Eventual unification of North and South Korea will be focus of conference


Korean and American experts will consider economic and demographic trends

HOUSTON - To prepare for the eventual unification of North and South Korea, Korean and American experts from academia and government will meet at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy Nov. 6 to discuss various aspects of such a historic change.

"No one knows whether unification will occur in three years, six years or 10," said Malcolm Gillis, University Professor, the Ervin K. Zingler Professor of Economics and former president of Rice. "But we are all fairly certain that it will one day occur. It is important that everyone who is interested in harmony between nations understand the issues and opportunities involved."

Titled "Korea's Development: Perspectives on North and South," the program will offer a 50-year perspective on the economic and demographic trends that are important in understanding eventual unification of the two Koreas.

"South Korea is very concerned that once unification occurs, it does not follow the example of West and East Germany, which was too hasty," said Gillis, who organized the conference with Rice economics professor Yoosoon Chang. "The preparations for unification of Germany were not too extensive. Many in Korea and the U.S. and other nations are searching for more effective means of reunification."

The conference sponsors -- The Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification of Korea (ACDPU), the Baker Institute, the Korea Society and Asia Society Texas - invited a number of key officials and academicians to participate in the discussions. For example, Donald Gregg, former U.S. ambassador to Korea and president and chairman of the Korea Society, and Young-Kwan Yoon, former minister of foreign affairs for the Republic of Korea, will present keynote addresses, and former Rice economics professor Suchan Chae, now a delegate to the Republic of Korea Parliament, will present an overview of current North/South relations.

The morning session (10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.) will focus on prospects for North/South Korea relations. Hugh Patrick, director of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business and the Robert D. Calkins Professor Emeritus of International Business at Columbia University, will present a 50-year perspective on the economic and demographic development of Korea. The first afternoon session (1:45-3:30 p.m.) will review options for economic development of North Korea, and the second afternoon session (3:45-5:30 p.m.) will examine the role of the international community in North Korea's economic development. The target audience for the free conference consists of members of the Korean community in Texas, others in Texas and the U.S. who are interested in Korean affairs, visitors from South Korea, present and past government officials in the U.S., and local academicians and business people.

Among the other speakers and participants will be

  • Chi-Si Choi, former chair of the Houston Area Councils, ACDPU
  • Bong-Soo Lee, professor and the Patty Hill Smith Eminent Scholar Chair in Finance at Florida State University and a member of ACDPU
  • Jae-Jung Lee, vice chair of ACDPU
  • Steven Lewis, research fellow and director of the Transnational China Project at the Baker Institute and professor in the practice of humanities and director of the Asian Studies Program at Rice
  • John Merrill, chief of the Northeast Asia Division, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State
  • Dong-Seok Min, consul general of the Republic of Korea
  • Jin Park from the School of Public Policy and Management at the Korea Development Institute
  • Chang-Hyun Son, chair of the Houston Area Councils, ACDPU
  • Deok-Ryong Yoon from the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

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