South Korean President Park Geun-hye watched French fans of Korean TV dramas sing and dance to the tunes of theme songs of popular series in the heart of Paris on Sunday as she sought to promote Korean culture on the first full day of her visit to France.
The Korean "Drama Party" was meaningful because the French fan club of Korean dramas, named "Bonjour Coree," organized the event voluntarily, officials said. It shows that not only Korean pop music, known was K-pop, but also dramas are gaining popularity, they said. The event was held at the Espace Pierre Cardin performance hall near the famous Champs-Elysees street.
It was the first event Park attended after arriving in Paris on Saturday evening for a three-day visit. Her trip is aimed at bolstering business and financial cooperation as well as cultural exchanges between the two countries.
The visit was a glorious return to a place Park left in bitter tears. In 1974, Park was studying in Paris, but she was called back to Korea to serve as a stand-in first lady after her mother, Yook Young-su, was killed by a pro-North Korean gunman from Japan in a failed assassination attempt on her father, President Park Chung-hee.
During Sunday's festival, video clips of popular dramas, such as "Princess Hours," "Boys over Flower" and "Full House," were shown as hundreds of French fans applauded. French winners in K-pop contests then danced to the theme songs of popular dramas.
"Culture can be the first step to understanding each other, and it has an amazing power to help the people of two countries come together," Park told the audience after appearing on the stage amid cheers. "I hope South Korea and France will become even closer through culture."
At the start of the speech, Park gave greetings in French.
Later in the day, Park held a lunch meeting with South Korean residents in France.
Recalling her time in Paris, Park said she has fond memories of the city despite having to return home after her mother's death.
"Close to 40 years has passed since then. I am filled with emotions as I've come back to France as president," she said.
Park said her weeklong trip to France, Britain and Belgium is aimed at laying the groundwork for cooperation in efforts to realize her "creative economy" vision that calls for blending information and communications technology with culture and other realms to create novel industries and more jobs.
Expanding cultural exchanges with the European nations is also a key focus, she said.
Later in the day, Park met with UNESCO chief Irina Bokova and expressed hope for greater cooperation with the U.N. agency in charge of cultural issues in realizing her goal of making South Korea a culturally rich nation.
Bokova praised South Korea as a good example of a country paying a lot of attention to preserving traditional culture while at the same time seeking economic growth by combining modern culture and industries, according to the presidential office.
Later in the day, Park visited Orsay Museum.
On Monday, Park is scheduled to hold summit talks with French President Francois Hollande on Monday mainly to discuss expanding bilateral economic cooperation. Park also plans to seek France's support for Seoul's policy on the North. (Yonhap News)