In an in-depth public lecture at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Korean Ambassador to Jamaica Suh Jeong-in last Friday (May 13) highlighted current political and economic crises facing the world and their implications for Latin America, the Caribbean and Korea, while offering several suggestions to bolster bilateral cooperation.
The virtual address was hosted by The Office of the Principal in collaboration with The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures in the Council Room at The UWI Mona Campus and entitled ‘Change in the International Situation and the Way Forward for Korea-Jamaica Relations’.
Citing ongoing changes in the international environment, the Ambassador honed in on five trends which he said will have “great implications” for the entire world.
Among the five trends he cited were:
- Climate change and COVID-19;
- The return of geopolitics and the arrival of a New Cold War with the conflict between the United States and China;
- The complication of global issues due to the coupling among politics, security and the economy;
- The accelerated digitalisation caused by the pandemic,
- The prolonged disruption of global value chains and the declined globalisation.
Addressing the first trend, Suh Jeong-in underscored the fact that climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are among some of the most urgent global issues requiring a show of global solidarity.
He informed the online audience of mainly students, staff and academia that Jamaica has been doing relatively well with its management of COVID-19, despite its low vaccination rate of 24 per cent. At the same time, he urged greater collaboration to fight the pandemic, noting that Korea had developed efficient systems and technologies to effectively respond to the pandemic.
“As academics, experts and students, let us work together to institutionalise response systems for effective pandemic management for future generations to narrow the gap between developed and developing nations’ response mechanisms and capabilities,” he said.
In addition, Suh Jeong-in cautioned that, because the pandemic had sped up the rate of digital transformation and technologies by several years, some countries could suddenly find themselves at a disadvantage.
He warned that “digitalisation, which has developed faster than we expected due to COVID-19, can be a double-edged sword. Those who keep up will have opportunities, but there will also be those left behind”.
At the same time, Suh Jeong-in said Jamaica was strategically placed to benefit from disruptions in the global supply chains but would need to incorporate policies to allow it to maximise its advantages.
“The island’s logistic location is attractive to exporters due to its geographic proximity and access to shipping lanes, large English-speaking market, stable democracy, and strong commercial potential. Both Korea and Jamaica could benefit from such investments, creating a win-win situation with greater access to our respective markets,” Suh Jeong-in said.
Following Suh Jeong-in’s lecture, Professor Ian Boxill, deputy principal of The UWI Mona, expressed gratitude on behalf of the UWI Mona community for the presentation on Jamaican-Korean relations in a global context.
UWI INSTRUMENTAL IN PROMOTION OF UNDERSTANDING OF KOREAN CULTURE
Boxille added that The UWI has been instrumental in the promotion of an understanding of Korean culture since the Korean language was added to the curriculum in 2019.
Boxill also reiterated The UWI’s commitment to facilitating the expansion of students’ knowledge of the culture and language giving them an edge on the international stage.
Scores of persons listened to Suh Jeong-in’s lecture online. He was joined in the council room by members of the UWI Community and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea.
Also present in the Council Room were Jonathan Archie, deputy campus registrar; Professor Paulette Ramsay, head of the Department of Modern Languages; Dr Stanley Griffin, deputy dean, Undergraduate Studies (Faculty of Humanities and Education); Dr Françoise Cévaër, senior lecturer (French); Dr Tamara de Inés Antón, lecturer (Spanish); and Dr Nadine Barnett, lecturer (Spanish).