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12th KASC Roundtables

The main academic component of the conference is the "Roundtable". Each Roundtable consists of Korean and American delegates, and is led by Executive Committee Roundtable Coordinators. Delegates are a part of a Roundtable the entire conference that focuses on a specific topic within the context of U.S.-Korea relations.

Refugee Crisis

Since 1992, around 12,208 refugees have applied for asylum in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and millions of refugees seek asylum the United States (US) each year. However, asylum laws in both countries are making it tougher for asylum seekers to be integrated into modern society. How can we ensure that refugees seeking asylum in both countries have a safe place to go? What effects do refugees have on the countries they seek asylum in? Are there adequate resources for refugees in the ROK or the US? Not only will North Korean refugees be addressed, but Yemeni, Pakistani, Ethiopian, and Syrian refugees, as well. This roundtable strives to find a solution to the multiple ongoing refugee crisis that involves both US and ROK cooperation.

Some possible questions that will be explored in this roundtable are:

  • What does nationality have to do with safety?
  • What is the reason for refugees leaving their home country?
  • How can refugees be integrated into whatever society they seek asylum in?
  • How do current immigration/asylum laws affect refugees?
  • How does the process of seeking asylum affect the mental and physical state of refugees?

    Art, History, and Narratives

    No one can truly experience history and past events, but by examining art and studying the context in which it was made, we can come quite close to understanding the people and periods of the past. Does history influence art? Does art create history? Who creates the narrative that comes of this art? By making the connection between art and history clear, we can further examine how people and institutions shape the narrative of the past. In light of this, the Art, History, and Narratives roundtable will study who controls the narrative that art creates in conjunction with history, and why it is so in the US and ROK. How does each country treat its art? What kinds of narratives exist about art and history in each country? This roundtable strives to create a dialogue between people and countries in order to enhance understandings of art and history.

    Some possible topics of exploration include:

  • Preservation of art
  • Performing arts vs. visual arts
  • Authenticity vs. commerciality
  • High culture vs. pop culture vs. folk culture

    Mental Health

    Jump to any time in history and you will find that happiness is the ultimate goal in anybody’s life regardless of race, gender or creed. Yet it always is the most elusive to obtain. It was commonly thought that material wealth and prestige bought glee. Yet, such thinking led people to always live for ‘tomorrow’ instead of living ‘today’. The forward thinking mindset is so prevalent in the Korean society that people ignore warning signs of stress and continue to push themselves, oftentimes leading to “death by overwork” or 과로사 [Gwarosa]. Is this really the fast track to a fulfilling life? How many people are chasing an unachievable ideal? And what exactly is the path to finding true well-being? Awareness of mindfulness is growing within the American society, yet stress and anxiety are still rising in younger generations of today. Within this roundtable, we will struggle with the big questions of life that many have tried to answer before us as well as deal with the questions that arise specifically in our era.

    Since mental health is inherently a complex issue drawing from and impacting many aspects of life and society, some possible themes/aspects to explore in this roundtable are:

  • How does the internet, social media influence our self esteem?
  • What policies are necessary to address depression in the aging population?
  • “The Lonely crowd” by David Riesman
  • Professional help vs. Moral support?
  • The psychology of suicide
  • Chatting: a viable means of meaningful communication?
  • Mindful compassion

    Urban Planning

    Cities of today are the future - so how do we design a city that will stand the test of time? When people plan cities, both technically and politically, there are a vast number of factors they must consider. What will the city look like, both from the ground and the air? How many people can fit in this city? Which people will come here, and how will they get from place to place? How can planners prevent issues common in cities such as overcrowding, homelessness, and environmental concerns? As cities in both the US and ROK are growing and changing, this roundtable aims to analyze the similarities and differences between the way cities are planned and implemented into each country, and further use that analysis to suggest ways that each country can change existing cities or build new ones to better serve their citizens.

    Some suggested topics of exploration include:

  • Transportation
  • Access to food, water, and healthcare
  • Overcrowding
  • Use of public spaces
  • Balancing urbanization with natural spaces


    Identity involves one’s nationality, gender, socio-economic status, history, and so on. So many different components come together to mold a single being, and this intersectionality creates convoluted meanings that difficult to navigate. For example, what does it mean to be a Korean in China compared to being a Korean in America? How do citizenship and ethnicity correlate? What does nationality mean to someone who has roots in many countries? Meanwhile, how do we identify ourselves when it comes to our gender? How do gender roles and gender identity harmonize? In this roundtable, we will understand our individual conception in depth by carefully thinking about identity on both a global and personal level. We can also propose solutions on how to balance between individual identity and group identity.

    Some possible topics of exploration include:

  • Causes of identity formation
  • How to connect between individual identity and social identity
  • Which is more prior to ‘Being alone’ or ‘Being a social man’
  • The idea of feminine masculinity in Korea and America