On 13th October, 2016, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, co-hosted by the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, organized a conference where experts from the Visegrad countries had a chance to share their experience on the regime change and democratic transition with their Korean counterparts, in light of the potential reunification of the Korean peninsula in the future. The partners of the event were the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The opening remarks were delivered by Dr. István Mikola, Minister of State for Security Policy and International Cooperation, who ensured the audience that Hungary, together with the other Visegrad countries, is more than happy to share the lessons of the transition with the Korean partners. Dr. Duk-Min Yun, Chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy addressed the audience in his keynote speech, and provided an interesting overview of the socio-economic situation in North Korea, as well as the impact of its nuclear program on the wider region.

 

The first panel focused on the lessons of institutional reform from the perspective of transitional justice. Based on historical parallels, the speakers elaborated upon issues of the role of elites in regime change, the dilemmas surrounding lustration and amnesty, and the importance of justice, human rights, and the rule of law.


The second panel of the conference concerned the reform of the military and the police. The audience heard detailed accounts of the transformation of both institutions in the cases of Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, with specific regard to the challenges of depoliticization, demilitarization and decentralization. Our Korean panelist also detailed the dictatorial, patrimonial nature of the North Korean army.


Finally, Mr. Márton Schőberl, Director-General of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade delivered his closing remarks. Calling upon the wise Korean proverb, “Even if you know the way, ask again”, he stressed that the two regions have much to learn from one another, and deemed the conference a success in terms of exchanging experiences.