Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Deceptive, mistaken, or just convenient labeling at the "Korea Maritime Institute?"


The Korea Maritime Institute (KMI) is one of two major marine policy research institutes in Korea. The other, and older one, is KORDI. For a coastal management researcher KMI's website is chocked full of great information, pdfs galore. However as I moved from KMI's English site to its Korean one I was struck by the real, Korean, name of the place, which is Hanguk Haeyang Susan Gaebalwon (한국해양수산개발원.) Translated literally this means something like "Korean Institute for the Development of Marine Fisheries." The difference between this and "Korea Maritime Institute" is certainly subtle. But it hints at a larger and not very subtle reality in Korea, that of close cooperation between government and industry. KMI is not simply a research center from which government regulators can seek advice on how keep track of marine industries, but an active government agency that seeks to develop those industries. Certainly there is nothing sinister in this. In every country government and industry support marine research. In the U.S. the Navy has long been the primary funder of such research. But in Korea the level of coordination between industry and government, in part faciliated by KMI (and KORDI), is extensive. One of their latest publications (sorry its only in Korean) contains one proposal after another for how Korea's marine industries must position themselves in order to economically develop in the 21st century and how KMI and the government can help them to do this.

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