Profile spoke with His Excellency, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Finland and Estonia, Mr. Dongsun Park, about equality, education, and opportunities for learning between Finland and Korea.
Ambassador Park starts with praise. He asserts that from the Korean perspective, Finland is a leading country in equality and a model for others to emulate.
Park sees many opportunities for reciprocal learning between Finland and Korea.
“Finland seems to emphasize equality more than competition. Korea puts a more or less equal emphasis on competition and equality. These slight differences are reflected in the education systems of our two countries, yet both the Korean and Finnish education systems have proven to be very successful, as the most recent PISA study shows,” Park explains, in reference to Finland and Korea taking the top two places in the latest PISA study.
“The fact that Finland achieves such world class results in learning performance with an equality-emphasizing system fascinates Koreans. That is why Korean experts frequently come here to learn about the Finnish system. If we study each other’s education systems and adopt the best practices from both, we can become even better,” Park envisions.
The Korean Competitiveness
“Finland is a good example of a society able to achieve a high level of economic competitiveness while putting a strong emphasis on equality. This also fascinates Koreans,” Park adds.
Ambassador Park names Korean competitiveness as a key feature that might interest Finns. He also brings up openness towards receiving more immigrants as a possible solution to a decreasing population, which is a pressing concern for both Korea and Finland.
“Korea puts an equal emphasis on competition and equality, which I think is a key feature of the Korean system, and has arguably enabled the Koreans to become globally competitive in electronics, IT, cars and other sectors.”
“Korea used to be more monolithic, but today Koreans are welcoming a lot of immigrants to cope with the decreasing population. This might also be interesting from the Finnish perspective.”
Ambassador Park ends by drawing attention to the EU.
“The EU has achieved harmony across 27 nations and enables the free mobility of goods and people across frontiers. This kind of development is certainly interesting to study from the Asian point of view. Korea is currently promoting an Asia-Pacific Community which might incorporate some similar elements and inspirations,” Ambassador Park concludes.
PROFILE MAGAZINE 3/2012 page 12
TEXT: JOANNA SINCLAIR