The University has opened a conference “120-anniversary of the Korea studies and Russia-Korea research at SPbU”.

The opening ceremony was attended by the management of SPbU and dialogue "Russia-South Korea", diplomats and renowned politicians, representatives from the academic community of the two countries. The first day hosted a plenary session on the history of ST Petersburg school of Korean studies.

Current state of affairs

Today is a renowned day in the history of SPbU – 120 years ago, St Petersburg University started to teach Korean, said Chairperson of the coordination committee of the dialogue "Russia-South Korea", SPbU’s Rector Nikolay Kropachev.

“Long before other universities introduced Korean as a distinct discipline, SPbU began to teach it as early as 1897, — said Nikolay Kropachev. — I am more than sure that the Korean studies are increasingly gaining momentum in science and education at SPbU”.

This summer, the University and its South Korean colleagues opened a Department of Korean Studies, said Rector, and the Institute of Integrated Research of Korea, which bring together experts in sociology, history, and international relations, long before developed a complex approach to the North-East country. The University is planning to open new educational programmes on tourism, cultural studies, law, and economics with a focus on Korea.

The Chairperson of the coordination committee of the dialogue “Russia-South Korea” Lee Kukhen greeted the guests and participants of the conference and said that it was a privilege to deliver a speech at St Petersburg University. “In 2008, we established the dialogue “Russia-Republic of Korea», and two years later we held the first forum that was attended by the leaders of the two countries in Seoul, — said Lee Kukhen. — I am proud that during the last seven years I and my friend Nikolay Kropchev have contributed into our bilateral relations which consequently became stronger and deeper”. Lee Kukhen hoped that the conference on the 120-anniversary of the Korean studies at SPbU would give impetus to search for new areas for collaboration.

The Secretary General of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, SPbU’s graduate and Professor  Woo Yoon-keun told about how Russia-Korea relations had been developing and what role the Korean studies played. “As long as late 19th century, Russian became interested in studying Korea, when our country established diplomatic relations. In 1990, these relations were restored, and our relations became increasingly dynamic”, — said Woo Yoon-keun. — Today, Korean studies is not only about studying traditional areas of science: history, language, culture, but searching for new areas, say, in gender and political research”.

The opening ceremony was also attended by the Consul General of Korea in Russia Lee Jin Khen, Vice-President of the Korea Foundation  Yoon Keum-Jin, Director of the Institute of the Russian Studies at the Hankuk University Kan Toksu, and Director of the SPbU’s Representative Office at the Hankuk University Kim Khentkheck.

Past time

The plenary session s was opened by the head of the Department of Korean Studies Professor Sergei Kurbanov. His report focused on who and how set the ball rolling in teaching the Korean studies at St Petersburg Imperial University in 1897.

Kim Penock, according to the scientist’s historical enquiries, is the first one at the University who started to teach Korean as an additional discipline at the University and acted as an interpreter at the first diplomatic mission of Korea in St Petersburg.  He started to work at the University in 1897, 13 years later since the countries had signed an agreement of friendship. Kim Penock was the only one who continued to live in St Petersburg after the mission had ended in 1900.

Since autumn 1897 to 1917, as the historical data tell, Kim Penock worked at the Faculty of Oriental Languages at St Petersburg University. It seems impossible to tell whether she was a Korean subject or a Korean of Russian origin, said Professor Kurbanov. The records, however, tell that at SPbU there worked a Korean person who originally came from Priamurskii region, with no data in the name.

Another fact that may surprise is that Kim Penock also had a Russian name: Evgenii Nikolaevich. Th matter is that all the issues of the popular directory “All Petersburg” (known as “All Petrograd” since 1914) published from 1897 to 1917 tell that Kim Penock lived and worked at SPbU, and in the issue of 1904 he was referred to as Evgenii Nikolaevich. Moreover, the directory tells that he married a Russian girl Maria Matveevna. Professor Kurbanov also defined an address where Kim Penick had been living for 20 years.

Still, the most intriguing fact was discovered in the data of the secret police in 1904. Since the early Russian-Japanese war, all the Korean people who lived in Russia were put under surveillance, so was the teacher of SPbU. The texts, as the research has shown, tell that he had been born in 1874, which means that he started his career in education when he was only 23!

At 25,

Kim Penock created the first Russian-Korean grammar.

Evgenii Kim was a real patriot of Russia, as one of the interview to the Russian newspaper has it. It describes him as a “typical Korean” and an “incredibly intelligent person”. Kim Penock told that Korean were erring to believe Japanese who claimed that “Asia for Asian People”, which implied “Asia for Japanese”.

Professor Kurbanov showed a signature of the young teacher of the Korean language and asked to remember what contribution the outstanding Korean person had made into the Korean studies.

At the plenary session, Ho Kenchzhin, University Yonsei, delivered a report on «“The story about Chhunkhian” as part of the study guide published in Russia in 19th century in comparison with the publication “kenphanbon”», Sok Yonchzhun, Professor of the Korea University, report on the Russian literature in Korea, Anastasia Gerieva, SPbU, report on the methods developed by the Russian scholars of the Korean studies, and Ho Synchkhol, Korea University, report on the future of the Korean studies in Russia.