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The G20 in Korea's Diplomacy

A talk with Lee Dong-hwi
Professor, Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security, Republic of Korea
Munk Centre for International Studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto
November 6, 2009
[Notes] [Powerpoint]

I am one of the professors at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, which belongs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I’m a member of the ministry. Our institution does policy research and recommendations and the other role is training diplomats. I was in charge of research from 2000 to 2004.

Today, I will discuss the G20 in Korean diplomacy. The major subtopics are Korea’s foreign policy and how to locate G20’s role in it. Second is brief evaluation of the G20 evolutionary process. Third the G20 and Korea, why Korea is thinking itself qualified to chair the G20 next year and what kind of co-operation between Canada and Korea could be done. I will end with concluding remarks.

There are lots of excitement and expectations of the Korean people for the coming G20 meeting next year. Some Canadian friends ask me why Koreans are so excited. There are two viewpoints to explain this phenomenon. The first is psychological. Korea is a reconstructed country from war-torn ravages and colonialism. We need a checkpoint to see how far we have come and how long we should go further. The first checkpoint was 1988 when Korea held the Olympics. The second was 2002 when we held the world cup. The G20 has the same significance as a checkpoint to see what kind of achievements we have and what kind of tasks lie ahead. Checking this, Korean people could be re-encouraged and re-stimulated by that.

When I was in Korea I thought I was very good at speaking English, and everyone says I am very good and I was proud of it. But when I am in the U.S. and Canada I feel pressed and lose self-confidence. What I am trying to say is that by putting myself to a test such as this forum, I can re-find my self-confidence in speaking English. By the same reason, the Korean people can find confidence by hosting and being put to the test on a global scale. I think on a psychological scale that is significance.. Foreigners may not understand fully the scope and excitement of the Korean people’s expectations.

Second in terms of rationality, how can we give importance to G20 in Korea’s foreign policy. Korea is facing three important challenges. The first is economic power shifts. There is a global financial crisis and on the other hand there is the growing strategic importance of resources. In short, power is now more and more understood as a translation of economic power, so every country emphasizes how to strengthen economic prowess. The second is the coexistence of cooperation and competition. U.S. is turning toward multilateralism and smart diplomacy, more emphasis on multilateral and respect for co-operation with other countries. There could be new concert of power, but there also is a growing rivalry among the powers, like China is challenging in a long-term perspective, and Russia will also challenge, in some way, and even China and Russia are aligning themselves to cope with the U.S. politics. Two powers exist — one pulling — with the U.S. smart power diplomacy, China and Japan and everyone co-operating with the U.S. on antiterrorism and those issues, but on the other hand China and Russia and even the EU challenge the status of the U.S. So pulling and pushing effects coexist and co-operation and competition crisis cross.

Third development is the acceleration of globalization. The first point is various new threats are emerging, such as H1N1. Because of weakness in international governance system, many countries are turning attention to regional co-operation. We can see, for example, at the WTO, where the Doha round is slowed down and more countries pay attention to free trade agreements with near and far countries. Those global challenges mean the need for adjustments in foreign policy making: as economic powershifts are very important, many countries highlight economic elements in their foreign policy. As that crisscrossing is going on many countries are implementing transformations. At the end of the Bush administration in the U.S. they tried transformational diplomacy to adjust to the changing world. Third, because of acceleration of globalization, many countries utilize regional and global multilateralism in order to avoid, to strengthen their status in the tide of globalization. In that context, let’s take a look at Korea’s foreign policy. Against the backdrop of economic primacy being regarded important, Korea is 13th economic power and has certain economic prowess that it can use to expand its influence. On the other hand, because of military confrontations between North and South Korea, whole attention is paid to military security and priority is very strong. Even if you have economic prowess, you cannot fully utilize economic strength as a foreign policy tool.

Second, in this connection, we have certainly middle power potential. We have good relations with Japan, China, Russia and the U.S., so we can do many things as a middle power and a harmonizer or cooperator, but it is limited because Korean foreign policy is so confined by the peninsula orientation. Because of the division of the peninsula, Korean foreign policy focuses on how to overcome that division, so we cannot easily go beyond peninsula toward regional or global consideration. That is our weakness.

Third, Korean foreign policy can enjoy geostrategic advantages. The peninsula is surrounded by Russia on north, south is Japan, to the east is China and to the west is U.S. So it’s very strategically located. So we can enjoy strategic advantages, but we have not enjoyed these fully because we are concentrating our efforts on keeping bilateral relationships with the U.S. to its full strength. Since there is a military confrontation and still a division of the peninsula, Korean foreign policy should concentrate efforts on keeping the bilateral alliance with the U.S. so we cannot pay extra attention to the other kinds or regional relationships. So as the world changes to respect more economic primacy and policy transformation and regional multilateralism, Korea has had certain limits.

The G20 is the dealing with economic issues. Second it is a global effort and third it is a multilateral approach. In this sense, G20 is a chance to overcome the structural weaknesses of Korea’s foreign policy, which we have had for the last 40 or 50 years. A very good chance!

Let me give my observations on the environment surrounding the peninsula, For the last 60 years U.S., Russia and China have kept status quo policies toward Korea, but I think those will change. Every powerful nation surrounding the Korean peninsula is transforming its foreign policies and strategies. Within 5 or 10 years, the status quo of the last 60 years will change into status breaking or changing — and a new international order for the Korean peninsula and East Asia will emerge. The internal situation in North Korea will add observations that merit these observations. Kim Jong-il’s natural life cannot last forever — five or ten years. Economic difficulties and even though they are trying to develop nuclear weapons it could be a vital mistake in revitalizing their economic status. So changes coming from North Korea will be a catalyst or will ignite changes in northeast Asia. If Korea can equip itself in foreign policy terms, those areas of economic primacy, transformations and multilateralism, through G20 leadership, then Korea can do more when the chance for unification, amid the changes in northeast Asia arrives. So G20 is in this sense very important for correcting or improving structural weakness and at the same time preparing itself for the time when unification possibilities will be heightened.

On G20 evolution, I don’t have to go into much detail, because other scholars and students here are well aware of the developments of the G8 and G20. I will briefly talk about the points that I observe from recent developments.

G20 evolution itself is a transformational success. In terms of range, the G20 started for the prevention of widespread economic crisis and recurrence of crisis, but now the range is moving toward mid to longer term economic management. In terms of scope it deals more with comprehensive economic issues, including climate change policies. Before the G8 and also the G20 ministerial process dealt with microeconomic considerations but it is now expanding to more comprehensive ones to climate change policies and other issues. In terms of institutionalization it has agreed to turn the G20 into a mechanism for global governance. Some say the G20 could replace the G8 as a mechanism for global governance in the mid and longer term but that needs to be tested in the coming years.

With these general observations ,we can say that in the last one or two years the G20 has been a transformational success. Then, let’s look at Pittsburgh Summit’s achievements. Three observations. Pittsburgh gave more detailed shape to the measures that were agreed on in Washington and London to overcome the global financial crisis and prevent future recurrences. You remember call for raising capital standards, endorse compensation systems for strengthened regulations and third reiterating commitment to conclude the development agenda as soon as possible, and they have agreed to prepare the exit strategy when the world economic improves. Also they agreed to launch framework for strong balanced growth. By reducing structural imbalances and stimulating growth , there could be a durable mechanism by which international economic management can be fulfilled. Third, recognize the G20 as the premier forum for economic management and the G20 will oversee the global economic order, holding annual summits. This implication will not stay within the narrow confines of economic issues but will spill over into political power and finance.

There are many problems that the G20 must overcome to achieve those promises. The existence of the international-domestic disconnect. Even though the leaders agree to many things, in the domestic scene they are in politically difficult positions. As we see in the G8 summits we cannot optimistic that those promises will be kept internationally because of domestic difficulties that everyone faces. The U.S. is having a problem of how to remedy the healthcare reform. A big issue — and the U.S. is still suffering from high unemployment rate of around 10%. So they cannot do easily as internationally agreed. And China, internally its military sector and provincial governments are doing lots of business and trading, so even if the central government decides to do something as international leaders agree in the G20 it will have certain cautions or limitations in implementing those measures and there will be many political sensitivity when the Chinese government will do those things. That plays the role of limiting national government’s capabilities.

Second, there is high political sensitivity over rebalancing. This is first an exchange rate problem but if goes deeper one finds it is a key currency problem. Going further, it’s a structural problem of the IMF, which can be represented maybe by the Bretton Woods II or post-Bretton Woods system. If we can effectively remedy or improve the imbalance problem we have to deal with all these issues — exchange rate, key currency problems in mid and long term, and systemic challenges — before the problem is solved. So there are a lot of political sensitivity on how to overcome this. It is a big task for the G20.

There could be many difficulties in establishing the G20’s own position vis-à-vis the G8 and proving its usefulness. The G20 is not the G20 — it’s G19 plus EU and Spain and other invitees. At the summit level it has never been 20 — there is an amorphousness in the system and this has to be decided, which will be a very sensitive political issue.

With G20 plus organizations, how can you come to good decisions effectively? Even the G8 could not be successful in that endeavour. How can the G20-plus arrive at good, useful decisions? A very important issue.

From the viewpoints of Korea as a member of the G20, G8 countries desire to retain their leading status as a member of the G8. Every G8 member even Canada has a certain desire to retain its leading status. How to harmonize? How to balance those desires and the need for G20 development? A tricky question.

Korea has good qualities: it can bridge the interests of the developing countries and developed countries. It’s the only country that has moved from developing country status to developed country status as one of the OECD member and number 13th in economic prowess. It has recently decided to expand its global role with the catchphrase of “Global Korea.” It is trying to take every effort to project itself as a globally working country. For this purpose it will participate in the DAC in the next few days — Nov 25 will be the decision day but I don’t think there is any problem with Korea participation. So publicly Korea will be a good donor country and its government has decided to increase its ODA budget. Korea is also eager to dispatch peacekeeping operations, or in general terms peacekeeping activities, not only in the framework with the UN but also in co-operation with the U.S. or the EU. Recently the government has bravely decided to send more troops to Afghanistan. Of course details will come in the next few weeks but the decision is a reversal of one made by the previous government. Korea is trying to do more at the global level, like increasing ODA and more involvement in peacekeeping.

Korea is advocating green growth, low-carbon strategies. It is using its strength in info technology and electronic technologies. Korea has a very ambitious plan for those green growth strategies. In co-operation with other developing and even developed countries our technologies and efforts can be utilized as assets for co-operation.

Did you know that Korean electronic batteries are used for electric automobiles in the U.S.? GM uses a Korean company as the sole provider of electric batteries for its cars. So the future is very bright for Korean industry in that sense. That’s just an example of how we can combine it with green growth and technical assistance to other countries. These expanding roles and more co-operation give good shape to bridging balance between developed and developing countries.

Second and more important we can harmonize different opinions and viewpoints because Korea has multicultural assets. It’s not a Christian or Buddhist or Islamic countries, but those religions are all active in Korea. G20 summit, for the first time, will be held in Asia-pacific area. First held in Washington, second in London, third in Pittsburgh Summit — for the first time the G20 summit will be held in Asia. Except for Japan, in the case of G8 process, as a non-transatlantic, non-Christian, Korea will be the first country to hold such an important summit in the Asia Pacific area. With that kind of diverse religious and cultural tradition Korea can use its strength in harmonizing those interests generated from diverse viewpoints on the basis of different history and background and religion.

Korea can balance different interests between Japan and China. Recently, Korea, Japan and China had a Northeast Asian summit. This year we held the second northeast Asian summit with those three countries. It is unavoidable that those three countries will do more co-operative efforts and also political and security interests. Within that framework, Japan and China tend to be rivals and only Korea can have a conciliatory or balancing role. If I exaggerate a little, Korea can play a harmonizing role. China and Japan are important actors on the global level too, so Korea can play a very important role for mediating the differences.

What can Korea and Canada, as next year’s co-hosts of the G20 meeting, do? I cannot go into detail because I have not yet thought it through. But there are common tasks for all of us, I can give just a brief picture.

I think we have to initiative a joint task force between the two governments as soon as possible. We will have G8 and G20 at the same time in June and then in November the fifth summit will be held in Seoul or vicinity. So we don’t have much time. So if we think Canada-Korea co-operation is needed we need to set-up the task force. Your PM in early December — December 6 — will meet my president in Seoul and they will discuss and decide many important things. Among those issues the setting of the joint tasks force for co-operation with the G20 process is urgent.

We have to make some kind of joint research efforts among scholars. The University of Toronto Munk Centre G20/G8 group is the leading research group on the G8 and G20 process and there are other good institutes in Canada. In that sense Korea and Canada can make some joint research projects. Those research efforts don’t have to be confined in narrow terms of one year or six months. They can go over many years starting early next year.

Korea can do the harmonizing role between China and Japan within the framework of the Northeast Asian summit. Canada can do the similar role in the framework of NAFTA. Therefore Korea and Canada if they cooperate can have some kind of synergy effect by linking or connecting the northeast Asian economic dynamism and the North American continent. All these things are possible in co-operation between Canada and Korea.

Of course, I don’t have to say this but Canada and Korea in the G20 have common interests: Canada has been the leader or champion in advocating multilateralism in global governance for many years. Korea as I tried to give the impression — multilateralism is the way to update and upgrade Korea’s foreign policy and to prepare for unification. Therefore multilateralism is commonly important to both.

We have strong economic and cultural ties and we are in the process of completing a free trade agreement. Korea has already done one with the EU, and if medical care reform is resolved in the U.S. congress, the U.S. attention could be redirected to a free trade agreement. FTAs with Colombia and Panama could be resolved within half a year. U.S. will have midterm election in November. If we want to improve the FTA situation in the U.S., the early part of next year is very important. So FTA and G20 co-operation with the U.S. are interlinked issues. That is a side story, but Canada and Korea have strong economic ties and many of Korean heritage in Toronto so we have strong cultural ties that can be utilized fully.

Canada has been the leader in advocating the G20. The G20 itself at the ministerial level started in 1999 but from the early years of the 21st century many Canadian scholars and institutions advocated an L20 — G20 at the summit level. Now it is being realized. Canada on the one hand is an important member of the G8 but Canada has been the advocator of G20 ideas so there is ample room for both countries to cooperate.

With that in mind I think Canada and Korea’s joint projects and research could focus on how to make co-operation mechanisms between the G8 and G20 process. It could be a fantastic issue to satisfy the needs of both countries.

I open the floor … I can answer questions on any issues you’d like on Korean foreign policy …

Q: What is your government’s position in advocating of the New Asia Initiative and at the same time placing much weight to the economic summit?

I will first explain current administration’s foreign policy outline. The bottom line is U.S.-Korean alliance as a needed anchor, second level is Korea having more good contacts with Japan and China and other southeast Asian countries and sometimes take a leadership role. Third is global contributions. In some sense it sounds like a contradiction: if we pay more attention to regional things we can be less involved with the global things. But the foreign policy framework of this administration is to combine bilateral and regional relationships and global contributions. With that global contribution G20 can be placed. So foreign policy makers are looking at how to balance between these seemingly contradictory directions in a more constructive way.

Q: Of the G20 several members are from the Asia Pacific region. Do you think the region should wield more power since it will have more economic growth and the U.S. less?

In my presentations I picked the issue of economic primacy first. The financial crisis itself has made China more important and at the same time Korea and Japan and other East Asian countries are doing better than European or American countries. Therefore the crisis we have experienced so far has strengthened the tendency of East Asia surging in a more speedy way. The era or importance of East Asia has been accelerated by the financial crisis. The other thing is, in that sense in Washington I could sense that the U.S. is turning toward revitalizing the APEC process. It has been losing momentum and energy even though the U.S. tried to revitalize right after 9/11 as a kind of security-related co-operative body but it was not successful. APEC process has been slow and going down, but this month I have observed that APEC has been newly emphasized in the U.S. foreign policy toward East Asia. I think that is because the U.S. is giving more attention to the fact that the East Asian economies will do much better than the pre-financial crisis area.

Q: You referred to the beginnings of what could be called the agenda expansion of the G20. The G20 proclaimed itself as the premier forum for economic management. Trade has entered the agenda and you mentioned Doha, and climate policy. What kind of further expansion do you foresee? Global health? Regional issues, which the G8 eventually embraced, although perhaps not resolved. You also referred diplomatically to concern in some developing country members of the G20 about the members of the West or Anglo-Saxon members. You did mention the first time holding of the summit in Asia — will that tip the balance?

The second question is difficult to answer so I answer it first. I think there is a certain importance to Korea hosting next year because it is the first non-Atlantic, non-Christian for a global forum such as the G20 in the extension for the G8 development. I don’t want to be over ambitious. Within one or two years we can not take fully an ambitious role of harmonizing diverse cultures and good ideas. But it is important to recognize there is a need to make more inputs from more diverse countries with diverse backgrounds. So next year should be starting point for such an awakening.

On agenda expansion, it might be a mistake to say much in front of Dr. Kirton. In my opinion the G8 process has failed because in the post-Cold War era there have been other issues than macroeconomic issues that have sprung up. The G8 has tried to tackle them but without proper structural or institutional mechanisms for that task. Too many issues on one hand, too weak institutional backup on the other. I’m afraid the G20 will follow in those footsteps. If the G20 tries to expand too quickly without setting up the proper institutional preparedness, it will fall into the same mistake. I would like to suggest there be a kind of secretariat for institutional preparedness — very lean, very small, but very efficient. With the kind of step-by-step development in institutional terms. The G20 process can avoid the G8’s mistakes. Next year I hope that kind of institutional aspect could be explored by the leaders. Even started — maybe in November. We will see.

Q: You mentioned the very legit desire of the South Korea government to increase influence. One example would be extending peace keeping military operations. How much does public opinion support that? Do you have any figures about the percentage of GDP is spent by South Korea on aid to developing countries? Many governments see that as providing a great benefit for soft power enlargement.

For global contributions, there are two things: peacekeeping and ODA. For peacekeeping activities, you are correct. Public opinion is divided. The dispatch of more troops to Afghanistan is very controversial in Korea. Some oppose the idea very much. That is the current state of the Korean psyche, as judged by global readiness. Therefore this current administration advocates “global Korea” and using the G20 as momentum or an opportunity to enlighten or introduce the globalness and the importance of global operations to many Korean people . As government efforts to broaden or enlighten the general public for Korea’s global role continue, especially with the help of the G20, those difficulties could be overcome in five or ten years.

Generally Korea has been ranked low among OECD members at about 0.03% of GDP given to ODA. But as a member of the DAC, after November 25 this year, the Korean government plans to increase this proportion to almost 0.1% — double or triple. Maybe our consul general has more accurate numbers. In general terms we will do lots of efforts to increase, in a short time, the amount of ODA.

Q: What are Korea’s five largest trading partners? Who are the largest suppliers of natural resources and raw materials?

You are testing my memory! China is number one for both imports and exports since 2003. Second, if my memory is correct, second is Japan and third is the U.S. Fourth is Germany. Canada is eleventh perhaps. Australia exports a lot of iron ore and coal to Korea and also zinc. There are very big operations there, so Australia ranks very high.

Korea’s energy — 95% — depends on oil, wholly imported from foreign sources. And 75% comes from the Middle East. More than 70% of Korea’s energy is met by Middle Eastern gas and oil. So protection of the sea lines between Korea and Middle East is vital to Korea’s national interests.

Q: In light of Korea becoming a DAC member, I wonder are there any Korean perspectives on the reform of the IMF, especially regarding the IMF and emerging economies highlighted at the Pittsburgh Summit?

We welcome the decisions that more than 5% of IMF quota and 3%of World Bank’s voting power to be transferred to emerging economies. Korea hopes that if things are implemented Korea’s quota in IMF and contribution to the World Bank would increase a little. We welcome the decision wholeheartedly not only in the sense of reforming for the international system but also for Korea’s national interests.

Q: You talked about the transition of the North Korea regime. What are the implications about Korea’s role in global economic governance in general? There will be a challenge, probably more difficult than Germany faced, given the economic disparity.

Very difficult to answer. When we think about the case of German reunification, there were order changes preceding the 1989 collapse of the wall. In the 1970s and 1908s there were lots of economic changes and those became the reason for the birth of the G7/8. The economic order changed and the politics order started to change because of the weakness of the Soviet system and internal issues of East Germany growing more. Same analogy could be applied to North Korea. Everyone can see the economic situation changing. Political order itself is changing as China is growing so big. We think about G2. Russia is coming back. Japan is being normalized and becoming more independent from the U.S. and we see that even more with the new government. These things are transforming policies and political order is changing. And the North Korea situation cannot hold forever as Kim is getting old, and North Korea cannot avoid the attentions of the international society. Obama is emphasizing denuclearization and a nuclear-free world — these issues will dominate for the next few years. So political order, economic order and internal matters could make similar situations as German case. If North Korea collapses or the peninsula enters the unification process, Korea’s economic burden will be unimaginably great. With that possibility in mind. multilateral or global processes like the G20 are very important for Korean foreign policy. As we involve more and more with multilateral mechanisms, then if unification starts we can draw help from many multilateral institutions. It’s an insurance policy to invest more, save more for multilateral mechanism so we can withdraw it later.

U.S.-Korea bilateral alliance will continue even after unification because the surrounding environment is very tricky or even dangerous in some sense. China should go through very important social transition from one-party dictatorship to multi party within 10 to 20 years. Japan could be normal state but could be very strong power even with military re-establishment. And Russia will come back, and North Korea is in difficult period. Every surrounding country is in a difficult position. Only the U.S. is the country where we can have a strong anchoring role. In this sense the U.S. and Korea are trying to make 21st-century style alliance — not only military but also economic. FTA is therefore necessary and the other important area is G20 co-operation, which means global co-operation between the two countries. So even as I emphasize multilateral co-operation it will be anchored by U.S.-Korean relationship and we should harmonize and go together on multilateral efforts.

Q: China would be reluctant to participate in G2 because it would be subservient to U.S. And it will continue to support DPRK because otherwise communism would be seen to fail. So given these military developments, what do you think about succession in the DPRK?

You have raised important multiple questions. The succession questions: the second son — Kim Jong-chul — has been mentioned as possible candidate. Even if he becomes the successor the ruling system should be junta like management, with military and other comrades playing very important rule. So Kim Jong-chul may head North Korea but decision making would be group decisions. This is more possible than the leadership Kim Jung Il has shown for the last 10 years. So the structure will be very different.

The relationship between North Korea and China and also China and the U.S. The future of China’s North Korea policies will depend on how well or bad the relationship between the two would be. China’s North Korea policies will be an independent variable of Sino-U.S. relations. The financial crisis we have experience so far has a bearing because of it and the financial strength of China there will be a condominium between China and U.S. It has already been expressed as a kind of comprehensive strategic dialogue. That kind of co-operation would deal with the North Korea issue, North Korea nuclear issue and also the North Korea problem itself if it is emerging. China’s North Korean relationships is affected by U.S.-China relations.

Also less traditional friendship between China and North Korea, like blood brothers. The younger generations — people under 50 — are changing very fast. They are being commercialized, more capitalized. In their eyes North Korea is a burden, not a benefit. They can do more things with South Korea than other countries.

As China’s internal changes occur, its policies toward North Korea could change in addition to the status of U.S.-China relations.

Also Korea is the third important trade partner for China [and largest investor] so China cannot look down on it. In terms of structural transition. China is upgrading its economy toward more capital intensive industries. Korea has been doing this for the last 20 years, so China and Korea can cooperate for structural adjustments.

Q: On human rights, what is the potential for Canada and South Korea working together on North Korea refugees and defectors?

I have not thought much about this problem. Within a limited capability, human rights issues are very important for South Korea’s policy toward the north. The previous government seem to be afraid of raising human rights issues with North Korea because it might harm the possibility of improving relations. But the current administration says principles should be clearly manifested and mentioned and asked for the north. If North Korea follows international standards and promises to improve human rights on those principle issues then South Korea is willing to help North Korea with full efforts. That kind of participation … Korea is ready to help but is also clear that human rights issues must be raised in relation with North Korea and be improved. In that sense, I think the U.S. is not much different from the Korean perspective. For co-operation in a technical sense, I know that those refugees or escapees from North Korea who stay in China are a serious problem. There are differences in interpreting that situation from a Chinese perspective and Korean perspective. China is always aware of North Korean responses and tries to avoid being put in difficult situation. On the diplomatic front, South Korea and China are doing well with sometimes silent diplomacy and sometimes international co-operation. I don’t want to be critical of Chinese’ efforts but it is true that reflecting the different interests, the views of the refugee problem could be different. I once visited the escapee protection building in Beijing, where there were 100 young and old North Korea escapees were waiting to be sent to South Korea. If North Korea internal situation gets worse, the problem will worsen further. It won’t be a problem only for South Korea but also China, Mongolia and even Japan, because boat people will be a big issue. We have to think about how Canada and South Korea could prepare for those kind of cases. I’m not in a position to say more.

Q: Korea has a good opportunity as host of G20 to draw attention to multilateral issues that Korea is interested in. What are the issues on the agenda?

Korea has good qualities as yearning for global player like peacekeeping and ODA, and it’s a good position because of its promotion of green growth strategies. Also Korea has been contributing to the agenda development and the issue raising in the last three summits meetings, in Pittsburgh Summit, London and Washington. Korea is a member of the troika. The G20 is managed by three countries: past, future and next hosts. So Korea has been a member. I believe Korea has been doing well to contribute to issue development.

Q: Was there any disappointment that Korea did not get host the first 2010 summit on its own?

Straightforwardly put, no. No disappointment. We can enjoy it more because we are appointed as co-host of G20 meeting to be held in Canada, with good co-operation with Canadian government, and we will host again. Two birds in the hand! Why would we be disappointed? In my observation there are no disappointing aspects in that delay from April to November. To host in April, there was a limited short time for the government to prepare, but in November, through the June meeting, I think the Korean government’s position is more comfortable.

Q: First, a candidate initiative to recommend to the two governments. Do you think it would be useful if at a very early time — Dec 6 — an arrangement could begin whereby the current year chair of the G20 summit would be invited the then current year chair of the G8 to attend the full G8 summit, so that in 2010 President Lee of South Korea would come to wherever to co-host the G20 but then come on to Huntsville as a full member throughout the full G8, not just for the climate change sessions. One could imagine the G8 operating by incremental precedent that Canada would have the prerogatives as host to issue that invitation, but before we could suggest that to the PM of Canada both would have to be assured we don’t create a precedent so that ht year after we end up with an authoritarian dictatorship xxx in 2011 the host may flow upward from the finance minister arrangement, where the November dates suggest a trend, then there could be a democratic election will be held — will it be the U.S. or Saudi Arabia. Canada not a member of the troika but South Korea is, Korea has a larger voice. Perhaps South Korea would have to make the “right decision” for 2011 as early as Dec 6, or even before — in Singapore during APEC.

Big questions! I cannot agree more with the idea that the G20 chair such as Korea be invited to the G8 in other form than the MEM member. The kind of new arrangement could help strengthen co-operative spirit and mechanism between the G8 and G20. I agree 100%. I strongly suggest you tell your government before Dec 6 to discuss that idea.

Many Korean people and many in developing countries think the era of the G8 is gone and the era of the G20 has arrived. But as an analyst, I would say that because of certain impediments, strength or weakness of the process, there will be a coexistence period for some time. So in realistic or practical terms it is needed to develop modes for co-operation. It could be a division of labour within a certain field or G8 deals with political and G20 with financial — whatever arrangement. In that sense it is very important to show that the period of cooperation has come and is needed. So this gesture is very important to tell many people that the G8 and G20 are not competitors or that one replaces the other but that they are collaborators. Good idea.

For the next G20 troika composition, in Korea there were two views. Some people opt for Saudi, others for U.S. why Saudi Arabia? Some people think that if the U.S. is selected as the next host, then Korea, then Korea, UK and U.S. will be the troika. Then the coalition of the UK and U.S. may press down the ideas delivered through South Korea. Those people prefer Saudi Arabia. But in practical and realistic terms I think there is not much chance that Saudi Arabia will be the next chair.

Let me add one point. As I have observed in the U.S., many think the next chair will be the U.S. If so, 2011 will be very important because the U.S. will host APEC. In 2010 it will be in Japan, this year in Singapore. So the U.S. as host of APEC in 2011 and chair of the G20 troika and also, after France, the host of the G8 in 2012. Very important for the Obama administration to prove itself as a multilateral actor and soft diplomacy. I don’t think the U.S. wants to lose those important factors even in the G20 process.

Q: What about Russia? In 1991 Korea normalized relations with the Soviet Union, which had high hopes the relationship including economic and political would improve in short time. But in some sense that has not been achieved. To the dismay of Russia, during the 1990s the co-operation between South Korea and Russia was not as expected. But in the 21st century, under Putin, Russia reinvigorated itself as a leader and with abundant resources of gas and oil. Russia is coming back and raising its voice in dealing with North Korea and doing important role. In that sense the relationship is improved. Korea is trying to launch its first supply vehicle into orbit in co-operation with Russia, not China or U.S. In terms of mutual co-operation Russia is increasingly important, especially in longer term resource co-operation. Siberia will be very important assets to promote relationship between South Korea and Russia. Far eastern regional development is a task still to be achieved for Russia. Putin said 2012 will be the year for momentum for far eastern Siberian area. Russia will hold APEC in Vladivostok in 2012, so Russia is aiming at that point to try to develop that area. The future prospect for both countries is getting brighter and brighter.

Many good projects and ideas to connect South Korea and the Siberian and Kamchatka peninsula where the resources lie. Good ideas with pipelines. To get them, you need participation of North Korea and decision form North Korea to use that pipeline. Many talks and even negotiations but North Korea in general has been hesitant to make that kind of connection. That also is related to rail connections. If we can connect trans-Korean network to Vladivostok then our cargo can be transported toward Europe. These beneficial ideas are on the table but North Korea has hesitated to implement or realize those opportunities. North Korea is still afraid to be fully opened for going the way that would force it to open more. They face a dilemma. They try to make nuclear arsenals but also think about opening their economy.

Transcript by Madeline Koch, G20 Research Group

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