Introducing #Shigak | #시각: Perspectives on South Korea

By | February 05, 2014 | No Comments

Seoul's Namdaemun (South Gate). The epitome of a "bright lights, big city" infrastructure and atmosphere. Image: TylerDurden1/Wikipedia, Creative Commons 2.0

Seoul’s Namdaemun (South Gate). The epitome of a “big lights, big city” infrastructure and atmosphere. Image: TylerDurden1/Wikipedia, Creative Commons 2.0

It would be reasonable to inquire why a periodical such as Sino-NK, whose mission is the analysis and excavation of Sino-DPRK relations in all forms, is launching a new series called “Shigak” (시각) or “Perspective.” Shigak is, after all, set to embrace themes not only unrelated to Sino-DPRK relations, but also unconnected with foreign policy matters in any meaningful way, and actually about the domestic political and social concerns of the Republic of Korea.

However, as many readers will already be aware, many of the ROK’s most pressing domestic concerns are framed and defined by discourses concerning the DPRK and China. Without the framework of Northeast Asian (in)security and some uniquely North Korean issues providing the shifting sands of day-to-day political reality, the ROK would not be what it is today. Without Shigak, a holistic understanding of the broader region would thus forever be slightly out of reach.

Sino-NK Managing Editor Steven Denney and Co-Editor Christopher Green are launching Shigak with this at the forefront of their minds. Bringing together the Twitter traffic of promising young analysts of the ROK, such as our own Darcie Draudt and Sherri L. Ter Molen, as well as Sino-NK contributors such as Peter Ward, Shigak will drip feed a media database into existence, one that will reveal over time the ebbs and flows of domestic and regional comparative politics, and hopefully draw out under-explored elements of the “bigger picture” that makes the region so fascinating and frustrating.

Each issue of Shigak, recorded on its dedicated page, will feature only the most important tweets posted by Sino-NK analysts in the preceding period. These will be augmented with essential annotations and a small dose of concentrated analysis. Reflecting the Koreanist inside the editors and contributors, many tweets will be in Korean (but not without sufficient explanation in English). Each entry will be mercifully brief, offering up only the fundamental contextual takeaway. Each volume will be posted to the Jangmadang, Sino-NK’s market place for ideas and source reading. In addition to a link to the PDF, posts will include the volume’s executive summary and a few introductory remarks.


The first issue of Shigak highlights a host of pressing political and social issues in South Korea. What receive particular coverage here, as well as in news and print media, are the myriad domestic issues that confront the Park Geun-hye administration. They include: rising inequality, welfare reforms, the highly politicized sedition case against Lee Seok-ki, and the “How are you doing nowadays” youth movement. Further to these, the ongoing court battle over the hard-left United Progressive Party’s legal status and changes in national identity and political values are also discussed. Not to be forgotten is contemporary government-business relations, the structure of Korea’s foreign trade, and the future of its growth-generating export sectors.

Download the first release at the link below.

#Shigak no. 01, January 1 – February 4, 2014

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