Members of an Azerbaijan dance troupe perform “Karabakh,” a solemn round dance, at the opening ceremony of the “Days of Azerbaijan Culture in Korea” at Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, Tuesday.
By Kim Se-jeong
Four days of Azerbaijan cultural events kicked off Tuesday for the first time in Korea in a festival, titled the ``Days of Azerbaijan Culture in Korea.''
Twenty-six short programs of modern classical music written by Azerbaijan composers, alongside performances of traditional folk songs and dynamic dances featuring men and women in colorful costumes, were performed at the opening ceremony.
Some 300 guests filled the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul for the opening and were swiftly drawn to the vibrant movements of the dancers and the melodic music.
Azerbaijan Ambassador to South Korea Rovshan Jamshidov said, ``Music, culture, art and tourism are excellent ways to learn and explore about different countries.
I am so glad happy to hold this here in Korea, especially when our ties are escalating. (Through this event), we hope to share more aspects of culture.''
The four-day event was part of a cultural exchange program between the two countries _ ``Korea Cultural Week,'' was held in Azerbaijan in 2005.
History of Azerbaijan
The Republic of Azerbaijan is located in west Asia bordering the Caspian Sea, Iran and Russia and much of its territory is covered with mountains.
The country's capital is Baki, a port city.
Azerbaijan has a rich and ancient culture and is noted as one of the birthplaces of civilizations.
Despite undergoing changes of political geography, its heritage has been built up over the span of millennia.
Between the 18th and 19th centuries, Azerbaijan was a war theater for Turkey, Iran and Russia until the Turkmanchay Treaty of 1828 between Iran and Russia who divided Azerbaijan into a northern part held by Tsarist Russia and a southern region controlled by Iran.
In 1918, the independent Azerbaijan Republic was established with the fall of the tsars, but the state collapsed within 23 months and was absorbed by the then Soviet Union before regaining independence in 1991, with the adoption of the Constitutional Act of State Independence.
Azerbaijan also earned the nickname ``Land of Fire'' due to its vast oil reserves and its exports of petroleum.
According to ``Azerbaijan: 100 Questions Answered,'' in ancient times Azerbaijan was called Aturpatakan, meaning ``a place where sacred fire is preserved.''
Besides oil, Azerbaijan has abundant natural gas and other resources.
The country's other main industries are manufacturing, mining, and textile production.
Its population numbers 8.1 million, and is composed of 90.6 percent Azeris alongside other ethnic groups including Russians, Armenians and Lezgins.
South Korea established diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan in 1992 and this year marks the 15th anniversary of ties.
Last year, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun visited Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev made a visit to Korea this April.
The Days of Azerbaijan Culture in Korea also features an exhibition of 41 paintings by 18 prominent Azerbaijan artists that is open until Friday at the Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul.
Troupes from the two countries will perform a concert this evening. For more information, call the Azerbaijan Embassy in Seoul at (02) 797-1765.