Podcast Review: Korean Kontext Podcast by the Korean Economic Institute

Like all great discoveries, I came across this podcast by chance whilst browsing my favourite podcasting app Podcast Republic for East Asia related podcasts.

Korean Kontext is a weekly series of podcasts which provides news and analysis on issues affecting the Korean peninsula. These are put together by the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI for short), but it is not only economic issues covered. There are a wide range of topics, ensuring that the peninsula is explored from a political, social and cultural perspectives, with the help of guest speakers each week who add their specialist expertise. Whilst there is inevitably a focus on the US-Korea relationship, the discussions are largely impartial, so listeners should not be put off by this.

I think that this is a wonderful podcast for those like me who are wanting to learn more about the Korean peninsula, as well as those who already follow developments in US-Korea relations and are interested in hearing issues discussed from a different perspective. Korean Kontext is great for the daily commute as each episode is between 20 and 30 minutes long.

Just to give you an idea of topics covered, I have picked out a couple of my favourite episodes so far:

A look into Korean Literature (14/10/2016). With Han Kang recently winning the Man Booker International Prize for her novel ‘The Vegetarian’, Korean literature found itself in the international spotlight. The podcast does a great job of covering issues regarding Korean literature in translation, including how it can be further promoted on the back of The Vegetarian’s success. I felt like this was a good introduction to the state of Korean literature and provided some recommendations that I will definitely be looking in to. If the podcast sparks your interest in Korean literature, it is definitely worth looking into the following links as well.

A Primer on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Crisis (21/10/2016). The podcast charts sequence of events from the ill fated mobile phone up until its eventual discontinuation, and discusses both the short and long term implications that the crisis may have for Samsung, chaebols and the Korean economy at large. There has been a lot of negativity in the press, and the KEI experts offer a more pragmatic approach the analysing the actual impacts of the crisis, citing a change in senior management in particular as a positive sign of change. Since this podcast was released Samsung finds itself potentially embroiled in the political scandal regarding Park Geun Hye, but more recently there has also been the promising news that Samsung is increasing its efforts in the auto tech sector, so the KEI experts may not have been proven wrong just yet!

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