Yongusil 19: Gleason, Draudt, and Denney and “New World Disorder” at the Asan Institute
Since its foundation in early 2008, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies has grown from a small think tank tucked away peacefully atop a sleepy hill near Gwanghwamun to the fifth most influential think tank in East Asia. Institutionally it is structured like other American think tanks; the difference is in the “ecosystem.” Whereas American think tanks compete with each other for funding, personnel, and prestige,Asan is in a league of its own: Korea has no think-tank ecosystem, nor does it really have think tanks—the Sejong Institute lacks depth and the Korean Development Institute (KDI) is still a government institution. Thus, with a patron in Saenuri assemblyman and Hyundai Heavy Industry CEO Chung Mong-joon, Asan goes about its operations largely free of both financial constraints and domestic competition.
With its unique position, ambitious mandate, and reliable financial support, Asan runs a vigorous public relations campaign. There area multitude of means by which it engages the public: book launches, networking lunches, special lecture series, forums, and plenums. Of these events, “Asan Plenum” is the biggest, and arguably has the most impact. With one such plenum per year, Asan brings together scholars, practitioners, and students from across the globe to talk about a range of issues. Under the ominous theme of “New World Disorder,” Asan 2013 Plenum covered a breadth of (disorderly) issues, from human security in North Korea to Asian capitalism post-2008 financial crisis.
The proceedings, a 138-page volume, contain summaries of every panel from the 10 sessions; members of the Sino-NK community (Brian Gleason, Darcie Draudt, and Steven Denney)wrote six of these. Given Gleason’s internship at the International Crisis Group, Draudt’s new research post at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Denney’s decision to stay in academia at the University of Toronto, it is all but guaranteed that the three will publish more soon.
Denney also contributed to the Asan Plenum 2012: “Leadership.”