Heavy issues tackled at forum’s close

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Heavy issues tackled at forum’s close

As the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity concluded its three-day run on Friday, former Korean foreign affairs ministers and current ambassadors from Korea’s allies tackled complicated regional dilemmas.

The 10th Jeju Forum also touted the importance of the role of culture and empathy between people and adopted a statement which declared that a person is entitled to a healthy, joyous life that is “manifested in culture, science and lifestyle in the form of diverse culture; and at this moment, culture is happening and being made.”

Hong Seok-hyun, the chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo and JTBC, serves as president of the organizing committee of the World Culture Open, a global cultural network. In the “Jeju, the Island of Peace, Talks Culture” session, he highlighted that “a culture to cultivate the ability to empathize and resolve issues creatively will be the impetus to opening up the door to this era.”

Over the course of three days, veteran global leaders, specialists, academics, business visionaries and young minds from more than 50 countries tackled pressing politics, security, economic, environmental and sustainable development.

The forum put particularly strong emphasis on foreign affairs and security, specifically historical reconciliation, concerns over North Korea’s nuclear program and human rights record and Korean reunification.

Expanding on the theme “Toward a New Asia of Trust and Harmony,” the sessions explored topics such as the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, counterterrorism cooperation and responses to other geopolitical and economic conflicts facing international society.

Additionally, former Korean foreign affairs ministers, including Yu Myung-hwan and Kim Sung-hwan, analyzed current issues in Korean foreign policy in search of tangible, measurable solutions.

Korea-Japan relations must be “seen in the bigger picture,” Yu said, especially in the context of North Korea’s nuclear threat, China’s ascent in the region and Seoul’s relations with Washington.

A group of foreign envoys to Korea - U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho, German Ambassador Rolf Mafael - and Korea’s 2nd Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yul tackled the forum’s theme of harmony in Asia.

The Ambassadors’ Roundtable on May 22 was moderated by Rep. Na Kyung-won, the chair of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, who covered subjects such as Korea’s lean toward China, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the relations among Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.

Mafael emphasized Germany’s support for Korea’s position in regard to the division on the Peninsula, while Lippert underscored the strong alliance between Seoul and Washington and the U.S. commitment to pivoting toward the Asia-Pacific region. Bessho said that despite concerns that Korea, Japan and China are always at odds with one another, there is still ongoing cooperation among the three nations.

“Now is the time for us to envision a ‘New Asia’ and work toward a common goal for regional cooperation - one that is trust-based, collaborative and harmonious,” Jeju Peace Institute President Moon Tae-young, the chairman of the executive committee of the Jeju Forum, said in his closing remarks. “The Jeju Forum should continue to be a platform for sharing visions of peace and prosperity in Asia with the full support of the Korean government.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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