Research Project Outline

The Institute of Russian Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies was established as the Institute of the Soviet Union and East European Issues on January 13, 1972 in Seoul. In those days, the international community was dominated by cold war ideology, which made any communication or exchange between the Republic of Korea and the Communist bloc virtually impossible. The IRS was the first research center that began collecting and examining periodicals from the Soviet Union, North Korea, and other socialist states. Being the only Soviet Union and East European Issues research institute in Korea, the IRS was able to obtain an unrivaled position in this field. In a country where little research was being conducted on socialism, the IRS exerted a strong influence on the direction of these studies, leading the discourse on communism. From the early 1990s the IRS began to narrow its research subjects to Russia and the CIS region. Concentrated studies on the economies, politics, societies and cultures of the CIS region and Russia became the focus of the Institute. In 1993, the Institute officially changed its name to the Institute of Russian Studies, and in July of 1999, due to space constraints, the IRS relocated to Hankuk University’s Global Campus in Yongin.

The IRS regularly invites distinguished scholars from Russia and other parts of the world to give special talks.
Invited speakers come from diverse academic fields, including politics, economics, and literature.

Research Objectives

Recently, Russia has been making strenuous efforts to bolster its presence and influence on the global stage. To gain an in-depth understanding of the background of this deliberate and avid endeavor, particularly its underlying driving forces, it is first necessary to understand how Russia recognizes, interacts with, and embraces the outside world, or “Others”, from the perspective of geopolitics, geoeconomics, and geoculture and to analyze such results from diachronical and synchronic perspectives. With its vast landmass located both in Europe and Asia, Russia borders numerous cultural groups and nations and has built intensive relationships with and been under the influence of a more diverse group of “Others” than any country in the world. The inflows of “Others” into Russia and their subsequent integration have been both voluntary as well as involuntary. Through various means and efforts, including imitation and transformation, conflict and resistance, and coexistence and interdependence, such “Others” have been woven into the Russian social and cultural fabric, establishing their own essential and distinctive existence in the thousand years of history of the Russian humanities. Without the immense historical and cultural contributions of these various “Others” inside and outside the Russian territories, Russia would not have been able to enjoy its past glories or its indispensable power on today’s global stage. In short, a Russia without “Others” is hardly imaginable, but the same is true for the world without “Russia”. In this line, this project team aims to examine the interactions and coexistence of the Eastern and Western worlds within Russia as well as Russia’s influence and presence in the Eastern and Western worlds through the prism of “Others”. It also seeks to identify the unique characteristics that the sphere of the Russian humanities has developed through the history of the outside world’s penetration into Russia and Russia’s spread into the outside world in the context of today’s dynamic international order. Another aim of our project team is to analyze the type of relationship Korea, as one of the “Others”, has built with Russia and how Russia has recognized Korea, exploring possible means of continued political, cultural, economic, and diplomatic exchanges and cooperation between our two nations in the future and developing ways of building a relationship that is in the best interest of our nation.

Expected Benefits

First, this project takes a multi-faceted look at the ever-growing role and status of Russia in the rapidly changing international landscape, especially before and after the 2014 Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, offering creative viewpoints and prospects as to Russia’s potential influence over the ongoing developments in Northeast Asia, particularly Korea, in terms of geopolitics, geoeconomics, and geoculture.

Second, this project highlights a range of changes in connection with Russia’s heavy investments in its military and research buildup in the Arctic and the Far East. Beginning from the two distinct viewpoints of “inside Russia” and “outside Russia” and using the combined research methodologies of the humanities and social sciences and a thorough analysis, this project suggests possible measures of multidisciplinary cooperation between Russia and Korea in the field of Russia’s national development strategies for its remote, offshore regions.

Third, this project focuses not only on the factors of “Others” from the Eastern and Western worlds that have played a crucial role in the development of Russia's cultural, ethnic, and national identity but also on the factors of “Others” from within Russia based on their ethnicity, region, ideology, and theory. Thus, this projects seeks both to contribute to the shared understanding that the influence of “Others” has cradled the birth and advance of the Russian humanities, and thereby to offer an important reference point for future research on Russia in Korea and beyond.

Last, this project offers fresh, thought-provoking views to domestic and foreign institutes for Russian studies and education as well as valuable input to government agencies for their Russia-related policy-making process.