Promoted by the important Korean newspaper Hankyoreh, at a crucial time for the Korean people, the Forum had economist Luigino Bruni as its speaker.
by Regina Min
Proud to be among the world's leading nations in terms of wealth, development and technology, in recent weeks the South Korean people became aware of the controversial relationship between the country's president Park Geun-hye, elected in 2012, with the daughter of a leader of a shamanistic cult. It seems that the lady has used her influence on the president to push major Korean companies, including Samsung, to donate tens of millions of dollars to her foundation and to reserve a preferential channel to ensure her daughter's entrance into one of the best universities in the country, and not only...
The news of this scandal has sparked a massive protest: the country is shaken and people are angry, they feel deceived and ripped-off. It was already 5 weeks ago that a procession of over one million and eight hundred thousand citizens from all backgrounds, ages and walks of life peacefully invaded the streets of the capital, Seoul, with lighted candles to demand the immediate resignation of the president.
It was in this political and social context that the 7° Asia Future Forum took place, with the title "Oltre Beyond GDP, the goal of happiness for everyone”. It was held on 23 and 24 November in the prestigious Conrad Hotel in the centre of Seoul, paying particular attention to civil economy. Luigino Bruni, who was invited expressly to make a contribution as a civil economist, held the keynote speech at the opening of the Forum dealing with public happiness and relational goods and moderated the round table discussion "Recommendations and requirements for a world of shared happiness", thereby touching the heart of the current crisis in Korea. His audience included some influential politicians (the president of the Korean Parliament and the candidates in the forthcoming presidential elections in 2017), representatives of large-scale industry, the media and civil economy as well as many academics.
Here are the impressions of a journalist who took part in the organization of the Forum: "Many managers and colleagues of the Hankyoreh newspaper state that the presence of prof. Bruni made the 7th Asia Future Forum more valuable and profitable, providing rich information content that make all participants think. Personally, I would like to follow Bruni's activities and study his philosophical and economic thought."
The next day Hankyoreh published a detailed account of Luigino Bruni's lecture entitled: “Happiness is essentially a question of human relationships”.
During the days of his stay in Korea, Luigino Bruni held various other lectures on his “Plantlike Capitalism”, a topic that appears absolutely paradoxical in the current economic and financial situation in Korea where everybody "runs", focusing on efficiency and profit. That is also just why he attracted much interest and amazement in the students of the 7th School of Politics for Unity (present for the delivery of their diploma), in politicians, scholars and representatives of Civil and Cooperative Economics, in the first and second generation of EoC entrepreneurs present at the Social Forum promoted by the Korean Mppu (Movement for Unity in Politics), in the students and professors of political and civil economy of a Jongiu University - their delegation included the city's mayor, too, who believes strongly in civil economy.
During this speech, a special relationship was created between Bruni and the students: it all resulted in an open dialogue in which problems such as the lack of jobs for young people, the low birth rate, the appropriation of workers' rights by big business got uncovered... The young ones said: "Professor Bruni has understood us young Koreans, our struggle in consumer society. We want to continue the dialogue and confrontation started with him. "
After a week of "full immersion" in civil economy with Luigino Bruni one person stated: "We are starting to see moments of hope in today's crisis."
As Chiara Lubich said: it is true that in the gospel there is a solution for every problem. It is also true that - once you understand the solution in the light of the gospel - it is the task of the sciences to translate it into appropriate knowledge and living standards for the different ages and cultures. Accompanying Luigino Bruni on this trip it has become certain to me that this is true.