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Jeju Forum debates global peace, economy, culture

Prime minister calls for closer cooperation for peaceful and prosperous East Asia


JEJU ― Top government officials, corporate leaders, scholars and activists from across the globe engaged in heated discussions on a wide range of issues facing the world at a forum here over the weekend.

The 6th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity brought together some 1,200 people including 250 from some 20 countries including the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, Canada and India.

The annual forum, which had so far been held biennially since its inception in 2001, offered a venue for in-depth debates on international issues such as global financial reforms, environmental challenges, regional security and the rise of China.
Diplomats and experts discuss Korean reunification during a session of the 6th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity on Jeju on Sunday. (Yonhap News)
Diplomats and experts discuss Korean reunification during a session of the 6th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity on Jeju on Sunday. (Yonhap News)

Hosted by Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, the International Peace Foundation and the East Asia Foundation, the three-day forum, themed “New Asia for Peace and Prosperity,” ended on Sunday

During his keynote speech, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik called for closer cooperation among the countries in East Asia to go beyond regional challenges toward the establishment of a “peaceful East Asia.”

“In order to bring to the fore the potentials of East Asia, we should achieve the establishment of a stable security system and regional economic integration, and eventually create a community for peace and prosperity,” Kim said.

Kim also stressed that the expansion of free trade agreements in the region, particularly among China, Japan and South Korea, is crucial for a “prosperous East Asia.”

“For a prosperous East Asia, countries in the region should make efforts and the starting point for that will be the regional expansion of the FTA networks,” he said.

South Korea has signed free trade agreements with 45 countries and is currently seeking to open negotiations with Japan and China.

Kim also called on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs, saying that it is the only way to brighten the future of the impoverished state.

“There are many challenges on our path to peace and prosperity in the region. One of them is security threats from the North. Despite its economic failures and chronic food shortages, the North has not abandoned its military adventurism and nuclear developments,” he said.

Another renowned keynote speaker, former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, said that in this “Asian century,” it is time for a new vision for Asia, which she emphasized has transformed from an impoverished Cold War battleground to a “global economic juggernaut.”

“The new vision for Asia should be one where economic growth is able to sustain the social and environmental fabric in a responsible manner. With Asia’s present trajectory, I am optimistic it should be well on its way to achieving that vision,” she said.

“The growth engine of Asia can transform our economies and lift up the poor. As our economic engines drive all Asia to first-world status, we must not do so on the backs of the poor nor at the expense of our environment.”

Arroyo who governed her country from 2001-2010 also underscored the importance of China’s role to lead regional cooperation of East Asia.

“Within our region, we have much to learn from China as a model of development. China’s remarkable rise reflects the promise and challenge of the world in which we live,” she said.

“We have seen their dramatic growth lifting millions out of poverty and springing their nation squarely onto the world stage as a new global power. As a result, China is the fastest growing country in the world. Its rise is a significant opportunity for the region.”

The forum this year expanded the scope of its themes to issues facing the entire world, broadening its focus from regional peace to economy, environment, culture and other issues. It consisted of 64 sessions including 14 sessions on peace and security.

One of the most popular sessions was about the rise of China and whether it poses opportunities or challenges to the international community.

John Ikenberry of Princeton University, a world-renowned expert on diplomacy and security, said that the rise of China does not need to trigger a “world-wrenching hegemonic power transition.”

“The Sino-American power transition is potentially manageable if only because the international order that China faces is profoundly different than the orders that past rising states have confronted. China does not just face the U.S. It faces a Western order with global reach,” he said.

“The current order is much more open, expansive, integrated, and rule-based. At the same time, the nuclear revolution has made war among great powers less likely. This has eliminated the major way that rising powers have overturned old international orders defended by declining hegemonic states.”

During a session on cultural fusion in East Asia, participants discussed how to maintain hallyu, the pan-Asian popularity of Korean pop culture, and move toward the establishment of a cultural community in East Asia.

Chung Han-young, renowned Korean actor and CEO of the EnterKorea Co., said that South Korea should find something more Korean and unique, and stay “humble” to maintain the popularity of Korean soap operas and other productions.

“The content that is very Korean has appealed to the fans of Korean dramas in foreign countries contrary to our initial expectation that the Westernized content could be more attractive,” he said. “We also should stay humble and should not be arrogant in producing dramas and others (targeting overseas viewers).”

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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