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[Reading the world] Basic requirements for new system and new leadership2017-02-15Hit:845

“Call for leadership”

Leadership is the major topic for the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual General Meeting that is scheduled next week in Davos, Switzerland. Klaus Schwab, the president, who has stressed the fourth industrial revolution, chose the topic himself. Specifically, it is ‘a call for responsive and responsible leadership’. Why did he choose this? It seems while the promptly responsive leadership is critical in the massive changes caused by the fourth industrial revolution, there is global concern as to whether unilateralism of ‘strongmen’ such as Donald Trump are able to be responsible for the world.

So, what kind of leadership does Korea need – which will be reflected in the presidential election this year? I, Sanghyup Kim, interpret the catastrophic confusion of the current administration and the 10 million candlelight protesters as the outcry of ‘the spirit of the times’ for replacing the old system by a new system. From diplomatic security, politics, economy, society, to culture, Korea is in a state of complete impotence. If it weren’t that bad, would anyone say it reminds us of the era of the Korean Empire? Just as we have transformed Korea from a monarchy to a republic and have overcome the country's crisis, we now need a new and fundamental change.

I would like to suggest that trust, cooperative governance, and integration are the three basic requirements for the ‘new leadership’ in Korea’s future. First, there is trust. Where does trust come from? Honesty is the starting point. I cannot help but wonder if there really are so many people in this country who are so good at lying as seen in the parliamentary hearings that were on live. How can the public believe in the country when the people of society are this horrible? Trust also presupposes interactive communication. It is impossible to draw the faith and participation of the people with such a unilateral, authoritative, and secretive command system that does not confront even the ministers appointed by the government. Trust comes from a thorough distinction between the public and the private. President Schwab emphasizes that “not undermining the public interest for the private interests is the essence of public leadership.” Doesn’t this sound like a twist on the current state of Korea, where we are talking about bribery of the president in a special investigation?

The republic means a system in which the people enjoy exclusive properties of the king, the noble and the privileged being converted for the people, to ‘the public (Res Publica’). If the allegations are true, it means that we have been living in a monarchy, not a democratic republic, and the people are subject to a constitutional fraud. Can the social capital of trust really flourish here? The new leader in Korea should prove her/himself as a reliable and trustworthy person.

Second is leadership of cooperative governance. The problems we are facing that have been building up, range from (1) the steadily weakening economy and (2) polarization of the welfare of the people, (3) deepening geopolitical risks, (4) population and climate change, and the challenges of the 4th industry revolution and its massive unemployment threat, can never be solved with ‘one-person leadership’ in which the winner-takes-all. In addition, considering the “vetocracy” and “populism” of various interest groups, it is our reality that we cannot take any step further without social consensus and bipartisan cooperation.
We need a leader who can pursue a new governance with branching power, division of roles, alliance, and cooperation as the key factors. In addition, we need an open partnership that recognizes citizens who have change in terms of knowledge, information, gathering and expression, and shares national affairs. Lee, Minhwa, a Visiting Professor at KAIST, points out, “If we use the technology that is the digital block used in financial transactions, fusion democracy that can supplement representative democracy will be possible, including direct secret ballots, national petitions and summoning, opinion polls and policy formation.”

The last basic requirement for new leadership is integration. The Republic of Korea has been suffering too much from the political structure and confrontation between the conservatives and the progressives that have long lost their practical meaning. Now that even our status as the leading mid-nation is being threatened, we are in critical need for integrated leadership for ‘a bigger Korea’. Moreover, we have a huge ‘North Korean risk’ that is not present in any other countries.
Now that the advanced countries are threatened by the status of leading middle class countries, integrated leadership for 'a bigger Korea' is essential.

Is such good leadership invisible? Then there are two ways. Either go back to the old way, or create the leadership group that can lead us to the desired world. At the end of the day, we own our future.



Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )