Ministers of Culture of Russia and the Republic of Korea unveiled a monument to Pak Kyongni in St Petersburg State University

The first monument abroad to the outstanding writer Pak Kyongni has been unveiled in the park of modern sculpture of St Petersburg State University. The representatives of the "Dialogue Russia-Republic of Korea" forum (DRRK), ministers of culture, diplomats, scientists and public figures of both countries participated in the unveiling ceremony.

Opening the ceremony, Nikolay Kropachev, the rector of the St Petersburg State University, the chairman of the Russian DRRK Coordination Committee said: "In 2013, together with the heads of the Korean DRRK Coordination Committee we raised a monument to Alexander Pushkin in the very heart of Seoul. After that, our colleagues proposed to raise a monument to a great cultural figure of Korea in Russia. The choice in this case was made by Korean people - according to the results of the survey, the majority of citizens gave the highest appreciation to the work of the writer Pak Kyongni."

The rector also stressed that the place for the monument was not chosen by chance: 120 years ago, it was St Petersburg State University where the first teacher of the Korean language in Europe appeared.

This is the first monument to a Korean figure abroad, it is therefore a special event for all of us. Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of Russia commented: "Pak Kyongni is an exceptionally popular Korean writer, the author of an amazing saga about the history of Korea. She presented the life and history of her country in several generations. The book of Pak Kyongni is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and we hope that gradually all its parts will be translated into Russian and become popular with the Russian reader.”

Toh Chonhwan, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Korea added that Pak Kyonni in a certain sense personifies all Korean literature. "This is the author of the novel "Earth ", which explores the history of the Korean people. It took 26 years to write the novel. Pak Kyongni is appreciated in South Korea in the same way that the name of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin is worshiped in Russia. She is loved, respected and her compatriots are very proud of her works. I think that the unveiling of the monument speaks about the recognition not only of her work, but also of the level of Korean literature as a whole" - the minister said.   The Forum "Dialogue Russia - The Republic of Korea" was organised in 2010 at the initiative of the presidents of Russia and the Republic of Korea. Its main task is to establish a constructive dialogue between the representatives of all spheres of public life in both countries, which makes it possible to create a solid basis for cooperation regardless of the current political situation.

Li Kyuhyong, the head of the DRRK Coordination Committee and Ex-Ambassador of South Korea in Russia and China said: "Today, the head of the "Earth" cultural foundation, Ms. Kim Yongzhu, who is the daughter of Pak Kyonny, is present here. For five years, while we have been working on this project, she has looked forward with hope and deep patience to this moment. Today's event embodies the spirit of everything that her mother manifested in her works and destiny."

There were also other special guests at the ceremony - Y Yongin, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Russia, Kwon Taeong, the designer of the monument, professor of the Seoul State University, representatives of the Korean diaspora, scholars and public figures. The unveiling ceremony took place on the eve of the fourth DRRK forum, which was held on June 22 along with the state visit of the President of the Republic of Korea to Moscow. The topic of the forum was "Russian-Korean practical cooperation for peace and prosperity."

The programme of the event included: a plenary session; the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between DRRK and the Korean Press Foundation; meetings of six DRRK working groups; and participation of DRRK representatives in the extended negotiations of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Mun Zhein.