(ATTN: UPDATES with forum opening)
By Yi Wonju
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- Senior government officials and national security experts gathered at a Seoul forum on Friday to explore ways to deal with multiple challenges facing the Korean Peninsula amid a rapidly changing global security environment stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a growing rivalry between the United States and China.
The symposium, co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification, opened at Lotte Hotel earlier in the day under the main theme of "U.S.-China-Russia Competition for Hegemony in the President Yoon Suk-yeol Era."
Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, who serves as Seoul's top point man on Pyongyang, is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech.
The forum comes a month after the launch of the conservative Yoon administration, with regional tensions heightened due to North Korea's continued sabre-rattling highlighted by a string of ballistic missile launches and reports of preparations for a nuclear test.
It consists of two comprehensive sessions. In the first session titled "Tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and the future of the Korean Peninsula," participants will share their views on the escalating U.S.-China competition for hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region.
Korean American Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) and Daniel Russel, vice president for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute, will deliver presentations on the shifting geopolitical dynamics in the region. Russel worked as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 2013-2017.
Rep. Sung Il-jong of South Korea's ruling People Power Party and Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo from the main opposition Democratic Party will also join the first session.
The second session will set the stage for discussions on the Yoon administration's strategies on inter-Korean relations and the Seoul-Washington alliance, and how to bring the North back to the negotiating table.
Ahn Ho-young, former South Korean ambassador to the U.S., will deliver a presentation on the 70-year history and future of the alliance. Former Ambassador to Russia Wi Sung-lac, who served as Seoul's chief nuclear envoy, plans to analyze the South's new policy direction unveiled at the Seoul summit talks between Yoon and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden last month.
Other attendees will include Kim Hyung-suk, former vice unification minister, and Jung Sung-chun, vice president at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP).
Seong Ghi-hong, CEO and president of Yonhap News Agency, expressed hope the forum will provide an opportunity to "tackle the challenges facing us and gain wisdom to build the future fate of the Korean Peninsula."
Seong stressed the path towards peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula is becoming gloomier as North Korea's determination for nuclear weapons has become stronger.
"It is time to thoroughly assess the security and economic impact of the ever-changing security situations of the Korean Peninsula and the international community," he said.
This year's forum also features Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, as well as other political and business figures. It is being livestreamed at https://www.onekorea2022.co.kr.
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