Artists Realize Importance in Cultural Ties
By Han Sang-hee
JEJU ― The ASEAN-Korea Summit has come to an end, but it has bore fruit in a number of ways, not least in the cultural sphere.
Key figures from the 10 ASEAN nations gathered on Jeju Island and through seminars and debates, the representatives got to share their insights and interests in film, art and literature.
``The government will fully support Korea and the ASEAN countries in terms of cultural exchange. We need to find a way to respect each other and live together as it is time for us to live as friends and brothers,'' said Yu In-chon, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism at a luncheon with ASEAN Korean artists Monday.
The local film industry has seen development over the years, with many being screened and recognized at international film festivals and Hollywood, and the same goes for films from other Asian countries. Director Park Chan-wook won the jury prize for his thriller ``Thirst'' at the Cannes Film Festival this year, while Filipino Brillante Mendoza won the Best Director Award for his film ``Kinatay.''
``It's true that the cinema industry is still mostly led by Hollywood and Europe, but change has started to occur slowly yet consistently. Many local organizations are striving to put local movies on the map, and we must carry out these efforts at a broader level,'' said Kang Han-sup, the chairperson of the Korea Film Council.
Despite the ongoing interest in films around the world, many parts of Asia still need firm support from movie fans and the government.
``(Laos) confesses complications in developing its cinema industry, because we lack staff who have advanced knowledge and experience. We also lack a cinema infrastructure and equipment for shooting,'' said Vongchith Phommachack, the deputy director general of the Lao Department of Cinema.
Malaysia, on the other hand, has been participating in various programs, pushing the local film industry in a positive way.
``These measures and programs (were) put in place by the government to help propel the growth of the film industry and take it to greater heights both locally and internationally,'' said Balaraman Narayanasamy, the director of planning and research at the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia.
Most of the panelists agreed that they needed support from other countries as partners and also needed to encourage the government to support the cinema scene.
``The Asian Film Industry Network is a good way to start. It consists of delegates from South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Iran, and with more countries joining us, the Asian film industry can work as a team. Finding a coordinated organization or system like Europe can also help a great deal,'' Lee Keun-sang from the Korea Film Council said.
Meanwhile, literature has been a hidden jewel to the Korean public, with inspiring writers and poets just waiting to be discovered. The outcome has been quite promising, with several being named as possible laureates of the Nobel Prize for literature.
Under the theme ``Beauty, Seed of Peace,'' 10 poets from ASEAN member nations and three local poets gathered to share their works and insights.
``The event aimed to bring Asian poems and literary works together at one venue, and it was indeed a great chance for us to learn and appreciate the works of foreign artists,'' Kim Shin-young, one of the organizers, said.
The work of Chiranan Pitpreecha from Thailand drew special attention, as they were introduced to the world in various languages, including English, French, German, Japanese and Malaysian, which is considered the best way to branch out in different countries beyond Asia.
``It is not easy to bring poets from all over Asia to one venue, and so this was indeed a memorable and important event for all of us. We believe Korea will be on the forefront in further collaborations and programs, and by working together with artists from various cultures and countries, we will be able to enrich Asian literature to the utmost,'' said Kwon Se-hoon, the team manager for International Communications at the Korea Literature Translation Institute.
Numerous figures from the Asian art world also got together at the Round Table on ASEAN-Korean Art under the theme ``Methodology of active art trade and cultural exchange in the region of Asia.''
The talks regarded the recent downturn of art due to the global economic recession, and also the hope and need for neighboring countries to get together in order to pull out of the turmoil and get back on track.
Most of the panels at the event agreed on the changes regarding the art market in Asia, and stressed the need for collaboration among Asian countries for a better environment for art trade.
``A new confidence in Asian artistic identity has emerged. Although Asian art is yet to catch up with its Western counterpart on the world stage, Asian art has been increasing greatly in popularity in recent years,'' said Daniel Komala, the CEO of Larasati Auctioneers in Indonesia.
Komala added that one way to help sustain market stability is in the hands of true and global collectors who cross boundaries and collect art from all over Asia.
Meanwhile, Yoon Jin-sup, the vice president of the International Association of Art Critics, argued about the problem of art biennales and underlined the importance of the role and perspective Asian artists must have toward their works.
``Most biennales in the West focus on Western views. (They) fail to uphold the spirit of mutual benefits and the universality of mankind. Asian art, which boasts a long history, is ignoring its creative power and excellence and is becoming more dependent on the West,'' he said.
``There is no ranking in art of culture. We cannot say that this or that is low class or is superior to others. There is only influence in the mind,'' Yoon added.
The panelists also agreed of the need for more exchange programs and events, and looked into the idea of working on publishing art history books in both English and native languages to further strengthen ties and friendship.