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My old work: Third World development

Before my Korea career, I worked on Third World development in general – insofar as that’s possible, which I now doubt. Not that I was ever In The Field, or anything useful like that. Theory was my bag, the academy my pulpit. Yes, like too many of us then, I ignored Weber’s warning and used teaching to preach: hopefully doing no lasting harm.

To be exact – but vague was more my thing – I taught the sociology of development for a quarter of a century. First in Hull and Dar es Salaam, but mostly at Leeds; plus a too brief term in Santa Cruz, and a delightful decade of Open University summer schools in Norwich. I went to prison, too: four different ones, in fact. To teach, silly. A founding council member of the Development Studies Association in the 1970s, I was examiner for degrees at UEA and Sussex, and twice for theses in Holland. I got to travel a bit: guest lecturing in Turkey, Holland, the US, Singapore, even Beijing. That was nice.

Research? If you can call it that. Fired up by the then fashionable dependency school – Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, et al – I got interested in Marxist theories of development: the subject of my unfinished PhD at Hull, stimulated by the supervision of Ivar Oxaal and colleagues such as David Booth. My first published paper, a general overview of neo-Marxist approaches in this field, put me mildly on the map. It was translated into Italian and Turkish, and Peter Worsley excerpted it in a sociology reader for Penguin.

Half a dozen similar exercises followed over the next decade or so: an output rate that would never pass muster nowadays. I wrote on Marxism and conquest, paradigms (the Kuhn craze, remember?) in development theory, and – for <i>New Left Review</i>, even – on the articulation of modes of production, whatever that was. I penned an introduction to Samir Amin, and compiled a bibliography of his work. I defended dependency against its Marxist critics. Why one did any of this is now hard to recall. The times, I suppose.

My final foray in development was marginally more useful. Mike Haralambos, whose best-selling A-level sociology textbook had propelled him into publishing, chivvied me to write a short introductory text. The Sociology of Development, my first and only real book so far, came out in 1985. It was translated into Malay; there was talk of a Bengali version. Later I wrote four triennial updates in a series for Mike’s Causeway Press.

By 1996 development had given way to globalization. After that I called it a day, being no longer abreast of a subject in whose intellectual coherence I could no longer believe.

It’s no coincidence that, in the terms of the C19th German Methodenstreit debate, I’ve moved from nomothetic over-generalizing about development to an idiographic focus on the nitty-gritty of a single country, Korea. Some might think this narrow; but I’m far happier doing that, and much more confident that what I write is grounded and useful.

Still, I’m eternally grateful to Mike. Sometimes I wish someone had prodded me too to collect my papers as a book, as I never got around to doing. Yet they’ve not worn well, to be honest. Which is one reason why at this stage I shan’t even list the references.* You really don’t want to waste your time on that old stuff – and nor do I. But it was my life, and some day I may feel the urge to archive more fully. For now, Korea calls.

* Except for one that I still think is okay, but which sank without trace in terms of impact. My ex-Hull colleague John Clammer kindly commissioned this for a fine collection (even if its title sounds like Russ Meyer trying to go upmarket). My own title is merely ponderous: “Knowing What They Mean, Or: Why is There No Phenomenology in the Sociology of Development?” Ch 8 in John Clammer ed, Beyond the New Economic Anthropology (Macmillan, 1987).

My old work: Sociology

Though I feel remote now from academic sociology, and have no desire to go back, this was my discipline. Stop laughing at the back: it IS a discipline, or should be. I still in a sense practise sociology, and on a good day am proud to profess it. Mixed feelings.

Easier to say how I got into it. At school I specialized in classics, but the modern world and social issues came to interest me more. Staying on at school, I took economics A-level, then went to Africa. Returning to go to university, classics no longer appealed. I considered Chinese, but the Oxford syllabus was resolutely ancient. For social science it had to be PPE, (philosophy, politics and economics: in those days you took all three). Seeking to link it all, I did sociology too; and was a Marxist, another quest for holism.

I’m really glad I did PPE. No one should study a single social science on its own. The real human world is a seamless if tangled web, whose knots no one of these artificially segmented disciplines alone can ever unravel. My field of Third World development inevitably took in history, geography, politics, economics and culture. Sociology to me is the name for the whole thing: the big picture, the master subject. (Imperialist, moi?)

But here as often I’m against the trend of the times, which is subject specialization and fragmentation. Ever fewer people know ever more about ever less; few talk across the divides. This doesn’t help us understand anything that matters, much less change it. I also deplore the abuse of sociology’s open house and welcoming hearth by creeds with other agendas, like Marxism in the 1970s and feminism currently. I support feminism; but this is entryism, like Militant in the Labour Party of yore. They should go and do it somewhere else, or we’ll never get a value-free sociology; only “attitude and platitude”, in Gary Runciman’s fine phrase. Here too, no doubt, I’m hopelessly against the grain. But look at the state of sociology now. Doesn’t it need a break? or refounding, even?

Dear me, what a tendentious rant. I meant this page to be factual, about what I used to do in sociology. Right then. First, all three universities where I worked initially made me teach research methods: which was a bit mean, especially on the students, since no one had ever taught methods to me. Somehow I got by. Otherwise I mainly taught on <a href=”third_world_development.html“>Third World Development</a>; both in general, and (inevitably) theory, but also on social problems, and needless to say Korea. Relatedly, a first year course on social trends and movements let me cover key -isms: capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, nationalism (on which I devised a course in Santa Cruz in 1985), fascism, socialism, communism.

Once I even taught comparative historical sociology, then a core course (imagine!). In an era of a la carte modules and mix ‘n’ match, I still hanker for the old table d’hote. I dabbled in contemporary theory – loved Habermas and hermeneutics, loathed Althusser, iffy on Foucault – but got out before it all went to pot and postmodernism, thankfully. And I’m glad now, as not always at the time, that the Leeds tutorial system forced all us tutors to keep our hands in across the board: from classical theory to modern Britain.

Ah, but it was all so long ago and far away. What do I know? Yet even now, writing far from academe on Korea for business, though it’s more journalism than scholarship (yay, no footnotes!), I still see myself as a practising social scientist. The PPE training is invaluable: economics and politics are central, and inextricably intertwined. Call it political economy – but not forgetting culture: I now fly the flag for Weber, not Marx.

One thing is clear. The world’s a mess, and gets no better. We need social science, to analyze what the hell is going on and what we can do. “Savouir pour prevoir, prevoir pour pouvoir”: the old positivist credo still resonates. Not doing great so far, are we? 

So hire me

Korea related work

Contemporary Korea is my main expertise. I keep abreast of current events and trends, and endeavour to predict future scenarios.

I follow both South and North Korea equally, and their relationship.Plus other countries insofar as they bear on the peninsula. I cover economics and business, politics and security issues.

Also social and cultural aspects, important but often overlooked.

Writing

My main work is writing: anything from a 500 word article or summary of an issue to a 30,000 word consultancy report. I prefer shorter, and can work fast to deadlines. I’m told I write well, in styles ranging from punchy bullet points to learned academic footnotes. I try to use wit to in the service of wisdom: a light touch, but not lightweight.

For examples of my writing, go to AFC on the Web.

Lecturing

It’s good to talk, too. I’m available for one-off lectures or briefings, anywhere in the world, to business, policy-makers, academics, whoever. An ebullient speaker, I relish the challenge of adapting to different audiences. I’m also open to offers for longer-term engagements, such as visiting lectureships.

For a selected list of who I’ve talked to, go to Lecturer.

Broadcaster

I offer immediate comment and analysis on developments in Korea for radio, in studio quality sound (Codec courtesy of BBC World Service). Television by arrangement. Here too I’m lively, and strive to make complex issues accessible.

To see my experience here, go to Broadcaster.

Consulting

I’m available for consultancy work, with or without travel to Korea or elsewhere.

For my track record, go to Consultant.

Not Korea

I do other things besides Korea, though not often currently. Areas I’d be happy to develop include: Writing/lecturing/broadcasting. I’m available for consultancy work, with or without travel to Korea or elsewhere.

Chairing conferences

As I used to do for A-level groups.

See A-Level.

Cabaret

I perform a medley of self-penned lyrics to well-known tunes, satirizing the end of civilization as we know it – especially in universities. Cabaret.

Introduction: Please read this first!

Welcome to my website. I hope you find it of use and interest; better yet, enjoy it.

I should explain that it’s been under construction for over a year, and is still far from complete. This delay is entirely my own fault – although it’s tempting also to blame Kim Jong-il, whose antics have been keeping me very busy (and in work) of late.

Rather than have this drag on indefinitely, it seemed best now to launch it without further delay, and hopefully fill in the gaps later. So here you have it, warts and all.

In this initial version, the site is largely devoted to my work on Korea. The “Life” section will be expanded in due course, life permitting. But I’ve made a start with some limericks, haiku, and musings on music and the meaning of life. 

Also, since the bulk of the work on the site was done as much as a year ago already, please bear in mind that references to “recent” may now (March 2003) no longer be as recent as all that. Thus the “Just lately, for instance” page, under Work, is actually a year old now. Sorry. But I hope it may still serve as a guide to the kind of work I do.

To be honest, I also had second thoughts on whether I really wanted a website at all, or why. Much of this reads as if I’m touting for business; yet in truth I have plenty of work as it is, and if anything would like to cut down. Still, I’m open to suggestions.

More existentially: I crave privacy, and have in some sense spent the last decade or so in flight from the big bad world, or at least trying to keep it at bay. Thus it feels weird and contradictory to expose and flaunt oneself like this to every stranger on the planet.

If I nonetheless take the plunge, it’s probably because at my age one starts to reflect. Also, there are things I would like to share on the life and creative side, in due course.

Sincere thanks to webmaster Ross Holloway for his skill, toil, and patience. The one thing you absolutely must read on this site is his dad Andrew Holloway’s book about the year he spent in Pyongyang: an invaluable primary document.

Otherwise, please roam and enjoy. And please work and pray for peace in Korea.

Aidan Foster-Carter 22 March, 2003 

Anti-audit: A rant

As a rule I’m placid and tolerant, but some things make me very angry. And while of no fixed abode politically nowadays, I still have a few convictions left. One is a deep hatred of the proliferation in recent years of bureaucracies like the laughably named Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), which purport to ensure “standards” in universities. Then there is the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which similarly claims to rank the quality of research. This is in universities, but most if not all professions now have equivalent crosses to bear: Ofsted in schools being an especially baleful example.

On all this, I am an unabashed extremist. The whole damned lot should be abolished. Quality? Bah, humbug. These busybodies have wrecked our universities, and made everyone’s quality of life much worse, not better. The millions of hours – and pounds: what a waste of money! – spent jumping through their endless and ever-changing hoops distracts and detracts from actually doing the job of teaching and research which they’re meant to be measuring. Academics used to love their work; they still give of their best. But I know none who thinks they do, or have, a better job now than 10 or 20 years ago.

No one would deny the principle of accountability, especially of taxpayers’ money. But this is no way to do it. Two simple facts: 1. This is all very new; for centuries, British universities somehow managed to be world-class before this nonsense was dreamed up; and 2. Most other countries, wiser than us, still get on fine – indeed have better public services than the UK, which isn’t hard – without these mad rigmaroles. Who needs it?

I voted with my feet, and got out. So have many others – not a few after breakdowns. (Do the number-crunchers ever count the human cost of all this?) Those who remain struggle on sullenly, like free peasants enserfed. Maybe colonialism is a better image. Like all imperialists, our new masters brag of the mess and chaos before they took over – they lie: its name was freedom – and of how much neater and tidier everything is now. Some of us have gone over to them – out of resignation, conviction, or opportunism – and now spout the ugly, trite, mendacious jargon of delivery, roll-out, and (the nerve) empowerment as if they really believed it. Alarmingly, I fear some actually do.

It baffles me that we don’t resist all this tosh more, in theory or practice. Intellectually, a major research project awaits – would it ever get funded? – to probe exactly what has happened here, how, and why. Valuable contributions already include Michael Power (URL: http://www.lse.edu/Depts/accounting/staff/power/index.htm no longer valid) on the audit explosion and David Boyle on the tyranny of numbers. But there’s more to it. Work, for example, has utterly changed. What with insecurity and the stupid hours cult, plus unending audit, it’s now nearly as grim a slog for professionals (in both public and private sectors) as it always was for proletarians. How did we ever let that happen? Other factors include political and managerial centralization; the decline of social trust, and of esprit de corps; the triumph of form over content; and the chimerical quest, by mechanistic minds, for the Perfect Procedure to cover all eventualities. Dream on.

Bollox to all that. A good society runs on liberty and trust, not surveillance and audit. The purpose of life is to be; which requires us to do. Accounting is a marginal, third-order activity. That it has become centre-stage is tail wagging dog. One day, please God, we’ll get it right way round again. Till then, I’ll continue to loose off squibs like this. Another weapon is satire. So: Rankers away! Stand up for humanism! Resist!

1. Audit:

Professor Michael Power

P.D. Leake Professor of Accounting, Director, Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation

Research interests

The role of internal and external auditing in the corporate governance process; internal control systems and corporate risk management and regulation; risk reporting and communication.

Recent publications

1997, Expertise and the Construction of Relevance: Accountants and Environmental Audit, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp 123-146

1997, The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification, Oxford University Press, pp xix + 183

1996, Making Things Auditable, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 21, No’s 2/3, pp 289-315 with R. Laughlin, 1996, Habermas, Law and Accounting, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 21, No. 5, pp 441-465

2. Tyranny of numbers

David Boyle had a fine article in the New Statesman recently – “The storming of the accountants, Jan 21, 2002 – but the NS now charges for archive access. It begins thus:

“It may work fine in practice,” goes a joke that the French make at their own expense. “The trouble is, it just doesn’t work in theory.” So it is strange that Paris has become the birthplace of a revolt against the pre-eminence of theory over practice, of economic abstraction over reality, and statistics over real life.

Otherwise, just to show I’m not wholly one-sided, here’s a critical (but appreciative) review of David’s book from Management Today (which doesn’t charge).

Management Today, February 2002

The Tyranny of Numbers

by David Boyle

HarperCollins, £14.99

If it comes to the crunch…

This campaign against obsessive counting and measuring enchants and exasperates Robert Worcester, who does both for a living.

I disagreed with David Boyle’s premise, deplored his conclusions, and enjoyed The Tyranny of Numbers immensely. Of two minds, his diatribe against numbers and people like me who revel in them was summed up in his 227-page book as: ‘We could try measuring more and we could try measuring less. In fact, we can probably do both’.

Boyle’s thesis is that too many people spend too much time collecting too much data and not parsing it into information and thence into knowledge and thus deriving wisdom. He’s right, but then it could be argued that too many people spend too much time painting or writing and to too little effect, because they are not good enough at what they do. Life’s like that.

Boyle has really written two books in one. In alternate chapters he strikes out at examples of foolish number-crunching (eg, ‘Number of floppy discs BT believes can store a digital version of every experience in a 80-year life: 7,142,857,142,860,000.’ Surely they can be more precise! It’s like the Lewis Carroll story of the boy who comes up with a figure of 1,004 pigs in a field. ‘You can’t be sure about the four,’ he is told. ‘And you’re as wrong as ever,’ says the boy, ‘it’s just the four I can be sure about, ’cause they’re here, grubbing under the window. It’s the thousand I isn’t pruffickly sure about.’

The high points for me come in the alternate chapters of brief, ironic histories of the great number-crunchers of history: Jeremy Bentham (attempting to measure ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ and failing, after distributing a questionnaire of some 3,000 questions and having only a handful returned); John Stuart Mill (‘hard to warm to Mill, or any of the unemotional Utilitarians’); James Anyon (‘giving advice to young people – in the 19th century at the dawn of the accounting profession – the well trained and experienced accountant of today… is not a man of figures. He is rather a man of facts and truths, and figures become subordinate and are used only as a means of expressing such facts and truths’); Thomas Potter (father of the first British census, not counting the Doomsday Book!); the wonderful monomaniac Edwin Chadwick (fixated on cleanliness of both the body and the body politic); Charles Booth (mapping what he called the ‘terra incognita’ of London); Shaw and the Webbs (‘the obsession with facts led to the foundation of the London School of Economics in 1895’); and Thomas Stewart and Lloyd George, and Seebohm Rowntree, and a wonderful chapter on John Maynard Keynes, and many others.

How he missed out Churchill setting up the Central Statistical Office I can’t imagine.

Boyle’s attacks catch me on all fronts: he berates McKinsey & Co (‘What’s really important can’t be measured, perhaps we should call that the “McKinsey Fallacy”‘), the LSE (he says happiness can’t be measured – I do it all the time), and my trade (although, to be fair, it’s the ‘hard’ data that seems to dismay him most: ‘We are increasingly silenced by the number- crunchers – unable to make up our minds or take control of the future in the increasing cacophony of measurements and statistics’; and: ‘The hopeless dream of number-crunchers is still to reach the perfect objective non-political decision, to take all that human prejudice and error out of politics or management. It is a dream from the foundation of the London Statistical Society whose first rule of conduct was to “exclude all opinions”‘).

Still, I think it’s a wonderful book, even if Boyle needs to get hold of himself, and to realise and recognise that numbers, like words, are the tools we use to communicate, and have no right or wrong of their own, but only how people use them.

Robert Worcester is chairman of MORI, an alumnus of McKinsey & Co, and teaches at the LSE. He recently contributed a chapter entitled ‘Measuring Happiness In 54 Countries’ to Demos’ book The Good Life.

For more missives and missiles I’ve hurled in the audit debate see Squibs

Korea Countdown / North Korea Report

In April 1993, a phone call from John Gustaveson changed my life. I had met John in the 1980s, when he was taking the M.Phil in Development Studies at IDS: the Institute of Development Studies, at the University of Sussex. He was now working in Seoul for Merit Communications, a leading British-owned local public relations company.

Apparently as a result of reading my book-length report <i>Korea’s Coming Reunification</i>, published a year earlier by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Bill Rylance, Merit’s CEO, decided there was, er, merit – and more to the point, a market – in consultancy on North Korea. More broadly, the idea was to encourage foreign firms to do what they mostly didn’t do then and still don’t now: namely, think hard about how the other Korea, and ultimate reunification, should be factored into their plans in South Korea.

So Bill formed a new division, Merit Consulting, and hired Michael Breen: also British, then a journalist (for the Times and Guardian, inter alia), long resident in Seoul, and subsequently the author of the best-selling book The Koreans, an excellent introduction to the peninsula. I was hired too, as main writer of what launched in September 1993 as Korea Countdown. An 8-page two-column tabloid, the masthead described it as “a monthly newsletter preparing business for developments on the Korean peninsula”. We covered North Korean economy and politics, inter-Korean ties, and much more: taking on serious topics in a breezy and sometimes irreverent style.

Korea Countdown quickly established a blue-chip subscription base, including leading multinationals, major embassies, media, and ministries. In 1994 John and Mike set up their own firm, Breen & Gustaveson Ltd (B&G), and KC continued under that auspice. After 21 issues as a tabloid, from mid-1995 it was reborn as North Korea Report (NKR): now in ringbound format, and twice as long at around 30 pages. The author’s wage did not double pro rata, but I was having far too much fun to complain. Not only had this enabled me to go part time in my university work, which was starting to pall. But more importantly, at last I had an outlet for a wealth of information and ideas on North Korea, which it seemed important to have more widely known and discussed.

But all good things come to an end. Both Mike and John were offered posts elsewhere. B&G carried on, but closed for other reasons early in 1997: the last NKR appeared in February 1997. My first reaction was a frantic effort to keep it going, until it sunk in that 1. it had never actually made any money, perhaps due to being quite highly priced; 2. management has never been my strong suit (couldn’t organize the proverbial festivity in the brewery, to be honest); and 3. although this was my main source of income, I was overworking and could probably get by without it. As indeed I have for five years now.

Yet I like to think the legacy lives on. The 40-odd issues of KC/NKR add up to several hundred pages of solid analysis of North Korea in a detail that was rare at the time. We never had quite enough subscribers, yet those we did have were enthusiastic fans. We got the odd scoop, as when Mike Breen interviewed Kim Il-sung. (Jealous? moi?) Our lifespan included the 1994 nuclear crisis, when as is now known the peninsula came far too close for comfort to a second Korean War: a risk we warned the US against, loudly. Clinton saw the light and backed off; one can only hope Bush will do the same soon.

One of these days, I hope to get some or even all of KC/NKR up on this site. Till then, you’ll just have to take my word for it. It was good, we had fun: what more can one ask? Thanks to everyone who made it happen. And I never went back to college.

UPDATE, March 2004: Sample issues of <a href=”korea-countdown-12.pdf“>Korea Countdown</a> and <a href=”north-korea-report-may-1996.pdf“>North Korea Report</a> are now online. Note. PDFs no longer available.

We hope to add the full set of both in due course. Watch this space!

Lecturer

Lecturer was my job description for 26 years. Teaching on a daily basis went stale on me – but I enjoy it all the more now, as a nice change from communing with computers. 

To lecturing – or seminars, conferences, panels, roundtables, focus groups, etc – I hope to bring the same qualities as in my written and other work. Namely: solid knowledge, frank opinions, clear presentation, and lively discussion. Jokes are extra (that is one).

Hence I’m always happy to consider invitations to speak:

  • on any Korean topic, especially current political and/or business issues 
  • to any audience: academic, business, government, policy, 
  • NGO, school, etc 
  • anywhere: in the UK, Europe, the US, Asia, or worldwide. 

A fee is handy, as this is my living. But I love travel, so the fare may suffice. Try me.

Last year alone brought visits to Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Macau and Kyoto. So I can’t and don’t complain. But as Mae West said, too much of a good thing can be wonderful. For the future, I would especially welcome invitations to meetings or conferences in:

  • Korea! Once legion, these seem to have dried up. Was it something I said? 
  • The US, especially policy think-tanks in Washington. Or anywhere. 
  • Southern and eastern Europe (as a change from northern and western). 
  • Australasia. Having twice had to cancel tours, I hope for third time lucky. 

By way of illustration, here are some examples of recent or ongoing work of this kind: <br>

  • Oxford Analytica. Korea panelist at annual business outlook conference since 1987
  • Royal College of Defence Studies. Annual lecture to senior officers from many lands
  • Kyoto. Conference on North Korea organized by Yasushi 
  • Akashi: annual since 1998
  • Seoul. Many talks in 20 visits and 20 years, to very varied audiences. See <a href=”foster_carter_biography.html“>Brief Bio</a><br>
  • EU. In 2001 alone, meetings in Brussels, Berlin, Paris and UK on policy on N Korea
  • Nordic/Baltic. Since 1996, 3 talks in Stockholm, plus Bergen, Copenhagen, and Riga
  • Macau. IISS workshop on North Korea, Oct. 2001. Also talk for EIU in Hong Kong
  • Hawaii. Pair of CSIS-Pacific Forum conferences upcoming in April 2002
  • UK. In 2002: SOAS Jan, FCO Feb, LSE Mar, Cambridge Apr; had to decline others 

Glad to be invited to talk on Korea, meetings, etc

Examiner

Wearing an academic hat (if it still fits), I’ve been external examiner for a number of PhD/DPhil theses, mainly on Korea, at several universities including Oxford (4) and Cambridge (1). Also London (LSE, Wye), Hull (2), Sussex (2), and Sheffield (1); and further afield, in the Hague, Wageningen, Stockholm, and for – not in, alas – Brisbane.

This work is winding down, and if busy I decline it: much So if anyone still wants to invite me to serve in this capacity, I’d certainly consider it.

Just lately

Does everyone who builds a website find it gets repetitive? That’s hyperlinks for you. I fear I wax boring on the subject of my work: sorry. (Just wait till I get going on Life.)

So to recap and summarize. What I do is told on this site in various shapes, forms, and degrees of detail. Two summaries are in Overview, and so hire me! Brief Bio is a bit longer, and has more examples. For further detail, you have several choices:

by category: click on

Yet another way in is to take a snapshot at a particular time. How’s about right now?<br><br>

  1. Broadcasting. Weeks go by with nothing, and then they all swoop at once. That ol’ “axis of evil” has been good for business, if not for peace in Korea. George Bush’s visit to Seoul brought 8 broadcasts in 2 days: all radio, except one for the new BBC4 digital TV channel. (BBC World TV and others were also keen, but it proved impossible to arrange.) Of the radio, one was new (New Zealand), one other overseas (Austria), and the rest were the good old Beeb: one to be heard at home (The World Tonight, Radio 4) and the rest all World Service, including World Update (US drivetime), World Today (Asia drivetime), and Newshour (round the clock) twice. 5 were prerecords, and 3 live. Now it’s all gone quiet again. I enjoy broadcasting, but the logistics can be disruptive.
  2. Writing. I couldn’t live off broadcasting. Writing is the mainstay. This month has been fairly quiet: hence time to do this website at last. But January was jam-packed. On top of regular quarterly commitments for the EIU and Comparative Connections, there was a two-part article on Korea-China business ties for the EIU’s Business Asia, and a long (7,500 word) piece on North Korea’s multiple threats for AsiaInt. In among all this were regulars like Oxford Analytica and my weekly Asia Times column. Phew.
  3. Lectures, etc. UK work is steady, with monthly visits to London currently. SOAS in January, LSE upcoming in March; and in between, a Foreign Office brainstorming lunch (sic) on North Korea, where I was asked to start the discussion. This month too, I had to decline two invitations to Sussex: an FCO conference at Wilton Park, and one at IDS on famine. Further afield, in April I’m looking forward to two meetings in Hawaii; and farther ahead, I hope to visit both Koreas later in the year. If last year – Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Macau-HK, Kyoto – is any guide, others in Asia and Europe will follow.
  4. Consulting. This is even more episodic than broadcasting, but there’s been a lot in recent weeks. Healthcare, shipping, and other companies are all mulling investment in South Korea; some fret about political risk from the north. A most intriguing brief was to advise North Korea (indirectly) how to improve its status. So I told them. Tactfully.

What else? Well, writing a website for starters …

Employers: In their own write

his page lists the main companies who are kind enough to employ me to write about Korea. It features their own summaries – in their own words, not mine – of what their businesses are about, plus links to their websites. (For more detail on what I do for these firms, click My employers. For samples of my writing for these and others, click <a href=”aidan_foster_carter_web_links.html“>Samples</a>.)

Hearty thanks to all those listed for enabling me to earn a living this way. Please check out the services these good people offer, and sign up if you have the wherewithal! Though commercial firms, most offer samples or trial periods, etc. The last two listed have free and unfettered access.

The Economist Intelligence Unit
(including Viewswire and Business Asia)

A passion for independence; a reputation for quality

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world’s leading provider of country intelligence. As you’d expect from part of the organisation that publishes The Economist newspaper, we guard our independence fiercely. Our only agenda is a determined pursuit of the truth in the service of our clients’ needs. That means an unswerving commitment to clarity, accuracy and reliability.<

The EIU operates unfettered by the concerns or influence of governments, commercial organisations or special-interest groups. We are not interested in rosy scenarios. Nor are we afraid of uncomfortable conclusions, if that is where our logic leads us. We simply provide the best, most dependable analysis of the countries we cover.

Our country intelligence draws on the best sources and a wealth of experience; we began producing research and analysis 55 years ago in London. Over that time we have built up a peerless global network of more than 500 analysts, editors and correspondents. This powerful combination underpins everything we produce, from global macroeconomic forecasts to political and economic analysis for almost 200 individual countries.

www.eiu.com

Viewswire:

Our daily country analysis service. Two hundred articles a day cover 195 countries, providing an unrivalled and timely database of background information, analysis and forecasts.

www.viewswire.com

Business Asia:

Business Asia provides you with the up-to-date intelligence you want on the commercial markets of Asia. It helps you identify commercial opportunities. And alerts you to structural weaknesses that still exist.<br><br>

Based on rigorous research, and trusted by executives in a wide range of companies, Business Asia is the definitive fortnightly briefing on doing business in the region.<br><br><br>

Oxford Analytica

Who we are:

Founded in 1975, Oxford Analytica is an international consulting firm which provides business and political leaders with timely analysis of worldwide political, economic and social developments.

Oxford Analytica acts as a bridge between the world of ideas and the world of enterprise. One of its major assets is an extensive international network which draws on the scholarship and expertise of over 1,000 senior members at Oxford and other leading universities around the world, as well as think-tanks and institutes of international standing.

Clients of Oxford Analytica are able to integrate the judgements drawn from this unparalleled resource into their own decision-making process.

Clients include multinational corporations, major banks, national governments and international institutions in more than 30 countries.

Strengths:

  • Coherent knowledge base of exceptional quality and breadth
  • Interdisciplinary team approach which utilises economists, international relations specialists, and political and social analysts.
  • Detached and authoritative intelligence and judgement by scholars of independent reputation, experience and perspective.
  • Timely consultation and interaction with an extraordinary network of scholars, specialists and study teams.
  • Established credibility with a client base which encompasses the largest global banks and corporations, G7 governments and many international institutions.

Links:

I’m employed by Enterprise LSE to write about Korea for Asian Regional Markets, a daily newsletter published by IDEAglobal; also occasional consultancy. Separately, Fathom is an online educational resource in which LSE is a member institution.

Enterprise LSE was set up by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to enable and facilitate commercial application of its expertise and intellectual resources. A wholly owned subsidiary of the LSE, the company offers a professional interface with the academic community with a comprehensive range of project management and support capabilities. Enterprise LSE also develops a range of other commercial projects based on the fruits of academic research at the LSE.

Understanding the political and economic processes of a country or region is vital for any business operating in that market, whatever the sector. Enterprise LSE has built up three teams of leading experts to provide coverage of the important Asia Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe emerging markets for clients ranging from financial institutions to utilities and engineering companies. The teams provide insightful and well-informed analysis which is tailored to client needs and presented in a format that enables clients to make fast and effective decisions. Products already developed range from short (600 word) political risk assessments that react to events as they unfold, to in-depth strategic executive briefings and workshops. The Enterprise LSE Emerging Markets Teams operate to the highest standards of quality that you would expect from an academic institution with the global reputation of the LSE. Each team is led by a senior member of the LSE faculty and has a dedicated Enterprise LSE co-ordinator/ manager.

Link: www.enterprise-lse.co.uk

Fathom

The premier destination for authenticated knowledge and online learning. Fathom’s member institutions present their immense wealth of knowledge across every area of interest-from business to global affairs, from arts to technology.

Link: www.fathom.com

About IDEAglobal

DEAglobal’s focus is to provide independent, forward-looking actionable research on the global financial markets twenty-four hours a day. We currently have over 130 analysts, located in New York, Miami, Dallas, London and Singapore, contributing to 22 separate subscription-based products, delivered via proprietary networks, facsimile, internet, and wireless. Currently, we produce on average 2000 pieces of original analysis per day. The hallmark of our actionable analysis is strategic thinking and detailed forecasts. IDEAglobal is a valued source of market intelligence with an 11-year track record of offering insightful financial analysis.<br><br>

Links: http://www.ideaglobal.com/

Asia Intelligence Ltd (AsiaInt)

Asia Intelligence Ltd is the premier online source for economic, political, and strategic intelligence on Asia. With a pedigree dating back to 1934, AsiaInt is a "can’t miss" resource for all professionals with business, economic, investment, diplomatic, and/or political interests in the world’s most-dynamic and strategic region.

AsiaInt operates at the cutting edge of intelligence gathering, analysis, and dissemination. But it also shares a remarkable 67-year pedigree that distinguishes it from so many of today’s "here today gone tomorrow" research groups. AsiaInt is part of the QS Information Service, founded in London in 1934 to provide economic and strategic intelligence for international companies in the turbulent years leading up to World War II.

Asia Intelligence Ltd provides government and private-sector clients with the best possible economic, investment, political, and strategic intelligence on one of the world’s most-complex regions – a region that combines over half the world’s population with one-third of its economic output.

Link: http://www.asiaint.com/

MENAS Associates

The MENAS Group was established in 1978 to provide businesses, governments and other organizations with detailed, up-to-date and specialized political and economic analysis and advice.

MENAS is a privately owned British firm, which is totally independent of any political organization and has no ties or connections with any government or interest group. MENAS operates through a global network of consultants and associate offices that are predominantly based in the countries on which they report. Our associates are widely acknowledged as leading experts whose analysis is accurate, informative and frequently unavailable from other sources.

Originally founded by Middle East and North African specialists (hence the name), MENAS has broadened its geographical spread to cover the majority of non-OECD countries, including small islands and micro-states. MENAS is currently able to provide consultancy and business services covering the majority of Middle Eastern countries, most of Africa, Central Asia and the ASEAN economies, and the majority of South America, particularly the MERCOSUR member states.

Link: www.menas.co.uk

Europa Publications
a member of the Taylor and Francis group

I update North & South Korean history, foreign affairs, and inter-Korean relations, for their annual The Far East and Australasia.

For over seventy years, London based Europa Publications has published a unique series of regularly-revised reference books which cover every aspect of international affairs, politics, and economics around the globe.

Europa’s highly-acclaimed reference works have earned an outstanding reputation for their accuracy and reliability and are used extensively by libraries, government departments, embassies, international organizations, academic institutions and businesses world-wide.

Links: www.europapublications.co.uk redirects to: https://www.routledge.com/reference, and www.tandf.co.uk redirects to https://taylorandfrancis.com

Comparative Connections

An E-journal on East Asian bilateral relations

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Pacific Forum CSIS is a non-profit, private, public policy research institute which operates as the Asia Pacific arm of the Center for Strategic and International Studies of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1975, the thrust of the Forum’s work is to help stimulate cooperative policies in the Asia Pacific region through debate and analyses undertaken with the region’s leaders in the academic, government, and corporate arenas. The Forum’s programs encompass current and emerging political, security, economic/business, and ocean policy issues. It collaborates with a network of more than 30 research institutes around the Pacific Rim, drawing on Asian perspectives and disseminating its projects’ findings and recommendations to opinion leaders, governments, and publics throughout the region.

Link: www.csis.org/pacfor/ccejournal.html redirects to https://www.csis.org/

AFC’s latest:

Link: https://www.csis.org/search?search_api_views_fulltext=aidan%20foster%20carter&sort_by=search_api_relevance

Asia Times Online

Modestly lacking in self-description! Online daily newspaper, published in Bangkok.

My weekly Pyongyang Watch column is at: www.atimes.com/koreas/koreas.html (link now defunct). There is an archive of Pyongyang Watch columns at North Korea Economy Watch here: https://www.nkeconwatch.com/?s=aidan+foster+carter (please note that this site seems very slow in loading).

Consultant

Consultancy is another string to my Korean bow, but not so far a major one. Loosely, everything I do is consulting – in that people consult me about Korea. But insofar as what I mostly do is write, the term analyst or country analyst would be more exact. 

This isn’t just what I do, but what I’m comfortable with. We all learn our strengths and weaknesses, some sooner than others. My strength is in writing, and in synthesis. By contrast, I have less aptitude or inclination for a related but different and equally valid activity: namely going out into the field to research a specific sector or topic. That is what I view as consultancy proper. If offered it I tend to demur, or suggest people who live in Seoul and so have better networks and local knowledge. Horses for courses.

Again, I should make it clear that the quantitative end of economic or financial analysis is not my forte. But I’m fine on qualitative economic topics, such as sectoral studies. And I am strong on political economy: seeing this as the essential lens through which to view what, if no longer Korea Inc, is still in every sense a mixed economy. Political and security issues are core concerns, including north-south and international relations. I also pay – and would urge – keen attention to social, cultural and demographic factors.

Hence I am very happy to consider any consultancy proposals that correspond to this profile. A fair amount of such work comes my way, almost all of it via intermediaries. While grateful as ever to all of these, the fact remains that I am a free agent as well – so new customers can cut out the middleman!

Here is a partial list of ultimate clients for whom I’ve done consulting in various forms:

  • Multinational companies: BHP, British Aerospace, British Gas, Caltex, Coca-Cola, KLM, Rio Tinto, Unilever
  • Risk assessors, insurers, lawyers etc: Control Risks, Hiscox, Herbert Smith
  • Banks, investment houses, etc: EBRD, Jardine Fleming, UBS, Newton
  • Governments, etc: US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and others

Both form and content have been quite varied, which I like. Some were meetings: oral presentations or teleconferencing, addressing investor roadshows, and more. But most have revolved around writing reports. A select list of topics includes:

South Korea

  • The viability of particular Korean companies in the wake of the 1997-98 financial crisis
  • Sectoral studies, including healthcare, shipbuilding, energy, and retail
  • Reviews of the ROK’s financial health, restructuring programme, and chaebol reforms
  • Economic nationalism and attitudes to foreign business and FDI.

North Korea

  • Several studies of political / security risk (internal and external), long-run scenarios, etc
  • Evaluation of the progress of economic reform and enforceability of contracts
  • Advice on the real value of the DPRK won on a given date, for a compensation case

Please feel free to consult me about consulting on Korea!