Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Russian Federation, Mr Lee Sok-bae, has visited St Petersburg University.

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Opening the meeting, the honourable guest mentioned that he first met the Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev in 2008. At that time, he headed the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in St Petersburg. Today, he is pleased to meet Dr Kropachev again in his capacity as Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Russia. Mr Lee Sok-bae noted that 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Russia. To celebrate this date, an organising committee has been set up by the leaders of our countries. As part of the ‘Russia – Republic of Korea Dialogue’ forum, a series of celebratory events have been planned. The Embassy and Consulates of the Republic of Korea will provide the necessary assistance for the organisers of the events.

The Ambassador congratulated Nikolay Kropachev on the Korea Foundation Award conferred on him in December 2019. ‘I’m certain that you will contribute to the development of Korean studies not only at St Petersburg University, but throughout Russia,’ said Mr Lee Sok-bae. ‘It is here at St Petersburg University that Korean language education was first introduced in Europe about 120 years ago. I believe that Korean studies in the UK, France, and Germany were established following the lead of St Petersburg University.’ The diplomat added that the Consulate General in St Petersburg and the Korea Foundation were willing to support the Rector’s initiatives for the further development of Korean studies at St Petersburg University.

The ‘Russia – Republic of Korea Dialogue’ forum was created in 2010 at the initiative of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea. The forum brings together representatives of civil society, business sector, political and cultural elites, providing a platform for alignment of interests and mapping of differing viewpoints.

The Rector of St Petersburg University thanked Mr Lee Sok-bae for acknowledging his work. He stressed that the University could be proud not only of its past successes, but also of the intellectual and cultural attainment of the Department of Korean Studies today. During the meeting, Nikolay Kropachev made several proposals regarding the development of cooperation with the Republic of Korea. He emphasised that consistent efforts were being made to expand cooperation between St Petersburg University and Korean business. In September 2018, a meeting was held with representatives of the Hyundai Motor Company. Following that meeting the University sent a partnership proposal letter to Hyundai. So far, no response has been received. Yet, the University offers a range of solutions catering to its partners’ needs. Thus, the right to set its own educational standards enables training specialists with a set of skills and competencies specified by the University’s business partners. Companies’ representatives can make a real impact on the education process through participation in the personnel committees and by contributing to councils of academic programmes implemented at the University. Additionally, the University has enormous intellectual potential and can collaborate with industry in the field of expert advice.

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During the meeting, Nikolay Kropachev proposed to publish an annual almanac of modern Korean prose. He also came up with a suggestion of opening a Korean study room at the University. It could serve as a venue for cultural and educational events where the visitors could experience the unique atmosphere of Korea. To date, study rooms dedicated to Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Iranian and Japanese cultures have been opened at the University. The Turkish study room is almost ready. Dr Kropachev also mentioned that the University is about to open its second representative office in the Republic of Korea. It will be located in the city of Incheon. The first representative office of St Petersburg University in the Republic of Korea was opened in the spring of 2017 in Seoul at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. During these two years, the representative offices of St Petersburg University have been opened in China, Spain and the USA.

The meeting agenda included a discussion of academic mobility issues. As an example, the Rector mentioned the University’s cooperation with representatives of Japanese business. Partner companies, including Mitsui and JTI, support student exchange programmes and finance travel expenses for Japanese public figures’ coming to St Petersburg to deliver lectures to the University students and teachers.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea thanked the Rector for the initiatives. He noted that currently Korean companies’ investments in the Russian market were steadily increasing. The President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in designated 2020 the Year of Cooperation with the Nordic Countries. He emphasised that this was to serve as an impetus for the development of Russian–Korean relations and to facilitate achieving economic and practical results. Mr Lee Sok-bae asked to provide the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in St Petersburg with information on the cooperation between St Petersburg University and Hyundai. He also mentioned that the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) is engaged in the translation of modern Korean prose into Russian. During 2019, its experts translated six books for publication in Russian. The Ambassador suggested inviting translators from St Petersburg University to participate in this work.

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