August 25, 2018 (12:21 PM)

5 min read


A FORUM ON PEACE. His Excellency Han Dong-Man, the main discussant for the forum “Vision for Peace in the Korean Peninsula and the Philippine-Korea Relations,” held yesterday, at the university’s Miguel Pro Learning Commons, Community Center. Photo by Julien Jame Apale

To discuss the ongoing peace process in the Korean Peninsula as well as the Philippines-Korea bilateral relations, the International Studies Department of the Ateneo de Davao University organized a forum with South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man as the guest speaker at the Miguel Pro Learning Commons on August 23.

Mr. Renante Pilapil, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, said that while the notion of nation-states remains to be relevant, it is being ethically challenged at the present.

“While some of us go crazy with K-pop like Momoland or with Korean telenovelas or with Korean food, we need to expand and perhaps get more serious on what we know about the Republic of Korea,” he stressed in his rationale.


Peace process

Ambassador Han presented Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon Jae-in’s policy on the Korean Peninsula.

The policy aims to achieve peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity through the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and establishment of permanent peace, development of sustainable inter-Korean relations, and realization of a new economic community on the Korean Peninsula.

It also requires a step-by-step and comprehensive approach in tackling the issue of inter-Korean relations and the NK nuclear threat simultaneously.

Sustainability must also be ensured through institutionalization and laying of foundation for peaceful unification through mutually beneficial cooperation.

The ambassador also showed the timeline of the milestones of inter-Korean summits that have persistently striven to heal the wounds left by the conflicts starting in 2000 with the visitation of South Korea’s (SK) then President Kim Dae-jung in Pyongyang.

President Kim Dae-jung aimed to adopt a joint peace declaration with late North Korean (NK) Leader Kim Jong II, then in 2007 with liberal SK President Roh Moo-hyun crossing the border to the North to meet NK Leader Kim Jong II, and in April 2018 with SK President Moon Jae-in meeting NK Leader Kim Jong Un.

Han overall assessed the inter-Korean summit that it left a positive first impression. There was sincere and candid dialogue, and trust building, paving way to the adoption of the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.

He remarked that it was a tangible progress.


Bilateral relations

For the second part of his talk, Ambassador Han explored the roots of Philippines and Korea’s unique and lasting friendship.

In 1949, the Philippines became one of the first ASEAN countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea. 7,420 Filipino soldiers of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) were deployed to help South Korea defend itself in the Korean War.

South Korea dispatched its first and largest peacetime operation unit which came to be known as the ‘Araw Contingent’, sending more than 500 soldiers to help in rehabilitation work when Typhoon Yolanda hit the Province of Leyte in 2013.

For defence and security, ROK donated the Pohang-class Corvette ROKS Chungju in 2014 which is expected to be delivered this year.

The Philippine Navy also decided to procure two frigates that will feature enhanced survivability, sea-keeping, and maneuvering capability. They are scheduled to be delivered in 2020.

Korean Embassy and the Korean Police Agency delivered more than 130 patrol cars to the Philippine National Police on May 29, 2018.

The donations are part of the ‘Enhancing the Criminal Investigation Capability of the Philippine National Police,’ a signed agreement between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Korean Embassy in 2014.

A graph featuring the tourist market of the Philippines last year reveals 1.61 million Korean visitor arrivals, gaining 24 percent market share.

Top ports of entry of Korean Visitors include Cebu (631,169), Manila (486,150), Kalibo (309,971), Clark (157,207), and Bohol (21,151).

Successful Korean private investments in the country were briefly shown.

These are Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, Angat Water Power Project, and Ilijan Combined-Cycle Power Plant. Key Official Development Assistance Projects include the Puerto Princesa Airport Development Project, and New Cebu International Container Port Project.

Upcoming projects in 2018 include the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project, Panguil Bay Bridge Project, Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, Adaptation Measures in Low-Lying Areas in Pampanga Bay, and Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project.

The Ambassador was optimistic when he relayed the prospects for the Philippine Economy.

According to Goldman Sachs, a multinational investment bank, per capita, the Philippines will be the 18th richest country by 2050. PriceWaterhouse, in a separate study, ranked the Philippines among the 20 richest countries (No. 19), in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Student’s insights

The forum, which was exclusive for members of the Ateneo International Studies Students Organization (AISSO), was deemed an amazing opportunity by AISSO President Francis Nico Arapan.

“It speaks volumes of how Korea wants to engage its relations with the Philippines knowing that this (Davao) is not the country’s capital,” he said.

Arapan added that there should be more discussions on the political issues of Philippine-Korean relations.

“It’s a good thing to discuss other Philippine-Korean issues maliban sa K-pop [because] that’s what I also noticed when Filipinos talk about South Korea, they only talk about K-pop not really the political and economic standpoint in how the relationship goes,” he shared.

Meanwhile, AISSO Treasurer Abigail Huang noted that the forum made her see the actual outputs of how the South Korean government has provided assistance to the Philippines with regards to armaments, vehicles, and tourism.

End the silence of the gagged!

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