Posted : 2013-09-03 19:08
Updated : 2013-09-03 19:08

On how to revitalize traditional, contemporary cultures

Ludovic Bruel

Ludovic Bruel from France said Korea's deep-rooted sense of "caring" in forming new relations and management will leave a strong impression with French citizens and it will help attract their attention to Korea and its culture.

The experienced art professor said such a sense will serve as a "catalyst" in promoting the country in anticipation of improvements in the quality of service of the country's tourism industry.

He once served as an art director for a French cultural magazine, reviewing the political and cultural parts of the publication between 2000 and 2005.

"I think the sense of caring originates from Confucianism, the de facto guideline of behavior," he said. "Korean people are much more careful than the French in dealing with issues of their own and those of other people. That's a great selling point that can draw attention of the European people, particularly French citizens."

Luis Arreguin

Luis Arreguin from Mexico said Korea is well known in his country as a "technological powerhouse" and the recognition will play a big role in promoting Korea among Mexican citizens. The renowned choreographer, who currently teaches students at the Catholic University of Daegu, said Seoul has a "great potential to become a cultural powerhouse," adding it was proven with Psy's rise to international stardom.

"Many Mexican people are impressed with Korea's advanced technology. Everybody knows of Samsung, LG and Hyundai," he said. "This recognition is a strong tool to promote Korea in Mexico and elsewhere." Luis suggested Korea take advantage of the technological recognition in promoting its culture.

Living here for one-and-a-half years, the artist said he was impressed with strong unity among Korean people, adding it was behind Korea's rise in the global economy and artistic world as well.

Tian Qinxin

Tian Qinxin, a director at the National Theater of China, said that government support is crucial for the success of Korean theater in China.

"It's very difficult to stage a play in theaters in Beijing or other big cities," she said in a recent interview. "For Korean theater to succeed in China, support, whether it be from the government or from an individual, is needed to provide a stable environment in which to stage the play."

Qinxin is considered an experimental and avant-garde director, who brings together traditional Chinese and Western classical pieces. Recently, she has been making extra efforts to boost exchange between China and Korea.

"We worked with the National Theater Company of Korea to stage our version of ‘Romeo and Juliet' here," she said. "I think our ties with Korea are fated."

Qinxin is now working to foster new actors, directors and producers.

Kazuko Umewaka

Kazuko Umewaka is from a leading family of Noh or traditional Japanese theater performers. The 650-year-old tradition is going through changes and innovation to meet the younger audience.

"Noh is static, sometimes the only male actor doesn't move for 10 to 15 minutes. Young people familiar with quick pace ... they are not patient," said Kazuko Umewaka, president of Umewaka International.

"We didn't have much problem filling the seats at Noh theater about 15 years ago, but the times and the economic situation has changed," said Umewaka.

So Umewaka introduced new works such as "Giselle," changed the venue, tried different lighting and music to bring in the audience.

"We've staged at Suntory Hall for instance because the name (National) Noh Theater makes people think Noh as outdated," said Umewaka.

"As long as the essential things of tradition are preserved, giving it modernity will refresh it and allow it to continue," she said.


Helun Firat, head of the board of CerModern, the Modern Arts Center Turkey, said that she sees a lot of similarities between Korea and Turkey.

"Korea is much more successful in adapting the traditional," Firat said. "I saw more courage (here) about adapting to change." Courage, when sometimes tradition can be a taboo.

As head of the only modern arts center in Ankara and Turkey, she sees art as a great way to communicate with different cultures. The CerModern is active in exchanges in exhibitions with the Netherlands and is planning an exhibition of Mexican works soon. But the center also features cinema and theater as well.

Firat had some suggestions for further globalizing Korean culture.

"Work with the embassies in your country," she said. "Also when a country takes its culture overseas, travels around it rather than just focus on one city. For a little more cost, the effect will be wider," Firat said.

Scott Miller Berry

Scott Miller Berry, an executive director of the Images Festival, an independent media art festival, advised that sending artists around the world is the best way to promote Korean culture.

"We've been able to come to Korea because we've had access to travel grants," he said. "It seems difficult for Korean artists to access money to travel and show their art."

Berry and his colleagues have visited Korea four times in the past eight years to promote Canadian media art in Korea. He also emphasized that while Korea's economy has grown exponentially, the nation needs to focus more on collaborating culture with economic development.

"Culture needs to be taken seriously as an economic force, though it may be less tangible," he said.

The Images Festival is North America's largest media arts festival. Berry is also co-founder of a monthly screening series called Early Monthly Segments, and has recently screened films in Seoul.

Paolo de Maria

Paolo de Maria from Italy said a strong economic will is the most powerful promoter of a country's culture, cuisine and other non-economic assets, adding Korea will find itself recognized globally if the country's economic growth continues.

"I think it's a matter of time for Korean culture to win global recognition," said Paolo, a chef running his own Italian restaurant in Seoul. "The very first image that comes to mind when I think of Korea is technology. Many Italian people make it with Samsung, LG and Hyundai and Kia." Italy earned global recognition thanks largely to its economic prosperity in the past, he said.

"In the past, Italians distinguished differences between Japan and Korea; and Japan and China. But they were unable to distinguish between China and Korea. Why? The two countries were relatively weaker (economically) than Japan." Paolo has been living here for nine years with his Korean wife.

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