Korea

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Bruce Cumings, professor at the University of Chicago, speaks on the relationship between the U.S and Korea on Friday.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Although the U.S. and North Korea signed the Korean War Armistice more than 60 years ago, the potential for nuclear violence and other threats is still a large part of the relationship between the two countries, a University of Chicago professor said in a speech Friday.

The armistice, signed after the Korean War in 1953, established a demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea and called for all hostilities between the U.S. and North Korea to stop until a peaceful settlement had been achieved. According to Bruce Cumings, a history professor at the University of Chicago, that goal still has not been reached and tensions between the two nations remain strong.

“The armistice was just a cease-fire — not a peace treaty,” Cumings said. “The war never officially ended. And now we have a series of threats by the U.S. and North [Korea] and South Korea to do it all over again.” 

Cumings said the relationship between the two countries has evolved into a series of war games, with each country trying to intimidate the other through atomic blackmail.

“In March of 2012, Obama sent B-2 bombers to the Korean peninsula to show the Koreans that our bombs were still ‘nuclear capable,’” Cumings said. “I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of long-running violence between the two countries. It’s almost as violent today as it was after the armistice in 1953.”

Economics graduate student Jing Lee said she attended Cumings’ talk because of her interest in how the armistice affects global economics.

“Korea has important trade relations with the U.S., so it’s interesting to see how the tension in their relationship plays out on the world stage today,” Lee said.

The U.S. has tried to negotiate several times with North Korea about its nuclear development. The two countries, along with many others, passed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, which forbade non-nuclear states from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. The treaty was negotiated again in 1994, when North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid.

Cumings said, although the war has faded into the past for the U.S., it still has a major impact on Koreans today.

“Americans treat it as this ‘forgotten war,’ but North Korea is still fighting it in its boneheaded ways,” Cumings said. “You go to North Korea and people start talking about it right away: about their grandfather or brother who died in the bombings.”

According to Cumings, Korea’s unstable future and nuclear potential still pose a threat to the U.S. today.

“We remain steeped in denial about a conflict that is both almost 70 years old, and always within an inch of breaking out again,” Cumings said. “If we don’t try to get it under control, I think we could wake up one morning and have war break out in Korea, and people would say, ‘How the hell did that ever happen?’”

Ana Ramirez, global policy studies and Asian studies graduate student, said the talk shed light on issues not prominently featured in U.S. policy.

“A lot of people don’t know that the war hasn’t technically ended,” Ramirez said. “It’s good to know how the armistice still affects us today.”

Ambassador Suk-Bum Park, Consul General of the Republic of Korea gave a talk on the future of Korea-US relations in the Will C. Hogg building on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

In a speech on campus Wednesday, Suk-bum Park, consulate general of the Republic of Korea, said that, although there are many cultural differences between the U.S. and South Korea, increases in trade have improved the two countries’ diplomatic relationship with each other.

Park is responsible for spreading Korean cultural awareness in Southeastern U.S., including Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. 

Park said that despite differing in cultural viewpoints, the two countries have still managed to get along.

“The U.S. is seen from the outside as a superpower,” Park said. “It’s a big juggernaut, a behemoth, something [Korea] cannot touch. … But the status quo in East Asia is changing. South Korea has … formed a relationship based on mutual trust with the U.S.”

Park said a major benchmark in U.S.-Korea relations was the Mutual Defense Treaty, signed in 1953, which led to a 60-year friendship between the two nations.

“The U.S.-[Republic of Korea] treaty gave birth to an unshakable alliance between the U.S. and Korea,” Park said. “These alliance relations … were the lynchpin to peace and stability in East Asia.”

Stratton Gaines, an Asian cultures and languages sophomore, said he attended the talk because of his enthusiasm for the region.

“I have a strong interest in East Asian relations,” Gaines said. “I plan on working, maybe, in the future in a diplomatic position, so it’s a field I’m interested in.”

Robert Oppenheim, director of the Center for East Asian Studies, said the relationship between the U.S. and Korea was particularly important because of the economic ties between the two countries. 

“The alliance between the U.S. and [Korea] is one of the oldest relationships the U.S. has in Asia, and factors as well into a lot of other
important regional issues,” Oppenheim said. “South Korean technology, industry and investment of other sorts are themselves increasingly important, globally.”

Park also pointed out economic benefits Korea brings to the United States, mentioning the country’s role in manufacturing products, such as computers, cars and chemicals. 

“South Korea has transformed into one of the major trade nations,” Park said. “Take, for example, some major brand names, like Hyundai [or] Samsung. These names, somehow, have become household names for many people.”

Park said the influence of pop stars, such as South Korean singer PSY, has boosted the Korean economy and U.S.-Korea relations as well.

“His name and his style have become famous throughout the world,” Park said. “He’s even more famous than the [Korean] president.”

International students at UT face many challenges, including a competitive admissions process, limited scholarship opportunities and adjusting to American culture. Despite this, many say the benefits of an American education make it worthwhile. 

Photo Credit: Erika Rich | Daily Texan Staff

Nearly 8,000 miles and a full day ahead of Austin, University of Texas student Mubariz Hayat’s Pakistani parents work two jobs to support their son’s hefty tuition. His parents face financial problems and are doing all they can to give him an education. He’s not alone.

International students at UT pay as much as $25,000 more per year in tuition than in-state residents, and the cost of being a Longhorn continues to increase year after year. Adjustment to American culture is difficult and post-graduation job opportunities seem to be limited. For many students though, it is a struggle they say is worth it. According to documents on UT’s student accounts receivable website, tuition for nonresident students has increased by about 2.1 percent in the 2013-2014 adademic year. 

Hayat, an economic and computer science senior, said the adjustment and rising cost is worth the experience.

“We have to increase and diversify our sources of income to pay for our child’s college, but the cost is worth the quality of education he is getting,” Mubariz’s mother Sarah Hayat said.

There were a total of 6,393 international students and visiting scholars enrolled at UT during the 2012-2013 academic school year.

“Due to its high profile overseas, UT attracts international students from more than 125 countries around the globe, a vast majority of whom are from China, Korea, Mexico and India,” said Deana Williams, the assistant director of admissions at UT.

Williams attributed the limited number of international students to restrictions posed by Texas laws. Williams said 90 percent of the freshmen class are Texas residents, 7 percent are out of state domestic students and 3 percent are international students.

“[This makes] international admissions highly competitive," Williams said.

In addition to the competitive acceptance process, international students pay large sums in tuition. 

Williams said international students pay about $16,000 or $17,000 a semester in tuition, depending on what college they are in. 

“There’s really not a lot available in financial aid for international undergraduates and most scholarships are set up so they have stipulations that they’re reserved for citizens and/or permanent residents,” Williams said.

Williams said this results in few scholarship opportunities available to international students.

In contrast to this, American students studying abroad might face a completely different situation. Andre Mikhail, an American student transferring from Harvard to UT, described his experience as an international student at the American University of Cairo, Egypt as a “financial relief.”

“My international tuition in Egypt was significantly less than my local tuition both at Harvard and UT,” Mikhail said.

For some international students in America, the financial pressure and adjustment to a new country becomes a dilemma. Hyun Kyung Kim,  public relations sophomore and international student from South Korea, said even though her parents can afford her full tuition, she is guilt-stricken about her parents being “burdened” with the cumbersome tuition. To help her parents, she said she even tried to look for on-campus jobs, which were not readily available to her because of her international status.

Kim has also had problems adjusting to Texas. She said she was “scared and lonely” when she first came to UT last semester and she was intimidated to strike a conversation with the American people because of her weak English language skills and because she did not have “common topics to talk to them about.” She said until recently, she had mostly Chinese and Korean friends and almost no local friends. 

Moreover, being accustomed to Korean and Chinese food back home, Kim described her experience with food as “painful,” as she lost more than 15 pounds during her first semester at UT.

Kim also said homesickness becomes an issue when majority of local students leave Austin to visit their families on holidays and breaks. She said the airfare to return home is typically more than $1,900.

Kim said she is very doubtful about finding a job in America because she has seen her brother, also an international student, struggle in the American job market after his graduation. Despite his business degree from the University of Michigan, Kim’s brother was rejected from several jobs even before an interview, she said based on the reasoning that he is not an American citizen or permanent resident. After spending a year job-hunting in America, Kim’s brother returned to Korea. 

Kim is afraid she is going to end up in the same situation. 

Hayat, who said he found the Austin enviroment welcoming and became president of the UT Pakistan Student Association, shared a similar view about job prospects.

“From my involvement and experience with the international student’s alumni network, I have seen a fairly recurrent trend that unless they have an engineering or IT related degree, most international students end up returning to their home countries because they cannot find jobs in America," Hayat said. 

However, Williams said the international applications for this year are up from last year, implying that the financial burdens and social problems have not deterred international students from applying to UT. 

“UT is a prestigious school and remains a magnet for international students,” Williams said. 

Editor's Note: Rabeea Tahir is an international student. A version of this story ran in the June 17 issue of The Daily Texan.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misattributed quotes from Deana Williams, the assistant director of admissions at UT.

Follow Rabeea Tahir on Twitter @rabeeatahir2.

If people had a window of opportunity for more time off work, they would spend it on leisure activities rather than efficient actions such as studying or cleaning, according to a new economics study.

Economics professor Daniel Hamermesh co-authored a study examining how people spent their free time after a permanent cut in work hours by reviewing data from national time-use diaries from 1976-2006 in Japan and 1999-2009 in Korea. The study was completed last year and was conducted with UT alumnus Jungmin Lee and associate economic professors from Korea and Japan. Hamermesh said the study used thousands of daily time diaries from before and after the governments of Japan and Korea passed laws making it more costly for employers to use overtime work. The study examined how those keeping diaries spent the time they had free.

Hamermesh said the results showed that people spent their free time engaging in relaxing activities.

“In neither country was the extra time used to clean the house, take care of the kids, cook or shop,” Hamermesh said. “It was used for leisure and/or personal maintenance, such as grooming.”

Hamermesh said he has done much research on time use and finds the study to be a topic that has intrigued people for many years.

“It is very difficult to answer because so many things are happening at once, but this data provides the opportunity to get a clean answer,” Hamermesh said.

Although the study did not include Americans, Hamermesh said he firmly believes that Americans generally work too much and Europeans do much less work but seem happier.

Advertising senior Amanda Cummings, president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, said she spends every day studying and is constantly doing something for her organization or taking care of her priorities. However, she said she does separate some time to collect herself after she learned that relaxation is also a key aspect of living life, as the study has shown.

“I would always be busy and would emotionally break down,” Cummings said. “Now, I find it’s important to make free time for yourself.”

Psychology sophomore Ian Bell, an officer of the Longhorn Powerlifting team, said he spends his free time working out in order to stay fit and keep busy. However, Bell said his daily routine includes about an hour of relaxation in order to keep his life balanced, which relates to the study’s conclusion that people do prefer more relaxing activities.

“Without my free time, I wouldn’t be able to work out as much as I would want to,” he said. “If you use your free time efficiently, then you can accomplish more things throughout the day and keep things from piling up.”

An in-depth view of Hamermesh’s study will be published this spring in the American Economic Review Journal.

Printed on Friday, February 10, 2012 as: Leisure takes precedence in spare time, study show