firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Adam Smith and the Korean Economic Association
|Dr. Yong-jun Yun, a senior scholar at the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University attended a conference of the Korean Economic Association. The author briefly states his feelings after attending the conference and listening to keynote speeches and paper presentations. This conference points out the contents that need to be studied and discussed by economists of Korea. The Center for the Study of Public Choice, in which Dr. Yun currently holds a post, is a research center established by James M. Buchanan, a Nobel Prize Winner for his achievement in producing the theory of public choice. [By Editor]|
The conference of the Korean Economic Association held this summer at Seoul National University was like a window allowing a glimpse into Korean society. Over the period of two days, keynote speeches were made in the morning and papers per each field were presented in the afternoon. I began thinking as I listened to the keynote speeches and presentations. I thought how different it would have been if a conference of the Chinese Economic Association was held in Beijing. There would be differences, because Korea, unlike China, has succeeded in resolving social and political issues.
There were four keynote speeches. Each speaker presented a paper detailing their work. However, there was criticism raised that the presentations should have dealt with fundamental concepts and problems in economics as the presentations were given to all attendees of the conference. It may have been a minority opinion, but I agree with such criticism.
At the conference, the basic concept and ideas of economy to propose laws and systems for eliminating government's roles should have been discussed in the overall meeting. Discussion should have occurred about the social development of Korea from this perspective.
Of course, there were discussions on these issues. Dr. Seung-hui Jwa's theory of economic competition was a topic that attracted the attention of all economists. Dr. Jwa emphasized the principle of differentiation. It was to give greater privileges to successful people and businesses.
But, how much privilege should be given? The answer to this question was 'as much as the privilege given by the market'. Then, rather than recommending the principle of differentiation to government, the focus of discussion should have been placed on laws and systems to prevent the government from interfering with the economy. When recommending the leadership of differentiation to a government, it may well be misinterpreted as recognizing such authorities.
Dr. Jung-su Kim also pointed out the essence of free trade agreement as being free competition. He discussed the issues of compensation given to industries that suffered damages as a result of the inevitability of free trade. As emphasized by Knu Wicksell, I believe the democratic way is to provide compensation to those who suffered damages during the short adaptation period in order to achieve systematic improvement. The issues pointed out in relation to political abilities and purposes of government with regards to economic policies were typical problems of public choice. Although the roles of intellectuals were emphasized, I sensed hesitation in proposing detailed directions for them.
There are a large number of economists in China. However, I am doubtful as to how much of Adam Smith's philosophy was delivered to them. In order for Korea to advance further than China, I believe we need to have economists much loved by the people. The person who translated 'competition' for the first time was Yugichi Fukujawa from the era of the Meiji Restoration in Japan. Japanese people express their love and respect for Fukujawa by displaying his face on their currency.
Yong-jun Yun (Senior researcher & scholar, The Center for the Study of Public Choice, George Mason University)