[Letters] Challenges and opportunities lie ahead for Seoul G-20 Summit

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[Letters] Challenges and opportunities lie ahead for Seoul G-20 Summit

The G-20 Summit will be in Seoul in November, with global leaders and other officials in attendance. Korea will be the host and president of the meeting.

There are many items on the agenda, following the summits to deal with the global economic and financial crisis in London and Pittsburgh in 2009. The meeting is a historic chance for Korea to show statesmanship and leadership in global affairs.

There are important issues which need follow up such as updates on the financial regulatory system of G-20 member countries, to ensure that banks and other financial firms “rein in the excesses that led to the crisis,” including reckless behavior and a lack of responsibility in the banking industry.

Korea therefore has the historic chance of being again at the center of attention of the international community. It is a top priority for the Korean government and people to be perfect hosts for the meeting. Korea also has the responsibility of preparing and setting the agenda, selecting participants, adjusting agreements to the diverse needs and views of the leaders and making clear statements on the results of the discussions.

The G-20 has powerful global leaders with strong and diverse views on how to sustain global economic and financial recovery. Korean leaders as hosts will definitely be tested and stretched for their patience and negotiations skills and on their capacity to create compromise to the follow up discussions.

In the G-20 meeting, Korea will have the unique role of acting as a mediator of both advanced and emerging countries, being the “bridge” and “judge” in resolving difficult remaining issues from the global economic crisis.

It was reported that Korea is spending an estimated 130 billion won ($109 million) for the meeting. Last year, the National Assembly provided 284 million won for preparations. Recently the police and security guards of the G-20 Summit came together to organize a task force to oversee preparations for a successful opening and operation of the summit.

It is expected that many groups in Korea and foreign countries will organize protest rallies and demonstrations. Korea’s government will face the difficult task of balancing the security of the G-20 leaders and officials, with the freedom and human rights of the protestors. The behavior of the government, the protestors, and the police will be most interesting to watch as they cope with the demands for a successful summit to confirm Korea’s advanced status and cultured behavior.

The G-20 Summit indeed is a golden opportunity for Korea to finally turn into an advanced nation after undergoing important internal changes in its citizens’ culture and behavior.

Many leaders and officials from countries could certainly take a close look at how Korea rapidly recovered from the global economic crisis. How Korea recovered from the Asian financial and economic crisis of 1997-98 also provides valuable lessons for many countries.

In addition, the G-20 Summit should be an opportunity to create improvements in our internal consciousness and institutions. A preoccupation with ideological struggles, a narrow local mind-set, regional perspectives and exclusiveness must be adjusted to the presence of the thousands of visitors who will experience Korean life briefly, and bring back to their homes lasting images and impressions.

The G-20 Summit will demand that Koreans practice the values of world citizenship, with the highest level of tolerance and compromise as thousands of foreign visitors mingle with local people in public places.

Indeed, the G-20 Summit is a great opportunity to improve Korea’s political, social and cultural behavior and attitudes. Long after the G-20 foreign leaders and visitors are gone, a new imprint of globalization will definitely create a better Korean citizenry.

Yoo Won-joon is a business student at

Hanyang University Erica Campus, Ansan
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