Special Guest Lecture Series at UW-Madison Examines US – North Korea Relations


DATE: 10/17/2005

CONTACT: Christine Merritt, Center for East Asian Studies, cmerritt@wisc.edu


Madison, WI – Although an agreement in principal concerning dismantlement
of North Korea’s nuclear programs was reached last month in six-nation
talks, North Korea is still identified by the U.S. as one of this country’s
top national security risks. Just how worried should Americans be about North

To answer that question and to help the UW-Madison campus and greater Madison
area community gain a better understanding of North Korea, the UW-Madison’s
Center of East Asia will sponsor a multi-lecture series, “Understanding
(and Misunderstanding) North Korea.” The series is part of the Center’s
new Korean Studies Initiative, which is devoted to improving and expanding
Korean language and area studies offerings on campus, and making those resources
available to the community through outreach events such as this lecture series.

According to the Center, there is heightened interest in Korean language and
area studies among students. In response to the interest, Korean language courses
have been expanded this year to include third year level classes. A special
topics course, “Modern Korea: North & South,” is being taught
this fall and is linked to the multi-lecture series. “Some Americans
think of Korea as an obscure place, but in fact, South Korea is the seventh
largest trading partner of the U.S. and North Korea is an important player
affecting the future peace and security of the United States,” says Hope
Rennie, Assistant Director of the Center for East Asian Studies. “Our
students, especially those interested in careers in business or in international
relations, realize that they need to know more about Korea in order to be ready
for the challenges ahead.”

The multi-lecture series, sponsored by the Center and Korea Economic Institute,
a non-profit educational organization based in Washington, D.C., will focus
on perceptions and misperceptions of North Korea within the U.S. government,
media, and academia, and among non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Speakers
will address such issues as:

— What do we really know about North Korea, given
that information is so limited and unreliable?

— How is this information filtered through the preconceptions and biases of
those engaged in this discourse?

— What is going on with North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the six-party

— What about famine and human rights abuses in North Korea?

— Why does the North Korean leadership act the way they do and how can we
best respond?

Dates of the series and speakers include:

Thurs., Oct. 20, 4:00 p.m.

5120 Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue, Madison

“What Do We Really Know about North Korea?”

John Merrill, Chief of the Northeast Asia Division, Bureau of Intelligence
and Research, U.S. Department of State

Thurs., Nov. 3, 4:00 p.m.

4151 Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue, Madison

“U.S. Media Discourses about North Korea”

Daniel Sneider, Foreign Affairs Columnist, San Jose Mercury News

Also co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Literature,
and the University Lectures Committee

Tues., Nov. 15, 4:00 p.m.

2120 Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue, Madison

“The Challenge of a Nuclear North Korea”

Scott Snyder, Senior Associate, the Asia Foundation and the Pacific Forum of
the Center for International and Strategic Studies

Thurs., Dec. 1, 4:00 p.m.

4151 Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue

“ North Korea Beyond the Nukes: Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid, and the

Gordon Flake, Executive Director, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation,
and editor of Paved with Good Intentions: The NGO Experience in North Korea.