by Karen Brune Mathis
More than 80 members of the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville and The Gate Governors Club gathered last week at The River Club on the Downtown Northbank to learn more about “The Future of Korea.”
“Korea is taking its place at the table of world leadership,” said U.S. State Department Consular Officer Gary Childs with the Office of Korean Affairs.
Childs said Korea has been involved in reconstruction in Afghanistan and assistance in Haiti, among other global issues.
Childs was one of three speakers who made separate presentations about the Republic of Korea, or South Korea. They gathered after their remarks as a panel to answer questions.
Childs was joined by Young Tae Kim, counselor of construction, transport and military affairs for the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, and Charles “Jack” Pritchard, president of the Korea Economic Institute and a former ambassador and foreign envoy for negotiations to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Pritchard began his remarks by greeting Jacksonville Port Authority CEO Paul Anderson.
Anderson had met that morning with Mayor-elect Alvin Brown, who also attended the World Affairs Council meeting. “He will be an exciting mayor to work with,” Anderson told the group.
“I know, Paul, that you have offered to take the mayor to Korea and I hope he goes,” said Pritchard, discussing the importance of strong trade relations.
Pritchard referenced the pending $300 million container terminal in Jacksonville by Hanjin Shipping Co. of South Korea. Construction awaits the dredging of the St. Johns River channel.
Pritchard also talked about the instability of North Korea, which The New York Times summarizes as “the last Stalinist state on earth.” In 2006, it “became the latest country to join the nuclear club.”
North Korean officials sank a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors, in March 2010 and the Times said relations between North and South Korea have deteriorated to their worst point in many years.
The Times said American intelligence officials were increasingly convinced that Kim Jong-il, the ailing North Korean leader, ordered the sinking to help secure the succession of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, who was elevated to the rank of general.
“You can expect a degree of instability in North Korea,” said Pritchard.
After the meeting, several members of the World Affairs Council huddled around a member’s iPad to check out the Kim Jong-il “looking at things” website, which shows photos of him looking at items such as fruit, fish, linen, corn, turbines, pottery, maps, glass, soap, cotton plants, miniature airplanes and much more.
The website can be found at http://kimjongillookingatthings.... and it’s also on Facebook, Kim Jong-Il looking at things.