Sharing Korea’s laws with Asian countries

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Sharing Korea’s laws with Asian countries

Lee Wan-kyu
The author is minister of Government Legislation.
The phrases“the first country in the world to transition from an aid recipient to a donor country,” “IT powerhouse,” and “numerous words representing Korean culture and starting with the letter K such as K-pop” are the expressions describing the proud Republic of Korea. Those expressions referring to remarkable economic growth and cultural development of Korea are not new anymore. The sweat and toil of countless people for the remarkable results cannot be conveyed with those short sentences. It is worth noting that the results could not be achieved without policies setting the right direction and policies are based on “laws and systems.”
The laws for supporting research and development (R&D), such as the Framework Act on Science and Technology, have driven technological innovation from the development of fundamental technology to the success in launching the Nuri rocket. The laws for promoting various industries, such as the Industrial Development Act, have raised the competitiveness of our industries. And the Framework Act on Culture and the Culture and Arts Promotion Act have played a pivotal role in nurturing our culture and disseminating it to the world. That means “laws and systems” that can be referred to as a vessel to hold policies have served as a “cornerstone” of Korea’s development and “companion” of its policies.
Our legislative experience accumulated with Korea’s rapid economic growth has been benchmarked by many other countries. Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar that are major member countries of Asean firmly believe the secret of Korea’s development lies in laws and systems and continuously request us to share the experience.
In order to meet the request, we have endeavored to facilitate legislative cooperation by signing 30 memoranda of understanding with 16 countries since 2006. In particular, despite the difficult situation to maintain legislative cooperation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam and Indonesia asked for information on Korea’s legislative policies and legal information system. We introduced Korea’s legislative policies to high-level public officials, including the Vice Minister of Justice of Vietnam and the Vice Minister of the Cabinet Secretariat of Indonesia, through video meetings that were held eight times in total between last and this year. We arewitnessing great interest in Korea’s legislation.
The close cooperation between the Ministry of Government Legislation and other Asian countries has been enhanced at the annual “Asian Legislative Experts Symposium (ALES).” This year marks the 10th anniversary of ALES that is the Asia’s leading symposium on legislation. The symposium has been held to respond to various pending issues Asia is facing such as urban development, natural disasters and safety, and infectious diseases and has contributed to mutual prosperity of Asian countries.
The “10th ALES” will be held under the theme of “Digital era – Legal Information System of Each Asian Country” on Sept. 29. According to a research report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development  (OECD), digital divide causes social and economic imbalance and results in inequality. In the digital era, Asian countries have strived to come up with various measures to bridge the digital divide among citizens or economic agents. A legal information system established by using digital technologies provides an easier and more convenient access to legal information so that it can be a good alternative to eliminate digital divide. In this sense, the Yoon Seok-yeol administration is making efforts to create new values by sharing all useful data with the private sector and businesses and developing a “government as a platform.” Therefore, this symposium is meaningful in terms of providing timely measures to respond to digital issues Asian countries are dealing with.
The “Korean Law Information Center” of the Ministry of Government Legislation that contributed to Korea’s ranking first place three times in the United Nations E-Government survey is providing about 4.77 million pieces of legal information. And it is easily accessed and conveniently used by the public, with an average of 17.2 million searches per day. In addition, the Ministry of Government Legislation is pursuing another innovation of establishing an “intelligent platform for legal information service,” where people can find legal information just by using everyday words and questions without specialized knowledge. And the “Government Legislation Support System” of the Ministry of Government Legislation opens all the procedures of making laws to the public. As a result, the public can participate in the legislative process and their voices can be reflected.
I expect that we could strengthen Korea’s status as a leader in the field of legislation in Asia by sharing our exemplary legal information system with other Asian countries at the symposium. Moreover, development measures for a legal information system of each country, including Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, will be discussed for mutual growth of Asian countries.
Albert Einstein once said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Korea’s experience of rapid economic growth and legislative development can be a valuable “knowledge resource” for many countries that aspire to achieve economic growth and social development. The Ministry of Government Legislation hopes that, beyond one-off or short-term aid, Korea’s legislative knowledge and experience would be fully utilized in Asian countries and mutual development of Asian countries would be ensured. Even though immediate results may not be seen, thanks to these efforts, Asian countries will recognize Korea as a “genuine partner”and a shortcut to the “win-win cooperation” the Yoon administration is pursuing will be created.
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