This article was published online by the Magyar Nemzet on 23 November 2021.
The economic integration of Eurasia began during this century; this included the establishment of strategic economic alliances between Germany, the V4 countries and East Asia. Based on their size, levels of development, economic structures and previous relations, the connections that can be built up between the Four Asian Tigers and the Visegrád 4 countries hold a lot of potential and unique strategic benefits. More specifically, there is the potential for country duos or pairings between nations of these two regions. Due to the dimensional differences between China and Japan, strategic networks can be established between their megacities and V4 economic regions, along with political alliances.
Among the four Asian tigers, South Korea and Singapore appear to be the most promising matches for Hungary. While Singapore provides the recipe for social success, South Korea could be a strategic partner in technology investment, R & D, cultural, educational, and tourism cooperation.
A Hungarian and South Korean pairing (Hunkor) would mean a geographic and economic entrance into the European Union for South Korea; for Hungary it would be a strategic step towards the future. For the first, space is more important while the latter needs time – but the two together offer a common place for the future of Eurasia.
What can a South Korean-Hungarian Eurasian pairing be founded on?
Two nations – consistent values
In a global comparison, the Korean and Hungarian nations are perhaps closest in terms of values. They value competition, the desire to persevere and prove themselves, and the prosperity of families. These values move our desires, needs, interests, decisions, and behaviors at all levels of life and community. The similar value systems attract each other and drive factors that lead to success like talent, knowledge, technology, and capital.
Two countries – two flags
The two nations do indeed have big differences, but these complement rather than cancel each other. The national flag of South Korea preserves symbols of ancient knowledge, while also signaling to the world that we are in constant motion as the red (enthusiasm and passion) and blue (security and tranquility) struggle. The yin-yang symbolizes the equality between men and women, but the ongoing struggle for balance. The ancient signs (heaven-earth, fire-water) tell all Koreans that the world is constantly changing and that they must prepare for everything and adapt.
The Hungarian national colors also symbolize strength and courage (red), purity (white) and harmony with nature (green). The colors of the two flags complement each other well because strategic, economic cooperation is based on willpower and competition, reliability, and harmony.
Both countries are seeking geopolitical balance for national development and economic success. South Korea is balanced among four of the most difficult counterparts of this day and age: USA, China, Japan, and the South Koreans.
Hungary is in the same position at the intersection of the USA, Germany (EU), Russia, Turkey, and China. Our political strategy is similar because we are not aiming for success in the wider field of politics, but rather in national development, especially the economy. The aim of our political strategy is to ensure that the geopolitical field of power does not block our national path towards development. Today, that means avoiding avoid the new US-China cold war battles for both Hungary and South Korea. For Hungary, it also includes avoiding a few more sources of conflict: US versus Russia, sinkholes left by the EU, and the reemerging Balkan tensions.
Basic aim of national strategy is independence
Both countries have been all too familiar with imperial and colonial historical injustices, thus at the heart of both nations is the effort to preserve freedom, independence, and self-determination. Both countries recognized that political and military resources are not enough to this end – economic colonization was a constant threat in both sizable geographical/geopolitical spaces. South Korea realized that only the best can be truly independent in the world economy. Hungary is beginning to realize that it is cruising in a region and time where it is only possible to retain talent, expand knowledge, acquire technology, and accumulate capital with equal or higher competitiveness as its European counterparts.
Renaissance of the nation-state
Just as a new 500-year-era began in Europe with the great geographic discovery of 1492, similarly the next even hundreds of years are marked by the technological breakthrough of the internet in 1996. The first decades of this were particularly fruitful with creative, intellectual, and technological innovations. Both countries in our analysis want to take advantage of this new renaissance with the strengthened role of the nation-state (to quote Norbert Csizmadia).
The two countries have founded their strategy for the future on the nation-state. South Korea has been more successful than Hungary regarding the following: economic development, quality of life, life expectancy, general health, the health care system, primary and higher education, and transportation infrastructure. The joint future performance of all Eurasian duos is determined by the improvement of the weaker counterpart. There are many good examples of this in South Korea, as well as in Singapore, China, and Japan.
Many of the South Korean keys to success can be used to open doors in Hungary, however there are some areas where other alternatives need to be employed. South Korea’s dizzying development is based on a tension between opposites as its yin-yang symbol along with the struggle between sky-earth and fire-water, suggests. In South Korea, the regional and geographical layout is relatively balanced (in contrast to Hungary’s wide differences) but serious tensions have emerged in society. Their levels of social inequality are higher than Hungary’s: between young and older people, active and retired, full-time and part-time employed, world-class large companies and local small businesses, those attending elite universities and the rest, wealthy and poor families, those with little or a lot of indebtedness.
For both of us, sustainable development requires consistency between growth and equilibrium in all elements of the “equilibrium growth” formula. They have heavy imbalances among social, demographic spheres and families; we have imbalances in our finances, public services and between our regions. The two countries complement each other well, so it would be a worthwhile effort to expand cooperation in these territories.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” ― Socrates