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» Events » 2017

Events 2017




The Award of FES Human Rights Prize for Peoples's Candlelight Demonstrations in Korea (Berlin, 5 December, 2017)

Following up the press conference on "The Award of FES Human Rights Prize for People's Candlelight Demonstrations in Korea" in Seoul on 16th October 2017, the award ceremony took place at the headquarter in FES Berlin on 5th December. Three representatives of the Korean candlelight citizens have paticipated at the official ceremony in Germany: Mr. Park Seok Woon (Co-President, Organizing Commitee for People's Candlelight Demonstrations in Korea), Ms. Park Jin (Organizing Commitee for People's Candlelight Demonstrations in Korea) and Ms. Jang Ae-Jin (Student, Dongnam Health University). Between October 2016 and March 2017 the Korean candlelight citizens have given the whole world evidence that peaceful exercise of democratic participation and in particular the civic right of peaceful assembly are the essential components of democracy.

Download Press Release (Korean and English)

Download Prize Certificate (Korean and German)  



KIEP-FES-KDGW International Conference on "Asia-EU Cooperation under Changing Environment" (Seoul, 2 November, 2017)

Globalization poses fundamental challenges which go abroad international economic relations. Two of the important questions the world economy is facing are: how can we shape the globalization process in a such way that it improves social justice and democratic stability of socities around the world; and how can we realise the growth potential in cooperation with other countries. To this effect trade governance and international economic cooperation in a broader sense need to be reviewed and adapted without giving into knee jerk protectionist reflexes.

In this cotext, 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 on "Asia-EU Cooperation under Changing Environment" which was held in Seoul on 2nd November 2017.

The FES Korea Office invited two German experts on globalization and trade policy: Prof. Gerhard Stahl (Visiting Professor, European Economy Studies Department, College of Europe, Bruges) and Mr. Tim Peter (Accredited Assistant, Office of Bernd Lange, Chair of Committee on International Trade in the European Parliament). Prof. Stahl delivered a keynote speech pointing out the potential and importance of trade and economic cooperation between the EU and Asia in this era of changing environment. Introducing the parliamentary perspective on EU-Korea FTA, Mr. Peter raised the issue that both the EU and Korea have to pay attention to the implementation of Sustainable Development Chapter if they want to draw full benefit from the agreement. Both experts emphasizd the need to set up a regulatory framework based on social dialogue to enhance redistributable effects of international trade.

Seoul City-ILO International Forum on “Transforming Cities for Decent Work” (Seoul, 5 to 6 September, 2017)

Today, the social mission of city governments is not just simply creating jobs, but producing Decent Work that ensures the rights of workers so that the citizens live better and happier lives. After taking office in 2011, Park Won Soon, the Mayor of Seoul, has promoted cooperative governance with social partners, civil society, and the central government with the motto "Labour Respect Metropolitan City", which is directly relate to strengthening and localizing strategies of Decent Work Agenda of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

In this context, the Seoul Metropolitan Government in collaboration with the ILO has organized the International Forum on "Transforming Cities for Decent Work" between 5 and 6 September 2017, which brought together representatives of city government, civil society, trade unions and academics from Africa, America, Asia and Europe together.

As one of the partner organisations for the International Forum, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office has invited two urban experts from Germany and Indonesia - Dr. Thomas Franke (Research Fellow, German Institute for Urban Affairs) and Mr. Marco Kusumawijaya (Director, Rujak Center for Urban Studies) - to share their views and practices for promoting better decent work at the city level in Berlin and Jakarta.

During this event the experts exchanged experineces and enhanced the ideas for city labour policies, especially on the topics of Employment, Social Protection, Rights at Work, Social Dialogue and Future of Work.

On the last day of the forum, the Seoul City has announced the "Seoul Declaration", which includes the future directions and tasks for creating work, and suggested to launch a network for decent work cities in further coordination with the ILO.

At the occasion of this forum, the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder discussed labour issues with Korean stake holders and delivered a strong message for ratifying the ILO's fundamental conventions on freedom of association and right to collectiv bargaining during his visit in Seoul.

The Final Declaration of the Seoul City-ILO International Forum is now available at the following link: Download File (Korean and English)



FKTU – The Minjoo Party of Korea - FES Symposium on “International Comparative Perspectives on Chambor of Labour and its Implication for Korea” (Seoul, 17 to 18 July, 2017)

The establishment of a nation-wide chamber of labour in Korea has been discussed to be one of the possible labour reform after the presidential election  2017 in May, yet it was also acknowledged to be a complex task for Korean labour movement. 

Following a study visit of a delegation which consisted of representatives of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and academics in the beginning of this year, the FKTU co-hosted with the Minjoo Party of Korea and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea Office an International Syposium on "International Comparative Perspectives on Chamber of Labour and its Implication for Korea" on 18th July at the Korean National Assembly. In this context, Mr. Valentil Wedl (Head of Department for EU and International Affairs, Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour, AK Wien) and Mr. Marcus Strohmeier (Head of International Department, Austrian Trade Union Federation, ÖGB) were invited to share their experiences and views on chambers of labour and social partnership.

Mr. Wedl introduced the legal status, structure and activities of the AK Wien. He also gave the advice that the Korean labour chamber should function as a legally autonomous organisation as it is the case in Austria. Mr. Strohmeier described the complementary role of the ÖGB and the AK Wien by representing the interests of workers as actors in industrial relations based on social dialogue. By underlining the different countries's and workers' situations as well as the importance of cross-country comparisons, both Austrain experts emphasized that sensitive questions such as administrative structure, membership fee, challenges for Korean trade unions, etc. should also discussed openly.

At the end of their visit, Mr. Strohmeier and Mr. Wedl confirmed that they will further contribute to the ongoing discussion on the labour chamber initiative of FKTU and Mr. Lee Yong-deuk (Member of National Assembly, The Minjoo Party of Korea) who originally raised this issue during the presidential election campaign. 



Discussion on “the USA-RoK summit and the Berlin Speech: Prospects for Inter-Korean Relations and Cooperation in Northeast Asia”, Seoul, July 10, 2017

South Korea's newly elected president, Moon Jae In is seeking a solution to the relationship with North Korea. FES Korea organised with the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation a debate on the USA-RoK summit and the visit of President Moon Jae-in to Berlin. Experts on USA, Russia, Japan and European policies were invited to give their views on the outcome of Presidents Moon’s recent activities and the future of the Korean peninsula. Also representatives from academic institutions, civil society organisations and diplomatic corps were invited to the discussion. The participants agreed that the new government should communicate and cooperate continuously with the relevant parties, to resolve the conflict on the Korean peninsula under the rapidly changing world situation. The peace on the Korean peninsula should be considered first and most importantly.

FES – Ministry of Unification Special Seminar on “Experience of German Division and Unification” for government officials (Seoul, 03 to 06 July, 2017)
The Institute for Unification Education of the Ministry of Unification holds a special seminar for government officials from diverse government departments. FES Korea office has been closely collaborating for several years with the Institute on this twice a year. This July, FES Korea office invited to the seminar Maria Palme of Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena. During the two day seminar, fifteen Korean government officials asked various questions about the German division and unification, for example, division of agricultural land, transit system, conversion of energy, employment and pension funds after the unification. The participants learned that East and West Germany recognized already each other before the unification and there ware continuous exchanges between them. Also peace pacts of the international society ware one of the preconditions for the German unification. The culture of solidarity in German society was a driving force for integration after the unification, and it is unable, to make a master plan for unification on the Korean peninsula, because the whole process of the unification would be beyond the circle of foresight.

ITUC-FES Taming Cooperate Power in Supply Chains - Regional Campaign Planning Network Meeting Asia (Seoul, 29 to 30 May, 2017)

High tech Samsung smart phones are being heavily marketed to consumers as innovative and modern. While innovative new technologies are on the rise, conditions for workers are taking a step back in time. In such circumstances, the International Trade Union (ITUC) decided to initiate a global campaign with the title "End Cooperate Greed" targeting global supply chains, exposing the negative social footprint and the hidden medieval working conditions of major corporations.

In this context the ITUC has co-hosted with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea office the Regional Campaign Planning Network Meeting Asia from 29 to 30 May 2017 in Seoul. This event has brought together international coordinators and Korean representatives of trade unions, civil society and labour law experts to review the strategies and tactics developed in the campaign as well as to discuss a plan of action for the coming year.

After the two days meeting, it became clear that there are common challenges regarding the organising campaigns at the national level. The discussion has also shown that there is a high potential for media actions against labour abuses and anti-union tactics in the global supply chains. Furthermore, it was also discussed to strengthen the legal strategies for further improvement of campaigns, both at national and regional level.


KLI-FES International Conference "Work 4.0 and Industry 4.0" (Seoul and Sejong, 3 to 8 April, 2017)

In recent years, Work 4.0 and Industry 4.0 - strategic policy approaches to digitalisation developed by Germany - have been attracting the world's attention. They are evidence that there is a crucial need for in-depth deliberation and the development of possible policy response among academic, policy makers and social partners with respect to the unfolding industrial transformation and its societal implications.

The Korea Labor Institute and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea office have jointly hosted an international conference on 6 to 7 April to advance the existing discussions in terms of the topics Work 4.0 and Industry 4.0. In this context the FES Korea has invited two German trade unionists - Sören Tuleweit (IG BCE) and Barbara Susec (ver.di) - as well as two prominent scholars - Prof. Daniel Buhr (University of Tübingen) and Dr. Samuel Greef (University of Kassel) to share their experience and expertise on the digital transformation in Germany.

Participants at the international conference concluded that the multidimensional transformation that digitalisation implies can be shaped through a variety of regulatory frameworks. The establishment of such rules should be based on a broad and inclusive social dialogue in order to lead to sustainable and equitable outcomes. Such a dialogue has to deal with a variety of issues ranging from technical questions of adjustment in production processes and work place transformation to issues of vocational trainining or even encompassing reforms in the education system or social security. It was also found that the different situations of each industrial sectors should be considered dealing with the future challenges of work.

For Korean experts and participants this event has provided an opportunity to hear about the experiences and policy responses of Germany. Furthermore it has contributed to initiate productive discussions on Korea's fourth industrial revolution and its impacts on the labour market and industrial relations.


Hope Institute-Ansan City-FES Forum on "The remembrance culture from the bottom up and the role of local government" (Seoul and Ansan, 19 to 25 March, 2017)

Remembering the past for the future is an important part of the democracy. A historical appraisal can contribute to further understanding of the current social and political challenges we face.

To share the experiences of the culture of remembering from Germany and Korea, particularly with a focus on memorial initiatives of civil society in cooperation with the local government, the Hope Institute co-hosted with the Ansan City and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea office an open forum on "The remembrance culture from the bottom up and the local government".

In this context, the FES Korea has invited two German experts: Dr. Michael Parak (General Secretary. Gegen Vergessen - für Demokratie e.V.) as a representative of an NGO, which has been combining historical remembrance work with practical engagement for democracy, and Tim Renner (former State Secretary of Cultural Affairs, Berlin) representing the perspective of the German capital and local politics. Additionally Dr. Parak has also spoke on the relevance between remembrance and democratic development at a forum in the historical meaningful city Gwangju where the Massacre of May 1980 took place.

In Germany, there is a diversity of interaction between citizens and local authorities and a well-established tradition of political participation. However, in Korea the strong focus on a top-down policy approaches leaves little space for such changes. Despite this circumstances there is still a potential for further productive discussions on the remembrance culture due the growing interest among Korean citizens.


FES Forum on "Consumer Protection in the Digital World" (Seoul, 7 February, 2017)

One of the initiatives of the German G20 presidency focuses on enhancing consumer protection in the digital world through global regulation. In this context the German Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection Ulrich Kelber visited Korea in early February to engage a dialogue with the Korean government on the German initiative.

An important aspect of the approach the German government has taken is to involve civil society and consumer protection organisation in the development of the global regulation. Therefore, as part of the programme of the ministerial delegation the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Korea office held a forum on "Consumer Protection in the Digital World". This forum brought together representatives from civil society and consumer organisation within the ministerial delegation. They discussed the current state of legislation on consumer protection in the digital world in Germany and Korea and identified challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve consumer protection. The discussion has shown that there is a high interest and potential for both Germany and Korea to share information and exchange views on consumer rights and protection issues. It also made clear that beyond national legislation and international regulatory framework will further enhance consumer protection.