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Tillerson is, Regrettably, Wrong. Strategic Patience is a Good Idea

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This is a local re-posting of an essay I wrote for The National Interest a few weeks ago. And Rex Tillerson’s recent comment that  Obama’s ‘strategic patience’ approach to North Korea is over, just highlights my argument. He’s almost certainly wrong, even if he is saying it out of a frustration which most in the analyst community share. We all want to do some kind of game-changer to alter the arc of North Korean behavior, but the non-strategic patience options are all terrible unfortunately.

The Trump people are said to be considering all options, including kinetic choices or meeting with the North Koreans. An internal policy review is occurring. It all sounds very dramatic, but I’ll say for the record that, barring some bizzaro Trumpian meltdown, any major shift is unlikely.

Strategic patience – best understood as containment and deterrence – has more or less been US, South Korean, and Japanese policy toward North Korea for decades. Sure we didn’t call it that, but that’s pretty much what it has been. We’ve had lot of provocations over the years which reasonably warranted counter-strikes, just as we’ve had lots of chances to talk. Neither have worked. So we end up defaulting back to containment and deterrence – waiting for North Korea’s internal contradictions to bring its collapse, and constantly, frustratingly negotiating with the Chinese to cut, or at least constrict, the umbilical which keeps Pyongyang afloat. This is fatiguing and uninspiring, but just about every conceivable policy, barring bombing, has been tried, so I doubt Trump has anything new. Are the Trump really read to risk a major regional conflict?

The full essay follows the jump:



Recently in these pages and elsewhere, I have defended the unpopular notion of ‘strategic patience’ regarding North Korea. The term is an informal one which emerged from the administration of former American President Barack Obama. Like that other informal Obama meme, ‘leading from behind,’ it received wide criticism from proponents – neoconservative and liberal internationalist – of an activist US foreign policy. A common line of criticism is that strategic patience is indistinguishable from doing nothing, and indeed the moniker does suggest that, which is unfortunate. The following is an effort at a more robust defense.

Patience does indeed suggest waiting, and while this seems demoralizing, I defend it, because more active approaches have huge downsides. This is why, despite the regular ritual of North Korea policy reviews when new administrations take over in Washington or Seoul, we usually end up defaulting back to deterrence and waiting for North Korea and its Chinese patron to change.

Specifically, we are waiting for North Korea to liberalize and/or China to realize that its support for North Korea is more damaging than beneficial. Much as we waited for the internal contradictions of communism to catch up with the Soviet Union – which they did by the 1980s – so we are waiting for some kind of opening in Pyongyang. We must also wait on China, because Beijing’s assistance to North Korea buys the regime time and space to escape those contradictions. If North Korea were truly isolated, without its Chinese sponsor and with Chinese cooperation on United Nations sanctions, the failures of the North Korean system would accumulate rapidly, much as they did in the late 1990s.

Obviously, these are high hopes. We will indeed be waiting for a long time. But that does not obviate the strategy. It worked in the Cold War, and just as more active approaches toward the Soviets, like rollback, had large risks that ultimately made patience and continuing deterrence the best choice, so it is in Korea.

Alternatives are Tempting But Risky

On the right, hawks would have us consider kinetic options. Indeed, now that North Korea is talking of a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile, US President Donald Trump’s administration is apparently considering airstrikes. South Korean administrations too have considered forceful options, most recently in 2010 after two North Korean provocations in six months killed around fifty South Koreans. At the last minute, the South Korean president at the time, Lee Myung Bak, demurred for reasons that are instructive and continue to hobble all kinetic deliberations.

There is little doubt that US and/or South Korea airpower could deal punishing blows to North Korean missile and nuclear sites. North Korean air defense is far behind the allies’ hi-tech capabilities. Rather the concerns are:

1. Airstrikes might provoke a war. The allies would indeed win that war, but the civilian death toll would likely be in the hundreds of thousands, and maybe reach the millions if North Korea were to use nuclear weapons. We do not know what the red-lines of the Korean People’s Army are, but its massive role in the state is predicated on its ability to defend the homeland. Airstrikes would directly challenge that rationale; the brass would like demand a major response.

2. Seoul is hugely vulnerable to retaliation. Even if kinetic action does not spark an all-out war, South Korea is still poorly configured for any kind of lesser, tit-for-tat escalation with the North, because its capital, Seoul, begins just thirty miles from the demilitarized zone. That puts it within artillery range and is the reason why South Korean leaders have never green-lit extensive counter-strikes to North Korean provocations. Seoul is just too vulnerable.

On the left, doves would have us engage North Korea. Yet here too the downsides are large. Just talking to North Korea gives it major benefits, regardless of whether the talks actually go anywhere (this is why North Korea always wants to talk). And North Korea’s history of keeping its word in negotiations is famously terrible. The last major US-North Korea agreement was the ‘leap day deal’ of 2012 (so named because it was struck on February 29). As Ankit Panda notes, it started falling apart within weeks, and taught US negotiators that North Korea under the new Kim was still the slippery, bad faith negotiator it had always been. Indeed in a meeting last year, I heard former US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert say that the North Koreans starting reneging on the deal within days.

Probably the most egregious example of bad faith though is the continuation of the North Korean missile and nuclear programs through the ‘Sunshine Policy’ period. Two consecutive South Korean liberal presidents reached out to North Korea over ten years, 1998-2008. Tremendous efforts were made by the South to bring North Korea in from the cold, garnering one of those presidents the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet North Korea made no real concessions, did not change, and continued its weapons programs and other bad behavior like proliferation, counterfeiting, drug running, and so on. Hence the large risk that deals with North Korea de facto subsidize the regime, because the North will not keep its word, nor tolerate the highly intrusive inspections which would be needed to insure it did.

Given those poor choices on the right and left, the ‘centrist’ status quo of waiting on North Korea, and China, does not look so bad. It is certainly not ideal. It is bland and rather inert, especially for Americans with our tendency towards activism and manicheanism in foreign policy. But it has kept the peace for decades, and the Soviet example suggests that waiting out North Korea may work.

Finally, strategic patience need not mean passivity among the democracies germane to the problem, namely South Korea, Japan, and the US. While we wait for China and North Korea to come around, those democracies can: expand their defense spending (especially Japan), significantly improve missile defense, start taking seriously civil defense against missile strikes on their cities, tighten sanctions, push China at the UN and elsewhere regarding sanctions enforcement, and trim away North Korea’s diplomatic contacts which it uses for illicit, hard-currency raising programs, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. So yes, we must be ‘patient’ regarding North Korea and China – there is little other choice – but we need not passive at home.

Filed under: Defense, Korea (North), Korea (South), Strategic Patience, The National Interest, Trump

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University




When You Speak Korean, but They Reply in English – A Glass with Billy (빌리와 한 잔) Episode 4

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Imagine this: you're speaking with a Korean (in Korean). You say a sentence correctly, and you're sure they understood what you said... but then they reply to you in English. It can crush your motivation for learning Korean. "Did they not understand me? Is my pronunciation bad? Did I say something wrong? Is my Korean so bad that they would rather speak English? Do they just want to practice English with me instead?" There are a whole list of possible reasons, but let's talk about the real reasons this can happen.

I met up with SpongeMind TV to discuss this. Check it out here~!

The post When You Speak Korean, but They Reply in English – A Glass with Billy (빌리와 한 잔) Episode 4 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





English Listening Tip: Watch Movies and TV

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I’m sure that if you study English, you want to improve your listening skills! There are a ton of ways to practice English listening, but one of the best ways is to watch English TV or movies. The reason it’s so good is because it’s fun. This means that you’re likely to keep doing it, especially if you get addicted to watching a favourite TV series.

Keep on reading for how to make the best use of your time when watching English TV or movies. Here are the English listening tips!

Watch Movies and TV to Improve your English Listening

You probably already watch English TV or movies, but with subtitles in your own language. This does not provide you with the maximum benefits. It’s better if you watch without subtitles. This is because your brain will be forced to work much harder.

Points to Consider when Choosing What to Watch

When choosing a TV show or film, there are several points to consider.

  1. Is it interesting to you? You can find lists of “Best Movies to Learn English” all over the internet, but if the films are in genres you don’t like, you are less likely to get much out of it.

  2. Is it something you could watch over and over? Unless your English is advanced, you will learn more each time you watch the same show. So, pick something you will enjoy re-watching as much as you enjoyed watching for the first time.

  3. Accents. Some accents are easier to understand than others. For example, Tom Hanks speaks slowly and clearly, but Sylvester Stallone sounds tired or a little drunk and is more difficult to understand.

  4. Genre. Action movies will be easier to understand, because you can use the visual cues (the action) help you understand. Dramas and romantic comedies will have more “sitting and talking” scenes and more difficult language.


Take your English Listening to the Next Level 

You can take watching TV or movies to the next level by studying the transcripts. There is a large selection of movie scripts available to read online for free at IMSDB and TV scripts at Forever Dreaming. This is a fan-created site with a large collection of Friends scripts.

I think watching a series is better than a movie, and watching reality TV is the best. The reason for this is you can get used to the characters’ accents and speech, which makes comprehension easier. With reality TV, you can also hear how people really talk. A quick word of warning! Don’t start pulling people’s hair and throwing things when you are angry– not everything you see on reality TV is true!

YouTube with Subtitles On

If you watch episodes on YouTube, you can turn on the subtitles. Keep in mind that the subtitles aren’t always accurate. Challenge yourself to watch carefully and catch the mistakes. This will help you listen actively, even when there are no comprehension activities to complete.

Eventually, you want to turn off the subtitles, though. There are no subtitles in day to day life! But first, watch this episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. I saw several mistakes just in the first thirty seconds. How many can you find?

Need more English Listening Tips?

If you liked this English listening tip about watching TV and movies, then you’ll need to get this book: 71 Ways to Practice English Listening: Tips for ESL/EFL Learners. The tip you just read is from this book, and there are 70 more English listening tips just like it. You’ll be listening in English like a pro in no time, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced student. It really is possible to improve your English listening skills.

Check out the book on Amazon today:

The post English Listening Tip: Watch Movies and TV appeared first on ESL Speaking.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University

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Getting Good Photography Advice is Hard. Accepting it is Even Harder!

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Years ago I wrote and subsequently had to delete a great post about online critiques. For some reason the post attracted a lot of spam and I think that later compromised my site. However, it was a great post and you can read it here. At any rate, the point of that article was to explore the idea that the people who are giving critiques or “advice” are sometimes not offering much in a practical sense. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I got exactly what I was looking for from none other than the legendary Jared Polin.

The thing is that there are people out there that just want to rip you a new one. Even if you want a solid critique they will pick apart your image until you wish that you had never taken it. When I reread that old article, I realized that nothing much has changed in the 4 years since I wrote it. Except for the fact that I am seeking advice. The trouble is trying to find “good” advice and by that I mean stuff that I can actually use to improve my photography and sales.

So jump to the other week when I asked Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo a very direct question. His answer amazed me in the way that it was so direct and to the point. He took the time to actually search for my stuff and really gave it some thought. At first, I was a little scared, but then I realized that this was exactly what I needed to hear. Not to mention that Jared knows how to give a “critiquee mccritiquerson” meaning that it is fair and lacks the obvious jabs at a person’s character or business skills that some people throw in just to be dicks.

After watching this segment and realizing that I really have to up my game, I got a ton of great suggestions. I immediately took Jared’s advice and started a youtube channel and posted a video. I was nervous at first but the overall thing that I took from this was that I had to get my name out there… even further. The reason being is that the area that I am pushing towards is extremely saturated. I thought that having a masters in education could set me apart but the reality is that people also want to be entertained. So if your videos are entertaining as much as they are informative, then you onto something. However, that is something that I will need to work on in the future.

Now, let’s talk about the other side of the coin. There are a lot of “gurus” out there peddling digital snake oil and it is really tough to get a straight answer out of them. You just have to step back think about why the former pro athlete who looks like runway model is making a millions dollars a month taking  instagram pics. Can a regular person who is putting out great content have the same amount of success?  The point that I want to make is that these so-called celebrity photo gurus and lifestyle entrepreneurs have never started from zero like you or I have.

I asked questions to a lot of these people in a hope that I would figure out how to get more sales for my tutorials. I got a lot of “make great content” and “work hard and hustle” but few actually gave me a concrete answer. The reason being that for the average photographer it is infinitely more difficult to get your name out there despite working hard and hustling everyday.

The point being is that if you are halfway normal, you really have to put in the effort to really get your name out there. The advice that you seek may not be the best fit because the one giving it may not have been in the same situation as you. So if you seek advice from the guru’s, here are some tips that might help you get a more useful answer.

Be Specific

Even if you think that you are, try to be even more specific. If you are asking about why no one is liking your image, they are going to give a basic, boring and generic answer. If you ask about what times you should post your image to get more likes and how to use analytics to get to know your audience, you will get closer to the answers that you want.

Choose Wisely

Not all knowledgeable internet gurus are cut from the same bolt of cloth. The guy with the great haircut that was a celebrity before he even picked up a camera can’t tell you how to start from zero. However, the if you are a landscape photographer seeking advice from a photographer shooting nudes, it is like comparing apples and oranges. Choose who and what you ask wisely. The reason being is that you want to get the no BS answer and if you ask the wrong person, BS is all that you are going to get.

Be a Part of Their Community

One the things that I notice a lot is that people can be very demanding when asking people to dispense their hard-earned knowledge. It is a bit like taking a great picture and having some stranger pop up and say “Where did you take this from? How do I get there?” For the most part I am want to help but in the same sense I am also thinking “Who the hell are you?” On the other hand if there is a member of my photo community and they pop up and like the photo and ask the same question, chances are I am going to help them out as best that I can.

These celebrity photographers are much the same. They probably get slammed by people demanding their time every day. So the best thing that you can do is be a part of their community and let them know a little bit about you. This give and take will have a great effect on their ability to know you and your work.



The post Getting Good Photography Advice is Hard. Accepting it is Even Harder! appeared first on The Sajin.

A Complete Guide to Nami Island

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About Nami Island When it comes to Korea’s top travel destinations, Nami Island, or Namiseom, is always on top of the list for good reason: breathtaking natural scenery with picture-postcard tree lanes, awe-inspiring woodlands, scenic riverside walks, laid-back atmosphere and many more. You can reach this beautiful, small half-moon shaped island in Chuncheon, in Gangwondo Province, … Continue reading A Complete Guide to Nami Island
a service for travelers to easily share and discover the latest hip & hot travel spots from all over the world. 
We are currently focusing on Korea as our destination and plan to expand to other countries gradually. 

Solitary Sage: Korea’s “Go-un” Choi Chi-won Book By Professor David Mason

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Last year, the Asia Institute invited the public to attend a free lecture by the author of the first English language book written about Choi Chi-won, one of Korea’s greatest historical figures. Author David Mason grew up in Michigan & has now lived in South Korea for more than three decades. He received his M.A. in Korean Studies (focusing on the History of Korean Religions) at the Graduate School of International Studies of Yonsei University in Seoul. He’s worked as an editor for the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, served as an enthusiastic tour-guide for groups of foreigners to Korea’s most beautiful and interesting areas, gives speeches on Korean history, culture & current development to various audiences, and also as a professor at the International Tourism for the Hanyang University Graduate School, a Professor of Cultural Tourism Studies at Kyung Hee University & currently at Chung-Ang University’s department of Public Service.  Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland attended the event & filed this report.

More information on Professor Mason’s book, “Solitary Sage: The Profound Life, Wisdom and Legacy of Korea’s “Go-un” Choi Chi-won”, can be found at

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The post Solitary Sage: Korea’s “Go-un” Choi Chi-won Book By Professor David Mason appeared first on Korea FM.

Fulbright Korea’s Black Culture & History Festival

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In June of 2016, American English teachers & Fulbright English Teaching Assistants from around South Korea gathered at the Seoul Global Cultural Center in Myeong-dong to share their thoughts & cultural talents at the Black Culture & History FestivalKorea FM reporter Chance Dorland spoke with event organizers & attendees to get their thoughts on race relations in South Korea.

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Stream this episode online at

Download the full episode at

This episode is brought to you by Podcast Assist & its $30 per hour flat rate podcasting voice overs, editing, mastering, transcriptions & even hosting (select a topic, they’ll create & host the podcast). Visit for more information. 

Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.

Rate & Review this podcast at

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The post Fulbright Korea’s Black Culture & History Festival appeared first on Korea FM.

MMPK March 25th Dinner Meet-up Registration Open!

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Spring is here and we are ready to get out into the fresh air and enjoy some of that crisp air and fresh Makgeolli!

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.06.57

We have been visiting a lot of upscale and expensive restaurants of late, and we would like to get back to our roots and visit a more traditional makgeolli bar. We will be visiting the new trendy park in Hongdae/Sincheon area to have some old school Makgeolli and Pajeon next to the lovely green space.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.42.30

This should be a fairly inexpensive meeting, with very traditional fare and a good variety of basic makgeollies.


If you want to get lively with us then send us an email to  ^^

Makgeolli Mamas & Papas

5 Secrets of the NIK Collection

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Years ago the NIK collection was one of the leading plugins for lightroom and it was competing with the likes of ON1 and other plugins. The NIK collection was and still is my go-to plugin for creative ideas and attempts to make a boring image better. The sad part is that since Google purchased the NIK collection, not a lot has been done with it. By not a lot, I mean outside of making it free, they have not updated a single thing.

However, this is not such a bad thing as the plugin is well made and while an update would be welcomed, not quite needed at this point. This should not put you off from downloading it and adding it to your lightroom arsenal. It can help in a pinch and could make the difference between a boring photo and one that really has some pop. Before we get into the secrets there are a few things that you should know about the collection.

What NIK is NOT

I recently saw a discussion about the NIK collection recently and I realized that there are a lot of misconceptions about the collection. Some people thought that it was similar to lightroom (it is not) and others thought that it was a glorified set of crappy filters (it is much more than that). What you should be thinking is that the NIK COLLECTION is a set of tools to help you enhance your photos. They came out before lightroom and even photoshop could produce decent HDR and they added a lot more versatility when it came to editing black and white images. However, it is not the be all and end all if you are thinking that you can save some money by just using the NIK collection.

What NIK is NOW

The NIK collection is made up of 7 different plugins that work from both Lightroom and Photoshop. Each of the 7 plugins have a drastically different use, but the main thing that you should take away from this is that they only enhance your photo. By that I mean that the heavy lifting of sharpening and other basic adjustments should be done to the image either before or after. As of March 25th 2016, google made the entire collection free. This is good news for many of you who are looking for a decent HDR or noise reduction plugin.


Secret #1 Fake Fall

One of the little known filters inside of color Efex Pro 4 is “Indian Summer” Great filter but misleading name. It sounds like a warming filter from Instagram but it most certainly is not. What Indian Summer does is change the colour of the leaves to fake autumn foliage. With a slight adjustment you can change the season instantly. While it may not be 100% perfect it’s main goal is to help in those times where you need the leaves to pop. However, if you have the time you can turn green leave read or yellow. Do make use of the control points (see the image above) as it will turn pine tree the same colour as the rest of the trees and that that will give away the effect. Use the control point to remove the effect on the unwanted areas.



Secret #2 Tilt Shift Miniature Effect

Analog Efex 2 is something of an enigma. What I believe was an attempt at making a instagram-like retro camera emulator turned out to be something more robust when they updated it. Once you have opened the plugin, click on the camera that you are using and it will bring up a menu with all of the effects in it. Click on Bokeh and then look on the left and you will see a circle and a square with dotted lines. Click that one and it will apply the tilt-shift effect. You can tweak it a bit but just don’t go too crazy. You want to make it as believable as possible.

Secret #3 Realistic HDR

HDR has a bad reputation for making your eyes bleed unicorn poo and rightfully so. Many of my images do make people want to vomit rainbows. However, NIKs HDR Efex Pro  actually is capable of making genuine realistic HDR images without the crazy halos and weird dark spots that other HDR editors make. It takes a little fine tuning but the key is in your tone mapping. If you stay towards the realistic setting when it comes to the HDR effect, try to keep the depth around normal. Also note that the structure slider works a lot better than lightroom’s clarity slider.

Secret #4 The Detail Extractor

Again jumping to Color Efex Pro 4, the detail extract does what it say and a bit more. It enhances the detail but also allows you to adjust the color saturation and contrast to give an almost HDR-like effect using a single image. Again this may not be to everyone’s liking but it does appeal to people like myself who are always looking for a bit of pop from their images.

Secret #5 The Structure Slider

As I mentioned before that the structure slider works a lot like the clarity slider inside of Lightroom. However, I find that it works a lot better than Lightroom’s because it actually does what it’s supposed to do and that is add more structure and detail to the image. If you crank up the clarity slider too much it makes your image look post-apocalyptic thanks to the messed up contrast and desaturation. However, the structure slider actually enhances the image. You can find this slider in most of the plugins found in the collection. It really helps bring out the detail in the image.

Well, there you have it. There are many more secrets to learn in this free collection. Now if you are wanting to learn the basics of lightroom check out my tutorial by clicking the button below.

Jason Teale’s Lightroom Tutorials


The post 5 Secrets of the NIK Collection appeared first on The Sajin.

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