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Professor Chin Che Kyo Was Awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa Honorary Degree by Sofia University

At an official ceremony at the Aula magna of the Rectorate Professor Chin Che Kyo of the Songyunguan University was awarded the Doctor honoris causa honorary degree of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

The proposal for the conferral of the honorary degree of the oldest and most prestigious high academic institution in this country came from the Faculty of Classical and Contemporary Philology and is for his exceptional contribution to the development of scientific research in the domain of Korean Studies in Bulgaria, for his active scientific and teaching activities in the Department of Korean Studies at Sofia University and his enormous help for the Center of Korean Studies in its project activities.

The official ceremony was opened by the Director of the Center for Eastern Languages and Cultures at Sofia University Professor Dr habil Alexander Fedotov who introduced Professor Chin Che Kyo’s CV.


Professor Dr Chin Che Kyo is Director of the Academy for East Asian Research at Songyuan University in the Republic of Korea; he has been maintaining active cooperation and successful partnership with Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” for the past decade due to the personal support of Professor Kyo.

Professor Kyo graduated the Songyunguan University in Seoul where he has been teaching classical Chinese literature. Presently, he is the President of the Korean Society for Korean Literature in Classical Chinese, President of the Society for Education in the Domain of Korean Education in Classical Chinese, President of the Translation of Classical Korean Literature Society, member of the Committee of Planning at the Institute for Translation of Classical Korean Literature, and in the past he was Director of the Dedong Institute of Korean Studies, Director of the BA courses at the Songyunguan University, Dean at the Songyunguan University, President of the Korean MA Courses Council, adviser of the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, member of the Governing Board for Advanced Korean Studies, etc.


Both in the past and nowadays Professor Dr Chin Che Kyo has been in charge of many important international projects in the domain of Korean studies.

He is a world-famous scholar, author of 16 monographs, published in Korean and English, of more than 100 refereed studies and articles, published in prestigious academic journals, coauthor of 6 science books. He has translated 6 classical written monuments from Classical Chinese into Modern Korean..

He is one of the most famous scholars in the domain of classical East Asian and Korean letters in the Republic of Korea and the world.

Thanks to his efforts, it has been almost a decade now that Sofia University and Songyunguan University have been developing exceptionally fruitful cooperation which is reflected in the organization of annual joint conferences, annual lecture courses for Bulgarian students of Korean, working on joint monographs in the domain of Korean Studies, etc.

Every year professor Dr Chin Che Kyo guarantees the quality tuition of the best Bulgarian BA students of Korean in the MA programs of the Sonyunguan University.

He has lent unique assistance in the preparatory work on the two latest projects, crucially important, which the Center of Korean Studies won in the Republic of Korea. The participation in such prestigious projects is a proof of the pivotal place Bulgarian Korean Studies occupy in world science, focusing its attention on Korean issues.


Professor Chin Che Kyo was awarded the Doctor honoris causa degree of Sofia University by the Vice-rector of Alma mater Associate Professor Dr Yuriy Kouchev.

Professor Chin Che Kyo delivered an academic speech on the topic of “East Asian Studies in Korea”. He expressed his deep gratitude for the preparation of the event, thanked all his colleagues attending it: “For me it is a great honour to deliver an academic lecture at this venerable, old University.“

Professor Chin Chen Kyo pointed out that prior to the clash with the Western world Korea was under Chinese cultural domination; it used Chinese hieroglyphics and formed its own independent culture within the civilization framework, which was different from Latin culture. In his words, Korea went through several cataclysms: a system of taxation by China; in the modern transitory period: colonialism and imperialism; after World War II: the Cold War and the division of the country.


“Despite the many difficulties the country managed to survive. Especially during the transitory period the three East Asian countries Korea, China and Japan underwent a global change of their own systems which brought about the transition in their Weltanschauung and each country reacted in a different way to the clash. Depending on the reaction to the Western world each country took a different road of development,“ Professor Chin Che Kyo pointed out.

Once Korea gained independence it went through the war most of the countries in the world took part in and came out of it divided. In East Asia the Korean Peninsula is marred by the problems of “the awareness of the Korean problem” and “the awareness of a global problem”. From this point of view, by finding specific examples in Korean Studies, the roots of the causes can be arrived at and allusions to world science can be made, the Professor pointed out.


He pointed out that from a historical point of view Korea has long occupied the periphery of East Asia, yet it managed to preserve its identity. That was why it managed to maintain sustainable links with the leading countries. After the transitory period Korea joined the Western social system of government. That brought about a break with the tradition and loss of cultural identity, and, on the other hand, the quest and acquisition of world culture. In his presentation Professor Chi Che Kyo remarked that in the aftermath of the Korean War the country had increased its economic status and the need to assist academically the future and the values of East Asia increased. Academic plans were set up to conduct research of inherent Asian values which are different from a West European point of view.

“It was exactly that perspective that became the fundament of the research work on East Asia. From that moment onwards the research work on the region was included in Regional Work and form the viewpoint and the research methodology which communicates with world research on East Asia”, the Professor pointed out. He added that basically regional research aims at enhancing the level of understanding of another country and form a quest for concrete examples to be used for comparison. It is only that in Korea the special subject “East Asian Studies” opts for the study method of illuminating through understanding the civilization and history of Korea’s neighbour region and globalizing it. “Nowadays we are a state which does not aim at being only local but studying and presenting East Asia globally”, Professor Chin Che Kyo noted.


He added that from a historical perspective Korea is a small country whose aim is to preserve its own identity without opening for or uniting with other states. It is a model for the development of coexistence with the Great Powers. Thus, it presents a historical model for the recognition of the other countries irrespective of their size and might, yet taking into account their mutual independence. This is a real example of a multidimensional model on a global scale, Professor Chin Che Kyo remarked and added that from that point of view Korea is both a leading factor and a subject matter for future research. This dual character of the research of the country improves the Korean intellectual resource and provides adequate basis for the development of Korean Studies.

“With the emergence of Western European imperialism the main role in the establishment of world order and the setting up of a hierarchy of values and key factors was played by science and axiology. As we all know, the saliency in the relations brought to strong polarized violence and exclusion from the system, and that turned into habitual culture. The modern system generates the foundations of imperialism and colonialism. Those foundations bring about further incessant violence and are clear examples of the decay of the modern system”, Professor Chin Che Kyo remarked.


In his words, as a result of the clash with the Western world and the decay generated by the Western Empires, in East Asia historical conflicts and military tension increased among the states and the peoples or even within the countries and left a legacy of conflicts, animosity and hatred. This means that today the system must be radically reviewed. Professor Chin Che Kyo noted that it was possible to arrive at that stage through observation of the history, life, the world and humanity in a specific place and period of time but it can be applied in practice only by means of universalism, without any elements of centralization and hegemony. It is in this sense that East Asian Studies, carried out in Korea, become relevant, he underlined. “The experience in the history of East Asia from the premodern and modern period and the treatment of the theory of life of that period can provide fresh knowledge and examples for the future. This is the ultimate goal of the subject “East Asian Studies” in Korea and is the scientific research method it pursues.”.

In his speech Professor Chin Che Kyo traced the parallels in the historical development of Bulgaria and Korea: “On the territory of Bulgaria in the third millennium BC there flourished the golden Thracian civilization. That corresponded to the Choson state established by Tangun in 2400 BC. In the 9th century the two brothers Cyril and Methodius created the Cyrillic alphabet and in the middle of the 15th century king Sejong created an independent system of writing called “hangul”. This is also a similarity in the historical experience of the two countries”. He mentioned also the similar occupation by powerful neighbour countries and the historical domination, the suffering and the influence of the legacy of the domination period. There is a direct correlation of the relations which Bulgaria maintained with the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War period, Professor Chin Che Kyo said.

He added that we can take into account only the period when in the 19th century Bulgaria was liberated from the subjugation of the Ottoman Empire, passed through the rule of monarchy and the communist system and what can be observed is a transition in the political system. In his words, the situation on the Korean Peninsula was similar. During the 18th century the Peninsula lay open to the attacks of the Great Powers, survived the occupation period, and having gained independence went through the cold period and the Korean War which brought the division of the Peninsula. The process is continuing today. Professor Chin Che Kyo pointed that both countries present similar historical examples. The division of the Korean Peninsula is not only an issue pertinent to North and South Korea; it is a global dilemma.


“The economic collision between China and the USA generates the beginning of a new Cold War. Since during the period of the Cold War Bulgaria was in the enemy camp, during the Korean War and afterwards it established direct relations with the socialist North Korea“, Professor Chin Che Kyo pointed out. In his words, those different examples showed that both Bulgaria and Korea have many similarities which can facilitate the exchange on the scientific level.

After the transition period in the 1990’s Bulgaria established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea but real scientific exchange took place rarely, mostly on the level of Korean Studies, the Professor pointed out. He added that mainstream academic research in the humanities in Korea and Bulgaria was on the basis of the research of the legacy of the foreign rule and the Cold War, and both countries shared that knowledge at international scientific fora. What is being studied is the legacy of the foreign rule issue and how the archive materials from the Cold War period should be approached.

“This is done because it is important from a scientific point of view to analyse how these two tendencies change the social development of the two countries and what their significance is. More specifically the various archive materials related to the Korean Peninsula were created during the time of the socialist system and present a viewpoint on the Cold War and the Korean Peninsula that is different from the European and American position and present a new focus on the work with the documents,” Professor Chin Che Kyo said. In that way comparative studies of the issue of “slavery” in the two countries can be conducted and a scientific treatment of the Cold War can be promoted.

Professor Chin Che Kyo added that the only region in the world which can still display the legacy of the Cold War was the Korean Peninsula. Summit meetings are arranged between the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and the USA, reviewing the issue of nuclear disarmament. It was the polarization of the world that generated such issues and, in this respect, the shadow of the Cold War is still hanging on us, Professor Chin Che Kyo pointed out. “Both the legacy of the occupation and the Cold War are still present on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Professor Chin Chen Kyo pointed out that for a period of seven years at Sofia University and at Sonyunguan University research work focusing on the similarities and differences during the occupation was carried out. The possibility of maintaining constant links between Bulgaria and the other Eastern European countries with world science based on the archives related to the Korean War was confirmed. “Such scientific issues stimulate the interest in Korean Studies in Bulgaria and fully reveal the opportunities for referring to scientific circles in Korea and worldwide”, Professor Chin Che Kyo said and added that the scope of Korean Studies can be broadened, and through Korean Studies Bulgarian science can correspond with the authoritative representatives of world science. “And something more to add: subsequently, the example of Sofia University and the Songyunguan University can transcend Bulgaria’s borders and spread Korean Studies in the whole of the Balkan Peninsula, enhancing the academic level of the region by providing motivation for scientific partnership“, the Professor added.

In his words, the comprehensive research conducted till that moment at both universities have borne fruit and offered fresh perspectives for the research work on the East Asian region.. According to him, on the one hand, that is due to the close contacts between Sofia University and the Sonyunguan University based on Korean Studies but, at the same time, it is also due to the opening of a venue of research in East Asia which is done mostly from a West-European point of view.

“In the long term perspective, I intend to continue both on behalf of the Institute of East Asian Research at the Songyunguan University and on my own behalf to search for scientific problems which will enhance the scientific exchange and the links between the specialists related to the development of Korean Studies at Sofia University and to play the role of an ambassador for the promotion of the cause. This was the reason to accept today the title of a “doctor honoris causa”, the latter becoming my obligation for the future,” said Professor Chin Che Kyo in conclusion.