Rector of St Petersburg University has signed an order to open the Department of Korean Studies. The new Department is to become one of the first in Russia and Europe and will boost new educational programmes and research projects on history, language and culture of Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The Department will ensure interdisciplinary approach in education and research through integrating philology and history. “We will primarily focus on how South and North Korea have been developing, Korean language and literature, traditional culture, history, and ethnography to name but a few today and in the past”, — said SPbU Prof and a leading scholar in the history of Korea Sergei Kurbanov.

Our major concern is to develop educational programmes. Scientific supervision and reviewing will be more flexible and efficient, said Sergei Kurbanov.

Let us remind that today only the Far East Federal University has the Department of Korean Studies. Although the Department of Korean Studies is a new phenomenon at SPbU, the Korean Studies at the University date back to as far as late 19th century. Now the University is a large European centre for Korean studies. “The graduates of SPbU are heads of two centres for Korean studies in the North Europe. Sonja Häussler is Professor of Stockholm University and one of the leading experts in Korean studies in Sweden. Prof Vladimir Tikhonov is a head of the educational programmes in Korean studies in the University of Oslo”, — said Prof Kurbanov who cooperates with the University of Turku, Finland, and University of Oslo, Norway, as a visiting lecturer.

Over decades St Petersburg University has been of particular interest to the European academic community in Korean studies: unlike Europe, the University has an individual approach to each student in educating and preparing scholars and experts in Korean studies. Although there are some universities that offer educational programmes with a focus on Korea, only master’s programmes provide deep insights and qualification in Korean studies. Still, unlike the University’s graduates, they don’t have a broad perspective on Korea. All these make our graduates so successful in the Europe’s top universities.

Graduates secure positions in diverse areas such as research, diplomacy, and commerce. “South Korean business, large (car-manufacturing), medium and small-sized, is actively penetrating Russian market. The number of job in the field is higher the number of graduates in Korean studies, — said Sergei Kurbanov. — Our programme is distinctive in the way it prepares unique specialists who can secure position in top management just after graduation”.

The new Department will attract our Korean peers: they are immensely interested in cooperating with the universities with the Department of Korean studies, said Prof Kurbanov. Moreover, it will open an “America with Korean studies”, that is a cooperation with American centres for Korean studies with a strong emphasis on a holistic approach to the Far East.