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00707012
2013.01
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KOREAN

New Perspectives on Korea-Russia Cooperation / 12th Korea-Russia Forum Looks at Developments in Northeast Asia / 12th Korea-Russia Forum


The 12th Korea-Russia Forum, which was hosted by the Korea Foundation with support from Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was held in Seoul on November 20, 2012. The forum participants discussed matters related to 'New Developments in Northeast Asia' and 'New Perspectives on Korea-Russia Cooperation.'

The forum gathering further contributed to the realization of a key priority of the Korea Foundation of providing a venue for Korea-Russia bilateral dialogue on matters of common concern. The Korean and Russian delegations consisted of senior-level academicians, university professors, and diplomats, along with representatives of the media and NGOs from both countries. The event was co-chaired by the President of the Korea Foundation Kim Woosang and the Rector of Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) Anatoly V. Torkunov. The forum proceedings got underway with the presentation of congratulatory remarks by Korea's former Prime Minister Lee Hong Koo, First Vice Minister of the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ahn Ho-young, and the Russian Ambassador to Korea Konstantin Vnukov.

▲ Valery Suchinin, former Russian ambassador to North Korea, makes a presentationThe initial session was dedicated to the state of political affairs of Northeast Asia, and the Korean Peninsula in particular, along with the implications for Korea-Russia relations. This discussion was moderated by Lee Younho, Ambassador for International Economy and Trade, and former ROK ambassador in Russia. The presenters included Ko Sang-tu, Professor of European and Russian Studies at Yonsei University and President of the Korea Association of Slavic Studies; Gleb Ivashentsov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Center of the APEC Studies and former Russian ambassador to the ROK; Valery Sukhinin, Associate Professor at MGIMO University and former Russian ambassador to the DPRK.

The presentations described the roles of prominent state actors in Northeast Asia, including internal and external figures. Special attention was paid to a likely gradual change and possible evolution toward a more moderate approach by the DPRK regime, under new leader Kim Jong Un. It was predicted that after the presidential election in Korea on December 19, 2012, the approach of the new ROK President toward the DPRK would likely be moderated as well, which could pave the way for movement toward a political detente, and efforts to advance various joint economic projects, involving Russia, the DPRK, and the ROK, such as a Trans-Korean railway and a pipeline project to distribute natural gas.


First Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young, Former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo, Russian Ambassador to Korea Konstantin Vnukov

The second session discussed issues related to development of the Russian Far East through cooperative endeavors. This session, which was moderated by MGIMO Rector Anatoly V. Torkunov, included presentations by Eom Gu Ho, Professor of Russian Studies at Hanyang University and Research Director of Russia and Eurasia Unit of the Humanities Korea Project; Lee Jae Young, Head of Russia and CIS Team at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy and President of the Korean-CentraI Asian Economic Association; Alexandr Panov, MGIMO Professor and former Deputy Foreign Minister and Russian ambassador to the ROK and Japan; Oleg Barabanov, MGIMO Head of Department and Rapporteur on Siberian and Far Eastern Affairs of the Valdai Club (international discussion group under the auspices of the President of Russia).

The presenters highlighted the radical change of Russia's foreign and economic policy, in particular regard to its shift from a Euro-centric emphasis toward the Asia-Pacific region in 2011-2012. The key projects for possible bilateral cooperation were discussed, such as the possibility for Korean investment in the high-speed passenger railway connection between Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, along with joint development of industrial clusters in South Yakutia and the area around Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The forthcoming construction, in 3-4 years, of a new LNG plant near Vladivostok and a grain maritime terminal in Zarubino (the first in the Russian Far East) should be of interest to Korean importers of liquefied gas and wheat, with direct maritime access from Russia without a North Korean transit. At the same time, it was mentioned that Russia-ROK trade would develop into a two-track system, by expanding direct maritime routes that could be integrated with the proposed Trans-Korean railway and pipeline projects with the DPRK's involvement.

The third session looked into ways to strengthen the public diplomacy relations between Korea and Russia and the launch of a Russia-Korea Society. The session was co-moderated by Lee In-ho, Chairperson of the ASAN Institute for Policy Studies and former ROK Ambassador to Russia and Russian Ambassador Alexandr Panov. Presentations were made by Kee Yun Soo, President of the Korea-Russia Association and Professor Emeritus of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies; Seog Young Joong, Professor of Russian Language and Literature of Korea University; MGIMO Rector Anatoly V. Torkunov; Valery Fedorov, Director General of the VTsIOM Russian Public Opinion Research Center; and Vassily Tso, President of the All-Russian Organization of Koreans.

The participants identified current trends of Russia's public opinion of Korea and popularity of the uKorean Wave" (K-pop culture) in Russia. The session also discussed the status of Korean diaspora in Russia, along with their relations with the Russian and ROK authorities. The presenters also proposed an initiative to designate 2014 as the Year of Russia in Korea and the Year of Korea in Russia, to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Korean diaspora on Russian territory. In addition, there was discussion of plans to establish a new Russian NGO - the Russia-Korea Society. This organization would promote research and cultural initiatives, and make efforts to launch trilateral cooperation involving Russia, the ROK, and the DPRK, on economic and cultural matters, and to perhaps establish a three-way dialogue channel.

The participation of senior-level specialists and professionals from both countries at the forum, and the seriousness and practical suggestions of the discussions, made the 12th Korea-Russia Forum a much more productive gathering, as compared to a purely academic event. It was truly significant that a high-ranking official of Korea's MOFAT mentioned that the forum was not only a ''second track" public diplomacy effort, but it was also deeply connected to the practical decision-making for both sides, and in that regard a n1.5 track diplomacy" initiative. The Russian delegation who attended the forum is profoundly grateful for the diligent preparatory efforts made by the Moscow Office of the Korea Foundation and its Director Kim Hwe Gil.

Participaints of the 12th Korea-Russia Forum

Oleg N. Barabanov
Head, Department of EU Politics and Polices
European Studies Institute MGIMO University

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