The National Assembly Futures Institute successfully hosted the 1st National Assembly Youth Future Forum under the theme of “Beyond the Conflicts of Korea-China-Japan Towards the Future.”
- Members of the National Assembly, experts, and the younger generation came together to diagnose the causes of conflicts between Korea, China, and Japan and explore future-oriented approaches to building relationships. -
On October 5th at 2:00 PM, the National Assembly Futures Institute, under the leadership of President Kim Hyeon Kon, successfully hosted the 1st National Assembly Youth Future Forum on the theme of “Beyond the Conflicts of Korea-China-Japan Towards the Future.” The forum took place in the 3rd Seminar Room of the National Assembly Members’ Office Building.
President Kim Hyeong Kon stated in the opening remarks, “It is significant that the Youth Future Committee selected the topic and organized the event itself.” “I believe it is an important opportunity to discuss the topic of ‘Beyond the Conflicts of Korea-China-Japan Towards the Future’ at the national level, which is somewhat difficult for the younger generation,” he added.
In his congratulatory speech, Lee Kwang-jae, Secretary-General of the National Assembly, emphasized, “Just as the European Coal and Steel Community heralded the birth of the EU in the past, I believe that a city alliance for the economic growth and prosperity of Northeast Asia is necessary through joint energy purchases among South Korea, China, and Japan.” He further highlighted “the need for cultural exchange, including the Northeast Asia integration channel, multilingual subtitles, language standardization, and railway connections.”
Cho Junghun, a member of the National Assembly's Global Diplomacy and Security Forum, expressed, “Despite the significant potential in South Korea, China, and Japan in Northeast Asia, there are many difficulties.” He also expressed hope that “the forum would generate practical discussions on the conflicts and future of South Korea, China, and Japan, despite the growing negative sentiment among the younger generation towards foreigners.”
At the event, Kim Sun-bin, a member of the Youth Future Committee of the National Assembly Futures Institute, delivered a presentation on the topic of “Perception of South Korea, China, and Japan Among the Youth Generation: Conflicts and Cooperation.” He pointed out that the discriminatory views and conflicts toward international students among the current youth generation are attributed to a lack of mutual understanding, negative generalizations about them, and a deficiency in opportunities for constructive dialogue and discussion. However, given that the younger generation tends to separate “friendliness” and “importance” in perception depending on the issue, he emphasized the need to utilize this as a strategic approach for the progressive future development of South Korea, China, and Japan. To achieve this, he proposed the following alternatives: (1) Establishment of a Youth Committee within the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee of the National Assembly; (2) Expansion of the Committee’s parliamentary youth exchange program to include South Korea, China, and Japan; (3) Policy improvement through bipartisan diplomatic cooperation: Institutionalization of a South Korea-China-Japan Parliamentary Union; (4) Implementation of party-level control mechanisms to avoid political strifes in education and diplomacy; and (5) The necessity to avoid media coverage that leads to the interpretation of diplomatic issues as political strifes.
In the disucssion moderated by Bek Bumhym, Deputy Secretary-General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, Lee Wook Yeon, Professor of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Sogang University, explained that the hatred between South Korea, China, and Japan is commonly rooted in insecure nationalism. He stressed the importance of providing answers to the younger generation on why South Korea should thrive and encouraging communication to discuss the challenges that young people are currently facing.
Lee Yoon-sik, Director of the Diplomacy and Security Center at the Yeouido Institute, pointed out that there are many differences among South Korea, China, and Japan, including in population, religion, political systems, language, territory, and historical backgrounds. In other words, there are many practical difficulties and obstacles for them to cooperate. With the premise that it is not easy for the three countries to cooperate at the same time, he expressed that there is a need for tailored cooperation strategies.
Lee Seung-won, Deputy Director of the Policy Institute of Justice Party, highlighted the importance of having various channels in Korea-China-Japan relations. he also emphasized that many young people from the three countries should be able to meet on various issues.
Jung Mi-ae, Special Research Fellow at the Sejong Institute, explained that the most important thing for the development of a society is pluralism that values diversity. She emphasized that it is crucial not to generalize negative biases held by others. Although there are concerns over the growing dichotomy of in Korean society, she stressed that through forums like this, the younger generation should create ways to cooperate in various aspects.
Lee Se-hun, a reporter for the Kangwon Domin Ilbo, mentioned that within the media ecosystem, there is a common voice emphasizing the need for relationship improvement through cooperation, rather than seeking dominance through conflict and competition, in the context of South Korea-China-Japan issues. He highlighted the role of the media as a place where the younger generation obtains information related to diplomacy and stressed the need for solution journalism, leveraging the specificity of reporting and the communication channel.
Kim Min-seo, Vice President of the OVAL KOREA, an organization formed by Korean, Chinese, and Japanese university students, expressed the challenges faced in continuing exchanges amid diplomatic difficulties. She added that apart from political issues, there are also difficulties in communication due to the language differences. Kim called for interest and support in realizing neutral policies that allow exchanges between Korea, China, and Japan to continue without being constrained by political situations, emphasizing the lack of support from the National Assembly or the government.
Shin Yoo-ri, a member of the Youth Future Committee at the National Assembly Futures Institute, stated that hate speech, bias, and hostility are increasing on online and social media platforms. To address this issue, she outlined the need for: (1) Establishing a digital exchange program in Northeast Asia; (2) Strengthening exchanges for youth in Northeast Asia; (3) Creating an independent youth assembly; (4) Multifaceted support from international organizations, regional entities, institutions, and political foundations; and (5) Securing a sustainable shared platform for resolving common challenges in Northeast Asia.
The purpose of this forum is to focus on how the politicization of diplomatic issues by domestic political circles and the media has influenced actual diplomatic policies, to provide an opportunity for members of the National Assembly, experts from various fields, and representatives from the younger generation to come together to diagnose the causes of conflicts among South Korea, China, and Japan, and explore ways to build future-oriented relationships.