About the Event

Philadelphia’s Korean-American community is consistently ranked within the nation’s top ten largest and forms a vital part of the city’s economic and cultural identity. As Philadelphia’s largest, oldest, and strongest non-partisan, international affairs nonprofit, we are excited to provide an opportunity for Philadelphians to engage with and understand the importance of the US and the Republic of Korea’s political, economic, and social relations on the global stage. Consul General Kim shared his experience working with the United Nations, and provided excellent insight and engaging discussion about the U.S.-Republic of Korea relationship.

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About the Diplochat Series

For nearly three-quarters of a century, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia has provided its members, supporters, and the Greater Philadelphia community with access to domestic and foreign policymakers, global leaders, and influential thinkers.

The Satell Family Foundation “Diplochat” series provides meeting attendees with the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with diplomats from around the world. Audience members can ask questions and engage with those appointed by their governments to represent their country, skillfully negotiate, and use soft power to maintain political, economic, and social relations on the global stage.

At the opening of the program, City Representative Sheila Hess recognized the special milestone anniversary celebration between sister cities Philadelphia and Incheon.

Consul General Kim then made his remarks, describing the impressive number of cultural exports his country has produced, which he sees as important to promoting South Korea’s soft power and fostering understanding of Korean society. Regarding the close relationship between South Korea and the United States, the moderator asked about the possibilities enabled by Korea joining an alliance for microchip production. The Consul General’s reply focused on the national security aspect as well as the economic facet. He said that developing high-tech industries was a major cause for South Korea’s development into a prosperous country and that playing a key role in chip production will help sustain world peace.  The economic impact of demographic shifts was also discussed. The Consul General noted that emigration has decreased with growing Korean prosperity. Beyond the issue of birth rates, Consul General Kim said his goal is to protect the Korean community in the United States.

The moderator then turned to the question of the Republic of Korea’s geopolitical priorities. The Consul General highlighted national security as an objective, with special attention paid to North Korea and the Communist Party of China. He added that sustaining democratic values is key to the country’s success since Korean prosperity is based on democracy. He identified the United States and, increasingly, Japan as strong partners with which Korea hopes to work closely. Looking at the Washington Declaration’s reaffirmation of the American Korean partnership, the moderator asked what the Consulate focuses upon in its American diplomatic mission. Consul General Kim responded that in recent years, Korea has developed into a state of mutual support with its American ally now that it can supply microchips and batteries. He commented on the large presence of Korean companies in New Jersey and his desire to see more Korean companies operate in Pennsylvania. He emphasized the importance of H1B visas as an essential pathway for bringing highly qualified workers from Korea to the U.S. for manufacturing.

The Q&A began with a student question about the impact of K-pop and K-dramas and asked the Consul General to compare American and Korean students. The Consul General tied together Korea’s cultural exports with its economic success, stating that global conglomerates work alongside cultural icons in raising awareness about Korea. Next, the Consul General was asked about North Korea’s motives regarding the Republic of Korea. The Consul General replied that the Kim Jong Un regime aims to threaten the Republic of Korea and Japan, but Koreans are accustomed to the situation. Thanks to the alliance with the United States, the amount of damage North Korea can inflict is limited. When asked about the Republic of Korea’s position on Taiwan and Hong Kong, the Consul General expressed his personal view that the situation is very sad and difficult. He elaborated that Korea and Taiwan share similar values but that the latter is not a recognized country. The Consul General stated that Koreans recognize that a threat to Taiwan is a threat to Korea. One audience member asked what kind of advocacy would be needed from local Korean Americans to support the expansion of H1B visa approvals. The Consul General replied that the local community does not see a change as a high priority, but he would prefer loosening the restrictive policies. A student from Bodine High school asked what opportunities there are in Korea for international students. He encouraged the student to look into summer exchanges through universities. An employee from Penn State Abington asked the final question about the challenges they find with educating students about recycling and asked the Consul General about the system in South Korea. He replied that Korea has a well-developed system of laws about recycling and that they are organized about separating materials.

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