A delegation of high school students of Suwon Gymnasium of Foreign Languages from Suwon has visited St Petersburg University.

It is the second time that the delegation has been to the University: last year St Petersburg University hosted the first visit from Suwon Gymnasium.

Suwon is a city with a population over one million, located not far from Seoul. The most notable attraction is Hwaseong Fortress, also known as “Blooming Fortress”. It is a symbol of the city and a masterpiece of Eastern architecture.

The meeting was opened by Professor Sergei Kurbanov, Head of the Department of Korean Studies of St Petersburg University. He recalled that the tradition of teaching the Korean language in Imperial Russia and in Europe started with Kim Penock: the interpreter and translator for Emperor Gojong during his diplomatic mission in Russia. He was only 23 when he started teaching the Korean language at the University in 1897. ‘The 19th century laid the foundation for establishing contacts between the youth of our countries. I hope these relations will continue in the 21st century,’ said Sergei Kurbanov.

The delegation from South Korea was headed by Seo Dongshin, Director of Suwon Gymnasium of Foreign Languages. She thanked St Petersburg University for its hospitality and willingness to cooperate.

This visit will help our students learn the language and culture of Russia first-hand. It should not be only within school walls that the Russian language learning process takes place.
Seo Dongshin, Director of Suwon Gymnasium of Foreign Languages

Iana Bravaia, Deputy Head of the Admissions Division, spoke about the main areas and activities of St Petersburg University. In particular, she noted that about 15% of all students of the University are foreign citizens. The University offers them a wide range of academic programmes, and an opportunity to pursue studies on a government-funded basis and receive a scholarship.

The guests, undergraduate and graduate students of St Petersburg University and academic staff of Korean Studies met in a very friendly and warm atmosphere. Korean students had prepared three presentations in Russian devoted to the Republic of Korea, the city of Suwon, and their gymnasium. They spoke about: the history of their country that has been divided into two; the rapid economic growth of South Korea in the second half of the 20th century, also known as the Miracle on the Han River; and the project of the President Moon Jae-in ‘Nine Bridges’ to develop relations with Russia in various spheres of cooperation. ‘We want our generation to mark the start of a new era in relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea,’ said the high-school students.

 

In 2019 St Petersburg University hosted the International Olympiad in Russian as a Foreign Language for the first time. Winners and finalists of the Olympiad will already this year be able to use privileges in admission to the University.

They have also made presentations on the traditions and culture of the Land of the Morning Calm. Students spoke about their national writing system ‘hangul’ (Korean mixed script), K-pop culture, environmental initiatives, annual Suwon festival, and many other subjects.

Suwon Gymnasium of Foreign Languages has five language departments: Russian, English, Chinese, Japanese and French. Most students devote their extracurricular time to artistic activities and interest groups.

The guests presented a varied programme: students sang songs in Korean and Russian languages and recited Aleksandr Kochetkov’s poem “Ballad about a Smoke-Filled Wagon”. They also showed a documentary about the gymnasium, held a talk-show, and introduced modern Korean dances. The presentations generated a lively response from the Russian students, and after the concert they had a chance to meet and talk with Korean students. The programme finished with an excursion along the Long Hall of the Twelve Collegia.

 

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