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14th 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.

Education

Education is the key factor in the formation and development of human personalities and values. One's way of thinking is settled due to the education one has experienced, so all of us approach problems in our own diverse ways. Education has also greatly influenced and been influenced by the trajectory of society and politics. The future of a nation is determined by the youth who will inherit it, and so, governments place many stakes in strengthening and shaping the minds of children and young adults. In our roundtable, we will investigate the contents, methods, and value of education in Korea and the United States, and how these affect our careers and daily lives. We will also explore examples of how education has historically shaped both nations.

Questions to Consider:

  • How could we design the best education systems considering each country's respective models?
  • What kinds of Inequality of opportunity in education exist, and how are they related to income and geographical factors?
  • What are some challenges faced by today's students?
  • What is the role of education in foreign policy?

    Pandemics and Public Health

    With over 42 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of October 2020, the World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) a deadly pandemic. Since the emergence of this virus, countries have enforced varying degrees of safety precautions and health guidelines to protect their citizens. As evident by the Trump administration’s response in the United States compared to the Moon administration’s response in South Korea, how a government reacts to a global health crisis can be attributed to many factors. These include differing political ideologies that dictate appropriate action, social and cultural constructs that govern a population’s response, or even the lack of adequate medical care to address the needs of citizens. It’s ultimately this range in response to COVID-19 that the effect on public health of communities worldwide can differ dramatically. In this roundtable, we will explore how different countries and governments have responded to and combatted the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effect of the pandemic on public health across respective communities.

    Questions to Consider:

  • Is there a “right” response to COVID-19?
  • How do health and safety policies differ between South Korean and U.S.?
  • How does the pandemic affect our mental health as well as our relationships?
  • Why is there a culture of distrusting science in the United States but not South Korea?
  • What are the cultural differences at play? (I.e. Individualism vs collectivism; homogeneous vs heterogeneous populations)
  • What are the social implications of a global health crisis?
  • Why did the term “untact period” (contactless) become widely popular in South Korea but not the United States?

    Social Justice and Civil Society

    The murder of George Floyd last May, and the resulting worldwide protests against racism demonstrate the inherent power of social justice issues and movements; despite a global pandemic, issues of social justice refused to take a back seat. The social, cultural, and political paths of America and South Korea have both been undeniably shaped and altered by conflict and popular movements spanning across class, gender, race, and sexuality.

    This round table aims to explore such histories of resistance and adaptation within the current and contemporary periods of Korean and American society. Possible themes of discussion include identity politics, protest culture and the role of civil society, LGBTQ+ histories and experiences, and the overall relationship between governments and their citizens. We hope to compare our separate histories and experiences to trace movements of inclusion and division, and ultimately to learn how to support one another and celebrate diversity.

    Questions to Consider:

  • What is solidarity?
  • How might one create a global concept of social justice, that subsumes the specific circumstances of individual societies?
  • What are the differences between the practices of racism, sexism, and homophobia in the US and South Korea?
  • In regard to governmental action or inaction, how are social justice issues similar or different in the two countries; in turn, how do citizens approach these issues?

    Soft Power and Hard Power

    In September 2020, BTS’ hit “Dynamite” ranked first at the Billboard Hot 100. Soon after, the South Korean entertainment company that manages BTS became listed in the international stock market. Movies like Parasite have also gained global recognition which have made an impact on South Korea’s economic and national prestige. These milestones are not surprising. Since the 1990s, the spread of South Korean culture, or the Hallyu Wave, has not only made waves in increasing the global popularity of South Korean culture, but also in international politics.

    Traditional international relations split power dynamics into two camps: soft power and hard power. Soft power, or cultural international politics, has emerged as a persuasive approach to international affairs. It’s impact on diplomacy is less notable, but arguably just as or if not more effective than its counterpart. Hard power, or military or economic influence, has a more evident relationship with a country’s international capability.

    Soft power and hard power have their own origins, and their own values. They affect the approach that we take towards international politics - whether we choose to subtly change attitudes and consumption, or whether we employ traditional means of approaching power.

    Questions to Consider

  • Is there a difference between how Americans and South Koreans perceive soft and hard power?
  • What can South Korea’s cultural exports teach us about the value of soft power?
  • Where does South Korea’s soft power place it on the world stage? Can this be compared to earlier American ventures in soft power, and has this affected America’s place in the world? And how are the two related, if at all, and how do they interact with one another?
  • How can we make connections between understanding one country’s cultural and international power?
  • What soft power and hard power strategies are needed to deal with US-ROK relations? EX: Security issues on the Korean peninsula