Go to contents

Korea Cements Ties With Oil-Rich Saha

Posted May. 26, 2006 03:02,   


On the Christmas of the Russian Orthodox Church, January 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a mass in Yakutsk where the outdoor temperature fell to -45 degrees Celsius.

On the same day he announced a plan to build an oil pipeline which will link Siberia to the Far East region. This implied to the world that he intends to take energy development as a top priority among other national tasks. Yakutsk is the capital of the Saha Federal Republic.

Saha Federal Republic is an autonomous republic with a population of only 2.0 million, but takes up a fifth of all of Russian territory and has plentiful underground resources that include diamonds, iron, gold and natural gas. In particular, aside from Irkutsk and the Sakhalin oil fields which China and Japan have already claimed, this is the only oil field region in Siberia that has not been developed. For this reason, this is one of those regions that gain hot attention from governments battling against each other to secure energy.

Korea began establishing bonds with the Saha Federal Republic when it built a Korean school there in 1994. Then the superintendent of educational affairs of Yakutsk, Mikhaylova, asked Professor Gang Deok-su of the Russian Language department at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, to lend him a hand. Mikhaylova was visiting Korea to meet a Korean businessman who had promised to sponsor various forms of cooperation and aid. When this meeting was canceled, he without any plan visited the head office of the Russian Language department in the hope of avoiding returning home with empty hands.

Since then, there has been continual private cooperation between the two countries, however small the scale may have been. Presently, eight graduates from Yakutsk University are studying in Korea to be experts on Korea on scholarship.

A milestone was reached by private cooperation on May 23. The Korea-Saha Friendship Society held an official foundation ceremony at the Press Center building in Seoul with more than 100 attendees from both countries. This friendship society plans to build a three story Korean Council building on 100 pyeong of land provided by the government of the Saha Federal Republic.

But collecting a fund of 300 million won is not easy.

Ho-Gab Lee gdt@donga.com