirect, which may be understood by others from the same region, but may be complex and difficult to understand for those from the West.
     
    Below are the top 5 communication terms that mean “no” without the term itself actually being spoken or written (due to the high contextual environment for those in the East). And conversely, these same terms can be used to say “no” by Western individuals to their Eastern counterparts in a very localized manner, which may signal that the Western counterpart is localized, polite, and well-informed (all virtuous traits in Asia):
     
    1. “Maybe later” – from the West’s eyes, if interpreted literally (as one would do in a low context environment in the West), the term “Maybe later” could mean that a “yes” might be right around the corner, after some internal discussion. But do not be confused, in an Eastern context, generally “maybe later” means “no.” So why not just say “no?” The main reason is to be polite (in a society where appearing impolite is a sign of being uncultured and/or uneducated; two strongly negative labels in Asia relative to in the West)
     
    2. “I/We will think about it” – again, from a Western frame of mind taking this term literally, a statement such as this may give hope to the Western individual/entity that more consideration is needed by the Asian team member/team. But generally this is not the case.
     
    3. “I/We don’t know” – The Western framework based on Cartesian logic and logical deduction places a premium on getting a definitive “yes” or “no.” This is not so different in Asia. At the same time, a gray zone between yes and no tends to be more tolerated in Asia than in the West. But even more, a statement such as “We don’t know” in response to a direct query that would normally require a definitive yes or no is best interpreted as a “no.” Again, this is for face-saving measure.
     
    4. Silence – Those in the West generally feel extremely uncomfortable with silence, especially in a group or business setting. This is not so much the case in Asia. Silence, on the contrary, can actually be considered a virtue in Asia. Having said this, silence or a non-reply can also be interpreted to mean a “no.” The Western counterpart should also look at the facial expression when confronted by such silence in response to a query that would normally require a definitive response.
     
    5. “That would be impossible” (or a direct “no”) – of the list, the use of the term “impossible” is the most direct indication by those in Asia of a “no.” Why don’t those in Asia use the term “not possible” since “impossible” seems so ironically definitive? The short answer is that “impossible” is based on a literal translation of Chinese characters (a negative vowel to use a rough Western equivalent). Also, those in Asia do not always share the same notion that “nothing is impossible” given the right level of knowledge, aptitude, and creativity.
     
    The above top 5 list generally apply to a primarily domestic Asian audience (not those who have spent substantial time with Westerners or time overseas; if this is the case, then the above rules would be less applicable). The above list also, by virtue of its brevity, explains the concepts in broad brushstrokes and terms, which in many instances will have exceptions.

     

     

     

     

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    Why North Korea is a risk-taker

    May 23rd, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    The analysis below is an excerpt based on the original piece, North Korea’s Risk-taking Explained (by Jasper Kim, Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, May 22, 2013), which can be read in full HERE.
     

    Most commentators who track the country say it would never aim to initiate a war with South Korea and its allies because that would inevitably lead to the end of the Kim Jong Un regime. Self-preservation is something the Pyongyang leadership has been very successful at over the last six decades.
     

    So what explains the North’s apparent affinity for risk in routinely confronting the South, mostly verbally but occasionally with deadly force?
     

    Mathematical modeling helps explain the counter-intuitive marriage of risk-taking and rationality at the heart of decision making in North Korea.
     

    Consider you have one of the two choices:
    A: Receive $80 guaranteed; or
    B: Receive a 90% chance to receive $100
     

    Which option should a rational decision maker chose? Studies show that most people would decide to take option A, the sure thing. The thinking is that it is generally better to receive a guaranteed return even if it means receiving less.
     

    But the rational choice is actually option B. Getting to the answer requires what’s called a standard expected value calculation. The expected value of option A is $80 (100% x $80 = $80). The expected value of option B is $90 (90% x $100 = $90). So, because $90 (option B) is greater than $80 (option A), option B would be the rational choice even though it involves taking a risk. 

     
    In the above example, the expected higher gains in option B — equivalent to regime survival — have incentivized risk-taking by North Korea, especially if it doesn’t believe an option A exists.

     
    * The U.S., South Korea and Japan are defensively postured and risk-averse because the aspiration point is primarily maintaining their current position (in terms of preserving military and economic interests);
     
    * North Korea is offensively postured and risk-seeking because its aspiration point is gaining more than its current position (in terms of actively pursuing economic and non-economic assistance and diplomatic recognition).

     

    Given the current incentive structure from North Korea’s view, the Stalinist state sees only incentives to take further risks. As a result, the DPRK’s provocation cycle will only continue, unless the current incentive scheme is changed.
     

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