Emory Report
December 7, 2009
Volume 62, Number 13



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December 7, 2009

Han: North Korea seeks friendship
“Improving relations between Washington and Pyongyang is more likely to be conducive to improving relations between Seoul and Pyongyang than the other way around,” Han Wan-sang said at the Halle Institute for Global Learning Nov. 13.

Han ’67 PhD, this year’s recipient of the Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award, is former president of the Korea’s Red Cross and a former deputy prime minister.

“North Korea believes both security and its serious economic problems can be solved comprehensively only through direct dealing with the U.S.,” he said. “I urge Washington to recognize the tremendous power of its leverage over Pyongyang, which other neighboring countries do not possess. Now is the time for Washington to extend a friendly hand to Pyongyang so Pyongyang will be able to unclench its fist.”
—Leslie King

‘What is the What’ hero aids refugees
Valentino Achak Deng was forced by civil war to flee his village and walk across Sudan with thousands of other “Lost Boys” to refugee camps in Ethiopia. “I thought that my journey would last for a week, but weeks became months and months became years,” he said.

Resettlement in the U.S. brought new challenges, but the support of mentors helped him cope. “There are many immigrants in Atlanta today who don’t have those connections,” he said, urging the audience to reach out and get involved.

Deng’s story reached millions through the bestseller “What is the What” by Dave Eggers, and the proceeds have helped open a school in Deng’s hometown of Marial Bai. —Kim Urquhart

Taking evolution of culture in hand
How did humans go from the ability to make a stone axe to a computer mouse? Science writer Matt Ridley posed that question during his keynote for the conference on the Evolution of Brain, Mind and Culture.
Human intelligence became collective to move from making a hand axe, knapped by a single person, to the production of the computer tool, which requires the efforts of many. Ridley argued that, just as sex and the exchange of genes were crucial to speeding up biological evolution, expanding trade and the exchange of goods were the major driver of cultural evolution and the accumulation of innovations.
“The actual swapping of one object for another is unknown outside of our species,” he said.  —Carol Clark