ﱹ The Seoul Forum for International Affairs(SFIA)

President’s Remarks

KIM, Myung-ja

First of all, I would like to extend to you our warmest greetings from The Seoul Forum for International Affairs (SFIA). We cordially welcome your visit to our homepage.

Since its launch in 1986, the SFIA has developed into a highly-respected and relevant non-governmental, non-profit and non-partisan organization. Its past three plus decades of activity have paralleled an epochal period for the Republic of Korea (ROK), both domestically and internationally. Uniquely positioned, the SFIA has served as a bridge between the nation and the rest of the global community. 

Korea’s first direct presidential election in 1987 ushered in a vibrant democracy. The next year, the nation hosted the Summer Olympics, the first time Olympic athletes from West and East faced each other since 1976. And then, on the global front, the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, presaging the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which ended the Cold War and closed a chapter of global ideological division in human history. In its wake, new international connections became possible.

The 1990s became a defining decade of globalization empowered especially by the commercialization of the Internet, the sophistication of communications, and advances in transportation efficacy. The wave of globalization that facilitated cross-border movement of people, capital, technology, goods, information, and services, crested with global digitalization, economic neo-liberalism, and deepening interdependency.

Korea moved swiftly and decisively to ride this new wave, while making great strides in such areas as information technology, economic liberalization and democracy. With the rapid spread of globalization, however, severe economic difficulties began a series of eruptions in the late 1990s, inter alia, the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the Global financial crisis in 2008, and the European sovereign debt crisis in 2010.

On the political and diplomatic front, we face mounting uncertainties with a new set of tasks and challenges coming to the fore. In a nutshell, the international community must continuously navigate choppy and sometimes uncharted waters as regional and global geopolitical landscapes rapidly transform. Since Seoul Forum’s founding, the organization has tracked a steady stream of transformative events, including: the establishment of the EU; NATO expansion and its redefined role and function in the post-Cold War era; the 9/11 attack and the ensuing Global War on Terrorism; US strategic rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific region, and escalating Sino-US tensions; a shift of power from the G7 to the G20 in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis; US withdrawal from major international agreements, including the ABM Treaty, INF(Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty, and the Paris Climate Accord; Brexit, and, of course, North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and denuclearization negotiations.

It is against such a backdrop a new paradigm is emerging. In Davos in January 2016, World Economic Forum released a report on the nascent Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new era of transformation and dislocation. In fact, the US-China trade war can be seen more as cutthroat competition over technological hegemony aimed at gaining the upper hand in key technologies, including artificial intelligence.

In the meantime, there are growing concerns over trade protectionism that even major economies are employing. The barriers, of course, undermine the global value chain and multilateralism, thereby threatening to cast a long shadow over the world economy. As seen by the severe global economic turmoil inflicted by the CoronaVirus-19 pandemic, close international cooperation and collaboration is crucial to resolving unforeseen as well as known dislocations.

Keeping abreast with the rapidly evolving developments both at home and abroad, the SFIA is fully committed to three undertakings: 1) research and dialogues pertaining to critical foreign and national security and global issues; 2) contribution to international cooperation and understanding through the promotion of intensive exchanges between academia and leading experts; and 3) policy recommendations on key national agendas.

As such, the SFIA serves as a window of public diplomacy by hosting a variety of forums, conferences and exchanges tailored to the needs of its members and other important stakeholders. So far, the SFIA has organized more than 160 bilateral forums with foreign organizations and over 300 policy dialogues with decision makers in Korea and abroad. The SFIA also has collaborated with leading think-tanks and organizations in some 27 countries.

New challenges and opportunities surely lie ahead. We must continue to be well prepared for them. An internally well-coordinated report on sustainable development points to a growing need to further expand the horizons of international affairs to incorporate the demands of current sweeping transformations and, at the same time, hand down traditions as appropriate and necessary, and nurture them. For example, the concept of security could go beyond its traditional military and diplomacy parameters. It could encompass food, energy, public health and science and technology innovation. On the latter, Denmark has appointed the world’s first tech ambassador, while Switzerland and Singapore are promoting science diplomacy.

With all of this in mind, the SFIA will continue to widen its circle of leading policy organizations around the world. We also aim to upgrade communications to include online and video/audio content that can more effectively and extensively reach our target audience at home and abroad.

Lastly, as the new President, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to The Seoul Forum’s past and current members and sponsors for their continued support and valuable contributions that have helped the Forum to fulfill its mission over the years. I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude and respect to former Presidents and Board Members for their dedication and commitment to the development of this Forum. We look forward to your continued input, advice, and support as we move forward to develop and implement the SFIA’s activities and programs in such a way that sustains and broadens the organization’s value and relevance going forward.

Thank you.

KIM Myung Ja, Ph.D.
The Seoul Forum for International Affairs


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