Yeosijae wants to build a new civilization

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Yeosijae wants to build a new civilization

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A press conference on Aug. 18 marks the start of the Yeosijae Future Consensus Institute, which hopes to become a Korean version of the Brookings Institution. From left, Cho Jung-hun, vice president and former World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan; Lee Kwang-jae, vice president and former Gangwon governor; Lee Hun-jai, chairman of Yeosijae and a former economic minister; Kim Doh-yeon, director and president of Pohang University of Science and Technology; and Lee Won-jae, director in charge of planning and former president of the Hope Institute. [YEOSIJAE]

Yeosijae is arguably one of the most ambitious think tank projects in Korea, with the ultimate goal of combining both Western and Eastern wisdom to create a “next-generation civilization.”

Several officials such as Lee Hun-jai, former deputy prime minister for economic affairs, and Kim Doh-yeon, president of Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech), attended a press conference in Seoul on Aug. 18 to officially announce the start of Yeosijae Future Consensus Institute, a nonprofit research center that aims to improve and even change the quality of life on a national scale.

“We established Yeosijae in the belief that a think tank is necessary to predict and prepare for the future of Korea, Northeast Asia and the world,” said Lee, the institute’s newly appointed chairman, “because we are all facing significant changes in the 21st century.”

Yeosijae, which literally means “to reflect on the times,” started when Cho Chang-gul, an honorary president of the residential interior company Hanssem, made an investment with the goal of creating a “Korean Brookings Institution.”

The institute’s registration was finalized in December 2015, with the office situated in Buam-dong, northern Seoul. It was also supported by Hanssem’s Design Beyond East & West (DBEW), which Cho half-owns. He continuously donates money from his stock in Hanssem’s DBEW, which amounts to about 430 billion won ($383 million), and he has already given 100 billion won.

On top of its robust financial backing, Yeosijae also boasts an impressive cadre of professionals and intellectuals. Indeed, its board of directors comprises experts in many different areas and fields.

Some of its directors who were present at the press conference include Kim Hyun-chong, professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and a former trade minister; Ahn Dae-hee, principal attorney of PyeongAn Law Firm and former Supreme Court justice; Lee Kong-hyun, principal attorney of Jipyong Law Firm and former Constitutional Court justice; and Jung Chang-young, chairman of Samsung Media Foundation and the former president of Yonsei University.

From the business sector, Park Byeong-yeop, former vice chairman of Pantech, and Kim Beom-soo, chairman of Kakao, were also present. From the media sector, Hong Seok-hyun, chairman of JTBC and the JoongAng Ilbo, was present. Lee Kwang-jae, former Gangwon governor, has been appointed as the full-time vice president of Yeosijae.

“Korean society has never led a civilization with its own thoughts,” said Lee Won-jae, who is in charge of planning and coordination. “Our next-generation civilization will essentially be a confluence of both Western and Eastern wisdom and we want to create a community that is sustainable for the future.”

Yeosijae pursues the philosophy that citizens can live a healthy life only if a next-generation civilization is materialized, one that is sustainable and based on digital technology. The three areas that Yeosijae focuses on are the design of urban civilization, the development of geopolitical ties in Northeast Asia and the sustainability of a unified Korea.

The project is expected to open major local think tanks and cooperate on projects next month. In October, Yeosijae will hold a forum in collaboration with major countries such as the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

“The forum in October will be an exchange of opinions and ideas from international business experts and CEOs who wish to talk about the struggles of Northeast Asia and the future,” said Lee Hun-jai. “For the way ahead, we will create a network of think tanks through various projects and events with the cooperation of experts both at home and abroad.”

BY JUNG AH-RAM [lee.soowhan@joongang.co.kr]

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