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KEI Staff

Mark Tokola

Vice President
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About Mark Tokola

Mark Tokola is Vice President of the Korea Economic Institute of America in Washington, DC. He retired as a U.S. Senior Foreign Service Officer with the rank of Minister-Counselor in September 2014. His last posting was as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at US Embassy London. Previously he had served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassies in Seoul, Republic of Korea; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and, Reykjavik, Iceland. Among his other postings were two tours at the US Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs at Embassy London, and Economic Counselor at US Embassy The Hague. He also served as Director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) in Baghdad from 2007-2008. Mr Tokola received the State Department’s Superior Honor Award for his work on implementing the Dayton Peace Accords while serving as Political Counselor in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1997-1999. He holds a BA in International Relations from Pomona College in Claremont, California, and an LL.M. in European Community Law from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Mr. Tokola serves on the Board of Governors of DACOR: An Organization of Foreign Affairs Professionals, and on the Board of Trustees of the Bacon House Foundation.

Mr. Tokola’s spouse is Dr. Nancy S. Tokola, a physician who graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She holds post-doctoral degrees from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) in Medical and Pharmaceutical Research and from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in Humanitarian Action. She was the first American recipient of a European Union Marie Curie Fellowship. Mr. and Dr. Tokola have four children.

We often talk about whether the sanctions against North Korea are working. And we have spoken occasionally on this very podcast about the ways North Korea also cheats and gets…

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Region: Asia
Location: Korea, North

Looking back on the Korean War, one might assume that the outbreak of a violent conflict that killed millions of people would preclude the possibility of a peaceful resolution of…

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Region: Asia
Location: Korea, North

July 2020

The pandemic has been going on for so long that international affairs observers nearly forgot that two of America’s closest allies in one of the most consequential regions in the…

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Where in the world is Kim Jong-un? The dictator of North Korea who appears so fond of being filmed and photographed has disappeared from sight – and there are rumors…

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May 2020

Future of Korea is one of KEI’s flagship programs, travelling throughout the country to share news and developments on the U.S.-Korea relations with the public at large. Led by KEI…

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December 2019

KEI Vice President Mark Tokola was cited in a recent PBS article on the growing friction between South Korea and Japan – he expressed hope that the United States was…

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September 2019

Writing for the Nikkei, KEI Vice President Mark Tokola highlighted how President Moon Jae-in defied expectations in his speech commemorating Korea's liberation from Japan in 1945 by offering a vision…

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September 2019

Mark Tokola, Korea Economic Institute of America vice president, discusses the trade dispute between Japan and South Korea with Bloomberg's Shery Ahn and Paul Allen on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Asia." In…

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September 2019

Join Yun Sun and Mark Tokola for a conversation about China’s unprecedented 70th anniversary commemoration of its entry into the Korean War. Why has China chosen to mark this particular anniversary with a high-profile speech by Xi Jinping, along with new movies and television programs revisiting the Korean War? Yun Sun will explore what China is now saying about the Korean War, who the intended audience might be, and what it might mean for U.S.-China relations and diplomacy towards North Korea.

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November 2020

There have been many discussions in Washington D.C. and elsewhere about whether sanctions against North Korea are effective, but fewer conversations on whether they are ethical. Filling this void, Professor Hazel Smith asks whether the means used by the United Nations to achieve denuclearization are justified by the international community’s desire for North Korea to dismantle its arsenal. She joins KEI for a conversation on this very question.

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The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when North Korean People’s Army invaded the south across the 38th parallel. Although all the devasting battles took place on the Korean peninsula, the war had complex international dimensions beyond the two Koreas. It intensified and globalized the Cold War. In the continuing absence of a formal peace treaty, the Korean peninsula remains under an armistice today.

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Join us for a discussion on how policymakers should navigate the uncertainties in the post-pandemic new normal. What ends should they seek, particularly in regard to Northeast Asia? Dr. Eberstadt will join KEI Vice President Mark Tokola to expand on some of the key challenges he identified in a recent piece for NBR (You can find the article here).

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June 2020

Does the forty-fifth president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, have a foreign policy, not least of all inclusive of the vital Northeast Asian region? The question is not…

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June 2020

With an outbreak of diplomacy under way for the Korean Peninsula, a review of North Korea’s approach to negotiations is timely. A summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and…

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August 2018

For the proverbial visitor from Mars, the political situation in Northeast Asia is inexplicable. Sitting amidst a group of relatively stable, wealthy, and powerful countries, is a small, poor, belligerent…

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August 2017

Today’s relationship between the United States and China is more varied, complex, and cooperative than the accumulation of headlines would lead one to believe. The news media and commentators spotlight…

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Region: Asia
Location: China

October 2016

It seems unlikely that there will be any diplomatic breakthroughs with North Korea during the remainder of 2020 unless Kim Jong-un unexpectedly launches a major initiative involving tangible concessions.  Donald Trump has little to gain from another summit unless it achieved something dramatic and concrete.  Kim Jong-un would be wary of any new deal with…

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July 2020

By Mark Tokola Why won’t North Korea admit that it has any cases of Covid-19? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to assert that North Korea is “a clean land” with no coronavirus infections. This strikes outside observers as extremely unlikely, given the large number of cases in neighboring China and South Korea. Furthermore, North…

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Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South

April 2020

By Mark Tokola Genron NPO, a Japanese non-profit organization, released the results of an opinion survey in October 2019 that focusses on Japanese and Chinese perspectives of one another, but which also includes some nuggets about how the two countries perceive South Korea.  The survey was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Center in Japan…

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March 2020

By Mark Tokola The Trump Administration’s precipitous decision to remove American troops from Northeast Syria, where they had been allied with Kurdish forces in opposing ISIS, and had been deterring Turkish forces from attacking the Kurds, raises questions regarding the wisdom of relying on the United States.  Of course, the U.S. commitment to have forces…

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October 2019