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Research center for Israel studies opens in Seoul

June 18, 2024 - 18:24 By Kim Arin
Amb. Akiva Tor, Israeli ambassador to South Korea, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Israel Education Research Center held at Conrad Seoul on Tuesday. (courtesy of the Israeli embassy in South Korea)

A research center dedicated to Israeli studies opened Tuesday under the Seoul National University, becoming the first such academic institution in South Korea.

Amb. Akiva Tor, Israeli envoy to South Korea, said in an opening ceremony on this day that the center’s launch “marks an auspicious beginning.”

Israel Education Research Center will be “the first academic center in Korean higher education dedicated to the study of Jewish civilization and Israeli society,” he said.

“Korean language, history and society are widely studied in Israeli universities, with a dedicated department in Hebrew University, and extensive courses in Tel Aviv and Haifa Universities,” he said.

With the center’s launch, Israel’s wide interest in Korean studies will now be reciprocated in the Korean academy, he said.

He said Korea and Israel shared similarities that when explored would lead to new insights.

“Two peoples with both rich classical and modern avant-garde cultures, two dynamic societies forged in tragic histories -- Koreans and Jews, Israel and Korea, so often one feels they are looking in a mirror,” he said.

“When we study and analyze each other, we will learn something profound about ourselves.”

He added that he hoped the center would grow in time into a full department at the university for Jewish studies.

Hwang Woo-yea, the interim chair of the South Korean ruling People Power Party, (center) attends the opening ceremony of the Israel research center on Tuesday. (courtesy of the Israeli embassy in South Korea)

Tuesday’s ceremony was attended by Hwang Woo-yea, chair of the Korea-Israel Friendship Association and the interim leader of the ruling People Power Party.

Members of the diplomatic community in Seoul including the ambassadors of Uruguay, Romania, Argentina, Greece and the Czech Republic were also present.

Angela Buchdahl, a US rabbi visiting Seoul, speaks at Tuesday’s opening ceremony. (courtesy of the Israeli embassy in South Korea)