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Subject Once Again for the Country''s Balanced Development Posted by OIA
Posted on May 29, 2017 Views 184
file #1  170520 르완다행사.jpg


Dr. Hong Duckryul
President
Daegu University

 

It was last Saturday, May 20, 2017. A special event was held at Daegu University. It was the ''Rwanda Culture Day'' event. It was an event where Rwandan students who were studying in various universities around Korea gathered together and networked. During the event, a general assembly meeting was held as well as stage performances and sporting events.

Rwanda is a small country located in the middle east of Africa. Its area is about 12% of that of the Korean Peninsula and its population is 13 million people. When it was a colony of Germany and Belgium, conflict between ethnic groups became routine, and in the end, in 1994, one million people were massacred.

In Daegu University''s event, more than 80 international students from Rwanda participated. Considering that there are only 160 Rwandan students in all of Korea, the turnout was quite good.

I attended a brief visit to welcome and encourage those Rwandan students who came to Daegu University. At that time, unexpectedly, I got to see some impressive scenes. The first was that as they began the general assembly meeting, all participants paid a one minute silent tribute to commemorate the one million victims killed during the civil war 23 years ago. The Rwandan Ambassador to Korea also briefly mentioned about that horrible event in his greetings. Their commitment and effort not to repeat the same tragedy by remembering the shameful history and those who were innocently slaughtered made me feel both solemn and impressed.

The second thing happened during a brief meeting with the Rwandan Ambassador. Ambassador Emma-Francoise Isumbingabo, who came to visit in traditional Rwandan  garb, expressed her gratitude for being allowed to use the university''s facilities for the event, such as the stadium and conference rooms. She also explained the background of the ''Rwanda Culture Day''event, particularly about how it came to be held at Daegu University; it was all thanks to the active suggestions of the Rwandan students who are studying at Daegu University.

 

Rwandan Culture Day event held in Daegu
This is a summary of the Rwandan students'' suggestions. "There are 12 Rwandan students studying at Daegu University. So why is the event held every year at a university near Seoul? And why do we always have to travel to Seoul to attend the event? Daegu University lacks nothing when it comes to hosting events. It is a university that we would like to show off and boast about. We don''t think it is quite right to host the event in Seoul all the time. We would like to invite the Ambassador to Daegu University as well."

Then the ambassador added, "Daegu University has taught Rwandan students very well. As I listened to the students'' suggestions with their confident and dignified voices, I thought that they had received an exemplary education. In addition, it seems that the students have also developed their leadership skills. I wanted to come to Daegu University, where these students have been so well taught, to discover the educational environment and meet with the school''s president. Thank you."

It was an unexpected bit of admiration. It was also a fresh shock. As I heard about the thoughts and the courage of the Rwandan students who are studying at Daegu University through the Ambassador, I felt very proud of them. Also, I was thrilled by the ambition of the Rwanda Ambassador to Korea, who had a good view of the students'' thoughts, and decided to hold the event at Daegu University.

However, one frustrating topic that has been weighing heavy on my heart for a long time came to mind. Namely, Korea''s strong centralization of power and the capital region-centric structure. Korea''s policy-making process and resource allocation structure are thoroughly centralized to the capital region. Central politicians and bureaucrats are inundated with capital supremacy. It is no exaggeration to say that the provinces and local regions are inner colonies of Seoul.

Therefore, those living in the provinces and local regions cannot help but feel sad. In fact, the people living in local cities have always been treated as second-class citizens. The local universities were often denigrated as ''jijab-dae,'' meaning universities outside the Seoul Metropolitan area. The term is used to insult those who failed to enter the more prestigious universities of Seoul. Local businesses and local media are not much different. The central government seemed to think that distribution of the budget to the provinces is like dispensation. Local cities had to impress the central authorities to get even a little more. Concerns and issues that national development can be limited by such action have been raised for a long time, but thus far, the situation has not improved.   

 

Decentralization must be reflected in the constitutional amendment process
It is natural that the capital area and the non-capital region should develop in a balanced manner. As a citizen of the Republic of Korea, wherever you live in the country, it is a matter of course to guarantee minimum educational opportunities, job opportunities, culture and medical services, and quality of life. Particularly in the 21st century, it is the era when urban competitiveness is the foundation of national competitiveness. The paradigm of national management must be changed. In preparation for the next constitutional amendment, a critical mind and vision toward a decentralized country and balanced development of the nation must be actively reflected. I hope that the balanced development of the nation, which started meaningfully in the Participatory Government of the Roh Moo-Hyun Administration but then has severly regressed since, can be resumed and pursed again. I look forward to extraordinary and exceptional local policies.

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