Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I welcome our visiting guest speakers from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Prof. Tae Sang Jang and Dr. Jeong-Kyung Park, who have travelled all the way from Seoul, Korea, to be with us today. Your presence is highly appreciated.
Let me start by pointing out that the bilateral relations between Kenya and Korea are warm and cordial. As is well known, Kenya and Korea established diplomatic relations in 1964. Since then, Korea has had a Resident Mission here in Nairobi. Kenya on its part opened its Embassy in Seoul, Korea, in May 2007.
These cordial relations have trickled down to the institutional levels, with the University of Nairobi now soon to become the proud host to the Korean Studies Association, which is scheduled to be launched in July, this year. The Association of Korean Studies will be housed in the Faculty of Arts, which is the largest faculty in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
It will be our pleasure as a college to see a successful launch of the Korean Studies Association and the subsequent management of the association, from its fledging stage to complete autonomy and installation as a Department of Korean Studies. Let me reiterate that all effort will be made to give all the support needed in this endeavour.
Upon the launch, the Faculty of Arts will be the first in the country to host the Korean Studies Association. I hope that the launch will be followed closely by the Korean Studies Curriculum Development to enable the University of Nairobi to offer graduate and post-graduate degree programmes in Korean Studies. The groundwork towards this end will have been laid, as a result of three years of diligent preparations by the Korean and Kenyan Research Networking Teams, based in both countries.
Allow me to commend these teams for their hard work in laying this foundation. There have been months of conscientious planning by both sides. The ongoing partnership in research work has seen a number of our academics visit Korea while a number of academics from Korea have also come to Kenya in tandem with objectives of collaboration.
We cannot overstate the importance of educational exchange programmes. A number of our students are already studying in Korea, while others should be on their war to Korea for the same. This has been facilitated by scholarships granted under the auspices of the Korean Government in conjunction with the Graduate School of Korean Studies, under the Academy of Korean Studies.
In the 21st century, countries around the world are engaged in the common pursuit of boosting communication and exchange of information—all geared towards commerce, trade and industry.
Thus, for the Kenyan scholar to attain a mastery of the Korean language will be a step towards fitting oneself in this large, global picture. Mastery of language serves to streamline the actors’ participation in trade and economic relations. Similarly, exchange of information is indispensable in a fast-paced global market where cutting-edge technology requires constant renewal.
Exchange of information essentially involves a variety of cultural exchanges. Professor Jang, allow me to point out that your paper presentation today entitled “Intersection Interaction in Hausa Proverbs” is an intimation of this ongoing interchange of cultural modes between our countries.
Currently, approximately five thousand Koreans visit Kenya annually. This figure is bound to go up with further strengthening of the joint relations between the two countries. The promotion of Korean Studies therefore goes a long way towards developing the much needed human resource in sectors such as tourism and travel.
We, as a college, have confidence that the enthusiastic reception of Korean Studies displayed by our students and the university as a whole is a sure sign that Kenyan youth and citizenry are ready for such an endeavour.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the students and members of staff from the University of Nairobi who are here with us today. I also wish to thank and express profound gratitude to our guests from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Prof. Tae Sang Jang and Dr. Jeong-Kyung Park, for being here with us today.