Lecture tour draws youth, political whispers

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Lecture tour draws youth, political whispers


Park Kyung-chul, left, and Ahn Cheol-soo lecture at the Seongnam Arts Center in Gyeonggi last Friday.

A lecture series, of all things, has the nation’s political circle atwitter and is giving rise to chatter about a possible new political force - and a presidential candidate - in the making.

Thousands of Koreans in their 20s and 30s have been flocking to the so-called “Youth Concert” events throughout the country, drawn not by politicians or candidates but by two respected leaders among Korea’s young who are the brains behind the tour: Ahn Cheol-soo, 49, dean of Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology and founder of AhnLab, and Park Kyung-chul, 47, a stock analyst and surgeon at the Andong New World Clinic.

Now, analysts are speculating whether the tour, in which invited speakers give their take on the nation’s future, is laying the groundwork for a youth movement that could play a crucial role in determining next year’s legislative and presidential elections.

Started in 2009 by Ahn after he attended a talk by Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr in the United States, Youth Concert has held 20 events so far, each one attracting as many as 2,000. Following the format of Doerr’s talk, in which a moderator and a guest sit down and discuss a variety of issues, Ahn held the inaugural lecture with Park as his guest. The tour grew out of that event, when Park suggested similar lectures be held for young students in rural areas.

With next year’s elections around the corner, more young Koreans have begun attending, and perhaps becoming politically mobilized.

At the most recent event on Monday in Wonju, Gangwon, Ahn encouraged the audience to get involved.

“No one is going to solve the social problems that you are suffering from,” Ahn said. “Try to share and discuss your problems with people around you. That will be the beginning of solving your problems.”


About 1,800 attendees listen to the lecture, which addressed the nation’s future and leadership. By Kim Do-hoon

To some, Ahn and Park sound a lot like future office seekers, and many of the nation’s political movers and shakers are beginning to see the pair, especially Ahn, as possible candidates for the Blue House.

At a recent lecture at the Seongnam Arts Center in Gyeonggi last Friday, Ahn and Park shot the breeze over the recent headline-making National Assembly hearing of Cho Nam-ho, the chairman of Hanjin Heavy Industries, who was eviscerated by lawmakers for his company’s months-long labor crisis that stemmed from the layoffs of 400 assembly line workers.

“Cho said he had to fire the workers because they were under a business emergency. What would you have done if your company was in the same situation?” Park asked Ahn.

Ahn indirectly criticized Hanjin’s management. “The worst emergency in management occurs when workers are in trouble,” Ahn said, bringing the 1,800-member audience to applause.

A company’s priority, Ahn added, should not be maximizing stockholders’ earnings while putting other issues, such as employment, aside.

Also on the table for discussion at the Seongnam event was “economic democracy,” the idea that growth and stability should be balanced with appropriate wealth distribution.

And the invited guest that day didn’t shy away from talking about the two organizers’ future in politics.

“People like Ahn and Park, who have this ‘economic democracy’ in their minds, must step into politics for Korea’s future,” said Kim Chong-in, a former Blue House senior secretary.

Each time Kim brought up a possible future in politics for Ahn and Park, the audience responded in kind with cheers.

Ahn, for his part, has repeatedly denied interest in public office in recent years. Yet many politicians believe that Ahn could be an important variable in securing the youth vote for next year’s legislative and presidential elections.

“I think there is still a possibility for Ahn to get into politics, even though he has denied interest,” said Yoon Yeo-joon, 72, a former minister of environment in the Kim Young-sam administration. “From the lecture series, I have recognized that young Koreans aspire for the emergence of a new leader, and Ahn is qualified for it.”

Yoon added: “Although the lecture tour is aimed at exchanging views on social issues, it can be recognized as a political movement for young leaders because it is a nationwide tour that is being held in 25 different cities, each with at least 300,000 residents. And more importantly, people are gathering and listening wherever the tour goes.”

By Lee Ka-young, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

안철수·박경철 ‘청콘’ 투어… 청춘들 왜 열광할까

5월 시작한 전국 무료 강연 … 고양·성남원주 현장 찾아보니

‘청춘콘서트(청콘)’ 열풍이 거세다. 안철수(49·서울대 융합과학기술대학원 원장) 교수와 박경철(47) 안동신세계연합클리닉 원장이 이 시대 ‘청춘’들에게 건네는 희망과 격려의 메시지에 20대와 30대가 열광하고 있다. 신드롬으로까지 이어질 분위기다.

23일 오후 7시 강원도 원주 백운아트홀에서 청중 1200여 명이 참석한 가운데 콘서트가 열렸다. 게스트는 외국계 광고대행사인 TBWA코리아의 박웅현(50) 크리에이티브 디렉터였다. 그는 유행어가 됐던 ‘당신의 피로회복제’ ‘나이는 숫자에 불과하다’ 등의 카피를 만든 ‘광고쟁이’다. 박씨는 취업 문제를 놓고 고민하는 젊은이들에게 "배우는 것을 좋아해야 한다. 배움에서 창의성이 나오고 언젠가 긍정적 결과로 돌아온다”고 제시했다. 안 교수는 “현대 사회의 어려움과 모순점을 다른 누구에게 해결해달라고 한다고 해서 아무도 해결해주지 않는다”며 “많은 사람이 문제 인식을 공유할 때, 그리고 그 접점을 찾을 때 해결이 시작된다”고 말했다.

 콘서트는 19일 경기도 성남과 일산에서 잇따라 열렸다. 오후 7시 성남시 성남아트센터에서 열린 콘서트엔 개그맨 김제동(37)씨가 ‘행복’을 주제로 분위기를 띄웠다. 김씨는 “사회 부조리에 너무 엄숙하게 접근하지 말고 희화화해서 다시는 그런 행동을 못하게 해야 한다”며 “웃음이 혁명”이라고 말했다. 이어 안 교수와 박 원장이 무대 위에 테이블을 두고 나란히 앉아 대담을 나누는 방식으로 강연을 진행했다. 청중 1800여 명의 눈이 조곤조곤 사회 현안을 짚어가는 그들에게 쏠렸다.

▶박=“최근 국회 청문회에서 조남호 한진중공업 회장이 ‘경영상 긴급상황 때문에 대량 해고를 할 수밖에 없었다’고 했습니다.”

▶안=“경영상의 가장 긴급한 일은 직원들의 안위입니다. 회사 존립의 기반은 고객이요, 다음이 같이 일하는 직원들, 주주는 그 다음입니다.”

 잠시 뒤 게스트로 나온 김종인 전 청와대 경제수석은 “정치도 국민들이 권위주의적 통치에 맞서 민주화하자고 해서 이뤄내지 않았느냐”며 “시장경제도 ‘개인의 자유에 맡긴다’는 원칙만 갖고는 절대 발전하지 못한다”고 했다. 그는 강연 중 두 차례나 안 교수와 박 원장을 가리키며 “이런 올곧은 생각을 하는 분들이 정치에 나서야 한다”고 말했다. 그때마다 청중들은 큰 박수로 화답했다.

 앞서 오후 2시엔 고양시 일산아람누리에서 학부모를 대상으로 한 특별 청콘이 진행됐다. 안 교수는 “북한 문제엔 보수적이고, 교육은 진보적으로 생각하는 사람은 진보와 보수 중 어디로 나눠야 하느냐”며 기존의 이념 논쟁에 문제를 제기했다. “좌우가 아닌 상식과 비상식으로 나누는 게 건강한 논쟁”이라는 것이다.

 성남시 강연에 참석한 대학생 권준(23)씨는 “청춘들이 한데 모여 함께 고민할 수 있는 장을 마련해준 것만으로도 고마움을 느낀다”고 했다.

◆청춘 콘서트=안 교수와 박 원장이 평화재단 평화교육원(이사장 법륜 스님, 원장 윤여준)과 공동 주최하는 강연회. 5월부터 9월 초까지 인구 30만 명 이상 25개 도시에서 27차례에 걸쳐 진행할 예정으로 23일까지 20차례 열렸다. 그간 조국 서울대 교수, 배우 김여진, 법륜 스님 등이 게스트로 참여했다.

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