Congratulatory speech at the commencement ceremony of the
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm happy and honored to stand here and deliver congratulatory remarks at the commencement ceremony of the KOICA-Hallym Scholarship Program. On behalf of all faculty and staff members of Hallym University, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all fourteen government officials from thirteen countries on earning Master of Public Policy degrees in Climate Change. It is beyond my description of how pleased I was when I first found that all of you successfully accomplished your missions by overcoming all the difficulties in studying new subjects and living abroad during your stay in Korea. I also want to thank KOICA one more time for financially supporting the KOICA-Hallym SP.
I realize that time really flies like an arrow. I remember vividly when we first met. I felt like it was only yesterday even if it was 17 months ago. At that time I found that it was the first visit to Korea for most of you, a country much remotely located from your hometown, utterly unfamiliar culturally and in most respects as compared to your own. As a matter of fact, it was not only you but also we were nervous as we did not have the proper experience of running such a big government program. Looking back, it was a huge relief that there was no coronavirus at that time. In the end, thanks to your own efforts and the dedication of the faculty and staff in charge of this program, you have successfully completed your studies.
I think you are very lucky people. Of course, none of you were infected with the coronavirus and I am very much relieved that all of you return to your countries safely. But at the same time, the climate change policy that you've studied is now emerging as the most important policy in the world. As all of you are aware, Joe Biden, the new U.S. president-elect, announced that he would join the Paris Climate Change Accord immediately upon his inauguration. I can not find adequate words to describe how much I was disappointed when the United States decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in November last year. I bet there will be a huge investment in this field. All countries will participate in this effort, and I'm really looking forward to your work in this field. The coronavirus has indeed caused you and us a lot of trouble over the past year, but in a way, the coronavirus has brought back the importance of understanding the climate change agenda. Isn’t it the irony of the real world?
When it comes to climate change, I remember the time when we established the Climate Change Research Institute at Hallym University more than a decade ago. It was actually in early 2008, when I recognized the importance of the climate change agenda and then appointed Professor Seung-do Kim as the director of the Institute for Climate Change. The achievements of the Institute for Climate Change led by Professor Seungdo Kim have given us the KOICA project a decade later. My decision of appointing him as director was a good choice, which evidences that my decisions are sometimes right if not all the time, and what this episode reminds me of is the old saying that those who sow seeds reap.
Another episode that I would like to share with you on the occasion of the graduation ceremony is that when I was serving as Korean Ambassador to the OECD in 2009, Korea attempted to join the Development Assistance Committee(DAC) of the OECD. After a year of difficult negotiations, Korea became the first aid-receiving-turned-donor country in the history of the world. So-called, it was an epoch-making event. At the joining DAC, Korea made a commitment to increase the amount of Official Development Assistance(ODA) contributions substantially. Actually, it turned out that we became the beneficiaries of the policy commitments. Yes, the KOICA-SP project is the result of the ODA processes of the Korean government. Can I dare say that this is also the case for the harvest of the seeded man? Anyway, Hallym University appeared destined to have been set to have this glorious opportunity.
As farewell remarks, I'd like to present to you the following two messages that I hope you keep in mind for a long period of time. First, I hope you recognize the importance of the globalization trends during your government services. I'm not saying that globalization is unconditionally good, but please keep in mind that the commonalities of countries that have not developed yet generally have lagged far behind in globalization. You should learn how to live with the people of other countries and not be afraid of competing with others. Don't forget that international competitiveness should be the most important factor in achieving societal developments. Second, I think you learned about Korea here. Please remember my lecture about the development experiences of Korea. Don't forget that all 13 of your home countries were richer than Korea economically when I was young. As long as you adopt market-principle-based policies and establish sound institutions, I believe you can achieve economic developments. I hope you will be the driving force behind the economic development of your country. Most important of all, make sure to keep in mind that under any circumstances your vision should be outward-oriented rather than inward.
Now it's time to let you go. People are supposed to break up when they meet, and when they do, they expect to meet again. Who in the world knew in two years ago that we would be together for the next one and a half years. At Hallym, we call a graduate of Hallym University a Hallymer, just like the people from New York are called New Yorkers. Now all of you became Hallymer, a member of Hallym family. We also say that "Once Hallymer, Forever Hallymer". I hope the meaning is well understood. Simply speaking, you will live as a Hallymer forever. By the way, I should like to remind you as a final word that you are also the charter member of the KOICA-Hallym SP. Your success will remain the success of this program. I now propose to establish our networking. Wherever we are, we will keep in touch with each other, and Hallym University will not let go of our precious relationships.
Before closing, I would like to express my special thanks to Professor Ki-woong Yang, Dean of the Graduate School of Global Cooperation, and Professor Seung-do Kim, who worked hard as SP-PM. Of course, my sincere thanks go to all the professors and staff members whose dedications were essential to the success of this program.
Wish you all the best luck in the future!
「KOICA-Hallym Scholarship Program on Capacity Building for Response to Climate Change」
December 22, 2020
President, Hallym University