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Korea: The Home of My Heart Laying the Groundwork for Ukraine-Korea ‘Resource Diplomacy’

Olexandr Syn, Deputy General Director, Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine
Interview by Park Sang-won
Photography by Kim Hyun-min
Olexandr Syn, Deputy General Director of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, in Ukraine, visited Korea in order to promote “resource diplomacy” between Ukraine and Korea. As First Deputy Head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional State Administration, he has played a key role in formulating the plans for Ukraine’s future development. As an ethnic Korean from Ukraine, Mr. Syn said his visit to Korea was especially meaningful.

Q This visit to Korea must have been very special for you.
A Korea has always been the home of my heart, a place like my second hometown. I was warmly welcomed wherever I visited, and I felt as if I were at home. This is my first visit to Korea. The country I actually saw with my own eyes was somewhat different from the one I had imagined. I knew Korea had a long history, so I thought there might be many old buildings like hanok. But I saw a far larger number of modern buildings. It also appeared to have quite a high population density. But that does not mean it looked cramped; rather, it looked energetic. Convenient facilities were also very impressive. After being here for a few days, I thought the diligence and warm hearts of the Korean people, and the dynamic cityscape, were the true cultural properties of Korea.

Q Your visit to Korea coincides with the 30th anniversary of nuclear power generation in Korea.
A That is correct. My visit is related to the 30th anniversary of Korea’s nuclear power generation. Of course, the goal of my visit, in a broader sense, is to learn more about and get more familiar with Korea. But, I also wanted to see the development of Korea’s nuclear power generation at the working level. Visiting such relevant organizations as Korea Electric Corporation, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., Ltd., and Korea Nuclear Energy Foundation, I could see the remarkable development that Korea had achieved in the nuclear power industry. Especially, my tour of the Exhibition Hall of the Korea Nuclear Energy Foundation was highly educational. There are concerns about nuclear energy in Ukraine due to our painful experience of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Looking around the Exhibition Hall, I learned how important it was to provide accurate information to the public, and felt the need for a place like this where children could visit and learn about nuclear energy. I thought Korea was doing quite well in concentrating on various presentation activities, symposiums, and publications for public relations.

Q While inspecting the nuclear power plants in Korea, did you think about the future development of nuclear power generation in Ukraine?
A I found there were many similar conditions in both countries, including the share of nuclear power for electrical generation and the number of nuclear power plants in operation. Ukraine is very much interested in prolonging the service life of nuclear power plants, as is the case in Korea. We are planning to build a second plant, for which experts are currently conducting research on a new type of nuclear power plant.
We are also working on a program to develop nuclear fuel. The core of the program is to process nuclear source material, beyond just producing uranium. In addition to nuclear power generation, we are also very much interested in assuring the welfare of the workers at power plants. When I visited the Kori Nuclear Power Plant I could see that much attention was paid to having convenient facilities for the employees. We will also continue to improve our employee facilities.

Q After visiting relevant organizations in Korea, did you realize any productive results?
A Above all, I made suggestions about joint cooperation in various fields and received favorable responses. Now, I am waiting for specific proposals for these suggestions. This visit made me realize that there are many things in which our two countries could cooperate with each other. I plan to visit Korea again. I feel I should come back again, not just once or twice, but many more times.

Q I hope you return home with many lasting memories. Do you have any final thoughts about your visit?
A I would like to express my gratitude to Korean Ambassador to Ukraine Heo Seung-cheol, Korea Foundation Executive Vice President Kim Seung-eui , and former Nat ional Assemblyman and Korea-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Association Chairman Choi Young-kyu. My visit to Korea was made possible thanks to their efforts. When I return home, I want to bring with me some soil from Korea, so that I can sprinkle it around the tomb of my father. I want to let my father enjoy a part of his homeland.

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