The New York Korea Society is pushing the theme 'South Korea as an economic model'. With this in mind, it has moved towards discussions which favour technocratics.
In the past, the Society had a taste for more spirited debate. In today's atmosphere, excitement comes from reciting a rosary of economic data.
The Society's officers find past history encouraged 'value laden' ideas. Suddenly, the world of think tanks and the university triumphs under the banner of 'value free'. In the way they see the world, it is only seen as 'value free' because everyone who openly address the Society's members tacitly accept rules and boundaries which are hardly controversial. Of course, America's social sciences' use of 'value free' is a sleight of hand: 'value free' cannot be defined objectively. The notion, however, does in this sense: everyone unconditionally subscribes to it, and will defend it to his last breath. Nonetheless, his motivation is 'political' in defence of his worldview.
A technocratic orientated Korea Society would, by definition, have a limited membership. And so, the strong programming of film, culture, literature, cooking, laguage classes, and the like, to meet requirements as a 501(c)not for profit corporation.
By its very name, the Korea Society's business is selling South Korea. The renewed stress of Korea as an economic model and 'Wirkshaftswunder' [economic miracle]has a strong political undertone. Selling South Korea applauds its democracy, its export orientated economy, its consumerism, so on and on. South Korea as a 'capitalist' model points the way to emancipate the rest of the world made up mostly of middle sized economies, and perhaps an example for the US and China, too. South Korea is not only a model for export but a mirror of what North Korea could be were it only ready to throw its rascals out of power.
It is ironical that raising South Korea as an export model of capitalism and by capitalism it means free market capitalism overlooks the strong role of the protectionist role of its government, to sustain the country's first world economy and growth.
Reliance on technocrats give way to tiresome guest lecturers who talk a coded language of think tanks and university clubs and classrooms. To underscore a point, attendees who join in Business Breakfast or Luncheon discussions are referred to scholarly articles and more arcane discussions in recently published books. Events are so chosen so as to avoid 'value laden' opinions. Is that realistic, the more especially that conditions on the Korean peninsula are not only tense but it is as if the world is holding its breath and quietly keeping its fingers crossed the South won't trip a wire thereby causing renewed warfare on a divided Korean peninsula.
The Society cannot keep reality from breaking in; it will continue trying to squeeze it into its own 'value free' model but with not the complete success it hopes.