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Lost and Found in «Translation»

Circulating Ideas of Policy and Legal Decisions Processes in Korea and Germany

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Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler

This book analyzes policy translation and its ends, how the concept of translation explains the emergence and (ex-)changes of policy ideas in different places and/or across borders in general, as well as the effectiveness of this concept in analyzing cases of actual policy dissemination. This book discusses these questions on a general theoretical level and within the context of actual policies and laws mainly between South Korea and Germany. South Korea is widely considered a typical example of a reforming country that is on the receiving end of disseminations of policies and ideas from advanced countries. From this point of view, it constitutes a highly interesting case for testing the applicability of the translation approach. The basic idea of this book is to analyze how different actors in different contexts and settings adopt varying interpretations and understandings of an idea, and how well the analytical concept of translation can be utilized for this endeavor.
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(1) Transfer of Knowledge as a Matter of Translation

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Abstract This chapter deals with the introductory, yet fundamental, topic of transfer of knowledge as a matter of translation in the context of unification policies in Germany and Korea by discussing the exchange of knowledge and ideas on German unification between Korean and German politicians, scientists, and (other) policy actors.

1. Introduction

Whenever “unification” is discussed in Korea, German unification and its potential lessons for Korea are bound to be mentioned. Almost equally inevitably, however, it will be argued that the situations of both countries are too different for the German experience to be able to provide Korea with any guidance. All research on German unification eventually runs into this wall. But is it really true that there is no such thing as a successful transfer of policy between two countries with different traditions, institutions, and cultures?

In reality, intercultural policy transfers have occurred quite often in human history. Furthermore, in some cases at least, they have been rather successful. Confucius taught that one can learn even from a stone from another mountain, which means not only that one can learn from others, but also that one should actively strive to do so. It is possible to learn from experiences of all sorts, failures included. If this is true, then what are the necessary conditions for intercultural policy transfer to be successful? Is there a “golden rule” for policy transfer?

For my part, I will attempt to explain intercultural policy...

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