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International Academic Congress on "Korea and the Islamic World: Historical and Cultural Relations" Istanbul, April 24-25

IRCICA and Hanyang University (Korea) jointly held an international academic congress on "Korea and the Islamic World: Historical and Cultural Relations" at IRCICA’s headquarters in Istanbul on April 24-25 2018.

The Congress on "Korea and the Islamic World: Historical and Cultural Relations" brought together more than twenty prominent scholars and experts of Asian studies from Korea, China, USA, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Iran and Turkey to share their knowledge and generate new insights into this rather neglected field of study. Congress ran a total of four sessions in two days and the sessions covered social, cultural, economic, literary and artistic dimensions of the interchange between Korea and the Muslim World within the framework of historical development of the interrelations.

The opening speeches of the Congress were delivered by IRCICA Director General Dr. Halit Eren, Hanyang University International Research Lab for Korean Studies in the Middle East Director Hee Soo Lee and the Director of Korean Studies Promotion Service Jongmyung Kim. In his inaugural speech IRCICA Director General Dr. Halit Eren stated that although Korea and the Muslim world are culturally distinct from each other as well as from the rest of the world, they share similarities of values and ethics and social traditions. Dr. Eren also maintained that the shared common memories and interactions deriving from trade, travels and educational exchanges add to the mutual understanding between peoples. Equally important for the cooperation between the parties is the living memory of Turkish military’s serving with UN Command in Korea from 1950 to 1953. All these factors contribute to the rapprochement of countries and promote further cultural relations. In this respect, Dr. Eren concluded, the Congress will mark an area for study at the crossing between Islamic studies and Korean studies. It will underline the academic fields of Korean studies in the Muslim world and Islamic studies in Korea. These are very important contributions reflected in the objective of the joint initiative behind this Congress and expected to come from it. Subsequent to IRCICA’s Director General Dr. Eren’s speech, Director of Korean Studies Promotion Service Jongmyung Kim took the floor and stated that Turkey is not unfamiliar with him because Korea and Middle East had been in contact with each other by maritime and land routes since 8th century. Apart from this, Jongmyung Kim also stated that Korea has a strong tie with "brother country" Turkey in particular, because Turkey helped Korea during the Korean War in 1950s. Jongmyung Kim concluded that the congress is great in importance because this theme of congress has not yet been studied in academic circles in Korea and abroad and it will contribute to the knowledge in the scope of a regional science. The last to address the participants was the Director of International Research Lab for Korean Studies in the Middle East (Hanyang University), Prof. Hee Soo Lee. In his speech Prof. Lee stated that the history of Korea and Muslim World relations have more than 1300 years, and there are artefacts showing the commercial and political relations between them. However, in discovering, studying and transmitting cultural heritage little attention has been paid to the wider age of cross cultural aspect between Korea and Muslim World mainly due to lack of experts and the shortage of reliable sources. In order to close this intellectual gap, Prof. Lee maintained that it is very time to dig out some illuminating facts on Korea-Muslim World encounters in long history. In this sens,e academicians could and should do more to have more balanced ideas about the history and culture of Muslim World. Prof. Lee concluded his remark by saying that the two-days conference with 19 authentic papers will provide insightful academic achievements related to Korean studies and Korea-Muslim World relations from ancient time to contemporary, from cultural and historical approaches to economic issues.

The first day of the Congress featured three sessions on topics specific to the theme of the Congress. In the first session moderated by Prof. Jongmyung Kim, scholars presented five papers focusing mainly on the historical aspects of the Korean-Muslim relations. The second session of the Congress after lunch break welcomed five other presentations concentrating on the cultural and literary aspects. The third and last session of the first day of the Congress was moderated by Habil Alexander Fedotoff, in which intellectual encounters were handled with its geographical, socio-cultural and historical implications. The second day of the Congress saw the fourth and last session where discussants presented their papers on the economic, industrial and commercial aspects of the relations between Korea and the Muslim World in general. Subsequent to the last session, a final open floor discussion session was held for participants to discuss the main conclusions drawn in the plenary sessions and to hear the recommendations for future joint projects.

Hereby we announce with great pleasure that the papers presented in the Congress will appear in a book format in the near future. The Congress constituted a significant step within the framework of IRCICA’s cultural cooperation with the leading institutions and universities from around the world.



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