February 22, 2010


Diplomat outlines South Korea's climb

"It was only in the last series that Korea received international recognition," said Youngmin Kwon, former ambassador of the Republic of Korea.

The retired diplomat recounted his nation's history of struggle in his speech as part of the Halle Institute speaker series cosponsored by the Korean Studies program and the Candler School of Theology, comparing Korea to a "lamb stalked by others. Never attacking others."

Korea has also been historically "the middleman in the ongoing power struggle between China and Japan," he said, describing how the country came under "total Japanese authority with Japan's aim of turning every Korean into a second-class Japanese citizen."

Kwon detailed Korea's "strong diplomatic and economic ties as well as military ties" to the United States.

As vice chancellor and head of the Jeju Peace Institute, Kwon contrasted the South Korea depicted in a 1960s Life magazine picture and today. "I'm more than proud to say the picture of Korean life is different. You no longer see a ravaged country but tree-lined streets just like Peachtree Street."

About North Korea, Kwon said, "The South wishes a peaceful resolve will come very soon," noting that though they are separated by different governments, "we are still the same people."

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