Last July 8, the UA&P Samsung Korean Studies Program held the 2015 Lecture of Prominence at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel aiming to promote Korean studies and to build understanding of Korea among academe, government leaders, policymakers, and the diplomatic corps in the Philippines. Sponsored by the Academy of Korean Studies, it featured Dr. Jin Park, a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, whose lecture was entitled “Future of Asia and Strategy of Korea: Pursuing Sustainable Growth and National Unification through Global Partnership.” Dr. Park called for enhancing Korean ties with other countries and the unification of South and North Korea in an effort to stimulate economic growth and to bolster Korea’s position in the Asian region.
“Korea of 2015 needs a grand design for charting its future course,” he said in his lecture. “We must strengthen our cooperation with advanced economies such as the US and Europe in politics, economy and security. At the same time, we must also lead sustainable growth and reunification of the Korean peninsula on the basis of peace and stability and regional integration in the 21st- century Asia.”
With 65 percent of Korea’s trade surplus coming from the ASEAN market, Dr. Park also addressed the need to engage with the huge potential of the emerging Southeast Asian market, including the Philippines, in addition to bigger economies like China and India, and countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. “We must also strengthen our cooperation with the members of the newly-rising E7 (Emerging Seven) like Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey,” he said. “For Korea to be able to play a central role in the expansion of free trade in the Asia-Pacific, it should also join TPP at a timely juncture so as to gain opportunities for expanding economic cooperation in trade, investment and services.”
“Korea must also establish a multi-faceted national strategy to prepare for reunification in the 21st century,” Dr. Park added. “The economic disparity between the two Koreas is already such that South Korea’s GDP is over 40 times that of North Korea. South Korea’s international trade volume is 150 times that of its northern neighbor.
“An integrated Korean economy, along with the Northeastern provinces of China and the Maritime Territory in Russia, will form a potential market of 300 million people. Then the Korean peninsula will be able to facilitate a synergy of great proportions with China and Russia. It falls upon us, then, to fulfill Korea’s role in the future of Asia and its growth as well as the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.”
A Chair Professor at the Graduate School of International and Area Studies of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Dr. Park is the former Chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, and the President of Asia Future Institute, an independent policy think-tank that conducts research on the future development of Asia and promotes Korea’s role in the region.
His lecture was followed by a discussion and open forum moderated by Dr. Abigail De Leon, Vice-Dean of the UA&P School of Law & Governance, with discussants Dr. Cleo Calimbahin, Philippine Executive Director of Transparency International, and Dr. Fernando Aldaba, Dean of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Social Sciences. Among the attendees was H.E. Jae Shin Kim, Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines.
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