The following roundtable draws from a project organized by the Korea Institute for Future Strategies (KiFS) and The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Katharine Moon (Wellesley College) and Geun Lee (Seoul National University) served as principal investigators and led a distinguished team of researchers in a quest to identify and analyze the factors that have been conducive, as well as unfavorable, to building trust between the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The project—"Trust, Distrust, and Cooperation in American-Korean Relations"—explored the trends, drivers, and actors that influence people-to-people relations as well as the formulation of policy within and between America and South Korea.
One of the main findings of the project concerns the role Korean Americans play as political actors in the United Sates. The first two essays in the roundtable paint a clear picture of the emerging political influence of the Korean-American community. The authors examine the community's demographic make-up and connections with South Koreans in order to better understand Korean Americans' general perspectives, in which policy areas they are politically effective, and the political role and influence Korean Americans might develop in the future. The third essay closely traces the development of Korean civil society since democratization in 1987 and examines the role that civil society actors (including NGOs, students, activists, Internet-based communities, and think tanks) play in domestic Korean politics as well as in U.S.-ROK relations.
NBR wishes to thank KiFS for its partnership on this project as well as on several other initiatives over the past five years. KiFS consistently does an excellent job of bringing together top experts from Korea's vibrant academic, policymaking, business, and media communities in an effort to create solutions to major challenges facing the Korean Peninsula and the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, NBR is grateful for the leadership of Dr. Moon and Dr. Lee over the past three years. Their contributions were key to the project's success. Finally, NBR wishes to express its deepest appreciation to the Korea Foundation for its generous support of this project. [End Page 18]