Yongusil 20: Guinness and Kimchi: EURKOREA 2013 at Trinity College Dublin

By | November 29, 2013 | No Comments



Byul Ryan-im (right) with Daniel Schwekendiek, author of “A Socioeconomic History of North Korea.” | Image: Byul Ryan-im

 Sino-NK recently announced the appointment of our very first Junior Fellow, Byul Ryan-im of the University of Durham. As an intellectual and productive unit and community Sino-NK values intensely our pedagogical connections with younger and perhaps more junior scholars and interested parties. Repelled somewhat by the nature of conventional internships, we wanted our younger participants to walk, work and learn with us in a spirit of inquiry and fellowship; thus we expect to produce in collaboration with our Junior Fellow a number of outputs including conference presentations, peer-reviewed journal articles and postings here on Sino-NK itself.

We think we have made an absolutely fantastic choice in Byul, and are so pleased to present her first piece of output on Sino-NK, an account of EURKOREA 2013 held at Trinity College Dublin earlier this month. What Byul has not mentioned within the piece however, is her own participation in the event and presentation of a paper entitled “Korean unification: Can the EU break the status quo”. Until we have the benefit of Byul’s first analytic piece for us however, we will have to make do with her intriguing assessment of events across the Irish Sea. – Robert Winstanley-Chesters, Director of Research

Yongusil 20: Guinness and Kimchi: EURKOREA 2013 at Trinity College Dublin

In this, the 130th anniversary of European-Korean diplomatic relations, a number of events have celebrated the relationship and asked how to further it. These have included ROK President Park Geun-hye’s recent tour of Western Europe—a Western European tour of France, the UK and Belgium—and of course the successful ROK-UK Forum in London last week. One event that vanished from the radar screen was an event at Trinity College Dublin from November 7-9, ambitiously titled “EURKOREA.”

Aiming to examine Europe’s outlook on Korea and Korea’s view of Europe mainly from socio-cultural perspectives, the conference welcomed a variety of academics and scholars with interests in the field. The bi-cultural theme was embodied in the welcoming evening which saw a delightful Korean drum performance by a group of hanbok-clad girls followed by a traditional Irish literary pub-crawl around Dublin. Delegates also enjoyed a reception hosted by the Korean Embassy in Ireland, complete with vast helpings of kimchi courtesy of a local Korean restaurant. The President of the Korean Society of Trinity College Dublin, the only University Korean Society in Ireland, addressed the delegates.The conference opened officially on Friday, November 8 with an address by the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Hae-Yun Park, who also attended several of the lectures.

The 23 presentations covered a commendable range of interesting, if somewhat niche, topics relating to European-Korean affairs: the role of women in modern South Korean romantic comedies and a comparison of the Ancient Romans’ Virgil to the Ancient Koreans’ poet Choe Chiwon, to the EU’s role in Korean unification to Celtic culture in the Korean computer game Mabinogi. Dr. Kevin Cawley, who heads the Irish Institute of Korean Studies at University College Cork, the host of a pathbreaking conference on Ireland and Korea this past February, also spoke.

Among the delegates were two keynote speakers: Professor Maurizio Riotto of L’Orientale University, Naples, recipient of the Honour Medal for Cultural Merits, awarded by decree of the President of the Republic of Korea for his services to Korean Studies, and widely published Professor In-Jin Yoon of Korea University, whose lecture addressed current multiculturalism discourse in South Korea.

The closing speech was given by Korean author Jia Jeong, the recipient of several literary awards, who spoke about her experience as the child of two socialist “guerrilla” fighters who assisted the resistance movement in the ROK against the South Korean and US forces during the Korean War. This was followed by a bilingual reading from her collection of short stories.

The conference was organised by Trinity College Professors Lorna Carson and Roberto Bertoni. Both contributed to the publication “Scorci di Corea /Glimpses of Korea: A collective volume”—a collection of papers examining international views of Korean culture and society. Professor Carson, Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics, also spoke about the role of English language learning of modern Korea.

Overall, with delegates ranging in status from undergraduate students to learned professors and lecturers, the conference turned out to be a very successful event. The first of its kind in Dublin, EURKOREA 2013 succeeded in its aim of uniting academics in the field of Korean social and cultural features and has hopefully paved the way for future European-Korean collaborations.

Lacking the tense historical relations that still somewhat plague members of the failed Six Party Talks, Europe is arguably in the best position to reach out to both Koreas and contribute to the establishment of a more peaceful and stable peninsula. Cross-cultural and cross-continental collaborations such as this can therefore only be beneficial, whether in the form of a Presidential visit to the Queen of England or some good Irish craic over a bottle of makgeolli and a pint of Guinness.

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