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[Interview] Exchange Student Mr. Astafev from Russia2010-10-18Hit:9941

The head of the local subsidiary of Russian railways in Korea – Mr. Astafev

"Experience of learning Korean language extended to learning at KAIST Business School. Hope to initiate more active corresponding between two separated Koreas through starting from work-level cooperation such as railway”

“Korea was divided into South and North. As you learn Korean language, you can see how this same ethnic group but within two totally different social systems can be possible. Also, Kumkang Mountain, which has unparalleled scenery, is another reason to learn Korean language.”

It was 14 years ago in Korean language class at Russian Moscow Institute of foreign languages. As a freshman, Alexey Astafev was so into “Korea” that was being taught by professor.
He selected Korean major among many Asian languages, and ever since that, the tie with Korea has been maintained so far.

▲ Even if he’s still in early 30’s, he visited Korea several times, and his Korean is very fluent. He added that he is so comfortable in Korea that he thinks he was Korean in his past life. Reporter dukhoon Lee: leedh@chosun.com

Last month, he was appointed and inaugurated as the head of the local subsidiary of Russian railways in Korea, which is the biggest logistic company in Russia that possess 25,000 trucks, 60,000 containers, and 47 truck terminal. While he was contemplating on the speed that the economy was recovering from the financial crisis, he set his heart to establish a local subsidiary in Korea since he was determined that Korea is the logistical hub of East Asia. Before this commitment, he visited Korea several times for business purposes.

"There is no such thing as coincidence. This can be called “destiny”. I did not even realize that Korea was the only separated country left in the World. I started learning Korean language with a motive to visit Kumkang Mountain in Korea, but I happened to go to Korea to study Korean language and even worked as a translator for the diplomatic envoy. At last, I even run a business in Korea.” Said Alexey Astafev.

After joining Russian railways, he worked in North Korea from 2002 to 2005 in a bid to participate in railway repair and maintenance project in North Korea-Russia border along the Najin-Hasan area.

He became keenly aware of the need for corresponding and reunification between North and South Korea after confirming the worn-out railways in North and geographically segregated South just like an island.

“If South and North get reunified, Seoul can be extended all the way to France through the continents. This will result in cost-saving in transportation and less harmful consequences environmentally. We can start from the tiny things such as railways and extend it to the active corresponding between South and North. Eventually, I think the political matters will be solved well.” Said Alexey Astafev

He is currently taking courses at KAIST Business school. After he noticed that all employees and students work so hard till late at night
, he mentioned that he had an impression that Koreans do everything so hard. However, he also added that he is worried about Korean people losing the balance of their lives.

He is unmarried and practices golf every weekend since a half month ago. “I haven’t seen a country like Korea where the golf plays such an important role in doing business. I could not help but to start practicing on golf because every person I met asked me if I play it. Sometimes, I even have difficulties in prioritizing between golf and work. Knowing person comes first and then sharing idea second is the Korean practice. This is not a problem for me as a Russian, and I even enjoy this business environment and practice.” Said Alexey Astafev.

Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )