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13th 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.

Art, History and Narrative

Although history is formally told and taught in the classroom, it is remembered through the ways in which people preserve and create those histories as part of continuous dialogue. Art and narrative are ways that stories continue to be told and preserved. How does history influence art? How does art tell the stories of the past? In what ways are people and societies carrying the traditions of the past into modernity? How can we use history and art to come up with strategies to address the problems in today’s society? By visiting sites in South Korea and the US, we can explore the different ways in which art, history and narratives are interconnected.

Some topics of exploration include:

  • Preservation of Art
  • Popular art vs Folk Art
  • The value of art in an increasingly digitized world

    Diplomacy and Security

    We live in a globalized society in which people are more interconnected than ever before. As the idea of “global citizenship” continues to be popularized, states face the challenge of maintaining the delicate balance between moving forward with an international perspective, while still ensuring the well-being of their own independent nation through diplomacy and security. Diplomacy can be seen as managing international relations between countries in a manner that promotes a mutually beneficial relationship. National security, of course, is ensuring that a given country is protected from both internal and external threats. With the added element of historical identity, the international game of relationships and politics is intrinsically convoluted. This roundtable will discuss the influence of history on the decisions of today, as both national and global citizens, and strive to create flexible solutions to create and maintain this balance.

    Some potential questions to consider:

  • How does a nation’s history influence the decisions of today?
  • In what ways do historical events - particularly, tragic history - shape the relationships that nations form?
  • How can countries move forward in a way that respects national history but appreciates the significance of being a part of a global community?
  • How can the US-ROK alliance be seen, in view of global citizenship?
  • What can the U.S. and South Korea do to widen their perspectives in view of global citizenship?
  • At what point is it right to prioritize country over world?
  • How do bilateral relationships factor impact a country’s global status?

    Identity, Mental Health, and Relationships

    Much of our own identity reflects the reactions of other people. When it becomes so serious as to make one uncomfortable to show their true self, it has an effect on our relationship with others. This artifice in relationships can cause serious stress which can result in mental health issues. Today, many people seek self-satisfaction and well-being to make their lives bountiful. However, when it comes to identity issues, mental health problems, and addressing relationships, it is still a difficult problem to solve. Nowadays, the idea of what identity is has expanded. What caused this kind of change? Is this new occurrence special to the 21st century? Which comes first, identity, mental health, or relationships?

    In this roundtable, we will talk about how identity, mental health, and relationships interact. Possible subtopics:

  • How can we address relationships in social networks and what influence does it have on traditional relationships?
  • How do identity, mental health, and relationships have an influence on each other?
  • “Hikikomori”- Japan’s modern-day social recluses

    Income Inequality - Gap between the rich and poor

    In South Korea and the United States, while some have a very comfortable financial situations, others struggle because of economic factors. This income gap is growing more and more every year. It is one of the biggest issues in the modern economic system. Nowadays, the economic condition of individual countries has a very close relationship with global issues. This is because one country’s economic issues are not only a worry for that country.

    One of the major issues surrounding the gap between the rich and poor is cultural differences based on said gap. In capitalist societies, financial status is very important. This can impact many cultural aspects of society because life is made by economic affordability.

    Income inequality is becoming increasingly evident in societies around the world. When the world transitioned into a global society and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) became the marker of national success, this translated into a race to find a niche in the new economic order. How are societies and individuals affected by income inequality? What are the inequalities between and within countries like? By taking a look at the economic disparities between the US and South Korea, we can learn more about the problems and generate solutions to alleviate economic strain.

    Potential discussion topics include:

  • Does the gap between the rich and poor occur naturally, or is it acquired?
  • Cause and effect of the gap between the rich and poor
  • Practical use of welfare
  • The relationship between the gap between the rich and poor and cultural differences

    Sustainable Development

    The Brundtland Commission, formerly known as the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

    Sustainable development, or sustainability, has been a growing field over the past few decades as visible proof of the impact of climate change is becoming more well known in not only the scientific community, but throughout the general public as well. The future of sustainability is about finding practical ways in which governments, businesses, and individuals can make changes to become more sustainable. Sustainability covers a wide variety of topics ranging from ways everyday people can reduce personal waste at home, all the way to the role of governments to police large companies in order to decrease their emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) into the environment, which have the potential to damage the ozone layer. In this roundtable, we will discuss the need for sustainable development while considering practical solutions to the varied topics which make up sustainable development.

    Potential topic ideas:

  • Sustainability at the intersection of environment, economy, and society
  • Environmentalism and environmental justice on a global scale
  • How can developed countries help undeveloped countries be more sustainable?
  • The role of the United States and South Korea in sustainability
  • Whose responsibility is it to work towards making the world a more sustainable place?
  • How has consumerism (i.e., fast fashion, mass agricultural production, etc.) impacted sustainability?

    Tourism and Culture

    Tourism has become an important source of income for many regions and even entire countries because of its direct effects on the social, educational, and economic sectors of national societies, and on their international relations. However, it is also the largest industry in the world that has far-reaching cultural ramifications.

    For instance, when you think of South Korea, you immediately think of K-pop, K-beauty, Korean food, and anything else related to popular Korean culture. These forms of popular culture have created gateways for other aspects of Korean culture to be shared, spread, and celebrated. This increased attention towards Korea through pop culture has driven economic growth and increased tourism.

    And when you think of Hawaii, you think of palm trees, infamous luaus, and great beaches. Popular marketing paints Hawaii as the perfect summertime getaway, thus driving tourism and revenue for these islands off the coast of North America. However, to what extent does this utopian image of Hawaii really represent the realities of Hawaiian tourism? What is the concept of responsible tourism?

    In this roundtable, we will explore the history of the tourism industry and its contemporary cultural effects, taking the perspective of the “toured” as well as that of the tourist.

    Some possible topics of exploration include:

  • Comparative histories of travel in the U.S. vs ROK
  • Tourism industries (i.e., Hallyu Wave)
  • Types of tourism (mass, sustainable, movie, volunteer, educational, social, dark, etc.)
  • Promotion of culture vs. Exchange of culture vs. Modification of culture