Business Korea was able to sit down with Park Young-kuk, the director of the Korean Culture and Information Service, to speak about his organization, programs that they have run, and the idea of publicizing Korean arts and traditions to non-Koreans who already live in the country. What follows are excerpts from the interview.
Would you briefly sketch out the Korean Culture and Information Service?
The Korean Culture and Information Service was established in 1971 as an arm of the Korean government in charge of publicizing Korean culture and enhancing the image of Korea. The organization is operating Korean cultural centers in 28 regions and dispatches cultural attachés to 13 diplomatic missions abroad.
It is understood that the Korean Culture and Information Service has made a lot of effort to inform the world of Korea’s Great Journey in honor the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan. Will you walk us through its major achievements?
Our organization went ahead with the participatory campaign Digital Peace Flag, which let Koreans and non-Koreans form a common bond about the meaning of the 70th anniversary of Korean Independence, turning it into a message of peace and spreading it all over the world. In particular, we kicked off an international message relay that passed the message of peace online. In addition, we will hold a Digital Content Contest under the theme of “Peace” for contestants all over the world from Aug. 21 through Oct. 4. We also invited 12 journalists from seven media companies in seven nations to publicize the meaning of the anniversary, and brokered interviews with the general manager for the official 70th anniversary bash. In addition, we helped them cover the special exhibition “70 Years and 70 Stories” at the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, visited the Korea Institute for National Unification, and discussed the unification policies of South and North Korea.
Korea.net, a major multi-language portal site of the Korean government, carried a range of special stories about the anniversary. We spread the meaning and value of Korea’s liberation, such as events for the anniversary, via the Facebook channel “Korea Clickers,” which has 457,000 fans. A total of 28 Korean Cultural Centers in 24 nations actively held hands-on Korean cultural events, academic events, and seminars in commemoration of the anniversary. The Korean Cultural Center in Berlin, Germany, once divided, is building a Korean Unification Pavilion on Potsdam Plaza. The pavilion is slated for completion this Oct. Its completion ceremony will be held with cultural events on Oct. 3, the 25th anniversary of the unification of Germany, or Nov. 9, when the Berlin Wall collapsed.
The Korean Culture and Information Service has informed people around the world of Korean culture via a wide variety of programs. Would you tell us about key programs that your organization has implemented?
The Korean Culture and Information Service holds various cultural events on special occasions in overseas countries. Specifically, when the Korean President makes a visit to a foreign country as a state guest, we contribute by publicizing Korean culture and enhancing mutual understanding and trust between the two countries as our support for summit diplomacy. For example, we presented fusion Korean music, a B-boy performance, and a taekwondo demonstration at the Korea-Qatar Cultural Exchange Night on March 7 during the president’s tour of Middle Eastern countries.
Moreover, during the President’s trip to Central and South America, we presented traditional Korean music performances such as Sinawi and Chimhyangmu, and a collaboration music performance between “Arirang” and “El Condor Pasa,” a Peruvian ballad. These performances helped promote cultural exchanges between the two countries. In Brazil, by taking into consideration Brazilians’ great interest in Korean fashion and pop music, we held a collaboration fashion show and presented a K-pop concert on April 24.
In Milan, Italy, we presented a B-boy show, modern dance, fusion music, a traditional drama, and Taekwondo demonstration at Manzoni Theater to show Korea’s style and art to visitors from around the world during Korean Week (June 22 to 29) of the Milan Expo held under the theme of “Feeding The Planet, Energy For Life.” In the second half of this year, we will introduce high-class Korean culture and art by taking part in the Korean, Chinese, and Japanese Art Festival for cultural cooperation among the three countries in China in Sept. and the International Festival Cervantino in Mexico in Oct.
In particular, events for Année France-Corée 2015-2016 will be held in Korea and France beginning this year. Would you explain the meaning of the events and major programs?
Année France-Corée 2015-2016 will consist of over 200 events in various sectors such as art, sports, science, economy, and food. After the opening ceremony on Sept. 18, France will have a Korean Year in France for one year, and the French Year in Korea will run throughout the year of 2016. Thirty-five years have passed since we opened the Korean Cultural Center in Paris and began to introduce Korean culture to France. It is the first time for Korea to implement events in various sectors and programs all over France, thanks to cooperation between the two countries. This gives a very special meaning to Année France-Corée 2015-2016. A meeting between Korea and France designated 209 cultural and art programs as officially approved ones. A performance of Ritual Music at Jongmyo Shrine will be put on at the Theatre National de Chaillot in Paris on Sept. 18 and 19. Les Arts Décoratifs will host the Korean crafts show “Korea Now” from Sept. 18, 2015 to Feb. 14.
It is more important to accurately inform the world of Korea, even though it is necessary to enhance the reputation and national image of Korea. What has your organization been doing for this objective?
The current rapid development of the media environment, such as social networking services, leads to the variation of the forms and themes of misinformation about Korea. It also expedites the spread of incorrect information and facts about Korea and reproduces them, triggering a call for the Korean government’s responses to them. The Korean Culture and Information Service is actively monitoring popular websites such as those of foreign governments, international organizations, foreign media and maps, texts, publications, and printed materials for factual errors about Korea and having them corrected. We have found a total of 2,950 factual errors since 2013. Among them, we corrected 1,080 errors such as mislabeling of the East Sea, errors in writing the name of South Korea, and changing North Korea into South Korea. In addition, we are running a global monitoring group to correct such errors and publicize the Korean culture.
|Year||Factual Errors||Corrected||Corretion Ratio|
|2015 to July||473||117||24.7%|
2,950, including 146 errors discovered by the monitoring group
1,080, including 18 errors discovered by the monitoring group
In addition, with the aim of providing correct information about Korea to 263 foreign correspondents of 101 media companies from 19 countries and visiting foreign correspondents. We have been running the Foreign Correspondent Support Center on the tenth floor of the Korea Press Center in downtown Seoul since June 24, 2013.
It seems that it will be easier and more effective to publicize Korea to foreign residents in Korea. Are there any programs for them?
As of Aug. 2015, Korea has 1.76 million foreign residents. So, they are emerging as major policy customers who publicize Korea internationally. Policy-based efforts should be made to help them go back to their home countries with good images about Korea. To this end, we are implementing a humanities study program through which foreign students studying in Korea and Korean students team up and carry out projects about themes in the Korean humanities. This program is expected to help foreign students deepen their understanding of the Korean humanities through discussion processes for Korean and foreign students. In addition, we are running UNESCO Cultural Heritage Tours, which let foreign opinion leaders such as foreign correspondents, diplomats, and businesspeople tour Korean cultural heritage sites eight times a year. Furthermore, we host “Hello, Mr. K!,” a series of pop concerts that visit areas around the country populated by non-Koreans and introduce Korean culture to them. These concerts run four times per year.