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Summer 2005

Future of U.S.-Korean relationships discussed at CBA seminar

Back row, from left: Ted Osius, deputy director, Office of Korean Affairs, U.S. State Department; Scott Rembrandt, director of Research and Academic Affairs, The Korea Economic Institute of America; Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J., president, UDM; Bahman Mirshab, dean, CBA, UDM; James Przystup, senior fellow and research professor, National Defense University; Bruce Brorby, associate dean, CBA, UDM; G. Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist, General Motors Corporation.

Front row, from left: Jonathan Lee, professor of International Business, University of Windsor; Suk Kim, professor of Finance, CBA, UDM; Stacey Banks, administrator, Institute for North Korea, CBA, UDM; Barbara Schirmer, vice president of Academic Affairs and Provost, UDM.

Presenter not pictured: Thomas Park ’81, clinical professor, Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Events on the world stage ensured that CBA's March 23 seminar, “The United States and the Two Koreas”, was particularly timely. While North Korea's recent refusal to enter into disarmament talks was certainly on people's minds, economic issues also figured prominently—South Korea has the 11th largest economy in the world, is the third largest market, and the U.S. is the second largest exporter to that country.

South-Korean-born Professor Suk Kim is the director of the CBA's Institute for North Korea, which, along with the Korean Economic Institute of America, sponsored the event. Says Kim, “Korea is very important to the U.S., not only militarily, but culturally, economically, and geographically as well—North Korea has borders with China and Russia, and is within a two-hour flight of Japan.”

Panelist G. Mustafa Mohatarem, who has been chief economist at General Motors Corporation since 1995, spoke on, “What Happened to the Asian Miracle?” Says Mohatarem, “The key message was, all the Asian economies, and especially eastern Asian economies, have relied on export-led growth, but that strategy has taken them about as far as it can.”

In order for economies such as Japan, which has employed this strategy, to turn around, “they need to focus more on their domestic economy than exports. A key element of that is to stop manipulating their currencies, which has the effect of subsidizing their exports, which in turn is very damaging to the American companies who compete with them, their workers, and their communities.”

Other speakers on the panel included

  1. Jonathan Lee, professor of International Business at the University of Windsor, who serves on 11 editorial boards and has written extensively on U.S. Korean relations;
  2. Ted Osius, deputy director of the Office of Korean Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, who has significant experience with Northeast Asian trade and economic issues;
  3. Thomas Park ’81, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine, and president of the Christian Association for Medical Mission, which founded the Third People's Hospital in North Korea in 1995;
  4. James J. Przystup, a senior fellow and research professor at the National Defense University, who was both director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation and on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs; and
  5. Scott Rembrandt, director of Research and Academic Affairs at the Korea Economic Institute of America, who has served as a consultant in China and as the business manager for the Chief Country Officer Group–Asia at Deutsche Bank.

Kim adds, “I was surprised to find that most of the audience seemed to be more interested in economic relationships between the Koreas and the U.S. than the North Korean nuclear issue. The Korean peninsula is the only region on earth that might force the U.S. to become involved in major ground and air operations with virtually no prior warning.”

Representatives from Taiwan, China, Thailand and other Asian countries, along with UDM students and faculty and members of the public attended the seminar. CBA Dean Bahman Mirshab says, “The program was well-received and successful in bringing a variety of people to campus, and we want to make it an annual event.”