Seoul becomes networking hub for IBA members
The International Bar Association (IBA) Conference, the largest annual gathering of lawyers, is taking place in the Korean capital this week.
The conference opened Sunday evening with a special video message from President Moon Jae-in and a welcoming speech from Seoul Mayor Park Wonsoon. Both Moon and Park are former human rights lawyers.
Since then, the COEX convention center in southern Seoul has turned into a lively networking hub for around 5,000 legal professionals from around the world.
This is the first time for the country to host the prestigious conference, which started as a biennale event in 1947.
With over 200 sessions, the conference provides participants with ample opportunity to explore rising issues and areas of interest in the legal field, as well as connect with the relevant players. Debates range from legal business models in the gig economy to addressing sexual harassment by workplace superiors in the age of #MeToo.
“Thanks to the presence of top experts from each field, the sessions are generating a lot of good discussions, rather than one-way presentations or lectures,” Seo Sang-yoon, a lawyer and vice president of international affairs at the Korean Bar Association, said.
On the sidelines, meetings are taking place between representatives of national bar associations to discuss common problems and possible solutions, such as the saturated job market and deteriorating public image of lawyers, Seo added.
Some sessions handled North Korea issues. Wednesday’s sessions included one on the restrictions of conducting business in North Korea.
Lee Hyeon-seo, a North Korean defector and the author of “The Girl with Seven Names — A North Korean Defector’s Story,” and International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties President Kwon O-gon were brought in for special lunchtime sessions.
A highlight from the remaining events is the Rule of Law Symposium on Friday. The symposium will deal with the persecution of lawyers and judges in countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar.
Guests of the International Bar Association’s Seoul conference watch a performance at Korean Night, hosted by the Korean Bar Association at Sono Felice convention center in southern Seoul, Tuesday.