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[Herald Interview] Montblanc inspires future generations of patrons

Offering patrons a stage to show how supporting arts and culture can make a better world is a significant factor in convincing them to make contributions, according to the chairman of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation.

“So it’s important for us to step up to act and support cultural development,” Lutz Bethge told The Korea Herald in a recent interview in Seoul.

The chairman was in the country last week to announce this year’s South Korean recipient of the annual Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Awards: Park Sam-koo, the Kumho Asiana Group chairman.

Bethge, previously a Montblanc international CEO, was named the foundation’s chairman last year, but he has been involved in the foundation’s charity projects since its establishment in 2002.

The Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Awards serves as one of the key pillars of the foundation.

The ultimate goal of the awards is to offer patrons an opportunity to speak out on the significance of supporting arts and culture, Bethge said.

“While politics divides men and religion divides men, arts and culture bring people together,” Bethge said, stressing that this inspiration led the firm to serve as an umbrella covering all of Montblanc’s efforts to promote arts and culture.
Montblanc Cultural Foundation chairman Lutz Bethge (Montblanc)
Montblanc Cultural Foundation chairman Lutz Bethge (Montblanc)

“Ten to 20 years from now, I hope to see an awardee who will tell us that he or she was inspired by the Kumho chairman or Prince Charles of Wales, both of whom were recipients of the awards. Then I would say the cultural foundation and the awards really have been able to make a difference,” the chairman added.

But Montblanc is dedicated to more than just financial patronage.

It truly is out to make a difference in the world of art and culture, which explains some of the projects it has been promoting for next-generation artists and musicians, such as putting together a collection of works by young artists who were commissioned to create pieces inspired by the Montblanc style and spirit. These pieces were purchased by Montblanc.

Among South Korean artists and musicians, Bethge said he was especially impressed by pianist Lim Ju-hee, who in 2010 was 10 years old when she played at Montblanc’s White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“I remember when she came up to the stage, people thought she was cute, but had underestimated her talent because she looked too young to be at such a place.”

As soon as Lim started to perform, Bethge saw what he found to be common among many young Korean artists: solid self-control paired with high-level technique.

The former international CEO also expressed high regard for the aesthetic tastes of South Korean consumers, comparing them to artists.

“Korean consumers love the quality of the Montblanc brand, craftsmanship of the brand and our love for detail. The company has done extremely well in the Korean market and we hope to continue satisfying the consumers in years to come,” the chairman said.

By Suk Gee-hyun (