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SEOUL — The U.S. Embassy in Seoul has launched a program to bring together Americans and South Koreans in educational settings by opening the first “American Corner” at Pusan’s Simin Municipal Library late last week.

Diplomatic heavy hitters and local South Korean officials were on hand to unveil the first of three planned centers in libraries in Pusan, Taegu and Kwangju.

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Thomas Hubbard, Pusan Vice Mayor Heo Nam-shik and Board of Education Superintendent Sul Dong-geun were among those at the ceremony.

According to an embassy spokeswoman, the program is part of a larger, worldwide effort by the State Department. Nearly 100 American Corners have been established in 28 different countries.

The centers are staffed by local workers and filled with hundreds of books, compact discs and films about Americans and American culture. The goal, according to an embassy news release, is to “provide the people with open, factual and accurate information about the United States, its people, culture, history, government and institutions.”

For the Pusan center, the embassy donated nearly 1,000 books, CDs, DVDs and periodicals. It also furnished the facility with computers, digital videoconferencing equipment and furniture.

The Taegu center is scheduled to open in March, officials said. A date has not been set for the Kwangju center. An American Corner already exists in Seoul, officials said.

Embassy officials hope an agreement can be worked out with U.S. bases in South Korea to have soldiers volunteer in the centers to interact with local residents. In the meantime, Americans abroad are being encouraged to visit the centers.


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