Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Korea Office

Rm. 1101,
88 Yulgok-ro,
Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03131
South Korea

Phone: +82 (0) 2 745 2648
Fax: +82 (0) 2 745 6684

E-mail: info@fes-korea.org
www.fes-korea.org

 

 

» Events » 2015

Events 2015

 

“2015 International Conference on Humanitarian and Development Assistance to the DPRK – Aid to North Korea and Peace on the Korean Peninsula”, hosted by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office, Gyeonggi Province, Jeju Special Self-governing Province, Korean Sharing Movement, and the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea (Seoul, November 3-5, 2015)

After 20 years of aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), these aid programmes continue to be an issue of great interest and significance in the Republic of Korea and beyond. The goal of the international conference “Aid to North Korea and Peace on the Korean Peninsula” was to review the achievements and limitations of humanitarian and development assistance to the DPRK during the past two decades, to encourage the improvement of the different aid programmes, to deepen the solidarity between the various stakeholders involved as well as to raise public awareness about the effects of these programmes and their positive impact on inter-Korean relations.

In the context of the conference’s opening ceremony, Yongpyo Hong, the Minister of Unification, underlined the necessity of cooperation between private and government institutions as well as with civil society organisations in order to enhance the positive influence of aid programmes. The subsequent plenaries concentrated on the analysis of the effectiveness of the past aid programmes from different perspectives and included presentations of various high-ranking scholars. Following the special speech by Ui-hwa Chung, the Speaker of the National Assembly, in which he emphasised the relation between his hope of a future unification of the Korean Peninsula and the importance of humanitarian assistance to the DPRK, the final plenary of the day involved a round-table discussion, inviting Korean and international experts to elaborate on the aid programmes to the DPRK.

On the second day of the conference, distinguished scholars were invited to participate in in-depth discussions and workshops, representing, amongst others, different bilateral development agencies, NGOs, UN agencies, and international foundations. During these plenaries, the different aid activities in the DPRK and the role of the South Korean local governments in the development cooperation with the DPRK were examined. The subsequent parallel sessions offered the unique opportunity to scrutinise a wide range of topics in a smaller setting, e.g. to analyse the coordination among the different aid agencies, the past changes in the DPRK as well as the possibility of a consolidated approach to promote a comprehensive peace.

The conference was concluded on the third day by a press conference during which the representatives of the co-hosting organisations and the invited experts presented their results to major news companies, underlining the importance of ongoing efforts towards humanitarian and development assistance to the DPRK, but also the necessity to improve and expand the aid programmes (www.fes-korea.org/media/Joint%20Statement.pdf). The impressive presence during the conference and the active participation of the attendees illustrates the great importance the government, the different organisations, and the civil society attaches to the issue of aid to the DPRK.


Roundtable discussion organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office on “The Historikerstreit (historians’ dispute) and the process of facing the past in Germany” (Seoul, October 30, 2015)

The roundtable discussion on “The Historikerstreit (historians’ dispute) and the process of facing the past in Germany” was preceded by a speech from and subsequently led by Sven Schwersensky, the Resident Representative of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office, and took place in Seoul on the 30th of October 2015.

The Historikerstreit (historians’ dispute) was a controversy in 1986/87 about the integration of the National Socialist Holocaust into the German historiography and its meaning for the conception of history in Germany which is of crucial importance for the national identity. The issues of this publicly held debate were the different historical interpretations of the Nazi regime and especially the dispute whether the Nazis’ extermination of the Jews should be regarded as historically unique or if there were historical points of reference for the Holocaust. This Singularitätsdebatte (singularity debate), i.e. the discussion whether the Holocaust was characterised by specific features which were non-existent during other genocides in the past, was not only conducted by historians, but also by various publicists and social scientists.

If you are interested in more information and would like to read a short paper about the background, the development and the implication of the Historikerstreit, please follow this link: Historikerstreit 1986-87.pdf (in German).


“Seminar on International Comparisons of Trade Union Organising Strategies”, organised by the FKTU Research Center in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office (Seoul, October 25 to 28, 2015)

The establishment and improvement of organising strategies has been increasingly noted to be a necessary, yet a rather complex task for Korean trade unions. Against this background, the Research Center of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office co-hosted the “Seminar on International Comparisons of Trade Union Organising Strategies” in Seoul from the 25th until the 28th of October 2015. In order to provide some in-depth background information about the labour market situation and trade union organisations in Korea, a comprehensive framework programme was organised, including a guided visit at Shinhanil Electric Co. Ltd. in Bucheon with a subsequent discussion on the current situation of the company union as well as informative meetings with Mr. Lee Won Bo, chairperson of the Korea Labor & Society Institute, and high-ranking representatives of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).

Following a presentation about the current organisation strategies and future of trade unions in Korea by Mr. Noh Jin Kwi, Standing Advisor of the FKTU Research Center, trade union organising strategies were analysed from different international perspectives by the three experts who were invited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office. By underlining the importance of cross-country comparisons, Mr. Roland Schneider, Senior Policy Advisor of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), referred to the ‘employment miracle’ in Germany where employment did not decrease as much as the decrease in GDP would have predicted and explained that this was a result of effective collective bargaining efforts. In stressing that trade unions require stable organisation strategies to be successful, Mr. Schneider gave the advice that unions need to provide services for the traditional constituency, but that they should also meet the preferences of a more representative cross-section of the workforce, e.g. address the issues of non-regular workers. Mr. Haruhisa Yamaneki, Executive Director of the Department of Organizational Affairs of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC-RENGO), spoke about the reasons for the decreased trade union density in Japan, i.e. the changing landscape of the industrial structure, the increase in non-regular work, the diversification of management forms, and the decreased number of experienced union members. Furthermore, he elaborated on the future tasks for RENGO in order to reach their goal to increase their number of members to 10 million by 2020. As the Organizing and Campaigns Director of IndustriALL Global Union, Mr. Adam Lee underlined that the recruitment of new members, the maintenance of existing ones, and the increased participation of members are key to effective organisation. He further described how IndustriALL offers different ways of supporting organising efforts, e.g. through project work, sector work, campaigns, global framework agreements, and relationships with brands. The keen interest of the seminar’s participants was illustrated by the many diverse questions asked, but also by the subsequent vibrant discussion in the working groups in which they analysed the current trends within the unions and different strategies to improve their organisation.

During the seminar, it was emphasised that the implementation of effective organising strategies should be a crucial task for trade unions, especially in today’s times of declining union density in Korea. Whilst countries’ and unions’ situations can be very different, unionists can learn from cross-country comparisons and experiences. The invited experts as well as representatives of the FKTU Research Center and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office concluded during the evaluation meeting that the results of the seminar’s discussions should lead to actions as the work of unions within and outside of Korea still needs to be promoted considerably, with the improvement of organising strategies being one of their central challenges.


7th Annual Congress of the Korea International Studies Association on “Econophoria” in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office (Seoul, October 16-17, 2015)

The theory of ‘Econophoria’, the idea that the solution to all domestic and international governance problems are being sought through the pursuit of economic development, trade, and interdependence, is especially relevant for Northeast Asia as it appears especially widespread amongst scholars and policy-makers in this region. Even though aspects of Econophoria seem to permeate many Northeast Asian countries, however, the discussion on its effectiveness and consequences remains rather limited.

Against this background, the Korea International Studies Association organised its 7th annual congress in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office on the topic of “Econophoria”. In his introductory keynote address on the “Experiences from Europe”, EU Ambassador Gerhard Sabathil spoke about the history of economic interdependences and Econophoria in Europe, underlining the differences in the situations of Northeast Asia and the unsuitability of the European example as an exact ‘blueprint’. Referring to Jean Monnet, he pointed out the fact that in the case of Europe it was both economic and political cooperation which was the driving force of integration. The following presentations covered various related topics, beginning with the analysis of the theoretical perspectives. Three experts, Professor Javad Heydarian from the De La Salle University, Philippines, Professor Haruko Satoh from the Osaka University, Japan, and Professor Pang Zongying from the Renmin University, China, discussed during the subsequent panels different country perspectives on Econophoria and the regional dimensions of the phenomenon. While the importance and impact of Econophoria in their respective countries of origin were scrutinized by Professor Satoh and by Professor Pang, Professor Heydarian examined the topic with regard to the Sino-Japanese relations. The congress was further expanded by presentations on international law and international political economy in the region as well as student presentations on different wide-ranging topics, e.g. on the different approaches to development cooperation and the national unification.

History has shown that economic interdependence alone cannot prevent wars and conflict – the First World War was referred to as a prominent example since its outbreak was not prevented by the stark increase in trade during the period before 1914. The importance of political interaction as well as the interplay between political and economic factors were emphasised repeatedly during this congress. However, further research may be required to evaluate the dimensions and consequences of Econophoria in Northeast Asia, especially under conditions of declining growth.


Talk/discussion on the question “How did the German Reunification change Germany?“ by Markus Meckel (Seoul, October 13, 2015)

The process of German Reunification remains a topic of particular interest for many Koreans in their quest for the national unification of the Korean peninsula. Despite the undeniably important differences between the two cases, Koreans may draw important lessons from the German Reunification process. In reflecting on his own personal experiences, Markus Meckel, the penultimate foreign minister of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and a former member of the German Bundestag, elaborated on these aspects in his talk “How did the German Reunification change Germany?” which was held in the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul and which was organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office.

By contrasting the main differences between the German Reunification process and the current Korean situation, Mr. Meckel especially emphasized the greater possibilities of contact between West and East Germans during the division which enabled them to sustain a certain sense of belonging and identification. In addition to the importance of informal contact, Mr. Meckel identified several other conditions which are crucial for a peaceful unification, in particular the establishment of a welcoming culture and the people’s willingness to change. He further argued that the peaceful revolution of the people in the GDR was indispensable for the German Reunification.

In noting that the debate in South Korea often seems to concentrate on the costs of a future unification, Mr. Meckel stressed that freedom is always costly and that the focus should be laid on the question of a common identity. As the current president of the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge) which is responsible for the maintenance of the German war graves as well as the preservation of the memory of the war sacrifices, Mr. Meckel concluded his talk by underlining the importance of dealing with the own country’s war history and war victims. As part of the discussion with the students following his talk, Mr. Meckel underlined that the German case illustrates the importance of a regional security structure and of the necessity to also focus on the mental process in order to achieve peaceful national unification.

 


Discussion/Speech on the “Industrial Transformation and Labour Market Based Growth Strategy“ (September 18, 2015)

The industrial transformation and the increasing digitalisation create challenges as well as opportunities for the labour markets in countries worldwide. The analysis of the resulting implications for sustainable growth and stable employment is therefore imperative.

The conference on “Exploring Growth Potential in the EU and Korea: The Way to Sustainable Growth and Stable Employment”, which was co-organised by the Koreanisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftswissenschaften (KDGW), the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Korea Office, was held in Seoul from the 18th of September until the 19th of September 2015 and included discussions as well as presentations from various experts from East Asia and beyond. The conference aimed at developing approaches and methods for the expansion of the growth potential while seeking cooperative approaches between the EU and Korea, emphasizing the necessity for sustainable growth and stable employment.

At the end of the first day of the conference on the 18th of September 2015, Dr. Günther Horzetzky, who is currently the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and who was invited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office, held a speech on the “Industrial Transformation and Labour Market Based Growth Strategy“. After pointing out the current advantages and challenges for North Rhine-Westphalia, Dr. Horzetzky underlined the importance of concentrating on innovations and on the strengths of the economy. Moreover, Dr. Horzetzky spoke about new technologies and the increasing digitalization which not only pose challenges, but also create tremendous growth potentials.

Dr. Horzetzky’s notions were further discussed during the subsequent dinner at the invitation of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office and the German Embassy. He also attended the “Experts’ Workshop for Developing Policy Recommendations” of the conference on the 19th of September 2015.


Conference of the Koreanisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftswissenschaten (KDGW) in cooperation with the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Korea Office on “Exploring Growth Potential in the EU and Korea: The Way to Sustainable Growth and Stable Employment” (Seoul, September 17 to 20, 2015)

The world economy has been shaken by unprecedented instability in recent years. Economies worldwide have been disturbed by severe financial crises. The resulting far-reaching implications such as widespread unemployment and economic downturns also continue to disrupt the EU and Korea. In order to explore cooperative solutions for these issues, in particular as they relate to the labour market, the Koreanisch-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftswissenschaften (KDGW) co-hosted with the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Korea Office the international conference “Exploring Growth Employment in the EU and Korea: The Way to Sustainable Growth and Stable Employment” which was held in Seoul from the 18th of September until the 19th of September 2015.

Dr. Michael Dauderstädt, the former director of the Department for Economic and Social Policies of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, held a speech on the topic “Inequality, Cohesion and Crisis in Europe” during the first session of the conference which was titled Economic Circumstances, Challenges and Prospects”. After giving an overview over the different dimensions and the development of Europeanide inequality, Dr. Dauderstädt spoke about the differences in convergence of inequality throughout the EU, the relationship between inequality and crises in Europe as well as about the policies of convergence. The speech of the Resident Representative of the FES Korea Office, Mr. Sven Schwersensky, on “New Growth and Employment” during the “Growth Potentials and Employment” session analysed the European Union’s ten-year jobs and growth strategy, Europe 2020. However, Mr. Schwersensky pointed out that the strategy has many shortcomings and that the results have been rather disappointing so far. During the “Collaboration between the EU and Korea” session, Mr. Paolo Caridi, the Head of the Trade Section of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea who had followed the invitation of the FES Korea Office, talked in his speech about the “EU-Korea Trade and Investment Relations”, emphasizing the importance of the economic relationship between the EU and Korea.


The 11th International Conference on Social Security "Social Risks and Social Policy in East Asia" (Seoul, September 12 to 13, 2015)

The improvement and expansion of social welfare and security systems has increasingly become the focus of attention in many countries worldwide. The International Conference on Social Security in East Asia significantly contributes to the repeated exchange of different viewpoints, ideas, conclusions, and policy recommendations regarding international social security and welfare between scholars from diverse backgrounds as well as from various countries. This year’s conference, which was held in Sungkyunkan University in Seoul, South Korea from September 12th to 13th, 2015 and which was supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office, covered important topics such as ‘pensions’, ‘risks of population ageing’, ‘social risks and the responsibility of the local government’, ‘long-term care for the elderly’, ‘health insurance’, ‘poverty and public assistance’, and ‘labour market and employment security’.

Dr. Max Neufeind, who is a member of ‘Das Progressive Zentrum’ in Berlin and who was invited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office, delivered a speech on the “Industrial transformation and challenges to social security and welfare in Germany” and discussed the industrial transformation in the 1990s and 2000s in Germany. He spoke about the dualization of the labour market and the rise in non-standard employment as well as the resulting welfare risks and consequences for the employees. In further concentrating on the digital era Germany is currently entering, Dr. Neufeind elaborated on the prevailing policy debate in Germany and the so-called industrial transformation 2.0 which includes crowdworking, industry 4.0, on-demand platforms, and automated knowledge work. Dr. Neufeind explained the problems associated with the industrial transformation and the current discourses in Germany regarding the different scenarios that could come out of these developments.


Panel discussion of the Peace Foundation in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: “How can the civil society prepare the reunification?” (August 29, 2015)  

The understanding of the importance of civil society organizations for the preparation of a Korean reunification has grown in the Korean society.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Peace Foundation organized a panel discussion with the title “How can the civil society prepare the reunification?” on the 29th of August 2015 in order to analyze the topic in depth.

In the discussion with the German experts Franziska Richter (Forum Berlin Kultur und Politik, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) and Uwe Ziegler (former director of the Department for Political Education in Eastern Germany of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung), the role of Korean civil society for the preparation of a future reunification was analyzed and the current situation in Korea was compared with the situation in Germany during its reunification. It appeared that as long as people to people relations between North and South Korea remain so scarce civil society organizations can only play an extremely limited role. In particular they will have only the opportunity to try and promote a policy for dialogue and cooperation.

The audience actively participated in the discussion and exchanged views with the two experts. A further exchange between the younger generation in Korea and the German youth was suggested in order to discuss the young people’s perceptions of and experiences with the reunification.


Seminar of the Institute for Unification Education, Ministry of Unification in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on the “Experiences from the German Reunification” (August 27, 2015 – August 28, 2015)

The analysis of the possibility of a future Korean reunification is a topic of great concern whenever the Korean Peninsula is discussed. How should we prepare ourselves for a Korean reunification? How will our society change following a reunification? In order to answer these questions, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, in collaboration with the Institute for Unification Education, Ministry of Unification, organized the seminar “Experiences from the German Reunification” for various government officials in Seoul on the 27th of August and the 28th of August 2015.

Two experts Uwe Ziegler (former Head of Department for the former German Democratic Republic of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) and Franziska Richter (desk officer for Politics and Culture at the Forum Berlin of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung), who were invited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, spoke about the reunification process in Germany, the current situation 25 years after the reunification in Germany and the challenges remaining. The situation in Germany was compared and contrasted with the Korean situation from an economic, political and social perspective. During the seminar, the discussion with the participants was very lively and all the arising questions were answered; in particular many questions were raised regarding fiscal and financial aspects as well as issues around reconciliation processes.

As a whole it appeared that the German Reunification was a very lengthy and complex process which involved the adoption of an entirely new political and economic systems by the eastern German society. In this process one can distinguish between a short transitional phase, a longer period of transformation and the current post-transformation era. In order to achieve the Korean reunification, not only the governments, but also the society at large and civil society organizations in particular need to be actively involved such processes. The participants of the seminar further agreed on the necessity for conducting further seminars in order to scrutinize the conditions and requirements of a Korean reunification.


Roundtable discussion of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office in cooperation with representatives of Korean non-governmental organizations on “The security architecture in Europe as an example of collective security and its value of experience for other regions of the world” (Seoul, August 12, 2015)

The German Reunification is widely regarded as a point of reference for a future reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Despite the symbolic character of the German reunification for the Korean population, many Koreans neither know much about the background of the process nor about its impact on peace and security in Europe.

During the roundtable discussion, Mr. Johannes Pflug, a former member of the German Bundestag who was invited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office, spoke about his experiences with the reunification of Germany. As a former member of the German parliament and of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, he shared his thoughts on the German reunification with the Korean audience. He explained that the cooperation with the neighboring countries, including those of the former Soviet bloc, was essential for the reunification process in Germany. Furthermore, he pointed out that the German Reunification and the creation of the European security system had a mutual influence on each other. However, it should be noted that the creation of the European security architecture is an ongoing process as there are still many issues which need to be solved. The current situation in the Ukraine is one stark example.

In order to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia, Mr. Johannes Pflug hopes that the Koreans will also be able to cooperate with their neighboring countries and with the international community on the basis of mutual respect and recognition. In this context, Mr. Johannes Pflug recommended that the positive engagement of the DPRK with the international community should be promoted so that peace on the Korean Peninsula can be obtained. After comparing the situation in Europe with the Korean situation, the participants concluded that the achievement of peace on the Korean Peninsula proves difficult under current circumstances and they, hence, underlined the necessity of the cooperation with and the help of the international community.


Conference: ’’Post - World War II Reconciliation and Cooperation: Lessons for East Asia’’ (June 17, 2015)

There is a longstanding interest in European reconciliation among East Asian countries. This year’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has given a new impetus to discussions on these experiences. In terms of reconciliation, Europe, especially the Franco-German case, is often seen as a good example. To analyse this ‘’success story’’ as well as the problems it faced and finally to figure out what might be the perspectives for an East Asian reconciliation, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies, in cooperation with the embassies of Germany, Great Britain, France and Poland, organized a conference titled ‘’Post – WWII Reconciliation and Cooperation’’.

During three sessions several Asian and European speakers from academic and diplomatic circles discussed about what has been done and what still has to be done in order to transform former hostility into partnership or even friendship, both in Europe and Asia. Among them was the president of the German-French University, Professor Patricia Oster-Stierle, who had followed the invitation of the FES to come to Seoul. ‘’Especially young people need to be educated in friendship’’, Prof. Oster-Stierle said. She emphasized the role of dialogue on a personal level that can be achieved by exchange programs for students and language classes. Professor Mari Fitzduff of Brandeis University explained that conflicts cannot be solved by ‘’forgive and forget’’, but rather by ‘’remember and change’’. Although the participants widely agreed on the achievements and challenges of European reconciliation, the views on East Asia’s future differed. While Professor Lee Geun of Seoul National University believed that market imperatives will lead to stronger economic and political cooperation, Professor Ku Yangmo of Norwich University and Doctor Lee Jaehyon, vice president of the ASAN Institute, warned that a rising nationalism threatens to worsen the already existing antagonisms.

A similar conference about the same topic was held in Tokyo one day later on June 18. Professor Oster-Stierle and others participated again and thus might have encouraged Japanese-Korean reconciliation discussion.


Discussion on “Social Democratic Peace Policy and the Reunification of Germany” (May 16, 2015)

The division of Germany and its reunification is a recurring topic when discussing the reunification of Korea. However, the German experience is frequently interpreted in a one-sided manner when relating it to the actual situation on the Korean peninsula.

In order to get a first-hand testimony about the division of Germany and its reunification, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized a discussion on “Social Democratic Peace Policy and the Reunification of Germany”. Martin Dulig, Deputy Prime Minister of Saxony and former activist in the GDR, spoke to young Korean activists from various civil society organizations about the differing perceptions in terms of reunification demands according to different generations. He emphasized the equal importance of external and internal factors, such as Brandt’s “Ostpolitik” based on the notion of common security, as well as reforms in the Soviet Union, paving the way to the unexpected, but peaceful, reunification of Germany.Mr. Dulig pointed out that there was never a masterplan for German reunification before these changes occurred and made unity a real possibility.

The subsequent discussion revealed differences between the situation of Germany in the late 1980s and today’s Korea. The participants agreed that the key issue for a successful and sustainable reunification is to assure the equity of chances and of living conditions for all Koreans.


Forum on “Social Justice and Democracy in the 21st Century” (May 15, 2015)

Pursuit of Social Justice in the 21st century needs to take in consideration the changing domestic and international environment. In order to gain a better understanding about factors relevant to these transformations, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung organized a Forum on Social Justice and Democracy in the 21st Century. This Forum was attented by Korean scholars, researchers, representatives of civil society groups and former politicians, as well as two German experts on social democracy.

In the course of the forum, Prof. Dr. Thomas Meyer, Representative of the Core Values Commission of the SPD and publisher of the theoretical journal of German social democracy, as well as Dr. Christian Krell, Head of the Academy of Social Democracy of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, presented current German and international challenges for social and democratic demands, resulting, for example, from the increasing demand for international competitiveness, or the digitalization of life.

In the subsequent panel discussion a number of obstacles to the implementation of social policies in Korea was found and programmatic, social, and historical differences between German and Korean parties were identified. Due to the wide range of topics and the articulated demand for further questions left open during the discussion, the participants agreed on reiterating this forum in the future.


Discussion on “The Relevance of the Godesberg Program for Social Democracy and Democracy in Germany” (May 14, 2015)

These days, social and democratic progresses are increasingly at risk to be considered secondary to the economic development in a growing number of countries in Asia, including South Korea.  However, the experience of the social democratic compromise in Germany has illustrated that economic development is unsustainable, if not linked to social and democratic advances.

In order to discuss the relevance of such insights for the current situation in Korea, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has invited Korean scholars to a roundtable debate. During the discussion two prominent experts on social democracy, Prof. Dr. Thomas Meyer, Representative of the Core Values Commission of the SPD and publisher of a political magazine, as well as Dr. Christian Krell, Head of the FES Academy of Social Democracy, spoke about the origins of social democracy in Germany as well as its prospects in the 21st century. In this context, the Godesberg Program was identified as a turning point in programmatic history of the SPD. Subsequently, the participants discussed the evolution of social and democratic demands in the Korean society. It was concluded, that there was a number of political and social impediments for further social and democratic progress. One significant point in the discussion was made about the political interest of younger generations. It appeared that whilst they are politically interested they are not interested in the politics as they unfold in Korea.


Forum on “East Asia Experts Meeting on Regionalization of Peacekeeping-Operations” (April 29 – 30, 2015)

UN-mandated peacekeeping operations (PKO) are generally conducted individually by each country taking part in the mission. Thi

s is also true for the East Asian states of China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. However, it has been questioned if this is the most effective way to conduct such operations. Recent evidence from South Sudan suggests that in the absence of a joint mission command the most appropriate reaction to a crisis situation might not be taken.

In order to explore cooperation possibilities and to promote initiatives towards regional PKO in East Asia, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung together with Korea Academic Council on the United Nations System (KACUNS) co-organized the forum on “East Asia Experts Meeting on Regionalization of Peacekeeping-Operations” inviting academics, practitioners, and former diplomats from China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.

During the sessions, the participants explored each country’s capacities and discussed various challenges of regionalization of PKO in East Asia. They agreed on taking practical steps, such as establishing a regular East Asia Forum on UN Peacekeeping Operations.


FKTU – KCTU – FES: “Korea – Germany Forum: Labour Market Reforms: Steps in the Right Direction?” (March 22 – 26, 2015)

Since the slowed economic growth of South Korean industry cannot sufficiently meet the increasing demand for jobs, the South Korean government plans to expand the flexibility of employment conditions. In its policy pronouncements the government explicitly refers to the German labour market reforms known as the Hartz reforms of 2003. However, in Germany the assessment of the actual impact of these measures in creating new jobs and easing the unemployment rate by mostly expanding atypical employment is highly controversial. In order to explore the possible effects of a Hartz-like reform in Korea, FKTU, KCTU, KLSI, and FES Korea Office organized this labour forum. Dr. Seifert, former director of the institute of economic and social research of the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, presented the findings from a large-scale empiric research dealing with the question of labour market impacts induced by the Hartz reforms in. He stated that the result of the research shows that there is no hard evidence about any positive effects of the Hartz reforms on the labour market situation in Germany. Instead, the relative flexibility of working hours which was introduced in labour relations though collective bargaining agreements was proven to have contributed in maintaining employment levels during the period of recession linked to the 2008-2009 financial market crisis. Thus internal flexibility as opposed to external flexibility created through easing the conditions of hiring and firing helps to deal adjust the labour on offer during periods of slowdown without affecting the overall employment situation.

 


Book Presentation: “Anti-Communism in Korea and Germany during the Era of Cold War” (March 19, 2015)

FES continuously deals with current issues of social developments in Korea. However, to encounter challenges of the present regular analyses of historical trends and abstract problems are necessary. It seems to be especially relevant, when it comes to comprehend the specific characteristics of Korea as a divided nation. In a variety of aspects Germany provides a comparative view, as also there the nation’s division influenced the societal development. In this content FES asked researchers in Germany and Korea to analyse and interpret the impact of anti-communism in Korea and Germany during the era of cold war.  Therefore, FES conducted an event to introduce the result of these researches in the book named “Antikommunismus in Korea und Deutschland, zur Zeit des Kalten Krieges”. The following discussion emphasized the complexity and importance of the topic. It is deemed to influence the developmental perspectives of Korea in the future.