SDF2021 Fifty million voices, Searching for a conductor
SBS has, since 2004, organized a major knowledge-sharing global forums- SDF (Seoul Digital Forum) and FKR (Future Korea Report) as a way to give back to society. SBS started SDF Season 2 in 2018 with the launch of SBS D Forum, an all-new forum that both merges and builds on the rich traditions of SDF and FKR. SBS D Forum will involve not only the offline forum in the fall but also wide-ranging online content produced year-round. Special projects, interviews, discussions by leaders in various fields, and experiments that the public can take part in, all of which will help us find solutions together to the challenges we face as a society.
*As of October 2021
The fifty million “voices” of South Korea today are not uniform. They are each utterly distinct, reflecting in their collective diversity the wider, infinitely varied world. At a time of growing appreciation for such diversity, closer attention is being paid to the voices among us that once went unheard, or that we simply ignored for being too unfamiliar. Against this backdrop, and in the face of transformative changes that have brought the future much closer than we could have anticipated, SDF 2021 asks Korea’s political leaders an important question: “Who, and what, do you represent?”
Living in control of our own lives can only be done when we are aware enough to do so. To be aware is to understand the future not as something that happens to us but as a possibility that we can choose and foster into fruition. Those who have this awareness do not shrink from facing uncertainty but rather choose the chance to grow. They speak like conductors, not of music but of life, calling on us to imagine bigger, to connect with each other more deeply, and to take bolder action.
In the context of the major social and ecological changes we are currently undergoing, SDF 2021 seeks to find ways for us to live together while still preserving the unique colors of our individual voices. Our journey will take us deep into the heart of what it means to be the kind of leader who can help create harmony between different voices, and how individuals, corporations, government, civil society, and the international community can bring their respective voices together in a meaningful discourse about our future. We now begin a bold exploration to find some answers.
The scars left on Korean society in the wake of the pandemic have hardly begun to heal. Yet we find ourselves in the middle of an unfamiliar chaos of disparate yet interconnected crises that show no sign of letting up.
On one side, we hear the agitated clamor of five million small and medium-sized business owners on the brink, scrambling for a lifeline. On the other, we witness conglomerates post record profits and the Korea’s benchmark stock index break 3,000 points for the first time in history. Real estate prices continue to soar, leaving low-income earners’ hopes of stable housing – and the future of a generation of young people – in the lurch.
Amidst it all, we have lost any capacity we once had for empathy or understanding. Discord rooted in differences of ideology class, generation, and gender only continues to intensify, and equity is repeatedly imperiled by groups intent on pursuing and protecting only their own interests. Meanwhile, the climate crisis we so doggedly refused to acknowledge is already here, and it is ready to exact a high price.
Against this cacophony of voices struggling and pleading to be heard, our country prepares for presidential elections in March, which will decide to whom the task of leading Korea through its present tumult will fall.
This will be the backdrop for the 2021 SBS D Forum, where, under the theme “Fifty Million Voices Searching for a Conductor,” we will grapple with the question of what kind of leadership our political leaders will need to exercise to be able to reconcile 50 million desperate, discordant voices.
We will consider not only the imperatives of leaders but the topics to which we as individuals must give sufficient thought if we are to conduct and dictate our own futures, as well as the aspects of one another we must be willing to accept if we are to find a way for us to live together, a chorus of utterly distinct yet harmonizing voices.
35 years on from Korea’s democratization, and with less than half a year to go before the next presidential elections, SDF2021 will mark another bold journey in search of a new paradigm of leadership as well as followership. I look forward to your continued support and interest along the way. Thank you.
PARK Jeong Hoon, President & CEO, SBS