An international institute of Korean Studies is being set up in Preston as leading authorities from across the globe descend on the city to discuss security in the Asian nation.
The University of Central Lancashire will officially launch the facility, the first of its kind in the region, at the end of a two-day probe into Korean security.
The multidisciplinary hub of research, teaching and public policy in the study of contemporary Korea is only the UK’s third provider of an undergraduate programme in Korean Studies.
It will be based within UCLan’s School of Language, Literature and International Studies and next year will launch Europe’s first Master’s Degree in North Korean Studies.
The conference has seen more than 30 of the world’s leading authorities, influencers and commentators on Korea debating a wide range of security issues ranging from nuclear weapons to food, as well as wider security issues related to East Asia.
Key speakers have included former United States Ambassador to South Korea, Donald P. Gregg, who was also national security advisor to the US President George Bush when he was Ronald Reagan’s vice-president.
Three conference attendees have just returned from North Korea - John O’Dea, who is currently working for the Department For International Development in Lebanon on the Syria crisis but who lived for six years in the DPRK, plus researchers Dr Georgy Toloroya and Professor Ruediger Frank . Both are currently living and working in North Korea.
Professor Hazel Smith, Director of IKSU, said: “IKSU takes contemporary Korea – both 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.”
She added: “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 relationships.”