By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
The National Diplomacy Institute was opened on the last April 24, 2012. geared to educate elite diplomats. This institute will recruit the first 60 students, of which 40 will be employed as official diplomats after a year of training. The current system of the Foreign Service Examination will be abolished in June 1013. This new system was adopted with the purpose of educating diplomats with the professionalism in the region and field of service, correcting the problems of the system of the Foreign Service Examination.
A guiding star in our history of diplomacy is Seo Hi, who had negotiated the retreat of the Kitan forces invading Goryeo during the 12th year of King Seong-jong in 993 AD under the command of General So Son-nyeong. At the time most of the people suggested that a piece of land be offered to the invading forces but Seo Hi struck a deal with the Kitan general, while threatening to wipe out them out.
Seo Hi told So Son-nyeong that "Koryeo is a state which has succeeded to Gokuryeo," and he stressed that "if you wanted to talked about the boundary of land, Tokyo, too, belongs to us." Upon this statement, So Son-nyeong retreated. Diplomacy is a combination of power and logics. A bust of Seo Hi is set up in the ground of this new institute.
The geopolitical location of Korea requires the empowering of diplomacy. We need a legion of diplomats armed with the sense of history as well as patriotism like Seo Hi. A diplomat is not supposed to be an average government official executing the instructions from above and taking care of consular businesses. He should not be an soul-less official looking for opportunities from those who control the power. Officials of other government fields might well be soul-less, but not a diplomat.
In this sense, I think the inauguration of the Diplomacy Research Institute is in fact an advanced way of educating human researches. However, it is still doubtful if this new agency would be able to rightfully produce diplomats with souls for our country with this wish be fully reflected. If the tendency of some people lining up with the power rather than the professionalism on a region or a special field persists, the new inauguration of this new institute would be meaningless.
A diplomat needs to get the wind of the times earlier than anybody else. A diplomat of the cold war era should be different from a diplomat in the G2 era. He also needs to be armed with the highest capability of judgment and access to maximize the national interest based on the accurate information he collects together with the trend of the times. The national destiny sometimes depends on the judgmental capability of situation.
Our country has the duty of our times to make a contribution to the advancement of human beings, while protecting the peace on the Korean peninsula in preparation for the national unification. At the same time, we need to train diplomats fit for foreign affairs in a new era of no more polarization.
Timed with the inauguration of the Diplomacy Research Institute, the Foreign Affairs Department, too, needs to change it outdated human researches system and practices. Under the old system under which the core positions are offered to only those who had gone through the assignments in major foreign offices, we are unable to see a creative and challenging diplomat born.