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Understanding Korea

September 1, 2009

Stuart Thorson

Stuart Thorson

As the world wonders about the fate of the Korean peninsula, policy makers will turn to Maxwell for guidance from a new endowed professorship to promote research on issues related to the peninsula and its eventual reunification. 

A gift from an anonymous Korean-American businessman has created the Donald P. and Margaret Curry Gregg Professorship, named in honor of the former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and his wife.

International relations and political science Professor Stuart J. Thorson is the inaugural Gregg Professor. Thorson directs Syracuse’s integrated information technology research collaboration with Kim Chaek University of Technology in North Korea. He focuses on the uses of information technology, particularly in support of governance and diplomacy. Thorson is co-director of the Regional Scholars and Leaders Seminar initiative, a founding member of the National Committee on North Korea (U.S.), and a co-founder of the U.S.-DPRK Scientific Engagement Consortium.

Plus, Maxwell is creating the Korean Peninsula Affairs Center in the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs to focus on social, economic, political, and security issues of South Korea and North Korea. Frederick F. Carriere, former executive vice president of the Korea Society, will become an adjunct professor in KPAC with support provided by the Pacific Century Institute.

Ambassador and Mrs. Gregg, Carriere, and Spencer Kim — co-founder of the Pacific Century Institute — were present in October when the Maxwell School celebrated the professorship and Dean Mitchel B. Wallerstein announced KPAC’s formation. Thorson moderated a public discussion with the Greggs on their Korean experiences and observations that filled the Public Events Room in Eggers Hall.

KPAC “will help us think substantively, not polemically, about countries with which we have differences,” said Ambassador Gregg. “We need deep understanding of both sides” on the Korean peninsula — an understanding from which he said Maxwell students could benefit.

Wallerstein saluted the Greggs for their contributions “to mutual understanding, consensus, and progress” in a life of public service, “a furtherance of international cooperation and understanding.”

Gregg served as ambassador to South Korea from 1989 to 1993. Previously, he was a member of the National Security Council staff and became Vice President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Advisor. He worked for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1951 to 1975 and is chairman emeritus of the Korea Society.

While at Maxwell, Gregg said he has written to Vice President Joe Biden with a suggestion for improving U.S. relations with North Korea: A high-level diplomat should visit North Korea with an invitation to Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of Kim Jong-il and his father’s heir apparent, to visit the United States “for an orientation organized by the White House.

“The North is looking for a gesture of respect and civility” and would receive the invitation as such, he said. “We need a period of continuity, some consistency [in U. S. policy], some sustained dialogue with the North.”

By George S. Bain

This article appeared in the fall 2009 print edition of Maxwell Perspective; © 2009 Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

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