▲ The World Leaders' Session at The Jeju Forum. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
It was the biggest yet. As the curtain fell on the 8th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity on May 31, the organizers at the Jeju Peace Institute were reflecting on the success of the three-day event. “New Waves in Asia” was the theme and it attracted attendees from business, politics, academia and the arts, as well as Jeju and world citizens to Haevichi Hotel and Resort in Pyoseonmyeon.
The 8th Forum was the largest since inception in 2001, attracting participants from 47 different countries and a total of 3665 attendees; the 7th Forum last year attracted 36 and 3100, respectively. Over May 29-31, there were a total of 52 sessions along the themes of the economy, environment, gender and science and technology. The 32-hour event staged 75 hours of debates across six conference rooms.
Singer Bobby Kim and violinist Park Ji-hae were on hand for entertainment, as well as local ska band South Carnival. The Jeju Dance Company and Chinese painter Liu Bo also provided artistic relief at other points over the three days. The Forum’s success mirrored the dynamism of the “New Waves” sweeping Asia.
▲ A special dinner at Jeju's Aqua Planet. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.
Moon Tae-yeong, in his first Forum as JPI President, said, “The world is now paying attention to Asia’s new role and how it is changing. At this “New Waves in Asia” Forum we were able to debate our common peace and prosperity through Asia’s new leadership and self-reliance.”
Attendees at the Forum were left in no doubt as to the energy rising across the continent in what has been termed “The Asian Century.” From gender equality and economic empowerment, to historical reconciliation and cooperation, all of the debates had an air of confidence as Asian nations grow increasingly comfortable in their roles as world leaders. JPI President Moon continued:
“Taking the debates forward and building on the momentum that has gathered is our task...we will continue to strive towards contributing to the peace and prosperity of the Asian region and the rest of the world.”
Among the speakers were Freda Miriklis, BPW International President and investor Jim Rogers, who presented Special Sessions I and II, respectively. Keynote speakers at the World Leaders’ session were Korean Prime Minister Chung Hongwon, former Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio and former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.
Prime Minister Jeong said that the fast-changing economic system had ushered in a peaceful and prosperous Asian era and it must be met with “strength and wisdom.”
“As Asia’s role is becoming more important, the formation of a regional consensus grows by the day and a nuclear-free and peaceful Korean peninsula is essential for a peaceful and prosperous region...In a turbulent world, it is expected this Forum will contribute to diagnosing and solving the issues Asia is grappling with,” he said.
The issues Asia is currently grappling with include poverty, nuclear proliferation, women’s empowerment and climate change. These were all met with a spirit of collaboration and partnership among the regional neighbors.
From increasing south-south cooperation in tackling poverty, to the growing strength of the ASEAN nations as an economic union, solutions were more than forthcoming as Asia looks to translate rising GDPs into social justice, green growth and market strength.
As per JPI President Moon’s remarks - as participants return home - it is arguably now that the real work begins; if the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity is to live up to its billing then the dialogue must continue to ensure this record-breaking event builds on the relationships built.
Organizers will already have one eye now on the 9th Forum in 2014 and it is important that in in a year’s time the debates have crystallized into tangible actions for continued collaboration.
These notes of caution aside, the Forum continues to go from strength to strength and Jeju’s own standing on the world stage raises a notch, also. As the island’s headline annual event, its success can only signal the continued growth of Jeju Island.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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