The Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev has met in Seoul with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Korea Andrey Kulik, the President of the Korea Foundation Lee Geun, and the ex-Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Russia Woo Yoon Keun.

The meeting participants discussed what measures may help defuse political tensions on the Korean peninsula. These measures include scholarly studies of the Korean language and a summer school for students from both countries.

‘We could hold a summer school in St Petersburg for students from South and North Korea,’ suggested Nikolay Kropachev. ‘We will be happy to organise such a school. Furthermore, since Korea has been divided into two parts for a rather long time, today there are certain differences in the Korean language used in North and South Korea. This issue is of historical relevance and could become a major topic for linguistic research.’

IN SUPPORT

We agree that the unification of Korea is a major issue. We would willingly support these studies.

President of the Korea Foundation Lee Geun

The meeting participants also suggested dubbing into Russian screen adaptations of the books by the outstanding Korean novelist Pak Kyongni. We recall that it was thanks to Nikolay Kropachev who served as the chairman of the Russian Coordination Committee of the ‘Dialogue Russia – Republic of Korea’ forum (DRRK) that a monument to Pak Kyongni was erected last year in the park of modern sculpture of St Petersburg University.

On the same day, the Rector of St Petersburg University met with the chairman of the Korean Coordination Committee of the DRRK forum Lee Kyu Hyung and the executive secretary of the forum from the Korean side, Hur Seung Chul. Together they took stock of the work of the DRRK forum in 2019. Also, they discussed preparations for the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea, and for the 10th anniversary of the DRRK forum which is to be celebrated next year. The parties agreed to develop a joint plan of celebratory events. These will include: a concert of a Korean orchestra in Russia, a youth forum in one of the major Russian cities, a special DRRK forum session as part of the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum, and other initiatives.

During his visit to Seoul, the Rector of St Petersburg University was given the Korea Foundation Award. The Korea Foundation is a public diplomatic organisation whose activities are aimed at implementing educational projects and research programmes in Korean studies. Nikolay Kropachev was awarded the honorary title for his contribution to the development of relations between Russia and Korea. In 2019, 31 people from around the world were nominated for this award. We also recall that in 2018, the Rector of St Petersburg University was awarded the title of an ‘Honorary Citizen of Seoul.’

St Petersburg University is rightfully considered to be the largest centre for Korean studies in Russia. Over 120 years ago, it was here that the first in Europe Korean language teacher began to work. At present, the University implements 20 academic programmes with the Korean component. Not only do students learn the Korean language, but they also study the economy, law and culture of this country. It is noteworthy that the first representative office of St Petersburg University overseas was opened in the Republic of Korea – at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.