Experts to Discuss Potential Korean Unification at UM Event

November 15, 2018

MISSOULA – Two experts on Korea will visit the University of Montana to discuss “The Nexus of Politics & Economics: Is the Korean Peninsula on the Verge of Peace and Unification?” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, in Gallagher Business Building Room 106.

Thomas J. Byrne, president of The Korea Society, and Philip Yun, executive director of Ploughshares Fund and former senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Defense, will speak during the event. Sponsored by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center and the Montana World Affairs Council, the talk is free and open to the public.

After the landmark meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula seemed greater than ever. But as negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea drag on, tensions are rising once more.

North Korea has warned it could start rebuilding nuclear forces if sanctions are not removed, while the U.S. and Japan have reaffirmed the need to maintain sanctions until North Korea is denuclearized. While South Korea continues to support talks, the future of the peninsula looks more uncertain. Despite their shared history and language, in the past several decades the two countries have grown steadily further apart in politics, economics and culture. Byrne and Yun will discuss the current political and economic challenges and opportunities that peace and potential unification face.

Byrne joined The Korea Society as its president in 2015. He previously served as senior vice president for the Sovereign Risk Group in the Asia-Pacific for Moody’s Investor Services. He teaches at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and Georgetown University’s Graduate School of Foreign Service.

Yun is the executive director of Ploughshares Fund. He previously served as vice president of The Asia Foundation, as well as senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. Yun was a member of a government working group that managed U.S. policy and negotiations with North Korea under President Bill Clinton and part of the U.S. delegation that traveled to North Korea with Secretary of State Madeline Albright in 2000.

UM’s Mansfield Center promotes better understanding of Asia, U.S. relations with Asia and ethics in public affairs in the spirit of Sen. Mike Mansfield (1903-2001) and his wife and life partner, Maureen Hayes Mansfield. The center houses programs that support these core interests and hallmarks of Sen. Mansfield’s career.

The Montana World Affairs Council is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering global awareness and understanding in Montana’s classrooms and communities.

More information is available at    


Contact: Caitlin Sager, program manager, UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, 406-243-2965,