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AUK's Center for Gulf Studies Hosts Lecture by Republic of Korea's Ambassador

The Center for Gulf Studies (CGS) at AUK hosted a lecture presented by H.E. Yoo Yeonchul, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the State of Kuwait, entitled "Building Bridges: Korea-Kuwait Political-Economic Relations" where the Ambassador gave a brief account of Korea in general, and Kuwaiti-Korean relations in particular.

Before his talk, the Ambassador engaged the audience with a brief background quiz on the Republic of Korea, where he tackled misconceptions such as its official title. Following this, he began addressing the past and present relationship between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Korea, highlighting the high level of cooperation that continues to strengthen their bilateral relationship. Their similar geopolitical circumstances and historical experiences have caused both nations to treasure balanced diplomacy to ensure security and development where they can both be seen greatly involved in mediation and humanitarian assistance. Such common interests have helped develop their shared political and economic relations where Kuwait assisted Korea when facing an oil shock in the 1970s, and in return, Korea assisted Kuwait in facing the Iraqi invasion in 1990/91. Today, they continue to contribute to each other's national development plans.

Currently, their partnership is being visibly materialized through traditional partnerships like the Sheikh Jaber AlAhmad AlSabah Causeway Project, innovative partnerships like the focus on smart and ecofriendly city development through the South Saad Al-Abdullah Smart City, and interactive partnerships which enable cultural exchange through festivals.

In contrast, both countries have several differences in terms of natural conditions, resources, and other socio-economic-political factors. Kuwait's strength lies in its natural resources, whereas Korea's lies in its human resources. This pool of similarities and differences has enabled both countries to turn challenges into opportunities and become perfect partners. Only anticipating greater growth, the Ambassador said, "I am optimistic about the future of Kuwait; and South Korea wants to be a part of that future."

With Kuwait being the only GCC country to host a North Korean embassy, many of the audience's questions focused on the significance of the denuclearization dialogue with North Korea. Here, they asked the Ambassador about his prediction of the outcome of and an alternative for the upcoming summits between North and South Korea, followed by the USA and North Korea, and its direct effects on the peninsula's stability. The Ambassador also assured Kuwait's cooperation throughout the process, mentioning that Kuwait faithfully implemented UNSC Resolutions (regarding North Korea's nuclear test and missile launching). In concluding his talk, he maintained that, "Seeing is believing, so make sure to visit Korea."

CGS Acting Director Shareefa Al-Adwani commented on the significance of this lecture to highlight the partnership between Kuwait and South Korea, and its impact on Kuwait's local development, "This talk is in relation to and a continuance of the Center for Gulf Studies' Subbiya series. With the Jaber Al-Ahmed causeway almost 90 percent finished, I hope that our community may continue to be excited about the vision of Silk City and its impact on Kuwait's future. His Excellency Ambassador Yoo Yeonchul highlighted Kuwait's steps into its future as steps that are not taken alone, but are instead, are taken with historical partners and with continued cooperation with our allies."

H.E. Yoo Yeonchul, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the State of Kuwait since May 2016, has served the Korean Foreign Service for more than 30 years. Prior to his appointment in Kuwait, he served as Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative at the Korean Permanent Mission in Geneva, Switzerland from 2013 to 2016. Within the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as Director of both the Energy and Climate Change Division and the Global Environment Cooperation Division, and he was the Director-General for International Cooperation within the Ministry of Environment. His international assignments have included Vietnam, Canada, Mongolia, and Japan. He received the Service Merit Medal from the Korean Government in December 2012. He received his BA in Political Science & Diplomacy at Yonsei University in South Korea, has completed the Foreign Service Programme at the University of Oxford in the UK, and received his MA in International Relations at the University of Reading in the UK.

The Center for Gulf Studies is a research center under the College of Arts and Sciences at the American University of Kuwait. The center aims to promote greater cultural understanding of and increased intellectual interest in the Gulf, by facilitating free and open academic discourse on a range of issues that both shape and challenge this critical region of the world. Their goal is to enable scholars as well as political and civil society actors both within and outside the region to contribute and add value to the burgeoning field of Gulf Studies. To this end, the center seeks to encourage, support, and cultivate interesting and original research on the Gulf, and to create an environment in which AUK students and faculty can interact and collaborate with researchers and activists from around the world in creative and engaging ways.

AUK Center for Gulf Studies Acting Director, Dr. Shareefa Al-Adwani introducing the speaker

H.E. Ambassador Yoo Yeonchul giving his lecture

(from left) CGS Program Coordinator, Mohammad Al-Awadhi; AUK President, Dr.Tim Sullivan; H.E. Ambassador Yoo Yeonchul; CGS Acting Director, Dr. Shareefa Al-Adwani; Second Secretary & Consul at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Yoo Sung Jae

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 15th May 2018


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