By Lee, Seung-hyun, reporter 기자2008.05.01 14:16:58
Dr. Park said that, as the chair of the UN Future Forum, she talks to world-famous futurists by messenger everyday to get information that reflects changes in the world. Otherwise, she is likely to lag behind the current situation. In addition, to avoid generalizing about the future based on limited reports, she discusses or sometimes debates on experts’ ideas from various fields.
|Q. Future methodology sounds unfamiliar to us, what does UN Future Forum do? And why is it important?|
A. Future methodology is the practice and art of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field"s practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends.
In fact, until a hundred years ago, future methodology was not meaningful because the rate of change in society was not fast. However, changes now take place everywhere with unimaginable speed. In the future, what you are learning now might be useless due to these changes. Ignoring the future and only studying all day long might be a waste of time.
A part of the UN Future Forum is the UN Millennium Project. The UN cooperates with other research centers in this project in order to come up with solutions for problems in the future. We have world wide networks with over 1,500 refutable experts in many fields. In the long run, this forum will provide the world society with the direction for the future.
Q. What set you off on the road to establishing the KFCA?
A. Well, when I was studying in the U.S. in 1979, I had a chance to work in the United Nations as an intern. At that time, in the 1980s, Korea was included in the group of nations with a low-birth rate and an aging population. So, I returned to Korea and started a "birth rate hike movement" in 1982. Everybody laughed at me, saying “You are crazy! Hey, go home and just take care of kids” because they thought I wasn’t being realistic. Nevertheless, I just persisted in my opinion.
Moreover, 8,000 children were sent overseas for adoption annually in the 1980s. After I heard the shocking news, I started to look after kids who had been abandoned, or who were unable to live in their family homes, and I finally established the KFCA in 1998.
A. Officially they are not related, but for me, they closely correspond. Korea is facing a low birth rate and an aging population, which will produce many social problems, and I don’t want my home country to suffer in that way. That is why I started the KFCA. What is more, before I die, I would like to do something for others, apart from myself. In this society, just leading my own life can be harsh and selfish. Yet, when others can smile with my help, it makes everything worthwhile.
Q. This year, you published a book about the future news. Can you tell the KNU students some future news they should be aware of?
A. It’s my pleasure. First of all, Korea is in risk of disappearing. According to Dr. Coleman David, of Oxford University, Korea will be the first country to disappear in the world if aging and the low birth rate trend keeps going. This could happen in 200 years or so. Korea’s birth rate is now 1.10, and Busan’s is 0.81, which is the lowest in the world. What is worse, half of elementary-to-high-school students will go abroad to study. If the truth be told, the Korean Educational Development Institute has suggested that within the last 6 years, the number of students who have gone abroad for study has increased 10 times.
Moreover, after 10 years, the traditional education method in which teachers teach students at school will disappear. Personalized education will be common, and students will decide what they need. If this becomes reality, universities will disappear, and people will be able to get every kind of education at home. There will be no life-long jobs. People will have to work for several years and return to home for more education and then take advantage of it in another field. It will be like a cycle.
Dr. Park advised KNU students to be aware of changes throughout the world and to think in depth about what the cores of the changes are. She also said “For students to be more valuable in the future, multi-majors, such as bio-management, or nano-political science, are highly recommended. As I mentioned before, futurists point out that Korea is under huge threats. However, I hope these threats will not be realized. To avoid disaster, we should take measures now. I hope KNU students will address Korea’s future risks and be the ones to solve them." Right before she departed , she left a message for us all, "Studying the future is not an option but a prerequisite for us to survive."
The KNU Times