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  • Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

    Education: MOOCs as “Weapons of Mass Instruction” and South Korea – 6 Considerations

    November 21st, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) So the era of technology is seemingly transforming higher education. How does this massive open online courses, or MOOCs work?
    Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are free online courses that are meant to attract a large audience base, whereby any person anywhere in the world can watch and participate. So basically, any person with internet access and a PC can get up on the learning curve relating to select offered courses. Often, these courses are taught by world-renown scholars and academics from such institutions as Stanford, MIT, and Ivy League institutions. Some of the leading MOOC providers include Udacity, Coursera, and EdX. 
    2) When and how did MOOCs begin? How popular are these massive online classes?
    The conceptual idea behind MOOCs has been around since the early 1960s. But the “real world” usage of MOOCs are a very recent phenomenon. MIT represents one “early mover” academic institution with the launching of its “MIT Open Courseware” platform, in which any person with internet access could tap into hundreds of pre-recorded lectures, including some of MIT’s most popular courses and professors, which has recently led to MITx in March 2012. But the “breakout” began about a year ago in the Fall of 2011, in which 160,000 students from all over the world signed up for an artificial intelligence (AI) MOOC course offered by two Stanford professors. The same professors saw the potential upside of this teaching platform–which had the potential to influence and impact more students in a course than those in all their previous courses combined–and partnered to form Udacity, one of the leading MOOC providers today.
    3) What and who would you say are the main benefits and benefitters from such MOOC’s? Students? Professors? MOOC providers?
    MOOC benefits include:
    – free or very cheap fees to access the course
    – close physical/geographic proximity unnecessary
    – crowdsourcing via peer review and group session can be used at a massive scale
    – potential to influence a much larger audience
    – ability to receive feedback from wider array of students
    – become part of the solution in terms of educating those who may normally not have access to education
    MOOC providers:
    – relevance in the education market
    – potential future revenue sourcing
    – hub for education at all levels
    4) What are the potential damages through the rapid spread of MOOCs? Do offering such wholesale-type online courses dilute the elite college-level status for top universities?
    Potential MOOC downsides:
    – virtual learning platform can be unfamiliar and intimidating
    – potential for plagiarism
    – high dropout rate (thus far, albeit it is still early in the MOOC era)
    – a certain level of digital platform knowledge is needed
    5) What sort of challenges do the professors involved in online teaching face?
    The main challenge is not having instant feedback from your teaching methods. It’s a bit akin to doing your craft in front of a recorded camera for a movie as opposed to a live audience in a theater production. Having said this, often there is a great amount of feedback after the course is posted online, often with much more scale and scope than with a traditional class given the scalability of the MOOC platform.
    Everyone, including professors, are trying to stay current in a constantly changing environment. Since the widespread use of internet, companies such as Google and Facebook have changed the digital landscape dramatically. And the thinking is that with MOOCs, much like Google’s mandate of democratizing information by making it free, some in academic circles believe that education should also be democratized and made free to help close the gap between the haves and have-nots.
    6) Can you give us a rough sense of how widespread and appreciated online courses are here in Korea?

    Korean universities have not yet fully adopted MOOCs or even previously existing platforms such as Youtube. But one thing about Korea is that it is often a “fast follower,” especially in the technology field. For instance, the TEDx concept has been hugely popular here. And hopefully, some enterprising entrepreneurs will take advantage of this opportunity and transform it into something that is potentially game changing. So in short, hope exists that Korea’s academic institutions can catch up and even become a leading player in the MOOC era.


    South Korea’s post-KORUS (Korea-US FTA) legal market – 6 Factors

    October 31st, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1. The Korea-U.S. free trade agreement went into effect in March this year. As a result, you say that American and Korean law firms will be able to jointly launch ventures, invigorating the traditionally isolated Korean legal market. You wrote about this in May — reflecting on this half a year later, what fruits have you seen so far?
    There’s always pros and cons to change. The pros are that a wider variety of law firms and lawyers will, over time, steadily increase here in South Korea (a country that has had zero onshore presence in terms of foreign law firms until this year). The cons exist with existing domestic law firms, small to large, that now faces greater competition. But arguably, increased competition should–in theory and hopefully practice–lead to increased quality and lower prices (i.e., more value for money).
    2. You have said that Korea doesn’t have enough lawyers in a fairly recent WSJ op-ed (Cracking Open Hermit Kingdom, LLP–by Jasper Kim). Compared to the U.S., which has one lawyer for every 268 people and England that has one lawyer per 513 people, South Korea has one lawyer for every 1,264 people–correct? Does this really speak to a true shortage of legal workers in Korea? Could it point, instead, to a shortage of demand for legal services in an arguably less litigious culture than those of the West?
    South Korea, according to Harvard’s Program on the Legal Profession, actually has one one lawyer for every 5, 178 people (dividing South Korea’s population of 48.8 million by 9,400–the approximate number of licensed Korean attorneys, known as byeonhosa). In comparison, Japan has one lawyer for every 4,188 people, which is a high number for Japan since it has also undergone a recent graduate law school system reformation, similar to South Korea beginning in 2008. So South Korea has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, ratio of lawyers to its general population among industrialized economies. The same thinking was also thought of Japan, that Asians like to avoid conflict, including litigation. But this has not proved true in Japan, nor will it in South Korea. As one example, take a look at the ongoing Apple v. Samsung series of global lawsuits. One could argue that this is because a non-Korean party is involved. But this is an economic reality for contemporary South Korea, in which 48% of its domestic economy is based on non-Korean entities and consumers dealing with Korean products overseas. Even domestically, the sheer number of litigation cases has increased dramatically, especially in recent years.
    3. You’ve also written about the Americanization of legal education in South Korea (as well as Japan), with the introduction of professional graduate law degrees. How do you reconcile what you’ve claimed about the lawyer shortage in Korea with recent reports that many of these new graduates of law schools can’t find well-paying jobs?
    The employment numbers earlier this year, just after the new law schools’ first class of graduates were not great. But according to recent surveys six months after graduation, the job placement rate of new law school graduates have surpassed 80 percent. This, in my view, is fairly extraordinary given that the number of Korean lawyers has doubled just this year (due to the added new law school graduates), in addition to having to find employment within a global post-subprime crisis economic slowdown period, domestically and internationally. The number is also on average higher than the law school graduate employment rates in the U.S. This is a sign that demand does exist for Korean lawyers, both under the new graduate system as well as the traditional bar exam system (the traditional bar exam does not require an academic degree to sit for the exam, while under the new law school system, a person must first graduate from one of Korea’s 25 graduate law schools to sit for the new bar exam).
    4. Do you think the new generation of Korean-educated lawyers are equipped to deal with the increasingly globalizing legal market here in Korea? Or will the market respond by bringing in more foreign-educated lawyers?
    The two are complementary to one another, although some (but not all) local media outlets have portrayed it as something less benevolent. With the new Korean lawyers, employers should get two skill sets in one–that is, an undergraduate degree say in economics and/or engineering, along with a graduate law degree. So, for instance, with the ongoing Apple v. Samsung suit, a new Korean lawyer with such academic skill sets, could be able to navigate through the relevant technical patent issues as well as the legal issues, instead of having to pay for and manage two separate personnel for the same analytical capabilities. This will help, not hurt, the Korean economy.
    5. A lot of foreign firms looking to do business with, or even merge with Asian firms are looking to take a piece of the China pie… What kind of positioning does Korea have for attracting foreign legal firms?
    South Korea can leverage its unique “hybrid” legal system as a model for other systems. South Korea on paper is a civil law country patterned after Japan, which in turn, was patterned after Germany during Japan’s Meiji Restoration period from 1868. But the hybrid element comes in the form of South Korea’s post-Korean War, and particularly, post-1997/98 Korean financial crisis experience dealing with often cutting-edge commercial law issues, including US legal issues relating to bankruptcy, restructuring, and M&A.
    6. Do you think growth of Korea’s domestic legal market will be symbiotic with the growing prominence of Korean companies abroad?
    Yes, the two are symbiotic. But the greater issue is how Korean firms leverage their legal talent. Right now, lawyers are just lawyers–they are expected to wear just one hat–a legal hat. But as mentioned earlier, this may not be the best way to maximize value for the company’s and even country’s legal talent for the twenty-first century.

    South Korea Seeks to Win U.N. Security Council Seat – 6 Important Issues

    October 15th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    UPDATE: October 17, 2012 – South Korean delegation wins its bid for a non-permanent UN Security Council seat.
    South Korea is vying to secure a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council this week, but it won’t be able to let its guard down in the face of competition from two other Asian nations, officials said Sunday.
    1) Can you give us some background on when and what nation’s are vying to join the exclusive international security group?

    The UN Security Council (UNSC) is the only UN organ that has the authority to recommend the use of sanctions and/or force, among other things. More specifically, the UNSC is represented by five veto-wielding permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and 10 non-permanent members. The 10 non-permanent member states are elected to serve two-year terms. The United Nations is scheduled to vote on the bid on Thursday (local time / October 18, 2012), with Cambodia and Bhutan also competing for the single seat assigned to the Asian region. South Korean diplomats, including Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, have stepped up efforts in recent months to win the support of U.N. member states in its bid to return to the council in 2013-2014. South Korea previously held a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council from 1996-1997.
    2) What is the purpose of Seoul trying to return to the UN Security Council?

    The Seoul government has also said securing a UNSC seat would help it reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “The U.N. Security Council is where the important issues of the world are discussed,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tae-young said in a recent press briefing. “As a middle power with a top 10 economy, we would do our best to play our part in promoting international peace and security, and developing the international community.”
    3) What are some of the nation’s main challenge in seeking an opportunity to secure their seat in the UNSC?

    Seoul officials have stated it believes it may be close to securing the required number of votes — 129, or two-thirds of the U.N.’s 193 member nations — but continue to face competition from Cambodia and Bhutan, two states that are likely to win the support of other Southeast Asian nations and/or developing countries. Procedurally, if no country –- South Korea, Cambodia, or Bhutan — wins two-thirds of the vote, U.N. regulations require all member states to take part in additional rounds until the final winner emerges. “It would be best to win in the first round, but that might not be easy,” said a government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “In that case, we would hope to have a big lead over the runner-up so as to beat them in the second round.”
    4) What are some benefits that come with taking a seat at the UNSC? How will it help elevate Korea’s national image, economy, and security? And what are the responsibilities that come with taking a seat at the UNSC?

    A UNSC seat — even a non-permanent member UNSC seat — would give any country added diplomatic sway and influence. This is because the UNSC members can utilize Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which allows for sanctions and/or the use of force in certain conditions. For instance, Article 51 of the UN Charter under Chapter VII (collective self defence provision) – under one interpretation – allows for pre-emptive strikes against those states that may be preparing to launch an offensive strike against a target state.
    5) Do you think that joining the security council will help ease tensions in the Northeast Asia region where touchy territorial and historical issues have always been at the center of most of its disputes – in the past and as of late?

    Yes and no. Yes, since Northeast Asia has been particularly volatile not just recently with the disputed islands among South Korea, China, and Japan, but also dating back for over a century. So having an additional member from Northeast Asia will allow for more equal representation in this very important region. No, in the sense that if South Korea is allowed to join the UNSC, North Korea may also feel slighted, which in turn, may lead to more provocative acts by the DPRK. Recall that due to such need to seek equal representation by both Koreas, the UN gave both the ROK and DPRK simultaneous entry as UN member states in the same year, 1991, which was both purposeful and strategic.
    6) What are the chances of Seoul joining the UN Security Council compared to the two other Southeast Asian countries?

    It’s anybody’s guess. On the one hand, South Korea is a model economic success story that exists between two very large neighbors, China and Japan. South Korea is also trying to create peaceful relations on the Korean peninsula, which is at times, not an easy accomplishment. On the other hand, there may be concern that South Korea is, in a sense, over-represented in the UN, since the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is also from South Korea. It took Colombia and Cuba 154 rounds in 1979 and 47 rounds for Venezuela and Guatemala. Plus South Korea already was represented in the UNSC from 1996-97.


    U.S.-ROK missile pact revision – 5 Implications

    October 3rd, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) What has been revised in the joint military pact between Korea and
    the U.S.? (in terms of the country’s missile capabilities?)

    The recent missile range pact between the U.S. and ROK allows for the extension of South Korea’s ballistic missile range from the current striking distance of 300km to 800 kilometers.
    What this means is that – with a strike range of 800 kilometers – South Korea’s missiles would have the capability to strike most, if not all, targets within North Korea, including its Yongbyon nuclear facility.
    North Korea’s ballistic missiles have the potential to strike most, if not all, targets within South Korea. The DPRK is also developing its Taepodong-2 ballistic missile technology, which some estimate to have a strike range of up to 10,000 kilometers. This range would make a strike target as far away as Hawaii possible.

    2) Why has Seoul strongly called for the revision?
    South Korea has wanted the ballistic missile pact revision to broaden its missile protection capabilities. Other related reasons could include:
    – Recent North Korean aggressions in and around the DPRK-ROK border, including attacks/aggressions against Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 and an earlier attack on a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, which killed 46 servicemen
    – Increasing inter-Korean political uncertainty regarding Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s recently appointed leader. Little is known about him. And given his relative lack of military experience and youth (late 20s), the likelihood of potential internal insurrection may be seen as uncertain and thus riskier. Based in part on such uncertainty, the ROK’s defense ministry has called for a 5.1% military budget increase
    – From a domestic political perspective, a push for greater missile capabilities before South Korea’s upcoming December 19 presidential elections may be a strategic pre-emptive move to mitigate the risk that South Korea’s next president may not be from the same conservative ruling party (Saenuri). Of the three top presidential candidates, two of the three (Moon Jae-in of the DUP party, and Ahn Chul-soo an independent candidate) would most likely support a relatively more dovish/pro-DPRK policy stance.
    3) Washington has been reluctant to alter the pact for a significant
    period of time. Could the revised agreement undermine Japan and the U.S.’s initiatives of non-proliferation and arms control?

    First, from the U.S. perspective, on the one hand, it is in the process of increasing its security pivot more towards Asia, which serves as a notable security presence to Pyongyang and Beijing.
    Second, yes, the revised agreement could undermine Japan and the U.S.’s initiatives towards non-proliferation and arms control in the region (which has been especially tumultuous recently, due to increased tensions based on disputed island territories involving China, South Korea, and Japan).
    What the U.S. wants to avoid is an Asian arms race – what can be called a twenty-first century “Confucian Cold War” in which Japan decides to reconstitute its nuclear technology for military use. This would mean that Tokyo’s leadership would put forth the process towards amending its post-War constitution, which at present, provides for its military to be used for defensive purposes only, or alternatively, taking a relatively broad interpretation of “defensive purposes” to include, but not be limited to, such things as protecting its national interests abroad (rather than purely domestically).
    It is important to not understate the potential for Japan to convert its nuclear capabilities for military use in a relatively short time period, if provoked to do so.

    4) Briefly tell us about North Korea’s missile capabilities and how
    strong of a threat it is to the security of the Northeast Asian region
    as well as the Korean peninsula.

    – BALLISTIC MISSILES: 800 (estimated total)
    – POTENTIAL LONG-RANGE MISSILE CAPABILITIES: TAEPO-DONG 2 (which can conceivably reach targets as far as 10,000 kilometers from the missile’s launch pad)
    – NUCLEAR WARHEADS: 6 to 8 (as publicly announced by the DPRK). Speculation exists that the DPRK has the capability to produce more nuclear warheads, which it may be doing at present.
     – ARMY: 1,000,000-plus (estimated). Although the sheer size of the DPRK’s military is noteworthy, it is highly possible that most of its army are not as well-equipped as ROK and U.S. military forces that it will meet in the event of a conflict.
     5) What is North Korea’s likely reaction to the revision?
    One of North Korea’s greatest weapons is an invisible one – being predictably unpredictable and unpredictably irrational.
    Although no one really can know with great specificity, given that the DPRK is a black box of sorts in terms of available information, what can be said is that it is more a question of “when” than “if” North Korea will antagonize South Korea and its allies. Such behavior may come in the form of military and/or paramilitary and/or cyberattacks, particularly before, during, and possibly after South Korea’s upcoming presidential elections.
    See the Global Times op-ed piece here by Jasper Kim on this topic.

    Korea’s Missing Ingredient

    August 24th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Below is my latest Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed piece, “Korea’s Missing Ingredient”




    • This article asks the question: what challenges face Korean venture capital (VC) firms?


    • Korea’s economy is heavily dependent on large conglomerates. And exports make up nearly half (48%) of its GDP. Just think of how much more vibrant Korea’s economy could be if VCs were afforded greater economic freedom to invest in “the next big thing.”


    • Korea’s state-sponsored “hardware”–technoparks, incubators, business parks–are fine,but not optimal (those receiving such public funding may, as a result, have a financial self-interested incentive to disagree with this view).


    • The corporate laws should be reformed such that VCs can be formed as not only as corporates (albeit stock or LLC, the latter being a more flexible form of a corporation, but still by definition, a corporation by law), but as also as partnerships (as in Silicon Valley, Route 128)


    • Policy prescriptions include amending Korea’s commercial code to allow VCs to form as partnerships, so that greater interaction and a longer term focus can be formed between the VC investors and the invested businesses (and their founders).


    Korea’s Missing Ingredient

    Venture-capital funds have been the special sauce for high-tech booms elsewhere. Seoul should get out of the way of a similar boom.

    The U.S. has Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Japan has Masayoshi Son of Softbank. China has Jack Ma of Alibaba. South Korea has . . . who, exactly?

    That question grows more and more urgent as Korea tries to shift economic gears from manufacturing powerhouse to global innovator. The Zuckerbergs, Sons and Mas of the world show that fostering creativity requires creative geniuses. But those stories also highlight the need for creative financing—and especially venture capital.

    In its early years, Facebook received substantial funding from venture funds Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. Long-established firms such as Cisco, Federal Express, Intel and …


    [remaining article available at]