Two Koreas: Past, Present and Future – at LSE

Looks like an interesting conference at the London School of Economics. Unfortunately, it’s the same day as another interesting conference organised by BAKS (26 Nov).

Conference graphic

On 26th November 2011, LSESU Korean Society is proud to present the first student-run Korean Economic and Political Forum: “Two Koreas: Past, Present and Future”. The forum will be divided into two topics, each to be held in the morning and afternoon sessions respectively.

Korea’s increasing prominence in the global community was aptly illustrated through its role as the host of the G20 Seoul Summit in November 2010. Through the Forum, we aim to promote a global and in-depth understanding of Korea’s economic development and the volatile political situation in the Korean Peninsula. Although interests in Korea are growing, we believe there are insufficient means to fulfil their interests. By establishing this forum, we will not only be able to promote Korea, but also offer insight into East Asian affairs

Having achieved an incredible record of GDP growth during the East Asian Miracle, around 8 per cent per annum, Korea has been expanding its prominence in the global economy even though it was hardly unscathed by the Asian financial crisis. Moreover, amidst the increasing interests in the emerging markets especially in China, Korea’s geopolitical importance is growing in the global world.

Our forum, in this critical time, aims to reconsider the South Korea economic growth from 1960-80s that was (or claimed to be) mainly driven by the government intervention to promote its exports. The long-term implications of the government industrial policies on today’s economy will be explored thoroughly to allow us to learn from the past and forge ahead. Moreover, the discussion regarding the adaptability of other developing countries to follow suit will be held. Post- financial crisis (2008), some economists raised concerns for Big Governments whose expenditure is considered to be excessively large. The Korean government, as those of other countries, injected a large sum of money into the economy in the hope that it would stimulate the economy and stampede the economic recession. Though our forum mainly focuses on the government intervention of the 1960-80s, the fundamental question vis-à-vis the efficiency of the government intervention in promoting the economic growth is unavoidable.

Current hostility between the Two Koreas in light of series of political and military crises such as the bombing of Yeon-Pyong Do and the alleged sinking of Cheon-ahn Vessel also adds another dimension to the discussion in our forum. Since the end of the Korean War, although economic growth, facilitated by government intervention had been drastic, tension in the Korean Peninsula still remains a problem to be solved. While there is no doubt that all will agree ‘discussion’ is the way forward in harmonising differences between the Two Koreas, two main opposing political strategies regarding how to achieve this illusive harmony is slowing the peace-talk processes even further. If South Korea cannot resolve the internal differences regarding their dealings with the North, all future peace-talks seem inevitably to grind to a stalemate without producing fruitful outcomes. We will use this forum as a platform to evaluate these two methods in contention—whether to approach our Northern counterpart with hard-line policy or to opt for engagement talks, reflecting from the outcome of both approaches previously used.

Our forum will thus discuss two major topics: for the economic session, the sustainability of the South Korean economic growth in 1960-80s that was mainly driven by the government’s industrial policies and the adaptability of other developing countries to follow suit; for the political session, the South Korean stance towards the North in light of the current crises.

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