Exploring the Future of Space
Exploring the Future of Space
  • Jo Yoo Suyeon
  • 승인 2024.03.04 10:31
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The 18th conference of the SookMyung Project for Asian and International Relations (SM-PAIR) was held from January 16 to 18. SM-PAIR is the Korean chapter of the Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (H-PAIR), a non-profit organization that has been holding annual conferences since 2006. Each of their conferences focuses on a timely international issue and serves as a forum for students to discuss and interact with each other. The slogan of this year's conference was "Space to Outpace: The Tomorrow of Space," providing an opportunity for participants to explore the meaning of space in the rapidly changing modern world. Held at Sookmyung Women's University's first campus, the conference was attended by undergraduate and graduate students from across the country who are interested in international issues. They listened to lectures over three different sessions and participated in group activities to carry out missions related to the lecture content. The first session focused on the loss of space, proposing that the outflow of population and resources from rural spaces to cities should be addressed through a policy of regional revitalization called localism. This session gave participants the opportunity to not only recognize the reality of space being lost, but also to attempt to find solutions to transform it. The second session addressed the expansion into new digital spaces, focusing on their sustainability in the future. This allowed participants to learn about the concept of global citizenship to further develop digital spaces that are not limited by time and space. The theme of the third session was the evolution of space, explaining the realization of smart cities that are created with the application of invisible advanced technologies. This allowed the participants to think about how humans will adapt to smart cities when they become universal. The knowledge gained from these sessions was utilized not only in the group missions, but also in the ID-Value activity, where participants creatively implemented the theme with their teammates. The conference concluded with a Gala Night, where participants shared their experiences informally.
This SMT reporter attended the first session on January 16 to hear the lecture on localism as a solution to Korea's demographic change and rural decline. The lecturer was Jeon Young-soo, a professor at Hanyang University's Graduate School of International Studies, who has previously shared his views on Korea's shrinking population through several books and broadcasts. The lecture began by analyzing the current situation of exponential population decline due to the factors of low birthrate and aging. He pointed out that the current problems are not being solved as the laws and institutions created in the past are being used to deal with the current issues. He also noted that new policies are needed to address the changing demographics of the country, where the number of single-person households is on the rise, unlike in the past when a large proportion of families consisted of a couple and children. Added to this situation is the outflow of local labor to the capital, which is hindering the development of local communities. After presenting this problematic situation, he proposed localism as a solution. According to him, localism emphasizes the unique characteristics of each region and establishes resources in each instead of concentrating them in the capital, which could prevent population outflow and revitalize the local economy. He also noticed that localism requires local initiatives and collaboration beyond formal government policies. As an example of successful localism, he cited Fukui Prefecture in Japan, which has developed its own local value-added industries, such as eyeglass frame manufacturing, to develop the local economy. The lecture concluded with a suggestion for the attitude that Korean society should have: "The center and the province, the global and the local, are complementary, and Korean society needs to reflect this and make efforts to turn the upcoming crisis into an opportunity." After the lecture,  Lee Chae-bin, Department of Environmental Design '23, said, "I was impressed that the lecturer analyzed the topic of the disappearance of space from an economic perspective. It was a meaningful lecture as it changed the negative thoughts I had about the disappearance of space in Korea into the idea that we can turn the crisis into an opportunity." Additional information about SM-PAIR can be found on its official website and Instagram.

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