Saturday, March 01, 2008

Northeast Asia and the Two Koreas: Metastability, Security, and Community

Northeast Asia
the Two Koreas
(Image from Yonsei Press)

Readers of this blog with an interest in Korean studies might be pleased to know that Yonsei Press has recently published a book of articles treating issues relevant to the Korean peninsula, namely, Northeast Asia and the Two Koreas: Metastability, Security, and Community.

I mention this recent publication here on Gypsy Scholar because it illustrates an intellectual manifestation of my gyspy character, for I was intimately involved in the work on this book.

In what way?

I co-authored with Myongsob Kim an article titled "Korea as a Clashpoint of Civilizations," I translated Jean Klein's originally French article "Relevance of the European Model for Regulating Security Problems in Northeast Asia," and I proofread the entire book though I am not one of the official editors.

Those editors are Hyung-Kook Kim, Myongsob Kim, and Amitav Acharya, but they recognized my efforts:
"We would like to acknowledge our indebtedness to Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges for his meticulous and insightful cooperation in the editing of this book."
That's thoughtful of them, for the proofreading and even editing that I was involved in turned out to be a truly monumental task. After Myongsob and I had gone through the entire volume and given it to Yonsei Press, we had to twice re-read the galley proofs because Yonsei Press's software program proved incompatible with our own and thus introduced a lot of errors.

I hope that we caught every single one, but that's like hoping that I can resolve Zeno's paradox by achieving an infinite progression of steps in finite time. Some might be up to it, but I'm not.

In case anyone wants to know the meaning of "metastability," here's what the book's very first footnote explains:
As a physical term, "metastable state" describes a state characterized by an apparently firm but actually precarious stability whose delicately balanced factors can suffer a destructive chain reaction if subjected to a sudden impact. Homeostatic conditions are maintained within fixed limits, but if these limits are exceeded, the system can shift wildly in a wholly new, often far less desireable direction. Such catastrophic shifts may occur through an escalation of political "tit-for-tats." As one application of this concept to Northeast Asian international politics, see Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership (New York: Basic Books, 2004), 107.
For those not yet put off, here's more information: the book is 356 pages and costs 20,000 won (about 20 dollars), an astonishingly good price for an academic tome.

Disclaimer: Though I was paid for my editing work, I don't receive any financial gain from the sales of this book.

However, should any generous souls wish to further reward all of my hard work, I'm not averse to private contributions...

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At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always wondered what it meant when it a cancer had metaticized. I suspected something like, but didn't know it had such a large usage. I may apply for that PhD you said you would send for a price. I know some preachers who sent off to those "ThD mill." yours would be just as good, maybe better...(and hopefully cheaper)?


At 10:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I don't recall providing a PhD for a price, but sure, make me an offer I can't refuse...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it was just a casual comment at we were walking off the porch as you & the family were leaving our abode. I really enjoyed meeting you & yours. Hopefully some day soon.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I never remember my off-the-cuff remarks of that sort. I wish that I did recall better, but I tend not to...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Professor, I am a big fan from New Zealand and have been reading parts of this book. It's brilliant, and I am enjoying reading it so much. It's realistic, and academic - and has really changed my mind about reunification (I agree with the conclusion about establishing a neutral federation between North and South Korea rather than hurriedly focusing on reunification.) Thanks a lot and God bless you!


At 4:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sarah. Was that idea about a neutral federation one that Myongsob and I noted? If so, that's probably more Myongsob's contribution than my own.

Be that as it may, I see some problems with it now.

First, I doubt that North Korea will really be seriously interested in the idea. Their system is so incompatible with the South's that they can't even cooperate economically without provocations.

Second, I doubt that we have much control over future events related to reunification. I was at a Forum last week and heard a talk by the German historian J├╝rgen Kocka who reminded us how surprised we had been by East Germany's sudden collapse, the implication being that developments in the North could be just as sudden and just as unexpected.

Anyway, I'm glad that you like the book. Its brilliance is more a reflection of the various scholars who contributed articles than it is to anything that I added by co-authoring with Myongsob and by my proofreading efforts.

Jeffery Hodges

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