Co-sponsored by the foreign ministries of the Republic of Korea and China and co-organized by the Korea Foundation and the China Public Diplomacy Association, the third Korea-China Public Diplomacy Forum was held in Seoul on Thursday, November 19, 2015. I was given a chance to attend and make a report on the forum as a KFGF member!
The third Korea-China Public Diplomacy Forum was conducted in the following order of events.
The opening ceremony began with a speech by Korea Foundation Executive Vice President Kim Gwang-keun. Following Vice President Kim’s speech, representatives of the Korean and Chinese foreign ministries spoke on a hopeful future to be made together by Koreans and Chinese. Specifically, they talked about the direction of the two countries’ policies on public diplomacy, how to increase people-to-people and cultural exchange between Korea and China, and the role of the media in enhancing bilateral understanding.
The first session began under the theme of sharing the two countries’ public diplomacy policy. The speakers of the first session were Director-General Kim Dong-gi of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the R.O.K. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director Gong Yufeng of the Department of Information of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Director-General Kim gave an introduction to the foreign policy of the Republic of Korea: First, Korea utilizes culture, knowledge and public diplomacy contents to attract global attention to Korean popular culture, give a favorable impression about Korea, reinforce Korea’s cultural potential and customize such efforts for local needs. Second, Korea makes its ODA international education programs known to the world as the only country of OECD members that has transformed itself from an aid receiver to an aid provider. Third, Korea needs to build an international network through talks and communication with other countries in terms of policy.
As I happen to be taking an ODA-related course at school, I found some topics of the first session very familiar. Korea, formerly a receiver of international aid, now allocates a certain proportion of its national income to grants at the recommendation of OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) as part of its contribution to building a global civil society. It made me think about the importance of Korea’s role in bridging developed and developing countries.
Moderated by Professor Moon Heung-ho, Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies of Hanyang University, the second session began with presentations by Professor Lee Dong-ryul of the Department of Chinese Studies of Dongduk Women’s University and Vice President Guo Xiangang of the China Institute of International Studies.
The speakers mainly discussed whether bilateral exchange could be conducted in fundamental terms. That is, to share history and exchange culture on a level that goes beyond individual visits to certain tourist attractions. They also pointed to cultural homogeneity as East Asian countries enabling Korea and China to better understand and exchange with each other.
Although there are practical issues of tension between Korea and China, such as illegal immigration and fishing vessels, the two countries must build and consolidate a system of communication to relieve such tensions. They must also create a culture in the East Asian region in which countries adopt public diplomacy that encourages active learning rather than one-sided showing off of one’s own country, dismantling stereotypes, building common ground for understanding, and seeking positive changes.
The third session was about the position and role of the media in public diplomacy and specific ways of conducting media diplomacy.
Professor Kim Tae-hwan of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy chaired the session, and Professor Paik Woo-yeal of the Academy of East Asian Studies of Sungkyunkwan University and Editor-in-Chief Wang Xiaohui of the China Internet Information Center each made presentations.
They pointed out that the media currently plays a large role, as it enjoys public confidence and plays a considerable role in policy making and public opinion formation from its position between government and civil society. Cultural exchange can be facilitated through the utilization of both “old” and “new” forms of media.
The special session presented an introduction to and the goals of Future Forest and its Green Corps, a group of young Korean and Chinese volunteers, previously discussed at the Second Korea-China Public Diplomacy Forum in Beijing.
Finally, in wrapping up the third Korea-China Public Diplomacy Forum, the participants issued a joint statement to pledge to cooperate in such issues as higher education, think-tanks, universities, facilitation of cultural exchange, media, public diplomacy, and global issues.
It was my first time to attend the forum and I worried the content might be unfamiliar and difficult to understand. I, however, found the forum very useful as it dealt with issues directly and indirectly related to daily life.
I realized once again that exchange between two countries involves the participation of diverse agents beyond my imagination.