Interview with Dr. Gi Hyuk Choi, Head of the International Relations Department, Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)
27 January, 2010, APRSAF-16
Ideas for establishing new working groups or activities within the framework of APRSAF?
If possible, I would say, some activities for space science are necessary in future. In that field, the United States and some European countries are very active, so the establishment of space science, including space exploration, would be worth considering in APRSAF.
Cooperation between Japan and Korea
The international cooperation means always mutual, rather than unilateral contribution. Japan is one of the advanced space nations; Korea is now very active but Japan has more experience and technologies in terms of space resources. Korea is now also building up its space resources, so we can probably exchange experience and data probably in some fields with each other. In the short term, the most promising thing is the science sector. Many earth and space scientists in Japan and Korea collaborate with good cooperation. Moreover, we will subsequently cooperate more in space development.
Ideal way to develop APRSAF
APRSAF is a kind of multilateral regime. Multilateral organisations have both strong and weak points. The strong point is that it is a good system of organising developing countries. In contrast, multilateral means many countries gather, meaning it is always slightly cumbersome. There is a need to hear from every country and organisation to make a decision or movement. There are some difficulties in making decisions and taking actions. For global space nations, space cooperation is usually not multilateral but bilateral, although there is some multilateral cooperation such as the international space station. APRSAF is now doing well but I think the member countries should consider strengthening bilateral cooperation to increase the capacity of space development.
Joint project with JAXA
There is an ongoing project, which concerns activities in the Japanese Experiment Module, “KIBO”. On the Korean side, we are now selecting 15 experimental candidate items, of which 2 or 3 will be chosen with Japanese scientists. We hope to develop the experimental hardware, performing some experiments in KIBO, in the near future.
First Korean astronaut
I was the director of the first Korean astronaut project. At the time, the Korean astronaut, Dr. So-yeon Yi, performed two experiments for JAXA. One concerned cosmic ray detectors, compact detectors. The second thing was HDTV shooting for medical use, for example, to check facial skin colour changes and so on. Accordingly, Korean astronauts conducted such experiments for JAXA and KARI cooperation.
The educational benefit of the astronaut, Dr. So-yeon Yi, has been enormous. She gives around 100 lectures per year. She is an excellent role model for younger students. Moreover, fortunately, she likes that job very much; she is talented and suitable for such activities; she likes children, she likes making public appearance, giving lectures, engaging in discussions and so on. In addition, she has a doctorate degree in science technology, so she is a good teacher or instructor in that area. This is quite fortunate for Korea.