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1 mil. AI experts needed, KAIST president says at Korea Forum

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Lee Kwang-hyung, left, president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), speaks during a session of The Korea Forum 2022, Tuesday, at The Westin Josun Seoul in downtown Seoul. Korea Times photo by Lee Han-ho
Lee Kwang-hyung, left, president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), speaks during a session of The Korea Forum 2022, Tuesday, at The Westin Josun Seoul in downtown Seoul. Korea Times photo by Lee Han-ho

Lawmakers, experts propose policy options for incoming Yoon gov't

By Jung Da-min

Lee Kwang-hyung, the president of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), has encouraged the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol government to increase classroom hours for mandatory computer science education for elementary school students, to better prepare for the age of artificial intelligence (AI).

"We need 1 million AI professionals to lead the forthcoming era," he said during The Korea Forum 2022 hosted by Korean daily Hankook Ilbo newspaper, the sister newspaper of The Korea Times, at The Westin Josun Seoul, Tuesday.

For this, he said, the education authorities need to strengthen computer science education for elementary school students. According to him, Korea falls far behind in computer science education compared to leading countries, such as the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.

"Coding is the language of the computer. It is apparent that those who don't know computer languages will be left behind in the age of AI, just like those who don't speak and understand English these days find it difficult to find opportunities overseas," he said.

During the forum, politicians, business leaders and experts in the areas of diplomacy, science technology and political affairs exchanged their ideas about the dos and don'ts for the incoming Yoon Suk-yeol government, as the president-elect is scheduled to be sworn in on May 10.

Chey Tae-won, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), proposed that the Yoon administration consider deregulation, job creation and ways to revitalize the economy of provincial cities and regions outside the greater Seoul area by putting them together to make deregulation work.

"The new government needs to use an unprecedented, innovative approach to solve the economic downturn and inflation simultaneously," he said during congratulatory remarks at the forum.

He said previous governments had paid greater attention to achieving deregulation but their efforts didn't lead to the fundamental changes needed, noting that Korea ranked 33rd out of 38 OECD member states and still has too many regulations.

Chey urged the government to integrate related laws and introduce negative regulation, touting deregulation as one of the most efficient policy tools to boost economic growth.

Attendees of The Korea Forum 2022 at the Westin Josun Seoul in downtown Seoul, Tuesday. From left are Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon; People Power Party (PPP) Rep. Kwon Young-se, vice chairmain of Yoon Suk-yeol's transition committee; PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok; Chairman Seung Myung-ho of The Korea Times and the Hankook Ilbo; Democratic Party of Korea Chairman Rep. Yoon Ho-jung; Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Chey Tae-won; Korea Enterprises Federation Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik; and Seoul National University President Oh Se-jung. Joint Press Corps
Attendees of The Korea Forum 2022 at the Westin Josun Seoul in downtown Seoul, Tuesday. From left are Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon; People Power Party (PPP) Rep. Kwon Young-se, vice chairmain of Yoon Suk-yeol's transition committee; PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok; Chairman Seung Myung-ho of The Korea Times and the Hankook Ilbo; Democratic Party of Korea Chairman Rep. Yoon Ho-jung; Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Chey Tae-won; Korea Enterprises Federation Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik; and Seoul National University President Oh Se-jung. Joint Press Corps

In the diplomacy session, Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea said that the current war situation in Ukraine has had a negative impact on the denuclearization efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

"North Korea would believe that countries like Ukraine, Libya, Syria or Iraq were invaded by foreign countries like the U.S. or Russia because they have no weapons of mass destruction. The current situation in Ukraine in this sense is poised to give a negative fallout in the denuclearization efforts on the Korean Peninsula," Hong said.

"Cooperation with North Korea and the denuclearization of North Korea should not be dealt with together," he said, adding that the latter requires a much longer period of time.

Rep. Cho Tae-yong of the main opposition People Power Party, on the other hand, said he disagreed with such a two-track approach to North Korea when the nuclear issue has become the biggest threat to the security of South Korea.

"The summit diplomacy under former U.S. President Donald Trump was bold but diluted focus on the matter of denuclearization. There were no tangible achievements after three summits," Cho said.

Cho also pointed out that diplomatic strategies that pursue values have been absent during the Moon Jae-in government.

"Pragmatic diplomatic strategies based on the national interest are not enough when the Republic of Korea (South Korea) is urged to adopt values- and identity-based strategies," he said. "For example, there is the issue of North Korean human rights. Although it is a thorny issue when negotiating with Pyongyang as they have expressed displeasure on this topic, South Korea should voice its own view as the international community expects it to do."

Panelists discuss diplomatic tasks of the upcoming Yoon Suk-yeol government during a session of The Korea Forum 2022 at the Westin Josun Seoul in downtown Seoul, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki
Panelists discuss diplomatic tasks of the upcoming Yoon Suk-yeol government during a session of The Korea Forum 2022 at the Westin Josun Seoul in downtown Seoul, Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Hong In-ki

Also attending the session, moderated by Chun Chae-sung, professor of Department of International Relations of Seoul National University, were Yoo Myung-hee, the nation's ambassador for economy and trade with the foreign ministry, and Sohn Yul, president of the Seoul-based think-tank East Asia Institute (EAI).

Yoo said South Korea should pursue values-based diplomacy when it comes to trade, such as free trade and the market economy, as the country is now a leading economic country, ranked eighth in global trade.

Sohn said South Korea, as a middle power, should expand the scope of its diplomacy, saying the diplomatic strategies during the past five years under President Moon have been too focused on the Korean Peninsula only.

Chairman Seung Myung-ho of The Korea Times and the Hankook Ilbo introduced the event, delivering congratulatory remarks.

"I hope the upcoming government will give the people hope by trying to open up the era of communication and cooperation, ending this era of conflict and confrontation," Seung said, adding that he also expects the media to carry out its duties as a watchdog of the powerful and remain unbiased in regard to political parties or ideology.

Also delivering congratulatory remarks were ruling liberal Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Emergency Committee Chief Rep. Yun Ho-jung and main opposition conservative People Power Party (PPP) Chairman Lee Jun-seok.

Other politicians, economists, scholars and commentators attended the forum, including veteran politician and economist Kim Chong-in, former interim leader of the PPP.



Jung Da-min damin.jung@koreatimes.co.kr


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