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A bridge over the troubled worlds? or a donor with an identity crisis? : an ethical case for South Korea aid Soyeun Kim Lecturer, Department of East Asian.

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Presentation on theme: "A bridge over the troubled worlds? or a donor with an identity crisis? : an ethical case for South Korea aid Soyeun Kim Lecturer, Department of East Asian."— Presentation transcript:

1 A bridge over the troubled worlds? or a donor with an identity crisis? : an ethical case for South Korea aid Soyeun Kim Lecturer, Department of East Asian Studies

2 A high time for ethical questions Two major views on the rise of emerging, non-DAC donors –Hostile phobia: non-compliance therefore undesirable impacts –Apologetic mania: alternatives and complementarity However, both are problematic – largely judging against the current DAC (neoliberal) norms and principles (positively AND negatively) for what they are not! other than what they actually are such ways of gazing/ labelling still deeply rooted in the Orientalist view of the world

3 Three interlinked ethical issues 1.The judgemental gaze – reducing the diverse group of emerging donors into a monolithic entity and essentialising as a set of deviances (n.b. Japan) Why cant they be more like us? (Fallows 1989) 2.Romanticisaiton -A dangerous cultural relativism (Rist 2009:59, Kiely 1995; Corbridge1998; Mawdsley (2010) : post-colonial donors deserve the moral high ground? 3.White mans burden = Non-white mans frontier or prestige? a tricky question : compassionate comrades advancing national interests (domestic situation)

4 OR Has this been changed much??? OR Africa has just got more burdens to carry?

5 Here comes the questions an urgent need for a proper debate on the emerging donors moral obligation (if any) to their less fortunate peers How and to what extent they claim/fulfil such obligations In what form and on what basis such intervention are made (Corbridge 1998) A case study : South Korea – the latest DAC membership (January 2010) yet still in-betweener or a bridge over the troubled worlds

6 Several contexts that condition Koreas donorship 1.the only country in history - successful transition from a recipient to a donor 2.Technically still at war – a divided nation Aid to North Korea - one-country policy: economic gains first (e.g. Kaesong industrial complex) Debts to the Korean Veteran countries 3.Recently heightened interests in intl development Global branding strategy via ODA to move away from its peripheral image: contributive Korea Media and helping developing countries boom

7 Media – small (often unheard) critical voices within Korea Portraying as the Southern local communities as an object of charity and sympathy through images of dirty water, hunger, terror and poverty Black/ dark continent ?... new emerging markets with burgeoning middle-class consumerism ; resource rich frontier with full of business opportunities for Korea


9 Korean media


11 Korean Journalists with President Mugabe

12 Koreas view on its moral obligation to the world … a young boy who once stood in line to receive used clothes from foreign missionaries now stands before you as president of the Republic of Korea... I have benefited form other people's compassion… we are now in a position to provide help to those in need … [Our] remarkable achievement goes out to all those who fought for us and for those who helped us when we were in desperate need …. The Korean people who have been through wars and destitution are now prepared to contribute to global peace and prosperity … We are ready to do our part (Lee 2010, emphasis added).

13 But… contradicting reality: (1) Humanitarian aid the humanitarian aid budget has been frozen at the level of USD 8.1m per annum since 2007 - while the series of aid doubling and tripling announcements in recent years Also aid to North Korea as more problems at home : distant-decay model of morality – wherein charity if it begins at all, begins at home (Cobridge 1998) Opinion poll on ODA





18 Opinion poll on ODA 2005

19 Reasons for opposition not rich enough yet76.1% not beneficial for national interest8.8% No good for poverty reduction in developing countries8.7% none of our business4.2%



22 Notion of development aid History of Post-war reconstruction/ rehabilitation The word construction – synonymous with development: Reconstruction Department established in 1955 later became Ministry of Construction in 1961 Emphasis on economic infrastructure and loans – debt sustainability issues raised by 2008 OECD DAC special review

23 Koreas ODA Loan Commitments] 2009Cumulative Total since 1987 SectorNumberAmount%NumberAmount% Social Infrastructure11281,32322.2952,257,79538.1 Education592,0927.322482,0218.1 Health5130,57210.327646,80810.9 Water Supply & Sanitation 158,6594.633894,20115.1 Government & Civil Society ---13234,7654.0 Economic Infrastructure17955,79475.3%1133,289,32455.5% Transport & Storage12755,29759.5632,097,83235.4 Communications397,6947.728582,0429.8 Energy2102,8038.122609,45010.3 Production Sectors125,5142.010216,9943.7 Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing 125,5142.010216,9943.7 Multisector---323,1950.4 Unallocated27,0780.610138,6742.3 Total311,269,709 [1,067.07] 1002315,925,982 [5,343.27] 100 Source: EDCF 2009:67 (by sector): as of 31 December 2009 [KRW million

24 Something Old: from the past experience … I know what it is like to be in want. I have benefited from other people's compassion and so I know more than others what kind of help should be given to those in need (Lee 2010, emphasis added) What took developed countries more than 100 years to work on, Korea was able to make it in 40 years since the end of Korean War. Now Korea is sharing its development experience/ knowledge with developing countries, and is doing its best to support the latter (PCNB Online).

25 Knowledge Sharing Programme A request based comprehensive policy consultation Sharing Koreas experience with developing countries (in key economic areas) – even its bitter experience with IMF! to prosper together Sentimental connection & emotional consensus - friendship first then business later Best option to differentiate its aid strategy from CHN, JP – for e.g. Korea- Africa Forum KR official aware of the difficulties of transferring – different contexts. The danger of we know best approach

26 Something New: DAC membership in pursuit of universal values Seouls sales tactics largely based on Koreas unique development experience – a relativist position as a donor But to truly contribute – needed to build universality ALSO! DAC membership instead of simply following the norms and rules set by those old players, Korea should be able to participate and even lead in agenda and norm setting, which in turn enables Korea to universalise back some of its successful experience

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