'Latin Passion' to be unleashed in Korea
By Kwaak Je-yup, Rachel Lee
It’s easy to group together the countries of Central and South America as “Latin America” and wrongly suggest that they all share the same culture.
But a new festival aims to dispel that misperception by providing a window into the rich diversity of people and art to be found on the opposite side of the globe.
The 2012 Latin American Cultural Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) and its cultural arm the Korea Foundation, opens Saturday and will run for nine days showcasing the sounds and sights of the region in various events.
“I hope, through this cultural event, that people in Korea will gain first-hand experience of the passion and cheerfulness of Latin America situated on the other side of the world,” said Ha Byung-koo, director of the foreign ministry’s cultural cooperation division, at the press conference last week.
Held under the theme “Latin Passion meets Korea,” the festival is a part of the ministry’s cultural exchange program in its sixth year.
Genres like Brazilian bossa nova music, Argentine tango dancing and Mexican mariachi will be performed at concerts in Seoul, Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province and the privately-owned Nami Island in Gyeonggi Province, 63 kilometers east of the capital.
The artist line-up includes Mariachi Gallos from Mexico, Credole from Colombia and Inca Empire from Peru.
Photographers from 15 countries will provide an exhibition entitled “Photograph and Identity: A view to Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The artists look at the societies and cultures of their respective countries through three lenses: reality, unreality and distorted reality.
The exhibition is already open to the public at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center Gallery in Suha-dong, downtown Seoul and runs through June 9.
Participating photographers include Joao Paulo Barbosa from Brazil, Joaquin Murillo from Costa Rica, Fernando Espinosa Chauvin from Ecuador and Ian Drysdale from Honduras.
More photos will be displayed in the lobby of Theater Yong at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan, presenting some of the biggest tourist spots in 13 Latin American countries and video clips of K-pop groups that have gained some fame in the region. The exhibition will run from May 31 to June 3.
Lectures on Latin culture and a Latin American food booth are also included.
Even the best-known figure from the region, the Paraguayan expatriate and local TV personality Abigail Alderete, 25, of the popular KBS show “Chit Chat Beauty” is sharing her enthusiasm for the occasion, as a host at the opening ceremony.
“I am honored to introduce Latin American culture that includes my homeland, Paraguay, and I hope people in Korea feel close to it,” said Alderete.
“Latin Passion meets Korea” runs through June 9. For more information, call the Latin American Cultural Festival office at (070) 8230-1201 or the Korea Foundation at (02) 2151-6520, or visit www.latinfestival.kr. All programs are free of charge.