Culture key to greater exchanges between countries

2013-09-01 20:42

Exploring different societies and the relations between cultures and countries are the focus of Indian documentary filmmaker Archana Kapoor’s works.

She has recently produced a 15-minute documentary on the 40 years of diplomatic relations between Korea and India that was commissioned by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Kapoor became interested in Korea when she visited for the first time in 2008. “Different from the neighboring countries, there is a lot of humility here. I think we share the same value system, respect for elders, importance of families, development with your culture,” Kapoor said in an interview with The Korea Herald at the Westin Chosun in Seoul on Friday. 
Documentary filmmaker Archana Kapoor speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald on Friday in Seoul. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)

She is in Seoul to participate in this year’s Cultural Communication Forum from Sept. 1-3, organized by the Corea Image Communication Institute.

Kapoor ― who is also the co-publisher, along with her husband, of the monthly political news magazine Hardnews and operator of an award-winning community radio station just outside of New Delhi that works with a population of marginalized people ― is keen on examining the impact of culture and relations between countries.

In a recent documentary on India and Europe, she set out to discover “what made India tick in Europe.” She found her answer in culture. “I was so impressed by the influence of Tagore as well as Bollywood,” Kapoor said, referring to poet Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913.

Kapoor described the trickle-down effect of culture in relations among countries: from the spread of culture to people-to-people exchange to the consumption of cultural content like films and language, and finally to trade.

In the case of ties between Korea and India, their roots can be traced to an Ayodhya princess who arrived in the ancient kingdom of Gaya in A.D. 48 by ocean, accompanied by her brother and a large entourage, and married King Kim Su-ro. The royal couple are said to have had 10 children.

In modern times, the Korean War played an important role in the bilateral relations between Korea and India, with India sending an Army medical mission to South Korea. In 1973, the two countries established formal diplomatic ties. In recent years, there have been more vigorous exchanges, particularly in the business sector.

“Business can’t happen if you are not comfortable with each other. In the case of India and Korea, I think what is most important is the comfort level, the trust, the commonality of values, belief in hard work and in transparency,” Kapoor said.

Kapoor also noted the popularity of Korean pop culture in her country: “It’s a craze. Just as Bollywood is a craze, K-pop came in like a rage. ‘Gangnam Style’ was on every kid’s mobile phone, I think.”

In the northeastern part of India, there is a huge following of Korean soaps, according to Kapoor. “Korean fashion is influencing people in our northeastern part,” she said. “People are crazy about hallyu. Hairstyles have changed, dress styles have changed.”

How does one explain such rapid spread of pop culture to different countries? “I think it is all about living in a global village where we have access to each other’s culture,” Kapoor observed.

“It is all about the connections that you build. And the connection is so strong it does not matter which part of the world it is coming from, as long as it is touching your heart.”

By Kim Hoo-ran (khooran@heraldcorp.com)