Seoul, South Korea
Invigorated by the experiences in Kuala Lumpur, the Trekkers set off for Seoul, Korea where they spent the next three days learning from one of the fastest growing OECD economies. Fifty years ago, Korea was still an impoverished nation. Today, the country’s export competitiveness and remarkable economic rise are turning heads.
The first meeting on the Korean itinerary was with NGO Teach North Korean Refugees (TNKR). The NGO was launched in March 2013 when co-founders Casey Lartigue Jr. and Lee Eunkoo matched five North Korean refugees with five English-speaking volunteers. Since then, TNKR has connected over 110 North Korean refugees with 164 English-speaking volunteers.
Armed with insiders’ knowledge on the North Korea situation, the Trekkers set off for the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, the nation’s first museum showcasing comprehensive history from the late nineteenth century to current time. Open since 2012, it hosts an array of exhibitions, educational installations, conducts research and develop/collect materials.
After a half hour journey on the Korean subway, the Trekkers arrived at the front door of N15, a hardware accelerator program initiated by the Seoul City Hall. Here, Trekkers learned about the role N15 played in supporting and assisting over 280 start-ups.
The evening ended with a meeting with former member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea Professor Park Jin, who shared crucial insights on the US, China and Korea relationship.
The second day in Korea commenced with a visit to LG Chemical, Korea’s largest chemical company and the 13th largest in the world. Trekkers then visited Chosun Media, a subsidiary of Chosun Group, which owns a wide range of subsidiaries from broadcast and new media to publishing, and hospitality.
On the third day, Trekkers had the opportunity to witness firsthand the volatile relationship between North and South Korea. Besides visiting Panmunjeom, also known as the Joint Security Area (JSA), Trekkers submerged into the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel along the demilitarized zone (DMZ).
The Honorable Chairman of the Defense Committee MP Kim Yongwoo helped conclude the Korean leg of the Trek by hosting the Trekkers for a meeting and a guided tour of the National Assembly of Korea.
Tokyo, the technology and cultural hub of Japan, hosted the last leg of the 2018 ALT X. Although the world’s third largest economy had not seen much sustained growth since 2006, there are clear signs that the nation is finally shrugging off decades of sluggish economy, thanks to new measures to address problems related to its aging population and reduced job opportunities.
The day at Tokyo started with a visit to the Meiji Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. This was followed by lunch at the fashionable Harajuku district. Next, the Trekkers set off for a meeting with CEO Akane Takahashi at HLAB, an outfit set-up by Ryosuke Kobayashi to emulate his residential liberal arts learning experiences at Harvard.
In Tokyo, Trekkers also met with Kosuke Takahashi, who is the Tokyo correspondent of the IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. Besides sharing his thoughts on international affairs, Takahashi, who also worked with Thomson Reuters previously, spoke about his experiences on expanding its online news coverage across multiple digital channels.
On the third day, Trekkers met Hitoshi Tanaka, Chairman of Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute. After lunch, they engaged with Akihiro Ozawa, Director of Route H, Benesse Corporation, before meeting with Ko Fujii, CEO of Makaira KK. The Trek came to an official close with a dinner hosted by Keiichi Maeda and his students at Maeda School of Business and Management.
by Rajeswari Ramanee