News of this years Korea Future Forum at the LSE:
LSESU Korea Future Forum 2020: Korea’s Ascent to the Global Stage
Panel 1. Fourth Industrial Revolution
The panel is dedicated to examining the opportunities and consequences of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th IR) in Korea and the world. It seeks to provide both academic and practical analyses on the technological and economic advancements of the 4th IR and, its effects on society. Having done so, it will then aim to evaluate the South Korean government’s plan of “I-Korea 4.0” and compare it with policies in other countries. The masses of technological, industrial and societal change that the 4th IR will bring can only be an opportunity for Korea only if carefully prepared on the macro-level. Whilst Korea is an integral part of the global technology chain, Korea has contributed relatively less to the advancements made in the 4th IR-related industry. If this is the case, how is Korea’s current plan for technological advancement to shape the industry on the global stage? Therefore, the policy deconstruction and comparison is aimed at promoting actions that will ensure a successful long-term outcome. Discussing the 4th IR is timely given the ongoing emergence and development of new technologies, especially that of 5G and AI, and its probability of translating into the next generation’s geopolitical power.
1. Societal impact – Utopia or Dystopia?
- The advancement of AI and Robot Engineering is expected to shape the labour market because the increasing competitiveness in the technological development and the resultant automation will not require the current level of manual labour. Which sector’s labour will suffer and which will benefit from the 4th IR in Korea and other states?
- Does this disruption in the labour market have the possibility of yielding greater social and income inequality?
2. Opportunities – innovation and entrepreneurship
- What are the current leading technological developments, and how are they shaping Research & Development projects today on the global stage?
- In Korea’s domestic market, what is the most significant technological sector related to the 4th IR? Can Korea also become a leading influencer on the global stage?
- What opportunities is the 4th IR bringing to entrepreneurship and start-up businesses? Are these opportunities always positive?
3. Policies and regulations
- Regarding the societal impact of the 4th IR, how can a government promote innovation, but protect the employees of endangered industries? For example, the Dutch labour law aims to protect employees by requiring the employer to ensure that their employees are reasonably trained.
- What is the principal goal of the South Korean government’s ‘I-Korea 4.0’? How does it propose to achieve its goal and the vision of being a ‘people-centred’ revolution to promote innovative growth? How should the government support SMEs and start-ups related to the 4th IR for them to become an important factor of the country’s economic growth?
- Other countries have also formulated plans to become a pioneer of the 4th IR. Germany has established the ‘Platform Industries 4.0’ which emphasises on a reference architecture. The U.S. has set up the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to link academia, research and industry players. Comparing the policies of different countries, what are the similarities and differences that we see with “I-Korea 4.0”?
- With this comparison in mind, what are the key features that a successful 4th IR plan should include?
Panel 2. Criminal Justice System
In the 2019 World Justice Report, South Korea has ranked on overall 18th place that included measures such as Corruption, Order and Criminal Justice. However, this positive report has been contradicted by incidences where the high ranking political individuals, such as former president Park Geun-Hye, have been controversially sentenced. Therefore, as a nation pursuing to become an ever-progressive influencer in the global stage, this panel will give focus into evaluating the jurisdiction of South Korea. Currently, Korean prosecutors have a monopoly on investigation, warrants and prosecutions; this is a powerful authority which could potentially lead to a great exposure of corruption. As the concerns have escalated through numerous attempts for reforms, this panel will tackle the current criminal justice system in South Korea and its potential for reform. In particular, we seek to discuss the panel to provide critical insight into the current criminal law system and the new concerns of human rights in the advancement of technology. Ultimately, the panel seeks to identify and discuss the future of South Korea’s criminal justice system through the incorporation of ideas from global perspectives.
1. Criminal Justice System
- Given that the government authorities that conduct investigations and indictments are separated in many developed countries (e.g. UK, USA), is the current criminal justice system in South Korea outdated and in an urgent need for reform?
- What have been the challenges that undermined the past attempts in reforms? If prosecution reform was to happen, how would the reform play out, and what would be the consequences, positive and negative?
2. Human Rights under the Technology Advancement
- In the past, to what extent has the law protected a criminal’s right as an individual in Korea, for example to those with mental illnesses?
- Recently, there have been occasions where seemingly endless crime investigations were solved by advanced technologies, such as DNA testing, yet, we question whether there is an efficient system to manage and control the use of such technologies. How can Korea manage such advancement within the law and in investigation headquarters?
- In 2018, disagreement to ‘The Act on the Use and Protection of DNA Identification Information’ was made in concern of violating Basic Rights. This has increased pressure on investigation headquarters significantly, limiting their access to the database. To what extent should human rights be prioritised over the ever-developing technologies that make criminal investigations arguably more efficient?
- Under the advancement of technology, what should be the basis for judging conflicting fundamental human rights between criminal victims and criminal defendants?
- Globally, the growing use of technology in the prevention of crime and investigative process is raising issues of human rights and data security. How might South Korea implement regulatory frameworks to the future usage of these technologies?
3. Future Trajectory
- Referring to the historic reforms in the investigation system by countries such as the UK, if South Korea was to initiate a similar reformation to the others, what are the learning points and in which direction should they proceed it?
- Criticisms and distrust on the monopoly of the investigation and indictment power by the Prosecution Office have been one of the major driving forces for the downsizing of prosecution’s direct investigation unit. To what extent will this be effective in mitigating the power?
- What implications can be made from the introduction of the bill on the instalment of the Korea Corrupt Practices Investigation Agency (Gong-Su-Cheo: special agency dedicated to investigating corruption among high-ranking officials)? Will this assist in the weakening of monopoly of the Prosecution office?
Panel 3. Foreign Policy
Despite several attempts to improve diplomatic relationships with North Korea and Japan in recent years, there still seems to be an existing gridlock. These are challenges that South Korea has historically faced and will continue to face towards achieving a greater global influence. The panel will highlight and evaluate the policies against both North Korea and Japan. It will explore South Korea’s prevailing economic, political and military tensions with the neighbouring states, such as the current trade dispute with Japan and the ongoing intricacy of relations with North Korea, which are the most topical issues surrounding Korea at this point in time. Moreover, the panel seeks to correlate Korea’s relations with the two neighbouring countries through analysing the knock-on effect, such as the recent termination of General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). With ongoing surprise and promptitude in Korea’s foreign relationships, the panel remains open to go beyond the proposed topics by deliberating on the course of action South Korea’s foreign policy that it may take in the near and far future.
1. Political Gridlock with North Korea
- How does South Korea continue to remain as a role of an arbitrator between North Korea and the United States? Why has the term ‘Korea Passing’ been brought up by the press – is this an accurate term to describe the current role South Korea is playing?
- Why has South Korea succeeded/failed to play the role of an arbitrator so far, and what is the likely role that South Korea will take in the future?
- To become a successful arbitrator and increasing presence on the international stage, how could Korea help to solve the deadlock involving US economic sanctions and North Korea’s denuclearisation?
2. Lose-lose Political Dispute with Japan
- Despite the economic benefits South Korea and Japan could exploit as two neighbouring countries, why has there been a trade dispute?
- To what extent has Japan’s decision to remove South Korea from the ‘White List,’ trade retaliation and the boycott movement from South Korea affected the economic prospects of both countries?
- What implications does the recent termination of GSOMIA provide into future diplomatic instability if the tension persists in the long term?
- In what ways will South Korea’s unpromising relationship with Japan affect the Korea-Japan-US diplomatic relationship?
3. Foreign Policy Outlook
- Will there be further summits and negotiations that could resolve the current gridlock with North Korea? Aside from summits, are there any other feasible solutions to this problem?
- Will the current trade and security retaliation with Japan be likely solved in the near future? If it continues, how will it proceed and who will more likely become the relative winner and loser?
- How should the states cooperate to overcome historical tensions that are contributing to this dispute?
- Given that the US is a diplomatic stakeholder in problems regarding both North Korea and Japan, how is the US-China hegemonic competition likely to play out as a result of these issues?
Panel 4. K-Culture
This panel is dedicated to exploring the soft power of South Korea and the consequences following the expansion of Korean culture. The 1988 Summer Olympics Games held in Seoul is often cited as the start of a successful advance of South Korea’s soft power, which was then succeeded by the growth of Korean culture, consisting predominantly of Korean pop (K-pop), Korean dramas, and Korean beauty. Indeed, BTS’ 2018 album was the first Korean album to top the US Billboard 200 charts, and this seems to be a testament to this wave of Korean culture (‘Hallyu’). Amidst this wave, the panel aims to examine the economic and societal impact Korean culture has had, both within and outside of Korea. It will aim to evaluate whether such impacts have been positive or negative and arrive at a conclusion on the impact Korea will continue to have because of this soft power. This panel seeks to stimulate academic discussion on an ongoing phenomenon and introduces our forum’s arguably most relevant topic yet.
1. Economic Consequences
- What is soft power and is South Korea one of the strongest states in acquiring soft power on the global stage currently?
- To what extent has ‘Hallyu’ contributed to the Korean economy? How big/small is this contribution in comparison to nearby states, who also have much soft power, such as Japan?
- Research has found that a state’s soft power has significant impact on FDI and the state’s international presence. What other economic impacts does South Korea’s soft power have on areas, such as private businesses, both in Korea and in other countries?
2. Societal Consequences
- How has ‘Hallyu’ affected the perception of Koreans and Korean society (including the social hierarchy) for societies of foreign states? If negative, why is this the case and what can be done to shift the perception into a positive one?
- How are Korean arts and entertainment shaping the international view of societal issues and is the Korean contribution helping to overcome such societal issues, e.g. if inequality is a global issue, how is Korean cinematography (through the film ‘Parasite’ directed by Bong) helping to solve such an international issue? Or, are other international issues, such as animal rights or feminism, being promoted in a new light through the Korean entertainment industry (such as K-pop stars or actors)?
3. Government Policies
- What has been the strategic approach the government has taken in promoting South Korea’s culture, to contribute to economic growth?
- How might the South Korean government refine their future strategy to ensure that the ‘Hallyu’ wave, which has boosted the Korean economy by as much as US$11.6 billion (Martin Roll Business & Brand Leadership, 2014) does not subside?
- To what extent does the Korean government use the influence of ‘Hallyu’ to their political or economic advantage?