KF hosts middle-power diplomacy forum

2013-11-21 20:17

Yu Hyun-seok (center, front row), president of the Korea Foundation, Park Jin (seventh from left), executive president of the Asia Future Institute, and other participants pose at the KF seminar on middle powers and public diplomacy in Seoul on Thursday. (Korea Foundation)
Diplomats and experts participating in a Seoul forum Thursday discussed how to enhance public diplomacy of middle-power countries in line with their growing roles in world politics.

About 50 officials and scholars from home and abroad were present at the KF Global Seminar hosted by the Korea Foundation.

“Middle powers today aim to strengthen their capacities by building networks so as to become pivotal, constructive and responsible facilitators on global issues,” Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul said in his welcoming remarks.

“Today’s middle-power diplomacy in essence shares the context with public diplomacy in the sense that they both pursue soft power.”

The program is aimed at drawing up policy suggestions, forging cooperative projects and networking public diplomacy institutions to better tackle global issues such as development, climate change and cyber security, the foundation said.

Among the participants were experts from Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Australia, the four nations with which Korea launched a consultation body in September, dubbed MIKTA, as it is ramping up its middle-power diplomacy endeavor.

The Korean government has set aside 6 billion won ($5.7 million) for public diplomacy this year for the first time, the single biggest item in the Foreign Ministry budget.

“Public diplomacy can be extended so as to address misunderstandings among peoples and understand more deeply about each other, to share cultural assets and to help each other,” Ma Young-sam, Seoul’s ambassador for public diplomacy, said.

“The Korean government will continue to contribute to such efforts through various cooperative programs.”

Other prominent participants included William Patterson, Australia’s ambassador to Korea, and Philip Seib, a professor of journalism and public diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

The event kicked off the four-day KF Global Seminar, which was launched in 2011 by the state-run public diplomacy institution to stimulate personnel exchanges and knowledge sharing on regional and global issues between officials, scholars and civic groups around the world.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)