Meeting with Ambassador Kwon and Dr. Kwak

I had the unexpected pleasure of  having lunch together with both Ambassador  Kwon Byong Hyon and Dr. Kwak  Sang Soo at Future Forest  last Friday (August 8, 2014). They are two Koreans who have deeply inspired me with their model and their work. Ambassador Kwon works every day to raise funds to support efforts to plant trees in China and stop the spread of trees. He is  one of the very few who is deeply involved in government policy but also willing to think outside the box about the  need to create a new civilization in this age of  ecological crisis. He is far past the age that most successful people retire and take up their time with personal concerns.

When we spoke at Minjok Sagwan High School, Ambassador Kwon started his remarks by apologizing to the high school students for how he had  thoughtlessly  wasted resources throughout his life without a thought  for future generations.  I have never heard anyone one make  such an apology before, and, in fact, I have never made  that apology myself. I should, however, perhaps every time I meet someone younger. I was deeply  impressed and honored to be at the lunch with Ambassador Kwon–who has been a close supporter of Asia Institute.

Dr. Kwak  has worked  ceaselessly with  Chinese (and people of other countries) to develop foodstuffs that allow poor people to feed themselves without damaging the  ecosystem. He  has made tremendous contributions—which most people do not know about— to the battle to  stop the spread of deserts in Northeast Asia. The spread of  deserts is  the greatest threat of our age and Dr. Kwak identified it early on.

I would also like to draw  attention to someone not pictured here. That is Dr. Chen Minhao who passed away in 2009. Dr. Chen Minhao was a Chinese academic who fought endlessly for the cause of ecology in China in an age when few were interested. Although I did  not understand  what he was talking about when  he told  me  about his ideas back in 1991, I later came to understand that I had met another  remarkable spirit. I had the honor of translating his  thoughtful proposal for a Nobel Prize for ecology to  stand beside  that for economics. Do see my short  essay on Dr. Chen Minhao.

 

 

Emanuel with Kwon Byong Hyon (center; former Korean ambassador to China and Chairman of Future Forest) and  Kwak Sang Soo (senior researcher at Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology on August 8, 2014 at Future Forest offices in Seoul.

Emanuel with Kwon Byong Hyon (center; former Korean ambassador to China and Chairman of Future Forest) and Kwak Sang Soo (senior researcher at Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology on August 8, 2014 at Future Forest offices in Seoul.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: