The Future of Korea

Given the leadership role that the United States continues to play in the world, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council brings experts to the region so that our community to gain deeper insights into foreign policy/affairs being discussed.

In August, the council brought a panel of experts on a program of the World Affairs Councils of America and the Korean Economic Institute of America with the focus of The Future of Korea in order to deepen understanding of Korea and US-Korea relationship. This type of open dialogue and discussion about the world is more important than ever. The panel of experts included:

Audrey Hsieh is a Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State — In this capacity, she most recently served as an Adviser to the Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure negotiating humane treatment and security assurances for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees. She currently works at the Office of Korea Affairs focusing on North Korea issues. Prior to her time at the State Department, she served in the US Army as a Psychological Operations officer. While in the military she deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. She received her undergraduate degree in international studies with a minor in women and gender studies from The College of New Jersey and her MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University. In her free time, she enjoys competitive karaoke and running. Audrey grew up in Ramsey, New Jersey.

Troy Stangarone joined the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) in December of 2005 and is the Senior Director of Congressional Affairs and Trade. He oversees KEI’s trade and economic related initiatives, as well as the Institute’s relations with Capitol Hill and the Washington, DC trade community. As part of his broader portfolio he serves as the editor for KEI’s flagship publication, Korea’s Economy, and oversees KEI’s blog, The Peninsula. He was also a 2012-2013 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in South Korea, sponsored by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. To read more click here.

Jin Nam, 1st Secretary, Economic Affairs Section, Embassy of the Republic of Korea — Nam focuses on U.S.–Korea relations and economic issues, including the successful implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and the New-Frontier cooperation in areas like Space, Cyber-security and Climate Change. Prior to D.C., Nam worked at the Presidential Office (the ‘Blue House’) in Korea as the Assistant Secretary to the President for Foreign Affairs.


During the visit to the Greater Cincinnati region, the panel was interviewed on Cincinnati Public Radio, Cincinnati Edition by Mark Heyne, to discuss The Future of US-Korea Relations. In case you missed it, click here to listen.

Following the interview, panelists met for a small VIP roundtable discussion with regional thought leaders including Joe Dehner, Frost Brown Todd; Francois LeRoy, Northern Kentucky University; Rich Lauf, World Affairs Council Board Chair; Todd Schwartz, European American Chamber of Commerce; and Michelle Harpenau; World Affairs Council Executive Director. The conversation included discussions about China’s perspective of Korea, debate about reunification of North and South Korea, sanctions of North Korea, military options, understanding of today’s US foreign policy, and free trade agreements.

After these in-depth discussions, the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council hosted a public event for the community at The Banquet Center, Nicholson’s Pub with over 65 guests some visiting from Louisville and Lexington. The event opened with registration and family style dinner where guests were able to network and meet the panelists. After dinner, we began the panel discussions with Audrey Hsieh – Foreign Affairs Officer at the U.S. Department of State, Troy Stangarone – Korea Economic Institute (KEI), and Jin Nam, 1st Secretary, Economic Affairs Section, Embassy of the Republic of Korea.


The US Department of State shared historical and current perspective about Korea and US relations while keeping in mind that this is an ongoing conversation. There is discussion about policy change in working with Korea, but not regime change.

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea spoke about statistics and the connection between not only Korea and the US, but Korea and Ohio. The Republic of Korea is the world’s 11th largest economy, 6th largest US trading partner, and a full-fledged democracy.

Finally, Korea Economic Institute closed with details about current sanctions, insights into military options for US and Korea for nuclear weapons testing, and more.

The event closed with Q&A from the audience with questions including: How does China fit into all of this? What is North Koreas’ end game? How do the different perspective play into the conversation such as Japan, Korea, and China? What does the collapse of North Korea really mean for the world? How are the sanctions truly impacting North Korea and working with neighboring countries? How do the humanitarian rights crises (hunger, uneducated, etc.) in North Korea play into the big picture?

Thank you to those who joined for the day’s events. Thank you to our marketing partners including Foreign Policy Leadership Council, XU Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, and Chinese Chamber of Commerce. A special thank you also to our sponsors World Affairs Councils of America and the Korea Economic Institute for support in bringing our honored panel of speakers to the area.

Fun fact: Shin-Soo Choo is a South Korean professional baseball player and used to play for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 season.

Additional readings suggested:
Wall Street Journal – We’re Holding Pyongyang to Account

If you are interested in getting involved with the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, SIGN UP (CLICK HERE) to receive weekly activity news and consider JOINING (CLICK HERE) the council’s membership. You may also register for the next event on September 19 where we will be joined by Consul General of Germany Herbert Quelle to discuss The Importance of Elections in Germany for Europe & The World. CLICK HERE to register & learn more.

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