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UCLan launches International Institute of Korean Studies

20 October 2014

Chris Theobald

Global delegates attended two day launch at UCLan

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has officially launched its International Institute of Korean Studies (IKSU).

The multidisciplinary hub of research, teaching and public policy in the study of contemporary Korea is the first to be located in the North West of England and is only the UK’s third provider of an undergraduate programme in Korean Studies.

The formal launch event, which took place on 17 October, was the culmination of a two-day conference examining Korean security and the relationship between the North and the South of the country, the last unresolved conflict of the Cold War.

UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry Kelleher said: “We are extremely proud to welcome a global community of researchers, academics, students and commentators who specialise in all things Korean. High quality teaching linked to research which creates impact is at the heart of what we do and the International Institute of Korean Studies embodies that ethos.”

Over 30 of the world’s leading authorities, influencers and commentators on Korea debated a wide range of security issues ranging from nuclear weapons to food, as well as wider security issues related to East Asia.

Professor Hazel Smith, Director of IKSU, said: “The launch of our institute places Preston and the North West as a major worldwide centre of excellence in the study of Korea. We will integrate all we do with public policy at every level, locally, nationally and internationally.”

Delegates arrived from the US, China, South Korea, Russia and across Europe and offered a fresh insight, to be documented in a future research paper, into Why is the Korean conflict proving so intractable and what fresh approaches are required?

Former United States Ambassador to South Korea Donald P Gregg unveiled the plaque with Minister Chang-Mo Kim, Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

Mr Gregg said: “UCLan is really on to something here. In the last two days of the Institute’s inaugural conference and at this launch I have been hugely impressed by the spirit of the students and the substance of all the good work taking place within this new research institute. I am very proud to have been invited and to play a role in its launch.”

“UCLan is really on to something here. In the last two days of the Institute’s inaugural conference and at this launch I have been hugely impressed by the spirit of the students "

Korean Inst Launch

Minister Chang-Mo Kim added: “I am very happy to be here and hope that your new institute will go from strength to strength.”

IKSU is based within UCLan’s School of Language, Literature and International Studies, and brings together the University’s wide research expertise on global Korea in the context of East Asian security; maritime law and conflict in East Asia; Korean language, Korean traditional music; sport; and the society, economics and international politics of North Korea. Over the last two years UCLan has also seen a surge in interest from students wanting to study the Korean language or an aspect related to it. Currently nearly 120 students are enrolled on Korean or Korean-related programmes.

Professor Smith added: “IKSU takes contemporary Korea – North and South – seriously. We will be getting away from the tired old stereotypes to engage in robust, careful research about the politics, economics and society of North Korea. We will also focus on the vibrant culture and economic dynamism that characterises contemporary South Korea, as well as the politics and international dynamics of inter-Korean relations.”

Lord David Alton is Patron of IKSU and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea. He attended the launch and added: “I am delighted to add my support to the launch and ongoing development of IKSU. I have travelled to both North and South Korea on many occasions and found it to be a place where all those living on the Korean peninsula long for a lasting settlement based on justice, peace, coexistence and mutual respect.

“For the people of those nations, who for 60 years have lived side-by-side and experienced such contrasting fortunes, it may still seem like the impossible dream. By reaching out through mutual understanding and informed research, it is initiatives such as IKSU which can make a real difference.”

In addition to informing UCLan’s popular academic programmes in Korean Studies, IKSU will have many other facets. For example, the University already has a longstanding relationship with Samsung via its product design programme and a secondary aim of the Institute is to encourage more Korean businesses to explore further the entrepreneurial talent that exists throughout the North West.

Next year the Institute will launch Europe’s first Master’s Degree in North Korean Studies.

Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, visited UCLan for the IKSU launch. Read his blog, Viewing North Korea vicariously

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