Contemporary Asia: webinars on Korean response to Covid-19 and cultural challenges of modern day Mongolia

While the 19th century was dominated by the British Empire and the 20th century by the United States of America, the 21st century is the Asian century. Asian politics, economies and cultures become more dominant. At the same time, there is no such thing as a common Asian politics, economies or cultures – the area is heterogeneous with various states, nations, cultures and languages. The webinar series “Contemporary Asia” aims to look into Asian countries with a focus on certain topics to understand them better. The first webinars take place on 4 and 5 May and give an insight into Korean response to Covid-19 and the cultural challenges of modern-day Mongolia.

Korean Economic Success in the Midst of Global Pandemic by Kyle Ferrier. 4 May, 18:00 EEST

South Korea stands out for its success in handling the COVID-19. While the country was hit with the virus early on in the pandemic, the quick rollout of a sweeping testing regime combined with other measures have helped to keep caseloads low, even as the numbers have risen in recent weeks. This successful management of the virus has directly translated into South Korea’s economic performance. Among all 37 OECD countries last year, South Korean GDP contracted the least at 1.1%. With the rest of the world's expected to rebound this year, the outlook for South Korea’s export-dependent economy in 2021 is even better. However, South Korea is still not exempt from many of the challenges other countries are facing, including an uneven economic recovery that threatens to widen economic inequality. Questions also remain about the trade-offs of efficiency versus privacy in shifting to a contactless economy. Still, the government is optimistic that its New Deal recovery package can help deal with the worst after-effects of the pandemic and steer the economy in the right direction in 2021 and beyond.

The speaker Kyle Ferrier is a Fellow and Director of Academic Affairs at the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), where he is charged with managing the KEI’s efforts to foster collaboration between the academic and policy communities. He edits KEI’s On Korea and Joint U.S.-Korea Academic Studies publications and oversees the institution’s university outreach programs. Kyle writes on U.S.-Korea relations, South Korean foreign affairs, South Korean domestic and international economic policy, and the political economy of the Indo-Pacific. He is also a regular contributor to the Koreas’ section of The Diplomat. Kyle was previously a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Korea and holds a master’s degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.

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Mongolian World Across the State Borders: Global Challenges, Local Concerns and National Responses by Alevtina Solovyeva. 5 May, 6pm EEST

Mongolia is situated in between the world's superpowers: China and Russia. The lecture looks at the traditional and contemporary cultures of the Mongolian peoples in the Mongolian Democratic Republic, People's Republic of China and Russian Federation. During the lecture, listeners will be introduced to the particularity of Mongolian traditions – languages, folklores and mythologies, religions and today’s beliefs. The lecture will also discuss specific features of the development of Mongolian societies, their roles in contemporary relations of Inner and Central Asia and ways of dealing with modern local and global challenges.

The speaker Alevtina Solovyeva (PhD) is a researcher at the Institute of Cultural Research at the University of Tartu. She is also a research fellow at the Centre of Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies (Russia) and a lead research fellow at National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia). From 2007 to today she has been conducting a number of projects based on fieldwork research in various parts of Mongolia and China, investigating traditional and contemporary cultures, folklores, religious traditions, inter-communal relations and other topics.

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The webinar series is organised by University of Tartu Asia Centre and the staff of the MA programme in Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

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