Min Dong-seok Secretary-General of Korean National Commission for UNESCO displayed ex-government officials' lack of awareness on gender equality by limiting women support to underdeveloped countries, saying "There is enough women's participation in reality even without special programs targeting Korean women." Min is an ex-government official who passed the 13th Foreign Service Examination, served as the chief delegate for the 2008 Korea-US beef talks and worked as the second vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2010.
According to ‘2013 Global Gender Gap Report’ released by World Economy Forum(WEF) last October, Korea ranks low at 111th place among 136 countries in terms of gender equality; however, no women-related programs can be found in the training program run by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO.
Min said, “Currently we do not have a special program for women. There are programs for students, undergraduates, youths, and elementary school students, but since we live in an era of women's power, women are everywhere most are women” during the 60th foundation anniversary press interview held at the UNESCO House function room in Myeongdong, Jung-gu.
He added “Internationally, however, it needs special attention. Africa’s illiteracy rate stands at 63%, and among the 700 million illiterate people, most are women. Women’s importance is increasing, and if women gain literacy, their families can benefit. Once additional support is decided through fundraising, UNESCO headquarters, too, will send donations.”
He went on to say, “We have in mind women's education in African underdeveloped countries as the main target. If we go to villages, the heads are usually women. Husbands go off to work, so women run the village. Of course the UNESCO Hopebridge business’ main target is women as well. I would like to stress that even though we are not running any programs domestically, we are running many overseas.”
Min also emphasized UNESCO's efforts to spur education project, motioning UNESCO's help after the Korean War in building textbook print shops. On the recent textbook dispute, he said, “The Korean textbook issue is a matter of balance and truth. It is extremely crucial where the focus is set. We must be able to grasp the big picture.”
"History, a basic fact, was distorted as we went through the Japanese colonial era, and in the numerous processes of correction, many became biased," explained Min. "Although it is hard to say to which side it leaned, the bias must be corrected. Only when children are clearly aware of Korea's identity and learn a correct view of the history can Korea survive and prosper in the heated competition among great powers despite its small size.”
Last March, 2011 when Japan announced the review result of middle school textbooks that marked Dokdo as the Sea of Japan, Min, who was then the second vice-minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reacted swiftly, holding a meeting of ‘Dokdo territory management measure team’ and more.
On the day, Secretary-General Min also introduced the ‘UNESCO Hopebridge Project’ which is an education support program for underdeveloped countries and said, “UNESCO helped Korea when it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and now it is our calling of the era to help the poor areas in education. The greatest emphasis is not simply on providing one-sided support but on going a step further to help them stand on their own feet. Inside are the spirit of the New Community Movement, the spirit of the night schools in the past, and efforts of service and sacrifice witnessed in our people.”
Meanwhile, he said that it was President Park Geun-hye who invited Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, to the UNESCO 60th anniversary celebration when she had visited Paris. The anniversary event will be held on the 3rd of this month at Coex, Samsung-dong.