▲ JPI President Moon Tae-young seeks local participation and global results at the 9th Jeju Forum in Pyoseon this May. Photo courtesyJeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity
Jeju Peace Institute (JPI) President Moon Tae-young is looking forward with relish to the 9th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, May 28-30 at the Haevichi Hotel and Resort, Seogwipo City. In its ninth incarnation, the ingredients for its success are 32 institutions at 62 sessions, and 50 nationalities represented among 4,000 expected guests and participants.
As per the title, peace and security (20 sessions) and economy (14 sessions) are its bread and butter, but with Jeju issues discussed at 20 sessions, Moon has placed Jeju firmly at the table alongside international dignitaries.
The former Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, will give a keynote speech and an address will also be made by Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard executive. Other notables include Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian prime minister, and British journalist Daniel Tudor.
Moon is unapologetic about the necessity for this global focus, yet says balancing local concerns is essential. As the island’s foremost MICE event, however, the forum’s worth to the province must be measured in other ways.
“In my view, the future of Jeju Island lies with the development and sustainment of the MICE industry. It is very essential to create and maintain a self-sustainable environment for this industry as a part of Jeju’s overall economic engine,” said Moon.
Moon expects more than 2,000 locals to attend the sessions, including many politicians and bureaucrats whose cooperation is crucial in ensuring there are substantive benefits for local development and the environment, in additional to the loftier goals of regional peace.
The forum and regional peace
The JPI has organized the Jeju Forum since 2006, the year the institute was created for the study and promotion of peace across the Korean Peninsula and to foster regional cooperation in East Asia.
The forum provides a platform for the discussion of such topics including continuing territorial disputes and historical reconciliation across the region. Moon took up post in 2013 and he believes the last year has seen significant progress toward these goals at a time when regional cooperation is at something of a nadir.
The Jeju Forum is the JPI’s showpiece event, but in many ways it is merely an exposition of its year-round research. The high-quality research it produces influences policy and discourses of peace, and programs and conferences, such as Jeju’s foremost annual event, are thus essential.
Last year was Moon’s first and he cites its success in bringing together luminaries such as the former prime ministers of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and Japan, Hatoyama Yukio. Investor Jim Rogers also announced his commitment to the continent at the forum, which 3,700 people attended.
The 2013 theme was “New Waves in Asia,” which was a statement on the changes taking place across the continent. This year, “Designing New Asia” signals a move toward practical approaches to managing such change after a year in which conflict has often defined regional relations.
“In East Asia, we have witnessed growing mistrust between countries over historical issues and maritime territorial disputes, which have threatened peace and prosperity of the region. With these in mind, the forum will deal with these issues in order to provide relevant and practical solutions, even though it seems very hard to find a way to settle these matters,” said Moon.
A key theme at the forum is thus Asian identity, the fostering of which is a key component of sustainable peace, says Moon.
“One of the purposes of the Jeju Forum is to build peace and common prosperity in East Asia through providing a venue for dialogue for regional peace and cooperation. I believe that creating an Asian identity is the first step toward achieving that goal. The absence of such identity will never allow East Asia as a region to move forward into the future,” he said.
This will certainly make the forum’s work harder, Moon continued, but he also views it as a “window of opportunity” as it is one of the few opportunities to get regional opinion leaders together and move the conversation on from the current roadblock. Jeju can again expect to see benefits from hosting such discussions.
“Many government officials, including the prime minister of Korea, scholars, CEOs and many more public figures around the world will attend the forum. For instance, more than 150 Chinese and 50 Japanese business people will attend the forum as well. In my view, the forum will also provide them with an opportunity to consider investing in Jeju [by] networking with local Jeju business people.”
The forum also places the island on the map in a way that could never be achieved through mere marketing. As bureaucrats, diplomats and business people go home, they will also tell others of “the beautiful scenery ... and heartwarming hospitality” of the Jeju people,” said Moon.
As Moon contemplated his hectic schedule ahead, he already had an eye on winding down, before next year rolls around again.
“This is the busiest time of the year for me. I’m looking forward to taking a holiday once it’s over!”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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