South Korea Heads for a Breakthrough in Polar Research


Photo: Research icebreaking vessel Araon of the Republic of Korea

Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) announced the signing of a Memorandum with Mokpo National Maritime University, the world-class university specializing in maritime education, and STX Marine Service on board the icebreaking research vessel Araon moored at Incheon Port on July 4, 2024.

The agreement was aimed at training professional personnel for ships operating in polar waters. About 10 people attended the signing ceremony, including Shin Hyun-chul, director of the Polar Research Institute, Han Won-hee, president of Mokpo National Maritime University, and Oh Myung-jae, general director of STX Marine Service.

The Memorandum suggests resolving issues of preparing the Araon, the only icebreaking research vessel in South Korea, to explore the seas of the South and North Poles, including excellent naval school cadets in the crew of the ship for the purpose of training and transferring navigation skills in icy waters in the polar regions, and improving their navigational training.

KOPRI will allow outstanding navigator cadets from Mokpo National Maritime University to sail on board the Araon to enhance their professional skills. In turn, STX Marine Service will assist in the supervision and training of cadets, and will also facilitate the recruitment of navigator trainees.

Apart from training activities, KOPRI also carries out missions to supply and support polar research stations, including Sejong and Changbogo in Antarctica, as well as Dasan in the Arctic. Given the importance of the polar regions in climate change research and the growing demand for polar ocean research, the Republic of Korea is currently building a next-generation icebreaking research vessel.

Last year, KOPRI signed a similar agreement with the National Korea Maritime & Ocean University which was vital for advancing navigational expertise, professional training and ensuring future maritime operations in high-latitude oceans.

Dr. Hyoung Chul SHIN’s statement at the Memorandum signing ceremony highlighted the importance of polar research in the era of climate change. Currently, Dr. Hyoung Chul SHIN serves as a Vice-President of KOPRI. It was noted that the ability to conduct research in the polar seas is indeed a marker of high national competitiveness for the country which will require not only new research vessels, but also top-level professionals to be prepared through close cooperation with specialized organizations.

Source: KOPRI