On 14 March, FTMC hosted a visit by Nayeong Kim, a South Korean journalist representing the country's oldest and third largest daily newspaper, The Chosun Ilbo ('Korea Daily Newspaper'). A journalist will publish an article on Lithuania, the country's science, technology and energy sector.
N. Kim, accompanied by Emilija Karčevska from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, asked questions about the activities of the institution. Director of FTMC and his colleagues explained the importance of this research center and showed several of its laboratories.
The journalist's visit is taking place at the initiative of the Embassy of Lithuania in Korea, with the aim of finding as many points as possible to strengthen bilateral relations. The visit follows a visit to South Korea in January by Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. It is also noted that Lithuania is strengthening its partnership with the Indo-Pacific region.
(Prof. Gintaras Valušis, dr. Kristina Plauškaitė-Šukienė, Nayeong Kim, Emilija Karčevska and dr. Renata Butkutė. Photo: FTMC)
FTMC already has a scientific partnership with South Korea: a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 9 May 2022 with the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM). The aim is to strengthen the cooperation between FTMC and KIMM in the fields of laser optics, ultrashort pulse lasers and laser micromachining.
In his interview with the guests, prof. Gintaras Valušis, Director of the FTMC, noticed that the Center is not limited to Lithuania or the Baltic region, but also cooperates with other institutions from all over the world, and a quarter of the PhD students working here come from abroad. Several important scientific fields being developed at the FTMC were also mentioned, such as lasers, semiconductors, environmental research, next generation explosives detectors, drone neutralization systems, etc.
"Before I came to Lithuania, I learned that there are so many churches and that the Old Town of Vilnius is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I thought: 'Oh, this country has long history and culture elements.' But I did not know anything about scientific achievements in Lithuania, except for lasers," says Kim.
(South Korean journalist Nayeong Kim visits the largest scientific research center in the Baltics. Photo: FTMC)
"My main interest is not in the big, famous countries, but in the lesser-known ones. South Korea is also a small country as well. Lithuania is not very well known to Koreans because it is far away. But now as I am here and experiencing many things I found that there are so many similarities between these two countries. I think Lithuania can be interesting to Korean readers. "
One similarity (admittedly a sad one) was also mentioned during a conversation with the FTMC management. This is the neighbourhood of threatening states and the need to apply scientific knowledge to defence. Lithuania shares borders with Russia and Belarus, while South Korea's neighbours are totalitarian North Korea and unpredictable communist China.
What else links Lithuania to South Korea?
"What I saw and heard at the FTMC was impressive. This is another one of the similarities between our countries - we don't have natural resources like oil, diamonds, etc. Therefore, our focus is on human resources, which is what science is all about," says Ms. Kim.
(Dr. Renata Butkutė and Nayeong Kim. Photo: FTMC)
South Korea boasts some of the latest technology giants such as Samsung and LG, whose products are often found in our homes (and pockets). But, according to the journalist, science is still unpopular in the country:
"That’s why journalists always criticize that. We have become developed country for now, but compared to Japan or China, our government does not invest enough in science. We Koreans are crazy about studying - we are eager to get into the best universities. But not many students are interested in science. They are more trying to become doctors or lawyers to get more money.
I think that is what we have to overcome because high technology is the future were we should go."
In addition to her visit to the FTMC, Ms Kim also visited the Vilnius University Life Sciences Center, and on 15 March she went to the port city to gather information for her article on Klaipėda's Independence LNG terminal.