By Cho Jin-seo
A myriad of leading figures of the Internet and telecommunication industry will gather in Seoul next month to give their advice to ministers from rich nations about how the Internet should and will change the world.
The OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy is to be held at the COEX exhibition complex in southern Seoul June 17-18. With the attendance of 42 ministers from 37 countries and 41 prominent figures from the business and academic sectors, it will be the largest ministerial meeting of the OECD ever.
Among the participants are Katsuaki Watanabe, president and CEO of Toyota Motor; Barbara Dalibard, CEO of France Telecom; Jim Balsillie, CEO of RIM, the maker of Blackberry phones; Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, the creator of the Firefox Web browser; Vint Cerf, vice president of Google; and Chey Tae-won, chairman of Korea's SK Group.
``The goal of the OECD ministerial meeting is to make policies for economic growth via the Internet, so we suggested convergence, creativity and confidence as the main topics,'' said Choi See-joong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), which hosts the meeting. The agency changed its English name from the Broadcasting Communications Commission late last month.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is a league of 30 rich nations that have adopted representative democracy and the free market economy. It is the first ministerial meeting to be held in Asia and first in 10 years to discuss the Internet since a 1998 Toronto meeting.
All 30 member countries are sending their Internet and communications ministers to Seoul as well as 12 non-member countries including Brazil, India and Russia. OECD secretary general Angel Gurria will chair the event. Kevin Martin, commissioner of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, and Suh Nam-pyo, president of KAIST, will also give speeches.
The ministers, business leaders, NGOs and other influential figures will discuss various topics on the Internet and communications industry over five rounds of meetings. The results will be rounded up at the ministers' final meeting on June 18, which will produce a joint manifesto.
Not everything has been going smoothly. The KCC has been preparing for the international conference but there have been controversies whether its nature and ability is suitable for the task.
The KCC is a successor of the former Ministry of Information and Communication but its tasks are mostly focused on broadcasting and telecommunication regulatory issues. Most of its Internet policies and other industrial functions were moved to other ministries in March as part of a government reform plan. Officials said that it was an inevitable decision for the KCC to host the meeting because it was so imminent.
KCC chairman Choi has also been criticized for his personal ability to lead the agency. A former politics reporter of the Donga Ilbo daily, the 70-year-old has had little involvement and interest in the Internet industry until he was selected to be the KCC chief by President Lee Myung-bak, a friend of his. The labor union association of the IT industry and several NGOs opposed his appointment at the time.