Choe Kwang-shik, former minister of culture, sports and tourism
Cover of recent book "Hallyu Road" written by Choe
The Silk Road was a route to link a historical network across the Afro-Eurasian areas, facilitating not only trade but also exchanges of civilization between the countries on its way. Choe Kwang-shik, a former minister of culture, sports and tourism, says that hallyu, or the Korean Wave, can play an equivalent role to the Silk Road in terms of disseminating culture to other regions.
He calls it a new route to spread Korean culture to other countries in his book "Hallyu Road" (Nanam; 236 pp., 15,000 won), which explores the roots of Korean culture and tradition.
"We accepted diverse cultures from the Silk Road. Now we are exporting Korean culture through the Hallyu Road," he wrote.
Choe saw remarkable cultural achievements in various sectors during his term in office from September 2011 to February 2013, including Psy's international superstardom and Kim Ki-duk's Gold Lion for his movie "Pieta" at the Venice International Film Festival.
During Choe's term, the number of foreign tourists hit a record high of 10 million last year and the ministry hosted large scale cultural events for more than 100 days during the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Choe, who majored in history at Korea University, held the top position of the National Museum of Korea and the Cultural Heritage Administration before heading the culture ministry.
A self-proclaimed "hallyu minister", he was actively involved in the global promotion of traditional Korean culture and K-pop.
The book reflects his experiences as the head of various cultural institutions, explains his philosophy and relates episodes from his trips to other countries.
In addition to K-pop, the book discusses other subjects, including tradition, fine art, food and literature.
Choe relates Korean ancient history to modern art, finding shared cultural values. For example, he says some K-pop singers' dances resemble shamanistic ritual performances called "gangsinmu" from ancient times.
"It is the biggest event since the nation's founding that a variety of Korean cultural genres are gaining popularity in various countries. To sustain the hallyu phenomenon, we should revive a ‘beopgochangsin' spirit, which creates a new value by accepting traditional values," he wrote.