Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What SAIS Event Did You Attend This Week, Matt?

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an off the record discussion with Ambassador Sung Kim on the strategic importance of US-Japan-South Korea relations, which was hosted by SAIS’s own Reischauer Center. Ambassador Kim is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Korea and Japan as well as the Special Representative for North Korea Policy and served as the United States Ambassador to South Korea from 2011 to 2014.

Dr. Kent Calder, Director of the Reischauer Center, moderated an insightful and worthwhile discussion with the Ambassador consisting of Ambassador Kim’s personal remarks as well as a lengthy Q&A period. Having the event be off the record allowed for a more casual discussion and hosting the discussion in one of SAIS’s smaller rooms allowed for a more intimate and personal setting, something that is not always easy to come by in D.C. Ambassador Kim began by providing an overview of US-Japan-South Korea relations, continually remarking on the importance of strengthening these ties for the benefit of every country involved as well as the region as a whole.

Most fascinating was the Q&A period which lasted for the remainder of the discussion (roughly 40 minutes). A real strength of many discussions at SAIS is the audience itself. Comprised of faculty, visiting scholars, and students from a mix of departments, including International Development, Korea Studies and Strategic Studies, the audience’s questions helped to develop and enrich the discussion and demonstrate the wide range of issues that are affected by the health of US-Japan-South Korea relations.  Events such as these are part and parcel with the SAIS experience. One of the great advantages of SAIS is that we are located in Washington D.C. While having important policy makers visiting prestigious schools is nothing new, it is greatly enhanced by SAIS’s strategic location.

Before I attended the discussion with Ambassador Kim, I was sitting in my Strategy and Policy course with Dr. Cohen. In a matter of minutes I went from a classroom environment to an off the record discussion with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan. I can hardly think of a better illustration of SAIS’s effective pairing of academic instruction and real-world policy exposure.

Thanks for reading!
Matt, Student Blogger