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The Inaugural Conference of the Korea-Europe Center took place at the FU-Berlin

News vom 02.12.2020

Conference Report

The Inaugural Conference of the Korea-Europe Center took place at the FU-Berlin

"Division, Unification, and Peace
– 30 Years of German Unification and 70 Years Korean War”

 

(Written by Seo-Young Cho)

 

The Institute of Korean Studies (FU-Berlin IKS, Director: Prof. Dr. Lee Eun-Jeung) inaugurated its newly established KDI School-FU IKS Korea-Europe Center in November in 2020. Initially started as the Korea-Europe Program in January 2020, it is now transformed to the Korea-Europe Center with enhanced capacities for research and education on contemporary Korea through the support of the KDI School of Public Policy and Management. For the inaugural celebration, the IKS hosted the Conference on Division, Unification, and Peace–30 Years of German Unification and 70 Years Korean War from 16th to 20th November in Berlin that was broadcasted online. The central theme of the Conference reflects the symbolic importance of the year 2020 that celebrates the 30th anniversary of the unification of Germany and marks 70years after the outbreak of the Korean War. Through the five-day long conference, more than 100 participants – scholars, policy makers, and students in the field of Korea research – gathered virtually and discussed peacebuilding on the Korean peninsula and international cooperation between Korea and Europe.

 

The Conference began with congratulatory messages from distinguished guests such as
Prof. Dr. Günter Ziegler (President of the FU-Berlin), Prof. Dr. Choi Jeong Pyo (President of the KDI School), and Dr. Gerhard Schröder (former chancellor of Germany). The keynote speech was held by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kocka (WZB) who overviewed the unification processes of Germany and discussed remaining challenges of integration and reconciliation in a unified Germany. On Day 2, discussions were further deepened through the Berlin Forum on Korea 2020, in which the current and future security concerns in Northeast Asia and Europe were addressed by Prof. Dr. Yoon Young-Kwan (former Minister of Foreign Affairs, ROK) and Prof. Dr. Michael Staack (Helmut Schmidt Universität Hamburg). Moderated by Dr. Nobert Baas (former ambassador of Germany to ROK), the speakers and the audience debated the commonalities and differences of Germany and Korea in terms of their respective experience of division and peacemaking, through which transregional cooperation was underscored as a viable option to accomplish security and prosperity in Asia and Europe.

 

From Day 3 onwards, six panelists presented currently relevant themes of inter-Korea, regional, and transregional relations, as well as the economic and civil dynamics of Korea today. A great emphasis of the discussions was given to the importance of multilateralism in building peace, trust, and prosperity on the Korean peninsula and in East Asia. To this point, Korea was proposed as a key stakeholder of multilateralism and like-minded developing player together with Germany and Europe – another main supporter of the multilateral order of globalism. Accordingly, various spectra of international cooperation were highlighted in this regard: conflict resolution and peacebuilding by the international community, transnational economic cooperation and infrastructure development, and global solidarity for women’s and human rights.

 

Through vibrant and active collaboration, the like-minded multilateral players such as Korea and Germany are expected to contribute to the diversity, security, and prosperity of the world by balancing the global power structures between Pax-Americana and Pax-Sinica and advocating the principles of mutual respect and benefits for all. Acknowledging the lessons drawn through the Conference,
the KDIS-FU IKS Korea-Europe Center aims at providing an academic hub of Korean studies that (i) connects Korea researchers of heterogeneous backgrounds, (ii) contributes and disseminates knowledge of Korea as an outcome of interdisciplinary dialogues and pluralism, and (iii) educates and motivates young generations to undertake the role of transregional facilitators of knowledge and practice.

 

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