As it enters its 10th event and 15th year, Jeju Peace Institute president Moon Tae-young suggests the May 20-22 Jeju Forum, organized by the JPI, will be the most momentous yet.
It is also a year of significant landmarks elsewhere, with it being 70 years since the end of World War II, the establishment of the United Nations and Korean liberation. It is also five decades since the normalization of diplomatic ties between Korea and Japan.
There is also a significant first, says Moon: “One of the milestones in the history of the Jeju Forum.”
This is the hosting of the 13th East Asia Forum (EAF) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The EAF, last held in Brunei, explores community-building and non-traditional security cooperation among ASEAN+3 (Korea, China and Japan).
In such a significant year it is no surprise that Korean relations are also high on the agenda, reflecting Seoul’s recent establishment of the Presidential Panel for Unification last year. “We believe this is the right time to talk about reunification,” says Moon.
▲ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the 5th Jeju Peace Forum. Photo courtesy Jeju Peace Institute
Roots in peace-building
Starting as the Jeju Peace Forum in 2001, the event was first co-convened by Jeju province and Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies.
Then president Kim Dae-jung was in attendance and participants adopted the Jeju Peace Declaration, supporting the concept of Jeju as an island of world peace.
Moon Tae-young of Jeju Peace Institute. Photo courtesty Jeju Peace Institute
Moon’s JPI took over running the Forum in 2007 and then president Roh Moo-hyun attended the event, the last Korean president to do so.
It later become the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity in 2011, “to reinvigorate active, on-going discussions” rather than shift the focus to the economy, says Moon.
“The main focus of the Jeju Forum has invariably been on peace and community-building in East Asia,” and with rising tensions in the region it is again time to look at “gaining trust from each other to form a harmonized community.”
The themes thus reflect many of South Korea’s own diplomatic priorities including the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative, the Trust Process on the Korean Peninsula, and the Eurasia Initiative.
“We consider all the issues in the East Asian region our homework, and hence we work hard to provide an arena to discuss those issues, and at the same time to answer those problems.”
▲ Julie Gillard at the 9th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity. Photo courtesy Jeju Peace Institute
The dignitaries on hand have experience enough to provide those answers.
Among arguably the strongest lineup in the Forum’s history are: twice-elected chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder; former president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; and, former prime-ministers John Howard (Australia), Joe Clark (Canada) and Yasuo Fukuda (Japan).
The only complaint could be that they are all prefixed with "former." The added gravitas of an incumbent head of state would have been welcomed, says Moon, but this should start with Korea’s own.
“[If] our president regularly attends, we will soon see many [more] incumbent heads of states at the Forum,” he said.
This is not to say it does not enjoy governmental support as Korea’s only government-funded, public forum dedicated to peace and prosperity.
The Forum boasts 30 governmental and corporate sponsors including two of its biggest stakeholders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, with the Jeju governor, Won Hee-ryong, the chairman of the Organizing Committee.
▲ The Jeju Peace Forum was rebranded the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity in 2011. Photo courtesy Jeju Peace Institute
Moving beyond Davos
It has come a long way in 10 years and growing confidence means the Forum no longer looks merely to Davos, the host of the World Economic Forum, for inspiration.
▲ Jeju Weekly editor Darren Southcott at the 9th Jeju Forum in 2014. Photo courtesy Jeju Peace Institute
“We are definitely forging our own path,” says Moon, adding that he retains hope Jeju can achieve the same level of global fame as the small Swiss city.
While positioning itself globally, organizers still hope locals can fully embrace the event on their doorstep with free registration available.
Moon is also proud of seeking “greater cooperation and mutually beneficial outcomes” on local issues such as Chinese investment, the water industry and culture and the arts.
There is a caveat, however. After a high last year, Jeju-related sessions have been reduced after the Forum's Agenda Council refined the agenda to "reinforce the quality of content."
This is not to say Moon is not a fan of the island, and as a well-earned rest approaches he prefers keeping it local.
“I'd like to spend more time exploring Jeju. The longer I live in Jeju, the more I love Jeju.”
10th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity
Towards a New Asia of Trust and Harmony
May 20 to 22, 2015
Haevichi Hotel & Resort, Pyoseon
Hosts: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, International Peace Foundation, East Asia Foundation, Joongang Ilbo
Organizer: Jeju Peace Institute
Sponsors: Over 20 including Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jeju Free International City Development Center (JDC).
The twice-elected leader of Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is known for his charismatic delivery and unparalleled insights on global relations, economic development and social change. Schröder took on the newly reunited Germany and boldly ushered the world’s third largest economy into the 21st century.
Susilo Bambang YUDHOYONO
Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – widely known as “SBY” – was the sixth President of the Republic of Indonesia. Yudhoyono rose from student to military man to be the longest serving president of Indonesia’s democratic era, whose second term ended in 2014.
Elected as 91st Prime Minister of Japan in 2007, and serving until 2008, Fukuda was first elected into the House of Representatives in 1990. From 1992-1999 he served in the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and became secretary of state and chief cabinet secretary in 2000.
John Winston Howard served as Australia’s Prime Minister between March 1996 and November 2007, being the nation’s second longest serving prime minister. Under his leadership Australia enjoyed continued economic growth averaging 3.6 percent per annum and delivered major economic reform
Joe Clark was elected eight times to Canada’s Parliament and served as Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Foreign Minister, Minister of Constitutional Affairs, and Acting Minister of National Defense and of Justice. He chaired the Commonwealth Committee and initiated the North Pacific Security Dialogue.
Li Xiaolin is the president of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and is honorary president of the Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development. In 2013, she was elected member of the Standing Committee, and Deputy Director General of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
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