For about 30 days every year, people can enjoy a romantic moon-lit stroll in Changdeokgung Palace.
The “Moonlight Promenade” has become so popular that all available places are booked within minutes of becoming available online. There have been growing calls for an increase in the number of admissions as more people are eager to visit one of the country’s most beautiful palaces in the evening.
“I am grateful that the program has been a nationwide phenomenon. The beauty of the palace and the fact that people can look at the scenery in a different atmosphere may have contributed to the popularity. But allowing in more people might not be welcomed by fellow visitors and would kill the special atmosphere,” said Kim Jong-jin, president of the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, in an interview with The Korea Herald on Monday.
|Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation president Kim Jong-jin speaks to The Korea Herald at his office in Seoul on Monday. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
Kim said that the foundation was now seeking a balance between accessibility and exclusivity to enhance the brand image of Korean cultural heritage.
“Apart from the administrative problems in maintenance, there is a certain sense that restriction can draw more curiosity and yearning,” he explained.
In fact, the foundation has focused on enhancing exclusivity: The foundation has been reducing the frequency of the changing of the guard at Deoksugung and Gyeongbokgung palaces ― events that attract scores and sometimes hundreds of spectators.
“For example, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in London has become an internationally known event and many people come just to see that. I hope we can enhance the quality of our events to that level one day and have people come to Korea just to see that performance. Having too many sessions doesn’t help,” he said.
The foundation, which has been dedicated to preserving and promoting cultural heritage since its establishment in 1980, is also gearing up to develop high-end souvenirs with a traditional Korean touch.
The organization’s design team has developed a line of goods that reflect Korean beauty, including peony-pattern dishes, business card holders, lacquer ware, scarves and other accessories. Such items can be purchased at KCHF branches, souvenir shops at large palaces and at a special booth at Incheon International Airport.
“A very famous and respected film insider came to me one day and said he always buys our products when trying to get gifts for foreigners because he is certain about the quality as well as the beauty of our products,” Kim said.
Kim said he once was very impressed with bookmarks in the shape of dolmen in the dolmen-dense area of Carnac in France.
“It was a good example of cultural heritage being interpreted into our daily lives in a sophisticated manner,” he said.
In order to boost accessibility, the foundation will work on developing storytelling events to familiarize people with cultural heritage.
He recalled the time when officials from the International Council on Monuments and Sites visited Korea to examine the royal tombs of Joseon for enlistment on the UNESCO World Heritage List several years ago. The heritage was enlisted in 2009.
“When they were told of the sad story of King Danjong (reign 1452-1455), who was ousted by his uncle, witnessed a huge revolt resulting in the death of hundreds of loyal servants and was forced to commit suicide, they related to the project. They visited his tomb in Gangwon Province and I could see that they were more than impressed,” Kim said.
“It will take time and we will need a lot of support from the central government but I believe that such stories can bring people closer to our history and our heritage.”
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com)