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South Korean Ambassador Responds to EIR/Schiller Institute Representative

Jan. 16, 2019 (EIRNS)—Cho Yoon-je, the South Korean Ambassador to the U.S., and a close friend and ally of President Moon Jae-in, spoke at the Hudson Institute Ambassadors Series on Jan. 9. In response to a question from EIR, the Ambassador referred to the good work of EIR, and gave a long, thoughtful answer to the question. The exchange was not the usual Hudson Institute neo-con fare.

The exchange:

EIR: “I am Mike Billington from EIR and the Schiller Institute. I think that this incredible breakthrough in Korea can be credited to some extent to the fact that the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea were all working together toward a common goal. Even though there is a lot of anti-Russia and anti-China sentiment—even hysteria—here, Trump is committed to being friends with Russia and friends with China. I’m wondering to what extent you think your diplomacy in Korea, and the model of what’s happening in Korea—the Singapore model and the model of Moon and Kim working together—can effect a broader, global cooperation among the major powers, rather than a descent into war and confrontation.”

Ambassador Cho: “Thank you, Mr. Billington, for the question. I understand that you have worked long on this very important and fundamental issue of governance and development.

“Now, I think we are in a time of great transition, transition in many respects—the state governance system, the competition of the state governance system with a free market system. I cannot predict the future of it, but one thing I can say is that based on our own experience, Korea’s economic development in the early stage was state-led—a very strong government leadership and government partnership, with the private companies and industry. It was very successful.

“But we also found that it was not quite sustainable. By the time we reached a certain stage of development, in the late 1980s, we saw that that model no longer could elevate further that economic standard. So it changed, in the 1990s. I read a couple days ago the Martin Wolf column in the Financial Times. I kind of agree with him that ultimately, relying on individuals’ interests, and dreams, and motivation, to achieve himself, and to realize his or her potential in their lives, is the most effective way of making advance in human life.

“To that extent, I believe Korea had challenges in making that transition in the 1990s—also, to some extent, Japan had faced big challenges in making that transition. I also think that China will not be free from facing that challenge at some point—perhaps it is already facing that challenge, to further elevate people’s living standard and economic efficiency.

“Also, everywhere in the world—perhaps not everywhere—liberal democracies are challenged, whether that is the most effective system to advance its people’s standard of life. I believe this debate will go on for a while. Winston Churchill said once, ‘I personally believe that democracy is the worst system, except all the previous systems, for human life.’

“Democracy is not a perfect system, it faces many problems, especially one of the big problems is that the future generations are not represented in the democratic decision-making process. And the time horizon for the decision-making process tends to be shorter. That, I guess, is a weakness, especially in this time of global circumstances, and communities where the people are affected directly, through social media—I guess the system will continue to face challenges. Personally, I don’t see any better alternatives. The question is how we can make it more effective and more forward looking, and also how decisions are made in our democratic system can be more long term, vision-based—that is the long term challenge we are facing.”

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