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A Russian—Korean workshop for journalists has taken place within the framework of the Korea—Russia Dialogue Forum. Mass media representatives and diplomats from both countries took part in the meeting.

The event was conducted by the KRD working group on ‘Mass Media and Civil Society’. It was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea.

Lee Kyu Hyung, Chair of the KRD Coordinating Committee on the Korean side, exAmbassador of the Republic of Korea in Russia, made welcoming remarks. He underscored the importance of journalistic work in strengthening the ties between the countries reminding that the press has played a significant role in establishing diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University and Chair of the KRD Coordinating Committee on the Russian side, emphasised that today journalists are responsible for shaping the agenda, which has become particularly apparent during the time of the pandemic.

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Russian Federation Lee Sok Bae and Minister Counsellor of the Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Valerii Guenkov also spoke at the opening.

Vitaly Ignatenko, President of the World Association of Russian Press, and Lim Kwang Ki, Director of NATV TV channel of the General Assembly of the Republic of Korea, acted as workshop moderators also being the co-directors of the working group on ‘Mass Media and Civil Society’.

Vitaly Ignatenko, Director General of the Public Television of Russia, President of the World Association of Russian Press, underlined the need in ‘direct’ covering of the events by the journalists of Russia and the Republic of Korea without intermediaries in the form of Western sources or mass media from other countries. Vitaly Ignatenko expressed hope that next spring journalists of Russia and the Republic of Korea will meet on one of the platforms in Moscow, St Petersburg or Sochi.

The first report devoted to the ties between Russia and the Republic of Korea in the post-coronavirus age was made by Deputy Director of the European Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Lee Kyoung A. In the opinion of Ms Lee, the future of joint projects is in developing initiatives in the field of healthcare, decreasing human impact on the climate and cooperating in the Arctic.

Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Centre Ivan Nechayev pointed out positive aspects in the Russia—Korea relations in the field of mass communications. He mentioned: high level of cooperation between the mass media of the two countries with no disinformation; strong ties between correspondents at the federal and regional levels especially in Siberia and the Far East; cooperation between TV companies; as well as high status of Korean journalists in the territory of Russia.

Jeongho Nam, a journalist from ‘JoongAng Ilbo’ newspaper from the Republic of Korea talked about writing news about Russia in the RussianFocus section of ‘JoongAng Ilbo’ newspaper. For the most part it features general news, while Korean readers are more interested in entries about Russia’s foreign policy and its international impact.

Leonid Mlechin, Head of the Division on historical and documentary programmes at the Public Television of Russia, made a presentation devoted to the role of mass media in establishing diplomatic relations between our countries. According to Leonid Mlechin, ‘the relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea tell a story of success and failure.’ For 30 years, the relationship has proved its efficiency and success, but unfortunately our countries had no diplomatic ties for a long time and this is a major drawback. For a long time, South Korea remained a closed and unknown country for Soviet people. However, after getting to know Korean people, Russian people have developed great liking and interest towards them. Leonid Mlechin also reminded about the danger of fake news and the value of professional journalism listing the prospective areas for further cooperation. They include studying the history of relations between the Republic of Korea and Russia ‘first-hand’ and cooperation in the field of covering the news from the Republic of Korea.

In response to the speech of Leonid Mlechin, Director of International Affairs and Security of YTN TV channel Kim Hee Joon noted that the topic of North Korea was widely covered in all mass media of the Republic of Korea in 2017-2018, when the relations between North and South Korea warmed up. Ms Kim also proposed to resume the tradition of exchanging the delegations of mass media representatives. For example, Korean journalists could be granted access to the Russian Embassy in Seoul, while Russian journalists could be allowed to visit the South Korea Embassy in Moscow.

In the course of panel discussion, Editor-in-Chief of ‘Cultural Petersburg’, Sergei Ilchenko, Professor of St Petersburg University, pointed out the importance of cultural exchange. He spoke about the literary exchange and the personality of writer Pak Kyongni, whose monument was unveiled at the University campus. Sergei Ilchenko also mentioned a joint project with the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library that supported film screenings and discussions on Korean cinematography. According to Professor Ilchenko, meetings and film screenings of the kind could enhance public interest to the Republic of Korea. Director of the Public Relations Centre at Hanyang University, ex-correspondent of ‘The Chosun Ilbo’ in Moscow Kwon Kyungbok had a similar view on the Russian cinematography. He noted that Russian films and shows are not widely known in the Republic of Korea, while they might be of great interest to Korean people.

Deputy Director General on Strategy at ‘Kommersant’ Viktor Loshak pointed out positive experience of South Korea in covering the vaccination campaign in mass media. In his opinion, Russia could learn from this example in the situation when mass vaccination is met with resistance on the part of the population. Editor-in-Chief of ‘Moskovskij Komsomolets’ Pavel Gusev offered to hold an event dedicated to interaction between journalists, civil society and authorities.

Director General of the ‘Petrocentre’ Information and Publishing Centre of the Government of St Petersburg, Editor-in-Chief of ‘Petersburg Diary’ Kirill Smirnov and journalist-correspondent of ‘Moskovskij Komsomolets’ newspaper Eva Merkacheva also took active part in the event.

The session was concluded by a general discussion, during which everyone could talk to the speakers and ask questions.