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NewsThe News articles are written and reviewed by SNU student editors and faculty members.

Gaining More than Knowledge at the 13th World Knowledge Forum

  • October 25, 2012
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students who attended the forum

The World Knowledge Forum (WKF), hosted by Maeil Business Newspaper, gathers leaders from diverse fields from all around the world. The WKF was established in October 2000 and is held every year in South Korea. Known as Asia’s Davos Forum, the WKF gathers more than 150 business and opinion leaders to discuss possible solutions for a variety of issues. Its main aim is to share knowledge for the purpose of fostering a prosperous global economy. On October 9-11, the 13th World Knowledge Forum was held at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul.

The forum had a pricey participation cost. But with school support, fifteen students from Seoul National University (SNU) had the privilege of attending the 13th WKF. SNU was the only university to send student participants in the entire forum. Chosen by the Office of Student Affairs, the students came from diverse backgrounds and majors, ranging from Nuclear Engineering majors to Communications majors, among many others.

students who attended the forum The president of SNU commented that by sending students to this forum, SNU hoped that with the experience they would gain these students could further advance their knowledge in becoming global leaders. In a preparatory meeting, KIM Hong Seok (Department of Language Education ’08) stated, “Through this experience I hope to learn not only from the respectable speakers but also from the SNU students who are participating with me. Essentially, we are the ones who will become leaders in the future. I believe I have so much to learn from them.” Sending SNU students to such a forum is fitting as SNU has had a long tradition of producing the majority of leaders in diverse fields such as business and politics in South Korea.

This year’s theme was “The Great Breakthrough: New Solutions for the Global Crisis”. It was divided into five pillars for crisis breakthrough. These were New Growth, Leadership, Happiness, Integrity, and Creativity. The 13th WKF had more than 200 speakers. The opening session keynote speaker was President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim who spoke of the importance of delivery to impoverished countries. He reiterated the need to embrace multilateralism while respecting political sovereignty. Condoleezza Rice, former US secretary of state, joined the forum via video conference. She spoke of the US’ role in maintaining security in Asia. In response to the speculation regarding China’s rise, Professor Rice stated that China’s rise had to be channeled in a peaceful manner, diverting from any conflicts.

students who attended the forum The Eurozone crisis was a hot topic at the forum. There were former European leaders (including former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, former German President Christian Wulff, and former Netherlands Prime Minister Willem Kok), who spoke of Europe’s future. While some remained optimistic, there were others who remained skeptical about the stability of the European Union. The 13th WKF also had professors such as Princeton University Professor Paul Krugman and Georgetown Professor Victor Cha, as well as creative leaders such as the columnist Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell introduced his new book, The Underdog Advantage, which is about why people who appear to be weak succeed. His popular session was innovative and mind-stretching.

During the three days, each student could choose which sessions they wanted to attend. Furthermore, every day the SNU students had the honor of having a private lunch with one of the speakers. On the first day students lunched with John D. Rogers, president of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute. Although nervous at first, the students were gradually able to ease into conversation. Students asked questions regarding the CFA Institute, the personal life of CEO Rogers, and other questions.

On the second day former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Willem Kok joined for lunch. The future of the Eurozone crisis was discussed and diverse opinions surfaced during the amicable lunch. Mr. Kok even joined students for tea afterwards, where he expressed his surprise and delight at the student’s awareness of current global issues. At the last lunch of the conference, the author of Aspergirls, Rudy Simone, spoke of her experience living with Asperger Syndrome. Her constant rocking and other mannerisms did not bother the students at all, who were interested in learning more about Asperger Syndrome.

The diverse range of topics discussed at the forum truly opened the minds of the students in more than one way. OH (Department of Political Science and International Relations, ’11) stated, “I came here thinking I would gain knowledge about the economic crisis but instead I take with me much more than knowledge. I gained a better understanding of the complexities of the globalized world and how interconnectedness creates consequences affecting political, environmental, social and economic aspects. Furthermore, when I held my hand up and questioned professors and world-renown leaders about certain issues, I gained confidence. Even a student can question the secretary-general of the OECD! I am so grateful that SNU funded us to attend this conference.”

Written by OH Jung Eun, SNU English Editor, josefinaoh@snu.ac.kr
Reviewed by Eli Park Sorensen, SNU Professor of Liberal Studies, eps7257@snu.ac.kr
Proofread by Brett Johnson, SNU English Editor, morningcalm2@gmail.com

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