January 30, 2023, the Sejong Institute held an international conference under the theme 'Digital Populism and Digital Authoritarianism'. Consisted of three sessions, the conference kicked off with the opening remarks of Sang Hyun Lee, President, and welcoming remarks of Chung-in Moon, Chairman of the Sejong Institute,
In the first session, Steven Feldstein (Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) and Piotr Konieczny (Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Media & Social Informatics, Hanyang Univ) presented theoretical discussions on the main factors constituting and spreading authoritarianism in the digital space under the theme ‘Digital Authoritarianism and its Perils’. Following were national cases of digital authoritarianism, presented by Matteo Fumagalli (Myanmar / Senior Lecturer, School of Int. Relations, University of St. Andrews) and Hyunseung Lee (North Korea / Fellow, Global Peace Foundation).
The second session, under the theme of ‘Digital Populism: Friend or Foe?’ focused mainly on how advanced digital technology is used for surveillance and censorship, and how deepening political polarization based on religion and race in the cyber realm contributes to the consolidation of authoritarian regimes. Starting off with theoretical presentations by Ihsan Yilmaz (Professor, Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University), national cases were followed by Christian Esguerra (The Philippines / Journalist, Educator, Host of ‘Facts First’) and Youngmi Kim (South Korea / Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh).
The last session was conducted under the theme ‘Digital Anarchy, Abuse of Power, and Violation of Human Rights’. Joanna J. Bryson (Professor, Center for Digital Governance, Hertie School) presented a scientific analysis of the impact of social media on political beliefs and behaviors, and the prospects and limitations of the Digital Service Act (DSA), which the European Union agreed to enact for the purpose of blocking harmful contents on digital platforms. Kyung Sin Park (Professor, School of Law, Korea University) gave a presentation on how authoritarian regimes abuse the existing system to monitor and oppress the public in the digital realm, and on legal countermeasures to prevent human rights violations and privacy violations caused by abuse of state power. Following were national cases of the dangers of digital disorder by Red Tani (The Philippines / Program and Advocacy Director, Engage Media), Yisuo Tzeng (Taiwan / Research Fellow, Institute for National Defense and Security Research) and Xiao Qiang (China / Founder and Editor-in-Chief, China Digital Times).