Special Envoy to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum is held in every January in Davos, Switzerland, which is the best resort city in the country and also the stage of “Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann. This forum was started in 1971 by Klaus Schwab who is still in charge of it. He invited 444 economic and political leaders at the first meeting, but this year the forum has attracted over ten thousand people, including 45 national leaders, 2,700 presidents of diverse economic groups, as well as their aids and journalists. It has developed into the largest and most famous world economic forum. The theme of the 2013 forum was “Resilient Dynamism.”
The term “resilient” means sturdy or easily able to get back to normal. In response to the argument that globalization has led to the easy spread of regional hazards to other areas and thus made the world more vulnerable to these dangers, the forum urges us to focus more on economic “dynamism” rather than on international security. The three main sub-sessions of the forum were Leading Through Adversity, Restoring Economic Dynamism, and Strengthening Societal Resilience.
I attended this forum as the Special Envoy of President-elect Park Geun-hye and explained the economic and foreign policies of the new Korean government. The main topics were the Korean government’s continued expansion of FTAs rather than economic protectionism and the non-confrontational approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. I also met many leading people there and heard their opinions on Korea and the world. Dr. Klaus Schwab, the founder of this forum, showed keen interest in the results of Korea’s election, saying that it is amazing that a female president got elected in a democratic way in a patriarchal and Confucian country. Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya said he is an avid adherent of the Saemaul campaign (using the Korean word rather than the translated version, “New Village Movement”) and hopes to learn a lot about this campaign in order to exterminate poverty in his country. A lot of people, including Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, and Jim Yong Kim, President of World Bank, taught me that a lot more expectations and higher status are given to Koreans who have experienced successfully overcoming poverty.
In the hyper-connectivity of the current world, Asian countries alone are splitting apart with historical and territorial conflicts in what is called the "Asian Paradox." This was one of the more intriguing topics of the forum. This topic reminded me of Nationalist Ahn Jung-geun who wrote On Peace in East Asia. In that book, he asserted that we need to build a common Congress, military, and currency among Korea, China, and Japan in order to achieve Northeast Asian peace. This idea is parallel to Jean Monnet's initiative in building the EU. I look forward to seeing a peacefully unified Korea emerge as the historic country which will contribute not only to the stability and prosperity of Northeast Asia, but also the extermination of poverty worldwide.
translation by Kang Soo Jung