Shin Ki-wook

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Shin Ki-wook (신기욱) is a professor at Stanford University; he is the William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea in Sociology and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; the director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center; the founding director of the Korea Program, all at Stanford University.[1] He is a scholar with a strong right-wing bias in Northeast Asian politics, mainly criticizing South Korean liberals regarding the conflict between South Korean liberals and Japanese conservatives, and evaluating South Korean liberals as "ethno-nationalists" in a negative sense.

Although he is politically very pro-Japanese and a highly biased scholar close to the conservative wing of South Korea, he is often quoted in English Wikipedia.

Shin's rhetoric[edit]

Shin is notorious for cleverly defending the pro-Japanese colonialist views of South Korean conservatives and Japanese, and for portraying South Korean liberals as if they were [anti-Japanese ethno-nationalistic] authoritarians.

Rightist bias in South Korean politics[edit]

Shin compared Moon Jae-in, a South Korean liberal politician, to Donald Trump, and compared Yoon Suk YeolWikipedia, a South Korean conservative politician, to Joe Biden. In particular, he argues that South Korea's democracy has retreated due to the Moon Jae-in government and the South Korean Democratic Party. He accuses the Moon Jae-in government of promoting a "democratic recession" because it is hostile to Korea's [right-wing] conservatives.[2] However, while most mainstream media never compare Moon Jae-in to Donald Trump, most mainstream media identify Yoon Suk Yeol with Donald Trump.[3][4][5] In particular, contrary to Shin Ki-wook's claim, Moon Jae-in has been hostile to some conservatives in the South because some conservatives in the South have shown anti-constitutional attitudes, denying the impeachment of Park Geun-hyeWikipedia and using physical violence against liberal politicians.[6]

It is controversial whether Moon Jae-in is an anti-Japanese populist, but he has nothing in common with Trump due to his political leanings, such as being a strictly liberal politician and openly identifying as a "feminist". In contrast, Yoon Suk Yeol is a blatant anti-LGBT, anti-Chinese, anti-feminist "far-right" politician.[7] Many South Korean critics have called Yoon Suk Yeol's extreme right-wing politics "K-Trumpism".[8] Anti-Japanese nationalist populism in South Korean liberals/progressives is post-colonial politics, not Trumpism.

Shin expressed that the Moon Jae-in government had caused South Korean democracy to suffer "Crisis", but this is a completely biased claim. According to The Economist Democracy Index, the democracy index during the Moon Jae-in administration continued to increase.[9] The World Press Freedom Index also rose steadily under the Moon Jae-in government, even higher than in the United States and Japan. Contrary to Shin's claim, Moon Jae-in developed Korean democracy in the same time frame when Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe destroyed democracy in the U.S. and Japan.[10]

The reason for his ultra-biased claim is his abandonment of academic neutrality, as the anti-colonial/anti-imperialist foreign policy toward Japan by South Korean liberals is not in the U.S. national interest, but the cooperative foreign policy with Japan based on the anti-China/pro-American of South Korean conservatives is very helpful to the U.S. national interest.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Won Sei-hoon (원세훈), who was the director of the National Intelligence Service (국가정보원) under the conservative regime in South Korea, illegally transferred $2 million in overseas funds to a Korea-related institute at Stanford University, and in 2017, Shin Ki-wook was investigated for his involvement in the case under the Moon Jae-in government. The case is also likely to be related to Shin Ki-wook's anti-liberal/pro-conservative tendency.[11]

Whataboutism and pro-Japanese colonialist rhetoric[edit]

He criticized the South Korean government and "anti-Japanese populism", saying Japan-South Korea trade dispute was due to "ethnic nationalism" in the left-wing of South Korea.[12] However, this is not true at all and is close to the opposite; Abe's government initiated a trade dispute with South Korea after the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that reparations be made by Japanese companies who had benefited from forced labor.[13] In other words, Shin Ki-wook's view is almost victim blaming because it is a trade conflict between South Korea and Japan that began due to Japan's unfair trade sanctions, which caused South Korea's anti-Japanese sentiment to explode. As for South Korea's anti-Japanese protests caused by Japan's unfair economic sanctions, he also mentioned that there were no large-scale anti-Chinese protests in South Korea when China imposed unfair economic sanctions.[14]

In 2006, he mentioned his and colleagues' findings on historical revisionism in Japanese textbooks, noting that most of them are described neutral, and rather, Chinese and Korean textbooks are often nationalistic. However, Japanese textbooks are controversial because of historical revisionism about Japanese war crime damage during World War II, and it is more like Whataboutism to mention the nationalistic nature of Chinese and South Korean textbooks because South Korea and China are victims and not perpetrators in this issue. Japanese war crimes are those that Japan invaded Asia during World War II, mainly in China and Korea.[15]

See also[edit]

  • Brian Reynolds Myers, similar to Shin, likes to make extreme anti-North Korean/pro-Japanese, and accuses South Korean liberals of being "ethno-nationalists". Although he is also a highly biased scholar, he is often referred to by English Wikipedia and major English-speaking media. He is also a Whataboutist on issues related to Japanese war crimes, like Shin.
  • Minjok, the term means "nation", "Volk" or "ethnic group" in Korean, but Shin Ki-wook, B.R. Myers, Robert E. Kelly and other right-wing scholars often translate it to "Korean race".
  • Wingnut welfare


  2. In Troubled Waters: South Korea’s Democracy in Crisis (2022. 05. 03). "In many ways, South Korea in 2022 is remarkably similar to the United States in 2020. Just as the United States experienced a crisis of democracy under the Trump administration, South Korea underwent a democratic recession during President Moon Jae-in’s time in office. ... both democratic norms and the spirit of democracy were betrayed under the guise of the rule of law. Trump defied a widely held norm by nominating a Supreme Court justice during an election year, while Moon attempted to fill key government positions during the presidential transition, including seats on the Board of Audit and Inspection’s inspection panel. ... There are growing concerns that Biden’s failures could enable Trump to return to the White House for a second term. Meanwhile, the election of Yoon Suk-Yeol has resulted in a transfer of power, but it does not necessarily represent a victory for South Korea’s conservatives. The failure of the Yoon administration could lead to a progressive resurgence. In many ways, Yoon is faced with a task of historic proportions."
  3. "Is Yoon Suk-yeol the South Korean Trump?". The Korea Herald. 2 March 2022.
  4. South Korea's 'K-Trump' and an 'anti-feminist' election | Nothing is Foreign | CBC Podcasts. CBC. 18 March 2022. "South's Korea incoming president, Yoon Suk Yeol, demonizes feminism, blames women for the country's low birth rate and denies the existence...".
  5. 'Immigration to Canada' trends on Twitter when 'K-Trump' wins election. Business Insider. 9 March 2022. "Yoon Suk-yeol has pledged to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, claiming that women do not suffer systemic gender...".
  6. It’s Time for Justice, Not Healing.
  7. "The troubling far-right tendencies of Korea's Yoon Suk-yeol". The Hankyoreh. 9 March 2022.
  8. "Conservative Yoon Suk-yeol elected South Korean president". The Financial Times. 2 March 2022. "Critics labelled his campaigning style “K-Trumpism”, after he praised a former authoritarian president responsible for the massacre of ..."
  9. South Korea’s liberal rulers unleash their inner authoritarians. The Economist. 20 August 2020.
  10. "한국, 세계언론지수 43위…미국·일본보다 높아" [[South] Korea ranked 43rd in the World Press Index ... It's higher than the United States and Japan.]. NEWSIS (in Korean). 25 April 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2023. 한국이 올해 세계언론자유지수에서 43위를 기록해 언론 자유가 크게 개선된 것으로 나타났다. [[Since the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in government,] Korea has ranked 43rd in the [2018] World Press Freedom Index, greatly improving freedom of press.]
  11. "'원세훈 200만 달러 의혹' 스탠퍼드대 연구소장 조사" [The head of Stanford University's research institute was questioned over the "Suspected $2 Million Won Se-hoon."]. 중앙일보 (in Korean). 30 November 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2023. "원세훈(66) 전 국가정보원장의 국정원 해외공작금 유용 의혹을 수사 중인 검찰이 30일 신기욱 미국 스탠퍼드대 아시아태평양 연구소장과 남성욱 고려대 교수(전 국가안보전략연구원장)를 불러 조사했다." [Prosecutors investigating former National Intelligence Service Director Won Se-hoon (66)'s alleged misuse of the NIS' overseas funds summoned Shin Ki-wook, head of the Asia-Pacific Research Institute at Stanford University, and Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University (former head of the National Security Strategy Institute), on the 30th.]
  12. On Korean Nationalism and Its Role in the Escalating Japan-South Korea Friction. Gi-Wook Shin. (September 5, 2019)
  13. The high-tech trade dispute rooted in Japan's wartime history. REUTERS. 8 July 2019.
  14. The Perils of Populist Nationalism (PDF). Gi-Wook Shin. (September 2019)