Posted : 2014-01-15 18:20
Updated : 2014-01-15 18:20

CICI honors Galaxy, French minister, jazzist

French Minister Delegate Fleur Pellerin, left, receives the "Korea Image Stepping Stone Bridge Award," from Choi Jung-wha, president of Corea Image Communication Institute (CICI), at the Minister's Office in Paris, France, in this prerecorded video image. / Courtesy of CICI

By Park Jin-hai

It wasn't only K-pop artists that were successful last year. Throughout 2013, Korean technology and music of different genres shared the limelight alongside K-pop.

That was obvious at the Korea Image Awards 2014, held at the COEX Intercontinental Hotel in southern Seoul, Wednesday.

The annual event, where people or products that have promoted Korea's national image abroad are given awards, saw this year's "Korea Image Stepping Stone Award" go to Samsung's Galaxy smartphone.

The phone, according to Choi Jung-wha, president of the host Corea Image Communication Institute (CICI), has become an icon of innovation, contributing to the nation's image as an information technology powerhouse.

Korean-born French Minister Delegate Fleur Pellerin was honored to receive the "Korea Image Stepping Stone Bridge Award," for her promotion of cultural communication, boosting exchanges in culture, economy and technology.

"I am very pleased, because I have a part to play in the relations between Korea and France, as well as promotion of Korea worldwide. I am confident ... we can work together to enhance Korea's image," she said in a prerecorded video clip.

The minster, in charge of small and medium-sized enterprises, innovation and the digital economy, highly regarded Samsung's Galaxy phone, by saying that it is Korea's major instrument of "smart power" and an ambassador for Korean knowledge abroad.

Dignitaries and winners of the 10th Korea Image Awards pose before the ceremony held in southern Seoul, Wednesday. From left in the front row are: former Louvre Museum Director Henri Loyrette; French Ambassador to Korea Jerome Pasquier; jazz vocalist Nah Youn-sun; High-level Expert Panel on Water and Disaster Chairman Han Seung-soo; Samsung Electronics Executive President Lee Don-joo; CICI President Choi Jung-wha; and U.S. Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim. In the second row from left are: Cs President Didier Beltoise; Taekwang Industrial Vice Chairman Shim Jay-hyuk; Culture, Sports and Tourism First Vice Minister Cho Hyun-jae; Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment Chairman Kim Dong-ho; Actor Park Joong-hoon; ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Yoo Il-ho; and Samsung's Chief Communications Officer Rhee In-yong.
/ Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

She pointed out that the Korean movie industry is quite well-known in France, as demonstrated when Korean filmmakers have been honored at international film festivals such as Cannes. "So, I think the movie industry could be an interesting bridge between France and Korea."

She further asked Korean start-ups to have productive exchanges with their French counterparts to bring about "win-win" situations.

The ceremony was launched with a "Samgomu" dance, a traditional Korean drum dance. Ladies colorfully clad in traditional dresses beat drums on three sides of a wooden frame and danced.

In celebration of the event's 10th anniversary, prominent guests attended the ceremony including Samsung Electronics Executive President Lee Don-joo; U.S. Ambassador to Korea Sung Kim; French Ambassador to Korea Jerome Pasquier; Russian Ambassador to Korea Konstantin Vnukov; Japanese Ambassador to Korea Koro Bessho; Henri Loyrette, former Louvre Museum director; and Chairman of the High-level Expert Panel on Water and Disaster Han Seung-soo, among others.

Sung Kim said he has a great respect for professor Choi and her organization's public diplomacy in raising the country's national profile overseas.

Cho Hyun-jae, first vice minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, congratulated the 10th anniversary of the event and said, flourishing Korean culture is the center-piece of the current administration. "What we perceive is to make a country where culture becomes the part of their life to relish together," he said.

Lee from Samsung Electronics said that the award was somewhat unexpected. "I have just worked hard to make great product. Now that I receive the award for enhancing Korea's image, I feel the immense weight of duty to work on more innovative products."

Jazz vocalist Nah Youn-sun, 44, was conferred the newly designated "Korea Image Flower Stone Award" for her achievements in Europe.

"The label of ‘Korean singer' has always followed me when I perform overseas," said Nah. "In a way I was indebted to my Korean heritage, since my song ‘Arirang,' a new arrangement of a Korean folk song, was so much loved by global audiences."

The singer with her "non-traditional" vocal style — which features her signature virtuoso range, scatting ability and improvisation — was honored to receive the Order of Arts and Letters in 2009 for her musical contributions in France.

The international jazz diva's 2014 schedule has been fully booked already with more than 100 performances in Europe and elsewhere. In Korea, she is also known as the one who sang Arirang at President Park Geun-hye's inauguration.

"I just worked hard in every way, because I know it is the only thing I can do for other Korean students aspiring to excel in the European music scene," she added.

Apart from the awards, CICI asked 418 foreigners and locals about the most representative image of Korea, which the respondents said was the Korean Wave. In the last year's survey, the respondents named corporations such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG.

As for the next big thing that has potential to lead national prestige, 39 percent of foreigners and 41 percent of Koreans responded "hansik" or Korean foods, while the same survey a year ago identified K-pop as the next big thing.

Concerning the question of the country that excels in the area of cultural communication, France was placed the top, with 55 percent of foreigners and 41 percent of Koreans responded so. Korea ranked third following the United States.

Since 2005, CICI has recognized individuals, groups and others that have contributed to enhancing the image of Korea around the world.

Last year, Psy was selected as the recipient of the "Korea Image Stepping Stone Award" for boosting the popularity of "hallyu" (Korean Wave) content overseas. YouTube received the "Korea Image Stepping Stone Bridge Award" for playing a key role in encouraging the popularity of "Gangnam Style" and other hallyu content.

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