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S.Korea and Italy to dedicate 2024 and 2025 to enhancing cultural exchanges

Korean traditional dance performance 'The Prince's Dream' celebrates 'The Year of Cultural Exchange'

By Park Ga-young

Published : May 6, 2024 - 14:10

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Performers from the National Gugak Center’s Dance Theater and Folk Music Group showcase their skills in Performers from the National Gugak Center’s Dance Theater and Folk Music Group showcase their skills in "The Prince's Dream" at Teatro Argentina on Saturday. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

ROME, Italy -- South Korea and Italy will commemorate the 140th anniversary of their diplomatic relations by enhancing cultural exchanges throughout 2024 and 2025. The year of cultural exchange was first announced in November during Italian President Sergio Mattarella's state visit to South Korea. The initiative officially began Saturday with a performance of Korean traditional dance in Rome.

The National Gugak Center’s Dance Theater and Folk Music Group presented a specially prepared traditional dance performance titled "The Prince’s Dream" at Teatro Argentina, a historic theater constructed in 1731.

The 559 seats for the performance sold out quickly, with tickets priced between 20 and 30 euros ($21-$32).

The show, which narrates the journey of a Korean prince immersing himself in the daily lives of the people, showcased a rich variety of traditional Korean music, including the soulful tones of pansori and the dynamic rhythms of samul nori, alongside captivating hanbok outfits.

The event was jointly organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea, the Korean Cultural Institute in Italy, and the Korean Foundation for International Cultural Exchange.

The audience applauds at Teatro Argentina after the National Gugak Center’s Dance Theater and Folk Music Group delivers a performance on May 4. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) The audience applauds at Teatro Argentina after the National Gugak Center’s Dance Theater and Folk Music Group delivers a performance on May 4. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

Over the course of this year and next, the two countries will host a variety of events, including exhibitions, concerts, and youth exchange programs. From June to September, Italy-based South Korean sculptor Park Eun-sun, the winner of the prestigious Italian sculpture award Fratelli Rosselli in 2018, will exhibit his iconic infinite column series at major outdoor tourist sites in Rome.

In addition, a K-content business-to-consumer event is planned for July and a Korean tourism fair in October. Joint performances of opera and contemporary dance by Korea and Italy are currently being prepared.

Yu In-chon, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, delivers a speech ahead of Yu In-chon, the minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, delivers a speech ahead of "The Prince's Dream," a performance by the National Gugak Center’s Dance Theater and Folk Music Group, at Teatro Argentina on Saturday. The performance marks the first official event of the South Korea - Italia year of cultural exchange. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

During a press conference held ahead of the event, Culture Minister Yu In-chon said, “We are organizing numerous performances and exhibitions, but the centerpiece of our efforts is fostering collaboration between young artists from both countries. By working together, these artists have the opportunity to create a unique cultural fusion that embodies the essence of both Korea and Italy."

“South Korea and Italy have in common that they both have become a cultural powerhouse based on a long and rich history. I hope that the two years of mutual cultural exchange can inspire the people of both countries,” Yu added.

Culture Minister Yu In-chon (left) and Italy’s Undersecretary of State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Tripodi shake hands after signing the Memorandum on the Year of Cultural Exchange between South Korea and Italy at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, Italy, Friday. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) Culture Minister Yu In-chon (left) and Italy’s Undersecretary of State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Tripodi shake hands after signing the Memorandum on the Year of Cultural Exchange between South Korea and Italy at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, Italy, Friday. (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

Meanwhile, on Friday, Yu and Italy’s Undersecretary of State to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Tripodi, acting on behalf of Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani, signed the Memorandum on the Year of Cultural Exchange between South Korea and Italy.

“Cultural diplomacy will boost relations between Italy and South Korea, with numerous events organized in both countries,” commented the undersecretary, mentioning, among others, the eight performances of Turandot, the concert by the Seoul Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestro Beatrice Venezi, and the multimedia exhibition "Mirabilia-Mosaics" devoted to an art form representative of Italy’s excellence.

The memorandum outlines collaborative efforts in areas such as music, theater, visual arts, cinema and the promotion of national literature.

"Italy, a country that places great importance on culture, considers it vital to promote Italian culture in important Asian countries like Korea," she added.

In 1884, the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) and Italy established diplomatic relations. In 1902, Italy opened its Consulate in Seoul. During the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula, diplomatic relations were halted but resumed in November 1956. In 1957, the two countries opened their consulates, which were upgraded to embassies in April 1959.