Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Korean Retirees Put Their Knowledge to Good Use

Korea is undertaking a special kind of development assistance for developing countries. Instead of just giving them money and facilities, Korea aims to aid them in a more fundamental way – teaching them how to stand up on their two feet rather than spoon-feeding them. Retired experts of various fields will be dispatched to developing countries and share their expertise and know-how with the local people. In these times of aging society and unemployment, the retirees too find this volunteer project gratifying.

What Do They Do?

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) are recruiting retired experts to be sent to developing countries to share their knowledge and skills. The first round of 21 retirees was already dispatched last March, and the recruitment for the next round is now going on. MKE and MOFAT are seeking a total of 70 experts.

Although both MKE’s and MOFAT’s programs are to do with retired experts, there are certain differences between the two.

MKE’s program is titled “Gray Experts Project” with a USD 3 million size of investment. The retirees are sent to such emerging countries as the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Mexico to work for areas including weather forecasting, water management, energy development, e-learning etc.

MOFAT’s program is called “World Friends Advisers” also with about a USD 3 million budget, and experts are dispatched to countries like Nepal, Mongolia, and Vietnam to work for developing agriculture and fishing, fair competition policies, education field etc.

So, if “Gray Experts Project” is for developing countries with a medium to high income range, aimed at implementing the Korean model for public services, then “World Friends Advisers” is more for developing countries with a low to medium income range aimed at providing knowledge and counsel in such areas as administration, education, medicine, and agriculture so as to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic and social development.

The two programs, while carried out separately in their own right, will be put under an umbrella title “World Friends Korea” to give a more united impression. “World Friends Korea” is the name of Korea’s most comprehensive international volunteer group launched in May 2009.

<'Gray Experts Porject' Conferment Ceremony> 
“Cám ơn, Hàn Quốc! (Thank You, Korea!)”

The developing countries report that they are very satisfied with the first round of Korean experts dispatched there to help them out.

Mr. Sang-Jin Jung, for example, is an electricity expert of a 32-year-long career and was dispatched to Vietnam last February. Recently, the Vietnam Electricity Corporation sent a letter, thanking for Mr. Jung’s unsparing assistance – drawing up an operation mandate for the Vietnamese electricity industry as well as planning the establishment of electricity & IT system – which was even more helpful since it was well-tailored to Vietnam’s specific needs.

These are the kind of help that developing countries would really need. Korea who used to be a recipient of assistance is now trying to pay it back, hoping to become a country that can command true respect.

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