Monday, July 2, 2012

Korean Cultural Renaissance

Korean Cultural Renaissance:
 I have taken the entire article from the Korean English magazine called "KOREA FOCUS"


Kim Il-soo
Korean Ambassador to Israel
“Nanta” recently hit Israel when it was performed as part of the commemorative events for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Israel. As hallyu has yet to reach a significant portion of people in this country, I was worried about the audience response while preparing three shows of the non-verbal stage production: two at a 1,200-seat venue in Tel Aviv and one at a 500-seat theater in Jerusalem.
The result was amazing with all of the three shows sold out. The audience responded enthusiastically, many saying the shows were “unforgettable” and they were “surprised at Korea`s artistic originality.” Watching the famous show for the first time myself, I was deeply impressed by the artistic appeal of our performing arts.
It has long been argued that “soft power” is one of the key barometers of a nation`s influence. Rather than earning the recognition of their prestige by evoking fear through military and economic supremacy, nations in our era are urged to attract others by demonstrating cultural charm.
They say culture flows like water. A culture that is classy and fun flows down naturally. The concept of “soft power” was first perceived by the United States, which boasts of the strongest “hard power.” It goes without saying that “soft power” is important for every nation but it is particularly far more important for middle-tier nations like South Korea, whose hard power potential is inherently limited.
While serving in the United Kingdom, I vividly experienced the potential of “creative industries.” The U.K. earns nearly 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) from idea-oriented industries, including musicals, dramas, fashion, entertainment planning and advertising. Economic benefits aside, Britain enjoys enormous privileges through its cultural power represented by creative industries. The housing prices in London are sky-high largely because people all over the world want to live there. Behind such popularity lies an exciting, high-class culture.
The reputation of London and New York as the global financial and consulting hubs is due to top-class professionals in these knowledge-based industries living in the cities, and one of the reasons they flock to these cities is because of their wonderful cultural infrastructure. In other words, culture is not only the driving engine of creative industries but also the essential factor that lures human resources of high value-added service industries.
Song Seung-hwan, CEO of PMC Production and producer of “Nanta,” who accompanied the performing group, gave an encouraging remark. He said South Korea stages more than 100 homegrown musicals per year, a number roughly equivalent to that of Britain. It means our young artists are endeavoring with an explosive amount of creative energy to break away from the customary practice of paying hefty sums of royalty to stage foreign originals. Thus, they probably will continue to reach higher standards, displaying greater potential of soft power. I hope that Korea`s cultural renaissance will become a major trend of our time to enrich the life of people around the world. 
Source: Korea Focus/ July 2012

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