EU and its Liberal Values in Political Economy: Implications for EU-South Korea Relations


On the 26th of November, at 2 pm, FNF Korea and the Korean Society of contemporary European Studies (KSCES) held a round table seminar at the Koreana Hotel in Seoul. The program focused on the EU and its liberal values in political economy and its implications for EU-South Korea Relations. Over 30 students, including international and Korean, have physically participated in this seminar while everyone complied with the Covid-19 regulations at all times.

Dr. Moosung Lee, the KSCES President, and Dr. Christian Taaks, the head of FNF Korea, welcomed the offline audience with their opening remarks. The program was split into two sessions; each subsequently provided two speakers and two discussants. The Q&A time at the end of each session allowed for active engagement with the audience. Dinner at the venue concluded this offline round table seminar.

Dr. Lee chaired the first session on human rights and the free market principle. First, Dr. Bai Byuong Inn, an associate professor of Political Science and International Relations at Kookmin University, presented the paradox of the free market principle and its implication. Next, Dr. Kim Jeonghyeon, a visiting professor at Myongji University, outlined the public perception of refugees in the EU and South Korea. After having an in-depth discussion by Dr. Lee Jae-Seung, the Dean and Jean Monnet Chair Professor at GSIS Korea University, and Dr. Chung Sae Won, an assistant professor at Pukyong National University, the engaged audience asked multiple questions thus wrapped up the session.

The topic of session two dealt with democracy as well as the rule of law, and the Chair, Dr. Taaks, accompanied this part of the panel. Dr. Richey Mason, a professor of international politics at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and senior contributor at the Asia Society, held a presentation: democracy in Europe: the worst form of Government... Which explicitly is to be understood ironically. Concerning the rule of law, Dr. Wierzbowski Tomasz, the EURAXESS Korea Representative, addressed the case study of Poland in his presentation under the tile the importance of the rule of law as a primary European value. Finally, Dr. Kang Yoo-Duk, an associate professor and chair of the language and trade division at Hankuk University, together with Dr. Kim Yongmin, an assistant professor at Konkuk University, shared their comments on commonalities and differences among the EU and Korea regarding the rule of law and the distinct forms of democracy.

This seminar shed light on the liberal EU values and their meaning for EU-Korea relations. Four presentations demonstrated commonalities among the two regions while emphasizing challenges distinctively in Korea and the EU regarding individual freedom, human rights, and democratic principles.