Korean Internationalism. In this first of three videos on Korea at Grinnell College, David Harrison, professor of French and director for the Center for International Studies, and Jack Mutti, professor of economics, discuss the pervasiveness of internationalism in our daily lives, the rising importance of Korea in world affairs, and the value of Grinnell’s direct access to prominent Koreans.
It doesn’t matter where you live and it doesn’t matter if you were born and raised and live the rest of your life in Iowa. The fact is that your life is international by virtue of the things you’re eating, the clothes you’re buying, the energy you’re using. So everyone in the world is involved in an international network. But the fact that we’re in Iowa makes no difference. Everyone on this campus leads an international life simply because of the way the world is today. And so, we need to have students recognize that, recognize the place that they have and how their actions can make a difference in the world.
Well, Grinnell is very fortunate that, among its illustrious alumni, we have a very accomplished economist and statesman, trustee Kihwan Kim [‘57] who has really been actively seeking to create ways for Grinnell students and Grinnell faculty to make a greater connection with South Korea.
At the beginning of this semester, we are receiving a visiting fellow from Ewha [Womans] University in Seoul, Dr. Byung-Il Choi, who is a very eminent economist and statesman of his own right. He is a former trade negotiator for the Republic of Korea and he’s here for three weeks teaching students a course on international trade negotiations.
There could be so many things that the old-timers here might tell to students, but I think actually, when you have a chance to talk to somebody who’s been personally involved in the negotiations, they’re going to have some insights and they’re going to tell the story probably differently than somebody who was just observing it from afar.
Korea is a great example of a country that, right after World War II, was as poor as any country in the world and has joined the elite club of [the] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, sort of the “rich man’s club.” They’re now one of those countries that have a high level, not just of income, but also [of] human development measures, if we look at measures that the United Nations calculates. An amazing story of transformation over a fairly compressed time period.
We probably are going to get some unique insights that, if we just talked to Japanese scholars, we probably wouldn’t tell the story quite the same way. If we talked to European scholars, we wouldn’t tell the story quite the same way. So I think that it’s the benefit from recognizing there’s a multiplicity of stories out there, and Korea has a compelling one for us to learn from.
If we’re able to get outsiders to come in and provide that insight, it’s just a great additional opportunity and enrichment opportunity for Grinnell students to say that, “You may be in the middle of a cornfield, but you can really learn a lot from what’s going on in the rest of the world, situated right here.”