The North Korean Conundrum
April 23, 2019
Four of the nation’s leading experts on North Korean political and military issues took center stage as the featured speakers for Angelo State’s 2019 Center for Security Studies Symposium in April.
The theme of this year’s symposium was “Geopolitical Challenges on the Korean Peninsula: Human Rights, Counter-Proliferation and Good Governance,” and the speakers included:
- George Hutchinson, managing editor of the International Journal of Korean Studies
- William Newcomb, former member of the United Nations Panel of Experts
- Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
- Mark Tokola, vice president of the Korea Economic Institute
Addressing a large crowd in the Rassman Building, they explored the varied issues the world is facing as North Korea continues to propagandize and oppress its people, build up its armed forces, provide advanced weapons to other rogue nations, and engage in international brinkmanship with its growing arsenal of missiles and rockets.
Dr. Bruce Bechtol, lead professor for ASU’s global security studies graduate program, organized the symposium and moderated the lively panel discussion.
“A lot of universities around the country, particularly regional universities like Angelo State, don’t have access to these types of scholars, often just because of their location,” Bechtol said. “That’s why these symposium events are so important, because we can bring these heavy-hitter scholars to campus and give our students and the community access to them.”
“That’s why the Korea Economic Institute, or KEI, has partnered with us for our CSS Symposium year after year,” he added, “because we get a big showing of students, members of the community and personnel from Goodfellow Air Force Base.”
Himself an internationally known expert on North Korea, Bechtol recently published his fifth book titled “North Korean Military Proliferation in the Middle East and Africa: Enabling Violence and Instability.” He has organized the last five CSS Symposiums, all with themes centered on North Korean military and political issues – and all with sponsorship funding from KEI.
“We continue to get good turnout because people are interested in the issues that we talk about,” Bechtol said. “Korean security issues, how do they affect us in the U.S.? How do they affect South Korea and ASU’s large number of South Korean students?”
“These are not issues that are going away any time soon,” he added, “so I’m going to do everything I can to get KEI to continue sponsoring our symposium so we can bring these scholars in to keep the ASU campus and the community up to date on what’s going on that affects U.S. interests overseas.”