[KS] Obituary

simbirtseva tanya simtan1 at yandex.ru
Tue Jul 7 02:12:27 EDT 2009

Dear List-members, we would like to inform you of the following.

Loengrin Efimovich Eremenko (1930-2009)

Dr. Loengrin Efimovich Eremenko, an eminent Russian scholar and translator of Korean literature, passed away on Tuesday, June 30. 2009.  Although his date of birth was recorded in his passport as June 7, 1930, and appears as such in many publications and reference sources, he was actually born one year earlier, in 1929, in Kharkov, Ukraine. His father was a land surveyor, his mother a housewife. In 1953 he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies (in 1954 it was combined with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations) and entered the post-graduate degree program in Korean literature at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R.  During the years that followed, he was sent to Pyongyang for training at the Institute of Language and Literature of the DPRK Academy of Sciences, and he also listened to the lectures of the leading North Korean philologists on ancient and medieval Korean literature at Pyongyang University.

In 1960, Dr. Eremenko presented his doctoral dissertation, "The Life and Works of the Outstanding Korean Author Pak Chi-wôn (Bak Ji-won) (1737-1805)" (254 pages. Chairpersons: Sin Ku-hyôn and  IUrii N. Mazur), to the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow and was awarded the academic degree of Candidate of Philological Sciences (Kandidat filologicheskikh nauk).  He worked at that institute between 1958 and 1964, and part-time between 1967 and 1969, and published excellent translations of poems by Pak Chi-wôn (Yônam) and Chông Yak-yông (Tasan, 1762~1836) -- the first to appear in Russian. In cooperation with Dr. Victorina I. Ivanova, he wrote the first general survey of Korean literature from ancient times to the twentieth century to be published in the Soviet Union – “Koreiskaia literatura: kratkii ocherk” [Korean literature: A Brief Outline. Moscow: Nauka, 1964. 156 pp. ("Literature of the Orient" Academic Series)] -- and the sections on the culture of the Three Kingdoms and the Koryô periods in the two-volume “Istoriia Korei” [History of Korea. Moscow: Nauka, 1974], which was the major work on Korean history published during the Soviet period.  He also was the editor-in-chief of several collections of poetry translated from Korean into Russian, among them  “Pesnia nad ozerom” [Songs on the Lake: Lyrics of Medieval Korea] (Poetic translation by A. Zhovtis. Moscow: ‘Nauka’ Publishing House, 1971). Being a master of the literary word, Dr. Eremenko keenly felt the language of the original texts that were written in both han'gûl and hanmun. He also spoke excellent English and German. 

Unfortunately for Russian scholarship, Dr. Eremenko's tenure at the Institute of Oriental Studies did not last long.  In 1964 his thirty-year long diplomatic career began.  As his daughter Liudmila recalls, the change took place not out of choice but at the insistence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which needed qualified experts on Korea. Dr. Eremenko worked in the Soviet Embassies in North Korea (1964-1967; 1969-1971), Austria (1977-1982) and South Korea (1990-1993). In 1985-1990 he served as the Head of Sector of Korea and since 1983 held the high rank of Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (second grade). 

Dr. Eremenko was one of the first Russian diplomatic representatives in the Republic of Korea. He was in charge of the establishment of the Russian embassy in Seoul and paved the way for the normalization of relations between the two countries. During the last years of his life he lived in retirement in Moscow.

As an individual, Loengrin Eremenko was noted in many ways. He was erudite, well-read and witty – “a heart of a company” as we say here in Russia. Wise and understanding, he was a loving husband and father and possessed a talent of devoted friendship. His passing is a great loss for his daughter and two grandchildren, his friends, colleagues and for Russian scholarship.

(Contributed by Lev R. Kontsevich, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Tatiana M. Simbirtseva, Russian State University for the Humanities)

Note: A complete list of Loengrin Eremenko's publications and of citations to him elsewhere appears on pages 242-243 of the “Biobibliographical Directory: Russian Specialists on Korean Studies” in “Sovremennoe rossiiskoe koreevedenie: spravochnoe izdanie” [Contemporary Russian Korean Studies: A Reference Book. (Moscow: Pervoe Marta, 2006)].

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