MISSOULA – The Mike and Maureen Mansfield Center at the University of Montana will host multiple experts to weigh in on tensions in the Korean Peninsula, including a North Korean defector, at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, in the University Center Theater.

(UM Photo)
(UM Photo)

“Tensions on the Korean Peninsula: Geopolitics, Instability and the Nuclear Weapons Crisis” will feature Y. Kang, a North Korean defector; Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; and Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korean studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The session is free and open the public, but attendees are asked to RSVP online or by calling 406-243-2988.

Despite multiple sanctions from the United Nations, North Korea has continued to develop its ability to launch an intercontinental missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. This year alone, North Korea has conducted 15 ballistic missile tests, and leader Kim Jong Un already has overseen more missile tests than his father and grandfather combined. As South Korea recovers from its own political turmoil after the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye and the United States president takes a hard line against North Korea on the world stage, serious questions arise about future stability and security on the Korean Peninsula and how it will affect U.S. allies, such as Japan and South Korea, and the U.S. itself.

Kang was born in North Korea and lived there until defecting to South Korea at the age of 19. Since defecting, she has completed her studies in political science and diplomacy at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, and she has educated others on the social, political and cultural differences between North and South Korea, as well as the potential impacts of Korean reunification. Kang now works at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, coordinating events and developing a video series on North Korean culture and dialect.

Scarlatoiu is the executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea in Washington, D.C. He has directed the publication of 24 reports and books; led public, media and international outreach to highlight North Korean human rights abuses; and appeared as an expert witness at several congressional hearings on North Korean human rights. His recent publications have appeared in the International Council of Korean Studies and the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, as well as in the Washington Post and Washington Times. He also teaches at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. Scarlatoiu holds a Master of Arts in law and diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in international relations from Seoul National University.

Snyder is the senior fellow for Korean studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korean policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has worked as a senior associate in the international relations program of The Asia Foundation, where he founded and directed the Center for U.S.-Korea Policy and served as The Asia Foundation’s representative in Korea. He has provided advice to NGOs and humanitarian organizations active in North Korea and serves as co-chair of the advisory council of the National Committee on North Korea. Snyder’s published works include “The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States,” “Paved with Good Intentions: The NGO Experience in North Korea,” and “Negotiating on the Edge: North Korean Negotiating Behavior.” Snyder received a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University and a Master of Arts from the regional studies East Asian program at Harvard University.

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM promotes better understanding of Asia, U.S. relations with Asia and ethics in public affairs in the spirit of Sen. Mike Mansfield (1903-2001) and his wife and life partner, Maureen Hayes Mansfield. The center houses programs that focus on the peoples and cultures of modern Asia and ethics in public affairs – the core interests and hallmarks of Sen. Mansfield’s career.

More information on the session is available HERE.

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