Posted : 2013-04-07 19:00
Updated : 2013-04-07 19:00

Exhibition highlights cultural diversity

Spouses of ambassadors who participated in the exhibition "Festive Decorations around the World" pose for a photo at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul, April 2. / Korea Times

By Kim Se-jeong

A recent UNESCO report on cultural diversity indicated that globalization results in an assimilation of social values and customs, along with reduced creativity and the standardization of cultural expressions.

This explains in part why the exhibition "Festive Decorations around the World" last week is meaningful.

Spearheaded by a group of spouses of foreign diplomats posted in Korea, the exhibition brings together festive decorations from 27 countries in one single place.

The festival range from India's Festival of Lights, traditional weddings in Malaysia and Pakistan, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, carnivals in Brazil and Italy to Easter celebrations in Poland, a costume festival in Tunisia and the Day of the Cross in El Salvador.

Maria Ligaya Fujita, wife of the Brazilian Ambassador Edmundo who brainstormed and coordinated the exhibition, said, "this exhibition represents the richness of different cultures and their diversity," during the opening on April 2 at the Korea Foundation Gallery.

Fujita presented decorations from the famous Sao Paolo Carnival held earlier this year in which she participated.

Brazilian Carnivals, especially those in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo were boosted by globalization. It brought in money and people, contributing to making it one of the most renowned and visited festivals in the world.

Mexico presents "the Day of the Dead" decoration at the Korea Foundation Gallery in Seoul. / Korea Times

But, it is one of the few success stories.

Some cultural elements especially shared by a small number of people just can't be sustained during fast-moving globalization. For example, mask dancers in Bhutan, according to the UNESCO report, hold globalization accountable for the lack of interest and respect for the dance among the younger generation.

The festivals presented at the exhibitions were the lucky ones to survive the tide of globalization, and there's another commonality: all have a single purpose of enriching human life.

From weddings and religious ceremonies to moments of remembrance for ancestors, all the festivals serve to celebrate and to recognize important moments in people's lives.

One unique example is the Day of the Dead in Mexico. A similar element is found in what's called "Jesa" in Korea.

In principle, it's a day to remember dead ancestors.

A table full of food is presented before a portrait of a dead person. Their favorite objects or food are presented on a table.

The family sets the table, enjoys the food and each other's company, and "at night, go to tombs to spend the night," Jorge Carvajal, husband of the Mexican Ambassador Martha Ortiz de Rosas, told The Korea Times.

"I don't do that anymore, but some still do," he said.

UNESCO's list of tangible and intangible heritage sites is in part a reflection of cultural diversity in danger.

The report says it's incorrect to view globalization only as a threat to the cultural diversity. "Communications via YouTube, Facebook and MySpace have now become an integral part of life now, adding to cultural diversity."

The exhibition will stay open until April 13. Starting from Monday, April 8, the number of decoration booths will reduce to 20.

For more information about the festival, visit

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