ABOUT

ABOUT

THIS YEAR'S THEME

THIS YEAR'S THEME

Rebuilding Trust in the Fragmented Society

Korea's 20th presidential election in March 2022 was decided by the smallest of margins. It was an election tainted with divisions between camps and other negatives. In a post-election poll, citizens would say that leadership in unity that is able to transcend division and confrontation is the most important. Last year, Korea officially became recognized as a developed country by the United Nations. However, it is currently merely a country with a high national income, there is still a long way to go for a developed country in terms of building a socioeconomic foundation of fairness, consensus, and inclusion. In recent years, the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) trend has been rapidly expanding throughout domestic and foreign companies. It is a change that shows that companies cannot be an exception when faced with the entirety of humanity, which must stop a time bomb of destruction caused by climate change and must comply with agreed upon efforts within a limited time constraint of 30 to 50 years.

Korea's 20th presidential election in March 2022 was decided by the smallest of margins. It was an election tainted with divisions between camps and other negatives. In a post-election poll, citizens would say that leadership in unity that is able to transcend division and confrontation is the most important. Last year, Korea officially became recognized as a developed country by the United Nations. However, it is currently merely a country with a high national income, there is still a long way to go for a developed country in terms of building a socioeconomic foundation of fairness, consensus, and inclusion. In recent years, the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) trend has been rapidly expanding throughout domestic and foreign companies. It is a change that shows that companies cannot be an exception when faced with the entirety of humanity, which must stop a time bomb of destruction caused by climate change and must comply with agreed upon efforts within a limited time constraint of 30 to 50 years.

There has never been a time when the wisdom of trust-based cooperation and co-prosperity is as desperate as it is now, and is needed to overcome the complex crisis currently being experienced throughout the global community including pandemics, wars, and deepening inequality. The reality is not optimistic. The global consensus on "carbon neutrality," which was very narrowly agreed upon amid the pandemic and climate crisis, is in danger of being put aside due to the war in Ukraine. Trust in the institutions and norms that form the foundation of society, including political parties, governments, the judiciary, and the media, is falling. The biggest factor is that the elite forget social responsibility and are exposed to be corrupt and hypocritical. Institutional trust becomes a sandcastle when politicians differ in their words and actions, when high-ranking public officials use information and human networks for personal gain while in office, when the media loses independence, writes biased articles, devotes themselves to competition for viewership and publishes sensationalist articles.

Social media, which allows us to connect with each other anytime, anywhere, has emerged as an alternative to overcome the spatial and temporal limitations of institutional trustworthy agencies. The savagery of the Ukrainian war was openly and starkly revealed through photos posted on social media by citizens present in the warzone, not via traditional media. False and manipulated information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic was also disseminated through smartphones held in the hands of citizens. But social media, which features hyper-connectivity, is creating another divide and causing isolation. Online, individuals become intolerant to ideas other than their own and leap to the demonization of their opponents. As a result, the ravine of division deepens, and the polarization of each divided camp becomes stronger. Although access is free, meeting becomes difficult, and individuals complain of loneliness, alienation, and the pain of isolation. Digitalization may seem like something everyone can trust, but it may lead us to an era where no one is able or willing to trust one another. New trust is needed to move beyond division and isolation into a future of coexistence.

“Trust is created when we act consistently based on our ability and honesty,” said David Meister, an American business scholar who wrote the book <The Art of Trust>, adding that “Intimacy based on mutual understanding is a source of trust, and the pursuit of unfair or excessive private interests gnaws at trust.” The future of democracy, threatened by inequality and polarization, depends on trust. The 13th ASIA Future Forum to be held in November this year explores the future of trust. <The ASIA Future Forum> will take the journey towards this new trust.