November 11, 2010 13:23
The focus of the world is on Korea as it hosts the G20 Summit in Seoul. The event is reminiscent of the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, which also took place in the Korean capital. But the G20 is different from a global sports extravaganza. This is where world leaders forge the framework for the global economy.
Thirty-three of the world's top leaders, including the heads of G20 member countries, leaders of five more invited countries and the heads of seven global organizations, including the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and International Labor Organization, will sit face to face to discuss currency issues, trade imbalances, a global financial safety net and support for developing countries.
Around 10,000 visitors will converge in Seoul for the summit, including 4,000 diplomats and top business CEOs, as well as 1,700 journalists. The heads of government and leaders of international organizations will hold a flurry of bilateral summits.
The G20 is a product of the global financial crisis. The Asian financial crisis that erupted in 1998 led to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Governors Meeting in 1999, and the crisis of 2008 led to the opening of the first G20 Summit in Washington D.C. in November that year. Korea was able to survive economic collapse back in 1998 thanks to emergency loans provided by the IMF. And now, world leaders and the heads of major global organizations are gathering here to discuss the shape of the future global economy. Last year, Korea emerged in status from a recipient of global donations to a donor that proudly offers aid to developing countries. And now it is showing the world another transformation.
By successfully hosting the 1988 Summer Games and the 2002 World Cup, Korea increased its profile in the world. The G20 is unlike previous international economic summits Korea has hosted before like APEC and ASEM. If those were focused on regional cooperation, the G20 Summit handles the basic economic order of the world. As the host, Korea should be able to demonstrate its leadership and ability to resolve global disputes by mediating between the world's superpowers. The demonstration of its diplomatic abilities at a global event would enable it to take the initiative in dealing with regional issues such as multilateral security in Northeast Asia, peace on the Korean Peninsula and a nuclear crisis.
The New York Times reports that many Koreans seem unaware that their country has emerged to play a central role in the global economy. The Korean public should take pride in the G20 Summit and cooperate as responsible citizens.
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