With the underlying initiative of cultivating “unofficial ambassadors of Korea,” the Corea Image Communication Institute hosted its fifth annual Culture Communication Forum this week, inviting 16 cultural figures from around the world to participate in a three-day cultural exchange in Korea.
Aiming to provide this team of various cultural leaders from 16 countries ― including Turkey, India, Russia, Brazil and the U.S. ― with hands-on experiences and insights into the local culture and history, CICI organizers strive to promote the national brand image of Korea, one small group at a time.
“Our goal is to let people know about Korea and about Korean culture, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to learn about other countries,” said CICI president Choi Jung-hwa.
This year’s 2014 CCF panel, which included musicians, artists, museum director and journalists, was held at the Westin Chosun Seoul Hotel on Tuesday. During the forum, all of the participants held a discussion session titled “Culture ― Mirror and Trigger of Change,” sharing their personal thoughts about Korea and Korean culture in front of members of the press and other local cultural delegates.
|Corea Image Communication Institute President Choi Jung-wha (center, front row) poses with the participants of the annual Culture Communication Forum at the Westin Chosun Seoul hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. (Corea Image Communication Institute)|
“Everything I thought I knew about Korea wasn’t true, only the good stuff,” said Justin Albert, director of the National Trust Wales.
Albert came to Korea for the first time two years ago, and admitted that he wasn’t sure what to expect, despite having read up about the country in books and articles prior to his trip. After having returned to the country for the second time, the director says that he has now had a chance to marvel even deeper into Korea’s visual innovation.
“I have been looking at the Korean history and culture, you are innovators and you have been; from sailing ships, to the cross bow, to your architecture, to your treatment of wood,” he said. “And now in the last 10 years, through your design and technology, you are continuing this 2,000-year tradition of leading the world in innovation.”
Here on his first visit to Korea, David Salter, editor-in-chief of “The Week” magazine in Australia, referred to his initial impressions of the country as having a “hybrid culture.”
“The Korea I have seen this week is a hybrid culture, it is part Korean, part Western,” Salter explained. “No nation on Earth has been able to resist the sheer force of the Western economic might, military might and in the end cultural might. We may not agree that this is a good thing, but this is a fact.”
“Of the many things that I have learned this week, perhaps the most important has been to understand that Korea has had to struggle to save its national identity,” he continued. “Coming from a country like Australia ― an incredibly lucky country that never had to deal with being invaded ― that realization has been very important.”
Despite some disagreement regarding Korea’s rapidly booming industrial and technological push led by its “ppalli ppalli” (hurry hurry) culture, renowned Brazilian chef Klaus Limoli Pahl expressed his wish that Korea export this “hurry system” to other nations.
“In San Paulo, we would always make excuses that the reason there was so much violence and chaos and a lack of efficient public transportation is because it is a big city and this is something unavoidable,” said Pahl. “But look at Seoul, it is so clean, it is so safe. ... I’m just in love, I have never felt so safe.”
The CCF forum finally came to a close on Tuesday night with a formal gala dinner at the hotel, attended by some 300 international and local opinion leaders, ambassadors and business delegates.
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)