Ask The Ambassador: Korean Ambassador visits for Global Ethics Day

Oh Joon visited Central Michigan University as part of a discussion for Global Ethics Day


His Excellency Oh Joon and Provost Micheal Gealt discuss differences in North and South Korea on Oct. 12 in the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium in Charles V. Park Library.   

Ambassador Oh Joon discussed relations between North and South Korea, cultural differences, making a difference in Korea and human rights for those with disabilities during "Ask the Ambassador".  

As part of Global Ethics Day, The Center for International Ethics and The Honors Program brought his excellency Ambassador Oh to visit Central Michigan University Oct. 12 at the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium in Charles V. Park Library.   

Oh was present when both Koreas were admitted into the United Nations, and served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Korea for the United Nations. He also was the 71st President of the Economic and Social Council and the President of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

The event featured a list of questions that were asked by pre-selected individuals.  Also included were a music performance by the music department’s violinist Fangye Sun and piano by Zhao Wang, and a “Giving Thanks."

Provost Michael Gealt asked Oh about cultural differences in North and South Korea. 

“When I talk to young people in Korea, they don’t have any understanding of North Koreans. Most of their parents were born after the Korean War," Oh said. "Anything they get about North Korea comes from reading the news." 

Because of this, Oh doesn’t believe that young South Koreans can have the same understanding and feeling for North Koreans.  

CMU alumnus Taylor Ackerman brought up the subject of North and South Korean Relations.   

Oh believes that if North Korea is trying to get better economic development, they have to give up sanctions. 

"Without the collaboration of both Koreas, it’s very difficult for operational projects and economy projects that were underway some years ago, but have been suspended due to sanctions,” Oh said. 

Cassie Kim, an alumna of Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea asked about human rights in North Korea. 

“Human rights is one of the so-called 'three pillars of the United Nations,' as well as peace and development," Oh said. "When it comes to peace and security, the United Nations has a security council, which is very powerful. They can impose sanctions and organize armies to enforce peace."

For the most part, human rights organizations conduct a process known as "naming and shaming," Oh said. Recently, North Korea defended themselves against human rights violations, which Oh believes is better than showing no shame.  

Director for Student Disability Services Lynne L’ Hommedieu brought up the human rights of persons with disabilities.   

Oh explained that wheelchairs can be provided to disabled South Koreans, but many of the buildings are old and don't have wheelchair accessibility.  

"We are quite advanced compared to other Asian countries in providing protection for those who are disabled," Oh said. "However, I don't think we are taking enough of a social approach."