A Tournament Like No Other
This tournament is the world’s largest debating competition, and one of the largest annual international student events in the world. The inaugural Championship was hosted by the Glasgow University Union in January 1981, with 43 teams from 7 nations competing. Since then it has dramatically grown to an event that hosts over 400 teams (each comprised by two students), representing more than 380 universities from 80 different nations.
Students from the World’s best universities regularly compete. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Monash, Sydney and dozens of other world class institutions send their best students. As a result, being crowned 'World Champion' is one of the most prestigious titles a student can attain. This is a unique opportunity for Korean students to interact with the international debating community, to engage in debates on issues of global importance, and to develop their communication and critical thinking skills.
Why Korea WUDC 2021?
Korean debate, and Northeast Asia at large, remains on the margins of the world debate stage. This is due to several reasons. First, debating remains an activity with a high barrier to entry within Korea, due to the absence of institutions, personnel, and educationalresources that cater to the debaters’ needs. A lack of public recognition, as well as a lack of financial sponsorship, are also problematic. These domestic limitations were projected to the international debating stage, with only a handful of teams from Korea able to attend WUDC in 2017; many passionate and talented debaters had to give up the opportunity to compete at the world stage annually.
Despite these difficulties, Korea persisted: since Korea's first entry in the 1994 Melbourne WUDC, Korean teams have participated every year, with one team from Yonsei University even proceeding to the elimination rounds in 2016. Public recognition and support for English debating have also increased, and debate education more systemized in the past few years. The 2021 WUDC would appeal to a wide spectrum of Korean citizens. Hosting the 2021 WUDC in Korea will lower the bar of entry for the thousands of Korean students who are already excited of a possibility of a WUDC in Korea. Moreover, the event will increase awareness of the Korean public on debating and encourage them to participate.
More importantly, Korea will be the leader of debate in the Northeast Asian region through this tournament. Until now, Asian debate performance at the global level has been focused in Southeast Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. For Korea, participants’ results have often fallen short of our hopes – but this is not because Korean debaters lacked the skill. Rather, this is due to a lack of experience participating in international tournaments, limited funding, and weak institutional support. Hosting the WUDC in Korea address all these problems because it opens opportunities for more international debate tournaments, more workshops, and institutional support.
As the first global-level debate tournament ever held in Northeast Asia, Korea WUDC 2021 conveys a lot of symbolic meaning: the tournament will solidify Korea’s position as the pioneer of Northeast Asian debate among the international debate community. Debaters from all over the world will travel to Korea for tournaments, and many will want to visit Korea for the opportunities that Korea offers in debating. The exchange of information, culture, and human resources that are a direct result of WUDC would be an invaluable asset to Korea’s future, and the future of growth for international debate as well as all of Northeast Asia.
Korean Debate Circuit
The Korean debate scene provides a dynamic and encompassing circle for debaters, encouraging debaters of diverse age groups and regions to join and challenge their conventional beliefs through pushing themselves to their intellectual limits. Middle and high school students are encouraged to step into debate through tournaments such as Cornell-Yonsei and Korea Youth Debate Championship. University students not only participate in collegiate level tournaments but also assist in adjudicating and organising tournaments for younger students. More experienced debaters pave the way for future aspiring debaters through giving back to the community via non-profit organisations that educate students on speech and logic, providing lectures and insight on diverse issues to juniors through alumni nights and homecomings, and participating in open tournaments. We aim to strengthen this virtuous cycle and make debate not a onetime experience, but a process of striving for intellectual greatness and eloquence.
South Korean debate circuit has been improving year by year. Ever since the
establishment of the Korea Intervarsity Debate Association (KIDA) back in 2006, we have had biannual national championships along with countless institutional and open tournaments such as Seoul Open, KIDA Open, Korea Debate Open, CUDS Open, and more. Furthermore, South Korea is having a number of open tournaments that each society hosts during vacation period. All of such efforts have contributed into creating a vibrant domestic debate league. On top of this, the number of new debaters is constantly increasing, which is represented by enlarging size of novice tournament and rookie league in the Nationals. The Korean debate circuit aims to create an accommodating environment for debaters of all levels through creating specific leagues(EFL, Rookie, Novice) and to increase integration with the international debating circuit through encouraging participation and organisation of international tournaments.
A New Era of Peace
The Korean Peninsula has been the only divided nation after reunification of Germany in 1990. For long, news of constant nuclear threats and missile tests have provoked fear in the minds of people. However, there has been a recent change in atmosphere. Starting with the joint North and South Korean women's ice hockey team, potential peace between the Koreas has bloomed. President Moon Jae-In of South Korea was invited to visit North Korea by Kim Yo-Jung, the representative of North Korea during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The invitation spurred preparation for the Inter- Korean Summit, after 11 years of antagonism. Under the slogan ‘Peace, a New Start’, the April 2018 inter-Korean summit took place
in the Unification Pavilion in Panmunjom, Gyeonggi-Do. Two more summits followed in May and September. The results include the following:
-Alleviation of military tension by reducing military exercises
-Approach towards an official declaration of ending the Korean War
-Clearance of land mines at the Korea Demilitarized Zone
-Potential denuclearization of North Korea
-Invitation for Kim Jong Un to visit Seoul
Moreover, two North Korea-United States Summits took place in June and September of 2018. The Summits concluded with the possibility of ending the Korean War and Final, Fully Verified Denuclearization (FFVD) in North Korea. With these unprecedented events happening one after another, we are starting to see actual change in the Korean Peninsula; a change towards peace.