The region’s first International Institute of Korean Studies (IKSU) has officially opened - in Preston.
A two-day conference on Korean security was held in the city and culminated with the launch of the hub for research, teaching and public policy in the study of contemporary Korea.
Housed in the University of Central Lancashire’s School of Language, Literature and International Studies, the centre is the first in the North West and only the UK’s third provider of an undergraduate programme in Korean Studies.
Over the last two years UCLan has 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 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.”
Former US Ambassador to South Korea Donald P Gregg unveiled the plaque with minister Chang-Mo Kim, from the Republic of Korea Embassy.
Mr Gregg said: “UCLan is really on to something here. At the Institute’s inaugural conference and at the 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.”
Minister Chang-Mo Kim added: “I am very happy to be here and hope that your new institute will go from strength to strength.”
Prof Smith added: “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.”
More than 30 of the world’s leading authorities, influencers and commentators on Korea debated issues ranging from nuclear weapons to food, as well as wider security issues.