The Global Digest

Interview Story

Interview with Korean National Commission for UNESCO Dr. Park Eun-kyung

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Jun 20, 2016

Dr. Park Eun-kyung at her office

The Global Digest has interviewed Dr. Park Eun-kyung, Vice Chairperson of Korean National Commission for UNESCO, Chairperson of the Korean National Committee on ESD and visiting professor at Yonsei University. Dr. Park started Vice Chairperson of Korean National Commission for UNESCO since 2012 and reelected a 3 years second term in 2015. There are 5 Vice Chairpersons they are from Ministry of Foreign, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and a Civilian each. The Commission is usually chair by minister of Education.

Korean National Commission for UNESCO is an international organization based in South Korea. UNESCO headquarter is located in Paris. UNESCO member countries have each National Commission. Korean National Commission is one of strongest Commissions, said Dr. Park. Depend on each National Commission donation, they can ask their human resource to headquarter. South Korea status and its influences on the world affair have been prevailed from 10 years ago, along with its economic growth.

In fact South Korea is a member of UNESCO since June 1950. So it has office in downtown Seoul inside Myeongdong area is the most expensive office space. They also get Commission budget from leasing their building to other, apart from the budget allocated from Ministry of Education.

Korean National Commission has actively work with 500 high and middle schools, in domestic, a program called rainbow program, teaching peace, human rights, gender equality and environment issue across 5 regional groups in the country. Second, volunteer activity program by sending students to Africa for educating for literacy, and solving immediate problem and other creative way. Third, they assist other National Commission, how they can bring their culture heritage things in their own countries, e.g. they help Bangladesh, Nepal, Fiji, so on.

South Korean government´s departments are very help for protecting and initiating heritage program in the country. After 1998, Municipal of South Korea becomes independent and they did merit. Due to their work hard Korea has a lot of heritage reorganization from UNESCO, said Dr. Park.

Dr. Park is now dedicated for sustainable education, she mentions find the way of respecting oneself, and coexisting value, actually human to make happy is self respect. Dr. Park clarify South Korea has freedom of education, but some individual professor may have ethic problem. We can see there students used to prosecute professors.

Right now, Dr. Park is focusing for UN Education Center Tongyeong RCE near Busan city. There are 25 hectare lands, building is in 1 hectare, and they have 27 networks with Southeast Asian. The Center is for education, a sustainable development for Asia. RCE means Regional Center of Expertise. It was UN theme for the last 20 years. South Korea spends 25 million USD for the center.

Moreover, Dr. Park was chair of hosting 7th world water forum in Daegu 2015. Korea Water Forum was formed in 2005 in order to organize water forum worldwide which cost 50 million USD. The former premier Dr. Hansungsu was the first president of Korea Water Forum. Under UN recommendation, World Water Council was formed it headquarter located in France. The first forum was held in Morocco 1997. Dr. Park was elected as the first woman bureau member of the council in 2009. There are 36 governors. President Lee appointed Dr. Park as an ambassador of Water Resources from 2009 to 2012 under ministry of foreign affair. Actually, under Lee government, Dr. Park was appointed as a Minister just and after 3 weeks she stepped down due to opposition pressure.

Dr. Park points out there are water stress, South Korea can’t secure 50% of the nation´s water, e.g. Chungcheong province has water crisis. In fact, water industry is huge, of course 70% of water is used for agriculture. WEF stands for Water, Energy and Food, these are correlated, said Dr. Park, UN is dealing for that. In the world 1 out of 5 can’t have water to wash their hands. Nowadays, Singapore developed sea water to fresh water, and 50% of water are recycle.

Dr. Park had been to Myanmar in 1989 right after popular uprising in impoverish country where a lot of breakdown public toilets and she saw only 3 colors in the country, and she also visited ancient city Pagan.

Dr. Park finished BA in English literature from Ewha Women University, MA in Anthropology from University of Michigan, PhD course work in Anthropology also from University of Michigan, but actual received her PhD degree from Ewha Women University. She passed a national exam for study oversea among only 5 persons in 1968. She got married in US there, now her husband is a President of Seoul International Foundation. She and her husband both are 70. They have a son and a daughter, and 3 grandsons.

Interviews with Dr. Kihwan Kim of Seoul Financial Forum

Dr. Kihwan Kim

The Global Digest had interview with Dr. Kihwan Kim, Chairman of Seoul Financial Forum. Dr. Kim was KDI president in 1980s, and he shortly served as deputy prime minister for economic and vice minister of Trade in 1983. He was a professor at University of California and University of Oregon for 13 years. He has PhD in Economic from University of California, MA in history from Yale University, BA from Grinnel College. He got a scholarship to study in US, meanwhile, discharge from military service. He served as a translator between US and ROK troops for 3 years, as an officer rank.

Dr. Kim also met and shared opinion with Burmese delegates including Vice minister of planning for Economic Development for setting up a Myanmar version of KDI, which they are eager to do it. Currently Sang Woo Nam, dean of KDI for economic, serves as an adviser to Myanmar government. KDI(Korea Development Institute) was initially started as school of management and public policy.

Dr. Kim was telling the Global Digest that the World Bank also requests him to present briefly 15 minutes about South Korean social, culture, development policy and etc. South Korean development was back to the President Park Chunghee’s policy on economic, industry, foreign policy and foreign Aid which played an important role.

Dr. Kim is confidence by saying that he did the best job for serving the country. He was general secretary for international economy policy council. In his experience, diplomacy and negotiation with other country is played a crucial role. He also experienced negotiation with North Korea in 1984/5. At the time, he was chief of trade negotiation, US also wanted South Korea for faster opening of its market, Dr. Kim said.

In 1997 financial crisis, he was given special task for solving economic crisis. So South Korean government appointed Dr. Kim for a special ambassador at large on financial crisis dealing. He had to negotiate between South Korean government and IMF, so economic crisis was solved in 2 years. Its counterpart Thailand was remained unsolved. Dr. Kim was a mastermind of solving 1997 South Korean economic crisis, but many other people not recognized him, Dr. Kim expressed sadly.

South Korea did well on term and regulation with IMF in order to get loan. The first agreement was reached on December 3, 1997, but it was a small fund to deliver over 2 years. It won’t solve South Korea crisis. So Dr. Kim persuaded to release money early, and he went to US rather than IMF. He knows that US has a margin of voice over IMF, he met deputy secretary treasury of US Robert Edward Rubin. He proposed for ROK initial formal reform, so amendment of agreement made on December 24, 1997. It was turned out IMF granted loan to South Korea 38 billion USD for the first package. In fact, South Korea no need the second package anymore, because it already solved its crisis, Dr. Kim smiling said.

IMF helps when country faced problem of balance issue and payment. Dr. Kim explained Human Resource is an important factor for economic growth but some mistakes can led obstacle for economic. As of now, Myanmar can get assistance from World Bank which will be more relevant. He expressed Myanmar can side with someone which country can give benefit for economic, industry, technology and so on, but not for military. Frankly, Dr Kim doesn’t want military involvement in the government.

South Korea did successful policy toward US, at the same time, they are not enemy with other countries. On the other hand, South Korea military dictators took many military officers to train in US for at least 9 month, in order to get broader knowledge.

Seoul Financial Forum is to accumulate financial in Korea, because they are weak in financial and their banks cannot competitive. So Dr. Kim is doing to overcome South Korean financial problem. Their target is to advise Korean government. “Strengthening policy recommendations for the government and Promoting communication between market participants and policymakers/regulators to achieve consensus on removing unnecessary regulations hindering the development of local financial markets,” according to the Forum.

Dr. Kim also served as an adviser to Brunei government from 2012 to 2015. Under him there were 3 consultants from Japan, Germany and South Korea each. He had made a recommendation but Brunei government can’t able to implement them, Dr. Kim lamented.

Dr. Kim born in 1932. He has a son and two daughters and grandchildren.

Talking with ILHRS Chairman Lee Changsoo

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Mar 20, 2016

Lee Changsoo

The Global Digest has a brief conversation with Mr. Lee Changsoo. Mr. Lee started Human Rights activity since 1988, after his graduation in 1987 and a military service, where students movement against military dictatorship. Right after that, Mr. Lee joined Korean Union of Socialist Youth, where Mr. Lee was General Secretary and Secretary for International Relation.

In 1990s, Korean achieved democracy and elected a civilian president. Mr. Lee engaged in judicial reform after a democracy system in Korea. Because there was no judicial independent until Roh Tae-woo government. That time, political activities were guilty.

After only that, civil movement could started. Mr. Lee organized Solidarity for New Society and as its representative from 1999 to 2012, which is a member of working group at Human Rights Commission of Korea, one of among 73 NGOs.

Later, Mr. Lee created Institute for Law and Human Rights in Society (ILHRS) and its chairman from 2012 to till now. ILHRS main activity is research and study on criminal law and Human Rights issues. ILHRS is only self support from membership fees. Mr. Lee explained most of human rights organizations have no sponsor in Korea.

During Korean War 1952/3, civilian were massacre by state, there are over 400,000 victims. For that, he and other NGOs creates "pan Korean Committee for Truth and Rehabilitation during Korean War", Mr. Lee is chief of mission of this joint organization. They do investigation, published report and recommendation to government, and educate and endeavor to make to a related law to provide official investigation by the government for the victims. Even they did lawsuit to the court. Due to their effort, national assembly passed the law for finding the truth and rehabilitation for those victims.

In fact, Human Rights Commission of Korea is started during Kim Dae-jung government. However, in 2000, ministry of justice rejected for independent status of Human Rights Commission of Korea.

Mr. Lee argued the problem of democracy system, human rights crisis in across Asia, which are surrounding China is threaten to peace and security in Korean peninsula too. So, he wants Myanmar to be a peaceful and federal democracy, it is also important for Korean.

Mr. Lee graduated BA in Public Administration from Hansung University, MA in International Politic from Sogang University, and graduated in Law from doctorial course of the Dongguk University. He was a lecturer at Dongguk University from 2007 to 2009 with the topic of Human Rights and Society. His hometown is in Soecho, Gangwando Province.

Interview with OHCHR representative Signe Poulsen

By Salai Thang
Staff Reporter
Jan 7, 2015

Signe Poulsen

The Global Digest has interviewed with OHCHR Seoul representative Signe Poulsen at her office. OHCHR is a global coverage office only for North Korea(DPRK) human rights issue.

After the commission of inquiry reported in 2014, such as interview with lot of defectors, the commission concluded human rights violation and crime against humanity in North Korea. This is why the establishment of OHCHR Seoul office. Although there was some threatening in early, OHCHR office was able to opened in June 2015. Of course, with the agreement of South Korea(ROK) government to setup the office here, in spite of other advantages in China.

OHCHR tasks are establishing and monitoring and documentations of North Korea human rights situations, interviewing with defectors, humanitarian organizations, civil societies and agents from governments of South Korea and Japan, etc. They also analysis statements of North Korean government, and accessing satellite reports. Of course, those governments may have their own interest, but she has to stick on the facts, Poulsen said. She also has to balance from North and South Koreas view. In addition, technical cooperation and investigating together with government to improve Human Rights situation.

In fact, North Korea didn't invited and accepted OHCHR Seoul office so far. However, North Korea is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(ICESCR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR). These treaties can persuade North Korean government, to implement human rights, Poulsen explained.

The difficulty for her is that she cannot contact North Korean from South Korea. Her office cannot also provides a hotline communication for North Korean. Even she can't go North Korea without prior permission. So, only her UN headquarter can contacts North Korea in a proper channel. Moreover, She also has to make awareness on North Korea's human rights situation, such as campaign. Its a long-term human rights problem, it cannot solve overnight. Poulsen has to engage a lot with public and media in Seoul, meeting with separated families from North Korea and elderly people.

As an international organization, she has to do international level reporting to UN General Assembly and Human Rights Forum. Poulsen also cooperate with an independent North Korea's rapportuer Marsuki Darusman of Indonesia. They also met in this year. Of course, two of their reports can be overlapping and similar finding. The important thing is they should be an accountability, Poulsen explained.

South Korea considers North Koreans who entered into South Korea are as defectors, and accept them as its own citizens. South Korea has its own political position, Poulsen pointed out, and South Korea does a lot for North Korea defectors.

OHCHR Seoul office has six staff members, two is from local. The office is financed through under UN regular budget. Seoul City provides the office room but utilities have to cover by Poulsen's office.
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