by Regina Min
from EoC Report 2016
The South Korean people are living a moment of serious institutional crisis because of the controversial relationship between President Park Geun-hye, elected in 2012, and the daughter of a leader of a shamanistic cult, which came to light last November. Apparently, due to her influence on the President, major Korean companies, including Samsung, have donated tens of millions of dollars to her foundation and that's not all... The news of the scandal sparked a massive protest: the people felt deceived and for several weeks over one million and eight hundred thousand citizens invaded the streets of Seoul peacefully, marching with candles to demand the resignation of the president. On 9 December 2016, the parliament voted for the impeachment of the president and now the Constitutional Court of South Korea has to decide whether to validate or not the decision of the parliament until June. It’s easy to see that the state of uncertainty will remain as long as the affair is closed by assigning it the words "the end".
It is in this political and social context that the 7° Asia Future Forum entitled Beyond GDP, the Goal of Happiness for Everyone" was held. Promoted on 23 and 24 November in Seoul by the important Korean newspaper Hankyoreh, the Forum placed a particular attention to civil economy, believed to be able to provide "sustainable alternatives of happiness" for everyone. Luigino Bruni gave the main talk dealing with "public happiness and relational goods" and moderated the round table discussion entitled "Recommendations and Requirements for a World of Shared Happiness" that touched the heart of the current crisis in Korea. His audience included some influential politicians (the president of the Korean Parliament and the candidates in the forthcoming presidential elections in 2017), representatives of large-scale industry, the media and civil economy as well as many academics. The lecture had a strong impact on all those present. The next day Hankyoreh published an extensive article entitled: “Happiness is Essentially a Question of Human Relationships”.
In the days of his stay in Korea, Luigino Bruni also had several opportunities to talk about "Plantlike Capitalism", a topic that attracted interest and amazement in the students of the 7th School of Politics for Unity, in politicians, scholars and experts in the work of Civil Economy, in the entrepreneurs of the 1st and 2nd generation of the EoC present at the Social Forum promoted by the Korean MPPU (Movement for Unity in Politics) and in the students and professors of political and civil economy of the Chonbuk National University of Jongiu (including Kim Sungsu, the mayor of the city).
After a week of "full immersion" in civil economy, a person who was accompanying Luigino Bruni stated: "We are starting to see moments of hope in today's crisis." If, as Chiara Lubich said, there is a solution for every problem in the Gospel, then it is also true that once you understand the solution, the sciences have to translate it into knowledge and living standards for the different times and different cultures. Accompanying Luigino Bruni on this trip it has become certain to me that this is possible."