RAS-KB: The Blog
Two countries far apart, the Czech Republic and the Republic of Korea, share a long history of more than 140 years of interactions. From the times the very first Czechs entered the Korean territory as part of attacking US forces in 1871, the relations between the two nations and countries have been of the highest importance. As the Republic of Korea is now the third largest Czech trade partner outside of Europe (after China and the US, and before Japan), and Korean companies invested almost 2 billion USD in the Czech Republic, 150,000 Korean tourists visited Prague in 2013 and not less than 8 weekly non-stop direct flights connect the main airports of both countries, the cooperation between the two countries is increasing year by year.
But there is also a rich historical past in Czech-Korean relations. The presentation will cover the whole history of the interactions, from the early visits by the Czechs to Korea, to the cooperation between soldiers of the Czechoslovak Legion with Korean independence fighters between 1918-1920, and the creation of Czech Korean studies which started as early as 1943. After the communist coup in 1948, Czechoslovakia became a close ally of North Korea in the 1950s, and the presentation will thus follow the most interesting moments of the cooperation between the two countries. The presentation will then cover the development of knowledge of the Czech Republic in Korea since the 1970s and – indeed – the development of Czech-Korean relations in the last quarter of a century, when the newly democratic Czech Republic established fully-fledged relations with the Republic of Korea, while keeping its Embassy in Pyongyang.
Jaroslav Olša, jr (1964) is the outgoing Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Korea (since 2008) and author of a series of articles covering a wide range of Czech-Korean relations published in Czech, English and Korean. He earned his MA degree in Asian and African Studies at Charles University, Prague, but studied also in Tunis and Amsterdam. He has published books on African modern art and history and – most recently – edited and authored „1901 photographs of Seoul by Enrique Stanko Vráz and other early Czech travellers´ views of Korea“ (Seoul Museum of History, 2011), „Czech-Korean film encounters“ (Korean Film Archive, 2013) and „The Korean Peninsula after the artistice as seen by Czechoslovak delegates to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission 1953-1956“ (Seoul Museum of History, 2013). His most recent Czech-language book – prepared together with leading Czech Koreanist Miriam Lowensteinová – covers the life and work of early Korean archaeologist, historian and translator of Korean literature of the 1940s, Han Heung-su. Some of Olša´s articles are available at the Czech Embassy´s website www.mzv.cz/seoul.
Lecturer: Andrei Lankov
While North Korea is usually described in media as a 'Stalinist country', this long has become a misleading description. From the mid-1990s the private sector plays an important, or even dominant role in the North Korean economy. While most of the North Korean businesspeople operate on small level, some entrepreneurs have amassed significant capital, and operate rather large companies. In most cases the North Korean large companies are registered as owned by the state, with the 'foreign exchange earning operations' being the most common cover for such activities. The lecture will discuss how captains of North Korean big business work and live, what is their relations with the state and their possible future.
Andrei Lankov was born in Russia in 1963, he studied in Leningrad State University and Kim Il Sung University in North Korea. His major research interest is North Korean social and political history; he has published five books and a number of articles on this topic. He now teaches at Kookmin University, Seoul.
Highlights from our excursion
Sights and sounds from our excursion.
Here are some highlights from our recent Bukchon excursion including an interview with the tour leader, David Mason.
Roger Shepherd discusses his travels throughout the Baekdu Daegan during this RAS Korea lecture.
Her Majesty’s Ambassador Scott Wightman's lecture to the Royal Asiatic Society Korea.