When Chung Un-Chan speaks of a nation once "paralyzed by anxiety and uncertainty," it’s hard to imagine that the prime minister of South Korea is indeed referring to his own country. Exuding pride and confidence today, Korea is among the world’s largest economies. It’s also at the forefront of the global economic recovery, making one of the strongest rebounds registered by any member of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Prime Minister Chung and other government and business leaders gathered at a recent Wharton Global Alumni Forum held in Seoul to take stock of the country’s economic and industrial growth, and to discuss where Korea will go from here.
For many South Koreans, the country’s brushes with economic disasters in recent times have been a journey "that carries deep emotions," the country’s prime minister, Chung Un-Chan, acknowledged in his keynote address at Wharton’s recent Global Alumni Forum in Seoul. The event served as a poignant reminder of the host country’s remarkable resiliency: The last time Wharton held a gathering in Seoul was 1999, as the country reeled from the Asian currency meltdown. Back then as today, Chung said, Korea "surprised the world" and recovered far faster than expected. Now, the country needs to prove that its economy is more shock-resistant than ever.
What does France have that South Korea doesn’t? The Eiffel Tower, for one thing. It’s the type of national icon that public relations and marketing experts in the East Asian country dream of having. But while Korea is unlikely to whip up its equivalent of an Eiffel Tower — or a Sphinx or Golden Gate Bridge — any time soon, it is trying hard to raise the country’s profile around the world. That’s a goal that could take years to achieve, as Yoon Dae Euh, the inaugural head of the country’s Presidential Council on Nation Branding, noted at May’s Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Seoul.
Today’s "greenomics" — the economics of being environmentally friendly — has companies struggling to balance their eco-ambitions with hardcore business pressures. During a panel discussion at the recent Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Seoul, experts noted that greenomics isn’t just about corporate profit and loss statements. Rather, it requires a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sector, non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and consumers. Yet, as one expert noted, these groups are a long way away from helping the business world reach the day "when we no longer need the term ‘greenomics’ because it’s embedded into everything we do."
South Korean central bank governor Kim Choong Soo is no stranger to controversy. When Lee Myung Bak, the country’s president, called on his former economic adviser to be head of the central bank for a four-year term starting in April, many of the government’s critics cried foul, saying that the appointment of such a close political ally compromises the financial institution’s independence. In an interview with Knowledge at Wharton following his speech at Wharton’s recent Global Alumni Forum in Seoul, Kim discussed his views on central bankers’ independence as well as the hotly debated reforms he said the international foreign reserve system so sorely needs, among other topics.