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[Herald Interview] Cultural, people-to-people ties will boost Korea-Kazakhstan ties

Embassy of Kazakhstan and Shin Il Foundation launch Kazakh-Korean society

Bakyt Dyussenbayev, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Korea, speaks during an interview at his office in central Seoul on Friday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Bakyt Dyussenbayev, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Korea, speaks during an interview at his office in central Seoul on Friday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Strengthening people-to-people exchanges between South Korea and Kazakhstan is vital to furthering bilateral ties, according to Bakyt Dyussenbayev, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Korea.

“Trade and political cooperation are vibrant between Kazakhstan and South Korea, but strengthening people-to-people contact and public diplomacy had been yearslong vision of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Seoul,” Dyussenbayev said.

He added that the Kazakh-Korean society of culture, art and education that will be launched in collaboration with the Shin Il Foundation will serve as the foundations on which “ground-level cultural and humanitarian exchange” will be built.

According to the envoy, the foundation is planning various events including exhibitions, cinema festivals, concerts, conferences and seminars.

The embassy’s efforts are in line with plans laid out by the two countries’ leaders in 2019, when President Moon Jae-in visited Kazakhstan.

“The two countries agreed to expand cooperation in cultural and humanitarian spheres marking 2022 as the Year of Cultural Exchange,” the ambassador said.

Next year also marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Kazakhstan. Korea was one of the first countries to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence, in February 1992.

In 2010, bilateral ties were upgraded to that of a strategic partnership, and Kazakhstan currently stands as Korea’s largest trading partner in Central Asia, with Korea also being Kazakhstan’s 10th largest investor.

According to the envoy, Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is expected to visit Seoul later in the year.

While cultural and people-to-people ties between the two nations have lagged behind the growth of economic relations, Dyussenbayev says that ethnic Koreans have a long history in his country.

The history of Koreans in Kazakhstan dates back to 1937, when large numbers of Koreans in Soviet Union’s Far East were deported to Central Asia.

According to Dyussenbayev, currently, about 108,000 ethnic Koreans live in Kazakhstan, many of whom have preserved their cultural heritage.

“Nowadays, Koreans of Kazakhstan are experiencing an era of ‘spiritual revival,’ the lost language and culture are being reborn with the help of Association of Koreans in Kazakhstan actively involved in the development of Korean theater, Korean media, and entrepreneurial activities of Koreans in Kazakhstan,” he said.

He added that a number of ethnic Koreans have risen to prominence in Kazakhstan, going on to list individuals such as Sen. Georgy Kim, boxer Gennady Golovkin and Minister of Health Care of Kazakhstan Aleksey Tsoi.

By Sanjay Kumar (sanjaykumar@heraldcorp.com)
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