The Sookmyung Project for Asian and International Relations (SM-PAIR) held an academic conference from January 17 to 19 at the first campus of Sookmyung Women's University. The 17th conference was held face-to-face, the first time in three years. SM-PAIR is a non-profit organization established in 2001 with the vision of being "Korea's Public Sphere for University Students to Share Knowledge," a Korean branch of the Harvard International Student Council (H-PAIR). This organization has held an academic conference related to Asia and international issues for university students every January since 2006. The topic of the conference this year was "soft power" and focused on various types and directionalities of soft power. There were three sessions related to soft power so that the participants could understand the topic in relation to the international community, the economy, and the individual perspective. In the first lecture, the values of the democratic governance of Korea and how they are applied as resources of soft power were explained. Furthermore, this lecture gave participants a chance to think about how to contribute to the cooperation of international society. The second lecture showed the transition of the world's economy from the hard power industry into the soft power industry. Through this, the speaker proposed a direction for the soft power industry in Korea. The third lecture focused on public diplomacy to foster soft power, suggesting the reason why public diplomacy is required in international society and discussing the role of the "public diplomacy performer." This conference also included a group mission and discussion program where participants could complete missions and share their opinions related to the topic. In addition, there was time to directly experience soft power, ID-Value activities, and an awards Gala Night event.
This SMT reporter attended the second session of this conference on January 18 and listened to a lecture from Yoon Jonglok, called 'Economic Strategy in the Age of Soft Power, From Imagination into Innovation.' He served as Vice Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning and is the head of the National IT Industry Promotion Agency. He explained the importance of soft power which requires imagination and creativity over hard power such as resources and military power which is used to determine a country's power. Plus, as the soft power discussed at the diplomatic level is expanded to the economy and industry, he showed which strategy the soft power industry in Korea should have. Quoting the book Zero to One, he said, "It needs to become a vertical expansion industry which makes something from nothing, instead of generating revenue through a horizontal expansion which copies what already exists." It means that the resource of power is imagination, and based on this, the innovative soft power industry has been emphasized. Moreover, he stressed the Jewish word "chutzpah" to increase creativity. "Chutzpah" is an attitude that questions and challenges oneself continuously and learns from failure to cultivate creativity. One participant, Ji Min, Department of English Language and Literature '22, said, "Through this lecture, I could realize a culture tolerant of questions and failure is needed in Korea too." After the lecture, students participated in ID-Value and made a short-form video expressing the values of each country. This program was meaningful in that the participants could approach and experience soft power not only theoretically but also creatively. Lee Sihyun, Department of Political Science and International Relations '23, said, "It is interesting that group activities, such as using software to create a short-form video of how the country can be more attractive, can explore the topic in many ways." In this regard, students are recommended to learn about international issues and share opinions with other students during vacation. More information about SM-PAIR can be found on its website.
Kang Kim Hyojung
Lee han Jiwon