The First Literary Readings of Pak Kyongni were held in the Modern Sculpture Park of St Petersburg University. The Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in St Petersburg Kwon Dong Seok, academic staff of the Department of Korean Studies of St Petersburg University, students from the University and other higher educational institutions of Russia, city officials, members of the public, and guests from the Republic of Korea took part in the readings.
‘Dear friends, I am glad to welcome you here, to the place which can rightly boast to be a part of the Republic of Korea. There are two such places in St Petersburg: the Consulate and the Modern Sculpture Park of St Petersburg University where the monument to Pak Kyongni is installed,’ said the Rector and Chairman of the Russian Coordination Committee of the ‘Dialogue Russia – Republic of Korea’ Forum Nikolay Kropachev. ‘Works of this great Korean author are studied in academic programmes of our University and other Russian higher educational institutions. It has been a year since the monument to Pak Kyongni was installed. I can confidently say that it is at this place where you can meet people who appreciate her works, honour her and come to pay respect to Pak Kyongni’.
The only monument to Pak Kyongni in Russia was installed on the initiative of the ‘Dialogue Russia – Republic of Korea’ Forum with support from public associations and the governments of both countries. The Director of the Korean Secretariat of the ‘Dialogue Russia – Republic of Korea’ Forum and Professor of Korea University Hur Seung Chul remarked that the monument to Pak Kyongni, which opened to the public 20 June 2018 in St Petersburg University, was a response of Russia to the installation of the monument to Alexander Pushkin in the centre of Seoul in 2013.
‘It looks very symbolic to me. Pak Kyongni said that while reading Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol she was dreaming of becoming a writer herself’, said Professor Hur Seung Chul.
Evgeny Grigoriev, Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of St Petersburg, noted in his welcoming speech that the First Literary Readings of Pak Kyongni were a big step in promoting Korean culture. He expressed his hopes that these readings will make a significant contribution to the popularisation of Pak Kyongni’s works among Russian readers.
The whole world is following the process of establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula. This is when we once again recall the words of Pak Kyongni and the values she talked about, which are very important for all of us.
Kwon Dong Seok, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in St Petersburg
At the opening ceremony of the First Literary Readings of Pak Kyongni, Yeo Jee-inLeading Research Associate of the Toji Cultural Foundation of the Republic of Korea, read the welcoming speech on behalf of the daughter of the author, Kim Young Joo.
‘My mother began writing ‘ Land’, one of the most profound works of Korean literature of the 20th century, with the following words: ‘Within a year cholera returned, golden ripen rice plants were swaying heavily with no one to harvest them,’ recalls Kim Young Joo.
In order to promote thorough studies of the epic novel ‘Land’ and the other works of Pak Kyongni, the Toji Cultural Foundation of the Republic of Korea sent an invitation to the mayor’s office of several Korean cities, referred to or connected with the works of Pak Kyongni, to take part in the Second Literary Readings of Pak Kyongni in 2020.
The representatives of the Toji Cultural Foundation presented a photo portrait of Pak Kyongni to teachers and students of the Department of Korean Studies of St Petersburg University. The author did not like to pose for photos and that is why her portraits are very valuable.
Dmitry Novikov, the Russian author, shared his memories of meeting Pak Kyongni. They met in 2007, when he went to the Republic of Korea on a cultural exchange programme. Inspired by their talk, Dmitry Novikov decided to write his first novel ‘A Flame Out at Sea’, included later in long and short-lists of Russian literature awards.
The Readings continued with presentations by Russian and Korean teachers and students. Seog Young Joong, Professor of Korea University and Korean co-supervisor of the working group ‘Culture and Arts’, spoke about the life and work of Pak Kyongni. Anastasiia Gureva, Associate Professor of the Department of Korean Studies, gave a presentation ‘The Poetic World of Pak Kyongni’. The First Literary Readings finished with recitations of an excerpt from the epic novel ‘Land’ and Pak Kyongni’s poems ‘Ten Years Since the Teacher Left’, ‘Poet’, ‘My Birth’, ‘Blessed People’, and ‘Sorrow’ in Korean and Russian.