A delegation of five Canadian parliamentarians visited Seoul, South Korea, from April 9-16, 2022 as part of the Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP) at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA), University of British Columbia (UBC). The delegation was led by Prof. Kyung-Ae Park, Founding Director of the KPP at SPPGA. The visit represented the KPP’s ongoing initiative to enhance its knowledge diplomacy as part of its public diplomacy efforts.
The goal of the visit was to meet with legislators in South Korea to discuss inter-Korean affairs and the role of Canada in reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula through Track-II knowledge diplomacy. It aimed at advancing KPP’s goal of knowledge sharing/diplomacy for constructive engagement with both Koreas.
The non-partisan delegation consisted of the following six members:
- Professor Kyung-Ae Park, University of British Columbia, Delegation leader (Founding Director of the KPP)
- The Honorable Marc Garneau, Member of Parliament, Liberal Party (Former Foreign Minister, Former Minister of Transport)
- The Honorable Yuen Pau Woo, Senator, Independent Senators Group (Member of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade)
- The Honorable Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia, Senator, Independent Senators Group (Member of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade)
- Don Davies, Member of Parliament, New Democratic Party (Critic for Health)
- Stephanie Kusie, Member of Parliament, Conservative Party (Shadow Minister for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion)
During the visit, a series of high-level meetings were held with current and former senior officials, including the former UN Secretary-General, Minister of Unification, the First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and many of the former Prime Ministers and Ministers. In the National Assembly, the delegation met with the chairs and members of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, National Defense Committee, and the Canada-Korea Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group.
The delegation also held meetings with university presidents, heads of research institutes, think tanks, and NGOs, as well as experts on regional security, economy, and public health, presidential election campaign teams, and heads of Seoul-based foreign missions.
About the KPP:
With the goal to facilitate knowledge diplomacy through academic exchanges with North Korea for human capacity building, the Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP) is an unprecedented, ground-breaking program in North America that, since its inception in 2011, has hosted over 50 North Korean professors for their 6-month study at UBC.
In addition, the KPP has held several international conferences in North Korea, with participation from North American, European, Asian, and UN experts. The Program has also led North Korean delegations to Europe and Asia for international workshops and study visits. In 2018, the KPP organized a historic visit of 12-member North Korean University Presidents/Vice-Presidents Delegation to UBC, marking an extremely rare occasion for North Korean university leaders to visit a foreign university together.
In the Media:
Prof. Kyung-Ae Park was interviewed on the impact of the KPP-Parliamentarian Delegation Visit to South Korea and how she promotes knowledge diplomacy with both North and South Korea. The visit-related reports appeared across more than 50 media outlets and government news portals in Korea, the US, and Canada, including The JoongAng Ilbo, Yonhap News Agency, News1, Radio Free Asia, The Korea Daily, Newsis, MK News, and South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They have all featured the delegation visit and meetings with senior government officials and university and business leaders.