[OUTLOOK]A Vision Statement for Vision@KoreaIn the last decade of the 20th century, we experienced a rapidly changing world; the Soviet Union broke up and the Eastern European socialist bloc fell apart. At the same time, waves of information technology, diversification, and globalization led us to expect too much from the 21st century. Nevertheless, not a few people felt fearful that the speed and breadth of the changes were beyond their ability to cope.
People all over the world were busy preparing festivals to celebrate the coming of the new millennium. Some scholars and professionals in Korea believed that we should participate actively in creating our own future by overcoming our fear of change and penetrate to the essence of the changes sweeping the world and our country. Since the beginning of the new millennium, intellectuals specializing in many fields have gathered once a month to discuss the forces behind these changes and predict their future course. This interdisciplinary discussion has become more and more interesting as the breadth of the issues expanded and the group tried to look further ahead.
We in the discussion group began to believe that a national long-term vision and correct policies are not only desirable but crucial when we note the crises resulted from the failure to address properly global competition, which intensified after the founding of the World Trade Organization. But we Koreans have not been able to focus our national debate on the direction and policies that this country should adopt, because we were driven apart from each other by ideological and political confrontations. As a result, there was no forum for rigorous discussions of the direction and policies of state affairs, and our thirst for a symbiotic community led by a group creative enough to bring us a bright future has not been slaked. Indeed, nobody has paid attention to that thirst.
Instead, the silent majority was frustrated by rampant anti-intellectual attacks and cold indifference to the fact that we were led by, not leading, events and trends. In various fields, Korea has displayed symptoms of being unable to ride the waves of new changes, preferring to stay wrapped in the mantle of old times.
As we, the discussion group, began to look closely at global trends, our anxiety grew deeper. That is why we agreed to develop a "sound thinking net," a professional Internet-based intellectual community out of our discussion group. We also believe that the importance of interdisciplinary studies, which allows us to look into our problems from multiple perspectives, has increased. The world gets more diversified and intermingled by the day.
Vision@Korea was created from this background. We would like to contribute to the development of our country with our diversified professional knowledge. First, we will do our best to describe future-oriented institutions, a new value system and a modus vivendi that fits the new era. At the same time we will shape a vision for Korea in the new millennium, and work to expand the social consensus for that vision. Whenever possible, we will present policy alternatives for sound national management, and we will put forward our best efforts to implement those policies. We aim for a symbiotic community where human beings, nature, and technology live in harmony. We will pursue our intellectual adventures in global dimensions, which will contribute to improving the qualities of lives of all human beings, not just Koreans.
Vision@Korea is an interdisciplinary gathering that is open to intellectuals who oppose ideological prejudice. We will think over the future of Korea beyond political parties' interests. We are professionals from various fields with a long-term view and an objective sense of balance. We will create a sound civic group for people of will and conscience who will turn the national crisis into an era of new hope. Vision@Korea is not a conventional organization in form. It will not be hierarchically organized. It will be a network type organization, so that it can develop into a global network as globalization deepens in the future.
We are just at a stage of agreeing on basic principles to launch Vision@Korea. As a result, we feel a great sense of responsibility for what we are doing, since we are getting many responses from every quarter of society after we were unexpectedly exposed to the news media. Many encouraging and supportive messages are pouring in from renowned scholars and professionals in various fields. They promised to support us academically and morally. Many scholars who have seriously studied various fields, expressed their intention to participate in and support our organization.
There are worries that we, scholars with pure minds trying to overcome fixed ideas and ideological prejudice, cannot bring our plan to fruition. Perhaps we are too weak to withstand attacks from old biases. But we believe in a society where a healthy majority is constantly trying to create a better future. Vision@Korea is beginning to bud. I would like to make it grow into a deep-rooted tree of dreams of the future with those who agree with us.
The writer is co-chairman of Vision@Korea and dean of College of Social Sciences at Kookmin University.
by Bae Kyu-han