Kwang W. Kim, Korea Representative, The Asia Foundation
The relationship between Korea and The Asia Foundation started at the height of the Korean War in 1951, beginning with the delivery of paper needed to print children’s textbooks to the port of Busan. Since then the Foundation has followed South Korea’s journey in rebuilding the nation, as it transformed from being one of the poorest countries on earth to one of the richest countries by per capita income.
Over the years, our influence and impact in the country has been remarkable. We facilitated economic and agricultural exchanges during the country’s critical reconstruction years, as well as the design of Seoul National University campus. We have been honored in supporting the education of Korea’s future leaders (including a prime minister and a foreign minister). I invite you to read “A Partner for Change: Six Decades of The Asia Foundation in Korea,” written as a labor of love by our staff and partners.
With such a remarkable legacy and a track record of adapting to the times, The Asia Foundation in Korea and the Friends of The Asia Foundation Korea bring together a sense of strong responsibility as trusted partners for the future generation in the Korean Peninsula. Our network of 18 country offices in Asia and our partners in Korea position us to uniquely engage in the formidable tasks ahead.
Our responsibility towards future generations include adapting to global trends that are moving towards greater partnerships between the public and private sectors. With an estimated $2.5 trillion needed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030, involving capital and expertise from the private sector for Asia’s social development is essential. And yet, despite remarkable economic and social progress, Korea and East Asia rank at the bottom in private sector mobilization for social development. This is a big gap but also a huge opportunity for development practitioners, academia and development policy leaders to re-shape the SDG agenda in Korea and Asia through public-private initiatives.
The persistence of national division means that Korea is still a focus of global strategic interest. The Asia Foundation continues to have a pivotal role in international relations initiatives with other Asian countries as well as in strengthening the Korean-U.S. bilateral relationship. We continue to engage with North Korea and in its relationship with South Korea and the world.
Korea emerged as a global leader with much to contribute in addressing the pressing problems confronting the international community. Our increasing focus in partnerships also requires humility and readiness to listen. The Asia Foundation, together with our Korean friends and global partners, invite you to join in our next chapter in Korean and Asian history.
Kwang W. Kim