Chairman Suh Jung-hwa of the Seoul National University (SNU) Alumni Associations has a strong conviction that there is a need to establish prominent manpower at the nation’s top university, which has excellent potential to give insight into the national direction and rally the people’s determination.
“Despite diverse causes of conflict, it is people, who have managed to cooperate and move forward, who achieve national self-respective and prosperity. Gifted manpower has become a sole engine for national development, so if this society is hit by a crisis, it means that the problem may lie in capabilities of manpower cultivating moral virtues,” Chairman Suh said recently.
In an article to the 456th edition of the SNU Alumni Associations Journal, Chairman Suh renewed his conviction toward cultivating potential. It was titled “The Economy, Raised by Manpower, to be Revived by Manpower.”
“The world is faced with a long global recession. The global economy is unlikely to hit a boom for the time being. The Korean economy is no exception with a low growth rate standing at 2 percent to 3 percent since 2010. The chronic recession could lead to destabilization of the whole of society, many people have worried of late,” he said.
Citing substantialism, proposed by economist Karl Polanyi, he said the economy is part of society, which rises and falls with it, and we should turn our eyes to the whole of society to analyze changes in the economy to get an insight into potential solutions. So far, he said, it is leaders and intellectuals who have repeated innovation with the goal of achieving endless improvements.
The nation’s most important manpower is an elite group, Chairman Suh said. He said political scientist Francis Fukuyama, stressing perspectives and power of persuasion as qualifications of leaders, picked up U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who not only overcame the Great Depression through New Deal policies, but also suggested to people a vision for national development that suited the changes of the times he anticipated. The president created political momentum so that policies can be implemented by persuading people in a humble fashion. It is the attitude that is essential in a democratic society to persuade people, not commanding or mobilizing them, Suh said.
Chairman Suh emphasized that leaders are not the only manpower essential for national development. All economic parties should play their part for innovation, he said. The Korean economy has turned to policies to nurture conglomerates with a global competitive edge in the wake of industrialization, and the strategy has proved to be a special success story in the history of the global economy, enabling Korea to rise to become the 11th economic power in the world. But as Korean conglomerates’ competitiveness is getting weaker amidst the global economic slump, he said the Korean economy needs to have new dynamics.
Korea had the most active economic groups in the world in the booming period, but for the past three decades, there were almost no changes in the formation of top 30 Korean conglomerates with the conglomerate-oriented economic structure. That has resulted in the demise of SMEs, key players in creating jobs, and posing threats to the livelihoods of low-income earners, he said. Korea has failed to nurture “hidden champions,” which can parlay new technologies and management strategies into advancing into new markets. New entities, except a few conglomerates. have not yet emerged to cope with such market trends as the global manufacturing paradigm’s shift into smart industries based on advanced programming technologies.
Chairman Suh noted that SNU alumni should become intellectuals that spearhead reform. He stressed that Korea badly needs creative intellectuals and innovative companies that can lead market changes, beyond just following them, so that the Korean economy can join the ranks of advanced economies. He added that it is possible only when the implementation of long-term national policies to nurture manpower can take place at universities and other educational institutions. Any hint of hope cannot be seen in society if a majority of youth wish to land jobs like government officials for job security, he added.
Lastly, he stressed the fact that the manpower the nation wants the most is the people who live with an identity as “democratic citizens.” Korean society is now in an unprecedented situation with severe national division of public opinions, which causes a waste of resources. In particular, he said, “As the national security crisis is in the unprecedented situation in the wake of the consequents of Korea’s nuclear arsenal development, our national survival depends on whether we have established mature citizenships a majority of people badly need to respect democratic diversity, abide by law and order, and share matured public awareness toward mutual reconciliation in a communal perspective and cooperation.
Meanwhile, Chairman Suh was reelected as chairman of the SNU Alumni Associations at the body’s general meeting held on March 18.