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Professor Leads China’s Korean Studies

Posted May. 26, 2006 03:02,   


“Korean is more favored than Russian among Chinese students,” said Shen Dingchang, 55, Professor of Korean Studies of Peking University, who had been elected the first president of the Association of Chinese Professors with a Ph.D from Korea, established on May 19. He also said in his interview on May 21, “I will devote myself to bridging Korea and China for a wider exchange between the two countries.”

“As people are getting more interested in the Korean culture these days, the level of students that enter university to study Korean is getting much higher,” said Shen, who teaches Korean in Peking University, “In the past, students favored English the most, followed by French, German, Russian and Japanese. But now Korean is the fourth most popular language in China.”

Born in Shanghai, he studied Korean for two years at Kim Il Sung University after graduating from the Korean Studies Department in Peking University. After teaching Korean in the university, he worked as a diplomat for three years at the Chinese Embassy in North Korea from 1990.

Professor Shen first got interested in Korea when Korea and China established diplomatic relations. He collected documents related to Korean studies and did research in South Korea for a year from October 1994. After that, he returned to Peking University to continue to work as a professor. He entered Kwandong University in Korea in 2002, and earned a Ph.D. last year.

As his profile shows, he is a renowned expert on both South and North Korea. Indeed, in Peking University, he is leading the Korean Studies department as executive director of the Center for Korean Studies in the university.

Asked why he chose to study Korean when entering the university, he said, “When I entered the university back in 1975, China was going through its Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. At that time, the government arbitrarily decided what a student should study.” He continued to say, smiling, “Of course it is not reasonable for a government to make such a decision. But I think, after all, the government’s decision was good for me.” At present, around 140,000 Chinese students study in South Korea.

Jong-Dae Ha orionha@donga.com