Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bags of charm


A peek into the Simone Handbag Museum

By Kwon Mee-yoo of The Korea Times

The average male might consider the handbag an unnecessary element of everyday life. And that would be one of the many reasons why women consider them, well, idiots.

When it comes to understanding why the handbag is so valuable and essential to women, men have always been left at something of a loss. But French thinker Jean-Claude Kaufmann offers to help.

“The handbag is a key piece in the day-to-day construction of identity,” Kaufmann once said, expressing his unique interest and insight into the item in his book “Le Sac, un Petit Monde d’Amour (The Bag, a Small World of Affection).”

“Veritable extension of the self, the handbag accompanies a woman throughout lots of life events, while stocking many of her intimate memories.”

Park Eun-kwan, president of local handbag company Simone, subscribes to Kaufmann’s theory that the handbag is much more than just a fashion statement — it’s an extension of one’s personality. While the company manufactures products for global fashion houses like Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Coach, Park’s ambition is to launch his own brand, named “0914,” by 2015.

But before taking that critical step, Park wanted the opportunity to step back and examine the culture and history of the handbag and put them in meaningful context. The result was the Simone Handbag Museum on Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, which explores how an item that was supposed to be a functional complement to the wardrobe emerged as a key driver in the business of desire that is fashion.

At the museum, Park’s passion for handbags is evident. Even the building of the museum, which Park named as Bagstage, is shaped like a shopper bag. Aside of the museum, which is claimed as the world’s only museum entirely dedicated to handbags, the building is also home to Gallery 0914, an art exhibition space, and two fashion shops.

Museum for handbags 

The Simone Handbag Museum is located on the third and fourth floor of the building and features a variety of valuable items, such as 16th-century silk bags to the contemporary classic that is the Hermes Birkin Bag.

The third floor is highlighted by handbags manufactured in the early 20th century. Seeing how the shapes and function of the handbags changed through the course of time is a delightful experience.

“In the early 1900s, the ‘art nouveau’ style was in vogue and many bags are in elaborate curves. Then after the 1920s, the shape of bags became simpler as the designers focused on function of the bags. The famous gas mask bag used in Britain during the 1930s was also a product of necessity that reflected where society was at the time,” said Ko Ji-na, a curator at the museum.
The Simone Handbag Museum in southern Seoul is claimed to be the world’s only museum entirely dedicated to the handbag. / Courtesy of Simone

It was after the end of World War II when aesthetics became critical in the making of handbags. They became smaller and more decorative. A magazine-shaped clutch bag from the 1970s illustrates the influence of pop culture in design.

The shapes and designs of handbags have become more imaginative recently. Anne Marie’s Champagne Bucket Purse is a fun and deceptively elegant accompaniment to an evening dress, while the dog-shaped bags from Fuzzy Nation convey unique exuberance.

Recent products from the traditional fashion houses Chanel, Hermes, Coach and Gucci are also on display at the museum, highlighted by the Hermes Birkin, acquired by Park through an auction for about 100 million won (about $94,000).
Kim Yong-ho’s “The Woman is Going Into Her Bag”

The fourth floor takes visitors a further step back in history, highlighted by Western and Asian artefacts of the 16th century that could be considered as equivalents to the modern handbag.

“These bags, while beautiful, were defined by their functions. The perfumed sachets were necessary as these were times when people didn’t hit the showers every day. Some of the bags here aren’t really bags, but tie-on pockets attached to dresses, which were much more puffier than now,” Ko said.

As dresses got slimmer, bags increasingly became independent items and were designed with more sophistication. In the 20th century, the bags became sturdier, using metal frames and leathers, Ko explained.
Material Bazaar exhibition of the Simone Handbag Museum

Bag is psychology 

There is also a separate exhibition in the building’s basement, part of nine-segment project running through September of 2015, featuring some imaginative art work devoted to handbags.

The first part of the program, which is currently on display and will be until Dec. 29, is titled “Bag is Psychology,” featuring the works of photographers Kim Young-ho and Hong Jong-woo and psychiatrist Kim Hyun-chul.

On one wall, Kim Hyun-chul wrote his own ode to the handbag, inspired by Kaufmann’s writing, arguing that bags convey an unconscious part of their owners’ desire. So attempting to buy a new bag doubles as that person’s attempt to gain distance from her past, according to Kim.
The Bagstage building,where the museum is located

Kim Young-ho’s “The Woman is Going into Her Bag” is displayed in a space which resembles inside of a bag. Viewers have to walk through a slit of a bag to see Kim’s images printed on mirrors. Images of an opened bag and a naked woman are reflected on each other through the mirrors, which Kim says illustrates women’s urge to look into someone else’s bag.

Hong’s work is more dramatic, making subjects of his photos as heroines of a movie. He randomly interviewed people and asked what was inside their bag and took pictures of them.
A mannequin showing a Louis Vuitton creation

Bag stage also has Material Bazaar, which features some 8,000 different types of leather from cowhide to sharkskin, and offers four-week workshops to create a bag of one’s own.

Those not satisfied with just seeing all these handbags can make a purchase at the 0914 Shop on the first floor.

The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is 5,000 won. For more information about the museum, visit or call (02) 3444-0912. 

Look who beat Gangnam Oppa "Psy"

Pororo Beats Psy and Other Celebrities in Google Search Results

Google Korea on Monday released a top 10 list of the most-searched words in the first half of this year, as well as the most popular entries in each category including TV programs and celebrities.

No. 1 on the overall list was the hugely popular animation "Pororo the Little Penguin," followed by the MBC show "Infinite Challenge." Ryu Hyun-jin, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball, was third.

Two songs by Psy helped fill out the rest of the top 10, which was as follows: "Gangnam Style"; actor Park Si-hoo; the movie "Masquerade"; Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon girl Kang Ye-bin; "Gentleman"; figure skater Kim Yu-na; and the Japanese animation "Attack on Titan."

Some adult-only keywords were excluded from the list.

The most-searched personalities were Ryu, Park Si-hoo, Kang Ye-bin, Kim Yu-na and TV personality Clara. Park became embroiled in an ugly scandal in February when he was accused of rape; Kang was named Korea's first UFC Octagon Girl in October; and Clara recently made headlines with her sexy fashion style.

"Infinite Challenge" was the most-searched TV program.


How to Survive End-of-Year Binge Drinking

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

Parties and gathering celebrating Christmas and the end of the year fill up people's calendars in December, but the pressure to consume vast amounts of alcohol with friends, family members and coworkers can take its toll.

Here are some tips to help keep things in moderation and not overtax your body during this festive season.

The first principle is not to drain glasses of beer or liquor on an empty stomach. There is a tendency to encourage people to drink quickly in Korea's drinking culture, such as by downing jaeger bombs or shots of soju mixed with beer. But chugging down drinks rapidly accelerates the onset of inebriation and usually leads to a longer and more painful hangover.

If such drinking rituals cannot be avoided, at least make sure you head to the party after lining your stomach with some food to help it better manage the alcohol. A light meal, rice porridge or soup is recommended, but even a cup of milk will help.

Meanwhile, nibbling on snacks like peanuts, seaweed, fruit or whatever is at hand will slow down the speed at which the body absorbs all the alcohol, meaning you will be able to enjoy the social gathering longer.

Many people suffer from skin problems the day after drinking alcohol, or after they drink for several days in a row, and frequent binge drinking and sleep deprivation can lead to problems of the liver and skin. Drinking plenty of water and eating fruit that is rich in vitamins and fiber will help break down the alcohol and prevent the skin from drying up.


Fruits of the Sea Just Part of Busan's Bounty of Local Delicacies


Local and regional specialties add an interesting twist to any trip, and the rich diversity of dishes that can be found Korea's largest port city Busan certainly makes any visit here a treat for the senses. Spending a few days in the city sampling its culinary delights while soaking up the ambience near some of the country's most famous beaches can leave visitors with some unforgettable memories.

◆ Anchovies in Gijang

The country's biggest anchovy festival takes place in late April in Gijang, in the eastern part of the city. Local people enjoy the fish in various forms -- raw, boiled in a stew, grilled and fried -- but seasoned raw anchovies are not to be missed.

As anchovies die quickly after being removed from the sea, they are normally boiled on the boat immediately after they are caught, then dried in the sun and sent to market. This is why raw anchovy dishes can rarely be found elsewhere, making Gijang one of few places where they can be enjoyed at their freshest. Special seasoning removes the fishy odor, while hot sauce and vegetables add taste and nourishment.

◆ Pork and Rice Soup in Seomyeon

Dwaeji gukbab, or pork and rice soup, is made from the broth of pork bones and meat, to which boiled rice is added. A district of Seomyeon in downtown Busan is well known for its long history of serving the dish, which is especially popular on cold days.

Rich in collagen, which contains useful amino acids, and known for its excellent detoxifying properties, it goes down a treat with a few glasses of soju or local makgeolli (traditional Korean rice wine) to help keep the cold at bay.

◆ Grilled Clams in Taejongdae

This seaside park is a popular spot to try clams by the sea. It ranks as one of the most beautiful costal attractions in the area, and its magnificent cliffs are said to have inspired many poets.

The sweeping views and refreshing clams have long proven to be a winning combination. Locals like to add butter and a special sauce to give the clam meat more flavor, while a serving of fried rice completes the meal.

◆ Pajeon in Dongrae

Pajeon, or green-onion pancake fried with chives and seafood, is said to have been the preferred accompaniment to drinking sessions among kings of yore, and these "Korean pizzas" still serve much the same purpose today.

The popular side dish emerged from Dongrae in northern Busan and the area remains famous for this concoction of fried golden flour added to sweet green onions to stimulate the appetite. Usually cooked with an egg on top to keep it soft and succulent, pajeon also goes down well with a few glasses or bottles of local beverages.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SIWA hosts meeting with NK defector

Members of the Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) pose after the September Network Meeting at Restaurant Parlour in Itaewon.
/ Korea Times photo by John Redmond

By John Redmond

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) will host a special October Coffee Morning featuring special guest speaker Kim Kwang-jin, a North Korean defector, at Conrad Seoul, Oct.16.

Acknowledging the 60th anniversary of the armistice between South and North Korea, Kim will share his personal story and answer questions in an interactive Q&A session focusing on his knowledge and personal experience of North Korea.

“As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice between South and North Korea, SIWA is grateful to Mr. Kim Kwang-jin for accepting the invitation to speak at our Coffee Morning. So, bring your curiosity and questions for an interactive session about one of the most mystifying countries in the world,” the group stated in a press release.

Since defecting to South Korea with his family in 2003, Kim has served as visiting scholar in the U.S. with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), has earned two masters degrees, and is working on a PhD.

In Seoul he currently works as a senior researcher at the Institute of National Security Strategy, is an advisor to the Ministry of Unification, and serves on various boards.

Before his defection from North Korea, he served as the Singapore representative of the Northeast Asia Bank; an agent of the Korea National Insurance Corporation managing accounts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He majored in English literature at Kim Il-sung University and taught English at Pyongyang Computer College.

Kim’s invaluable experience allows him to shed a powerful light into the darkest corners of the North Korean regime’s clandestine international financial operations.

His revelations have saved re-insurance companies tens of millions of dollars and brought an end to a crucial method the corrupt regime used to purloin from foreign sources funds used to sustain the internal oppression of its people while continuing the development of nuclear power capability.

He has published a number of papers and articles on the North Korean economy and the current transition of power in North Korea, and has been guest speaker at many distinguished international events.

SIWA is Seoul’s premier international women’s organization, consisting of women from more than 40 countries, including about 25 percent from Korea. For more than 50 years, SIWA has been a place where women from around the world can meet, find friends, learn about each other’s cultures, and improve the lives of those less fortunate in Korea.

One of the most important things SIWA does is to contribute to Korean society through its biggest fundraiser, the Diplomatic and Cultural Bazaar, and it has contributed more than 2 billion won ($1.7 million) to Korean charities over the years. SIWA also offers an extensive number of tours to cultural, artistic and recreational experiences.

Coffee Mornings are one of the core activities of SIWA, an occasion when all members come to enjoy topical lectures, panel discussions and special events over a cup of coffee or tea and snacks.

It is a chance to reconnect with other members, make new friends and share information. The event is organized by the Hospitality Chair to provide information about Korea, current affairs, culture and issues of interest to all.

The Coffee Morning is from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and costs 20,000 won for members and 25,000 won for non-members.

The meeting point is Conrad Seoul, Level 6 (Studios 8, 9 and 10).

To get there by public transport leave Yeouido Station at exit 3. Follow the underground passage, along the moving walkway, until you reach the IFC Entrance (L2). Walk to the escalators (located in front of the “8ight Seconds” store) and go up to L1. The entrance to Conrad Seoul is located between the Stradivarius and Bershka stores.

Parking is available for free and valid for 24 hours if you would like to enjoy the ICF Mall and surroundings afterwards. Follow the signs for Conrad Hotel and park in the Purple Zone. Remember to provide the last four digits of your car number plate when responding to the RSVP.

RSVP online at

For more information on Coffee Morning or to join the next Coffee Morning as a vendor or sponsor, please contact

Devoted son or daughter

Saturday, September 28, 2013

DMZ Documentary Festival to Be Held in Mid-October


The 5th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival will take place for a week from Oct. 17 in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, marking the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

The festival, largely non-competitive, will feature 119 documentaries from 38 countries.

The opening ceremony will be held in Camp Greaves, a former U.S. military base near the demilitarized zone on Oct. 17, with a screening of "Ten Thousand Spirits" by director Park Chan-kyong. The fantasy documentary looks back on the stormy life of a female shaman.

Tickets will be available online from Oct. 1. For more information, visit the festival's website at

More Koreans Spurn Rice But Embrace Coffee


Rice consumption is on the decline while coffee is getting more popular, statistics show. According to the Nonghyup Economic Research Institute on Monday, the coffee market in Korea more than doubled over the past four years, while annual per capita rice consumption declined by about six kg over the same period.

Coffee imports rose from 107,000 tons in 2008 to 115,000 tons last year, which translates into 293 cups of coffee per adult a year. The coffee market more than doubled from W1.91 trillion in 2008 to W4.13 trillion in 2012 (US$1=W1,082). By contrast, annual rice consumption per person fell around 6 kg to 69.8 kg.

A bowl of rice fetches only 20.6-45.7 percent of the price of a cup of coffee. According to the report, as of 2012, a 100g bowl of rice was sold for W1,000-W1,500 in restaurants, while a cup of "Americano" or ordinary drip coffee cost W3,500-4,000.

But coffee consumption continues to increase. Koreans over 12 ate rice 19.2 times per week in 2008, but that fell to 17.2 times in 2011. By contrast, the weekly frequency of coffee consumption rose from 7.9 times to 8.6 times over the same period.

Actress Park Si-yeon Happy to Focus on Being a Mom


Park Si-yeon Park Si-yeon

Actress Park Si-yeon became a mother on Tuesday, her management agency said. She gave a birth to a healthy baby girl weighing 3 kg at a clinic in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, it added.

Park, who married in late 2011, said she will devote herself to raising her child for now.

As she is being charged with abusing the anesthetic Propofol, the same drug that helped claim the life of Michael Jackson, she has put her career on the backburner for the time being.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Foreign brands lead fast-fashion boom at Korean Arena

Some consumers raise questions about product quality, cheap prices

By Park Ji-won, Nam Hyun-woo, Baek Byung-yeul

After fast-fashion brands made a successful soft landing in Korea’s fashion market years ago, the wardrobes of young or even middle-aged Koreans have been filled with low-cost garments from such brands.

For years, big name fast-fashion chains, such as Uniqlo, Zara, H&M, 8 seconds and SPAO have beaten other brands including Levi’s or Calvin Klein Jeans, the so-called must-have items that Korean youngsters had to have in the early 2000s.

With the loyalty of fans, the top three SPAs in the Korean market ― Uniqlo, Zara and H&M ― are enjoying huge success with their sales growing sharply. SPA stands for specialty store retailer of private label apparel.

According to the Financial Supervisory Service’s Data Analysis, Retrieval and Transfer System, the size of the country’s SPA market remained at some 1 trillion won ($915.3 million) in 2008, but it will likely surpass the 3 trillion won threshold next year.

Sales for the top three stood at some 800 billion won in 2012, growing more than 40 percent from a year earlier.

As those figures show, fast-fashion has marked a huge presence in Korea’s fashion market. Experts say their rise was backed by offering greater variety quickly to customers at a reasonable cost in the fast-spinning wheel of fashion.

Stores of such fast-fashion brands, or SPAS have packed Seoul’s shopping districts such as Myeong-dong or Hongdae.

When asked “Where do you buy your jeans?” eight out of 10 college students interviewed said they usually visit fast-fashion retailers for shopping.

Reasonable prices

“I’m a big fan of fast-fashion brands because they offer various products at reasonable prices. The jeans that I’m wearing now are from Uniqlo and the shirt is from Zara,” said Yoo In-seok.

Park Hyun-min echoed Yoo’s view.

He said, “The biggest strength that such SPAs have is the price of their products. There is nowhere you can buy this number of garments on a limited budget,” showing two T-shirts, two pairs of pants and some underwear he bought from SPAO, a domestic SPA brand here.

Park Soo-jin picked more fashion-related reasons for her preference in fast-fashion brands.

“Getting away from logo-centric clothes is one of the reasons I choose fast-fashion brands. Just a few years ago, wearing clothes with a big logo on them was considered to be fashionable, but now that is out-dated,” said Park.

“Young people these days are looking for basic items or seeking unique designs. Fast-fashion brands are popular because they succeed in meeting such customer expectations,” said Park.

Functional and trendy clothes

Uniqlo, a Japanese SPA brand leading Korea’s fast-fashion market, focuses on offering various basic items in different materials. Its trademark technologies ― “Heattech” for winter and “AIRism” for summer ― enjoy huge popularity for their function in keeping wearers warm or cool.

Zara is usually described as the brand most definitive of fast-fashion. The Spanish fast-fashion giant distributes an average of two new designs a week to some 1,700 branches around the world.

According to a manager at the company, around 80 designers release new clothing constantly and the company restocks branch shelves with new clothes every week. Customers may not be able to buy shirts they eyed a week ago.

As its product cycle spins more quickly than other brands, its products are said to be the most “trendy” and “fancy,” reflecting young people’s fashion choices.

H&M, the global fast-fashion “king” from Sweden, falls in between the two rivals. It sells basic goods and offers trendy items at the same time. It also releases many collaboration pieces from renowned luxury brand designers, offering a glimpse of pricy designer goods to budget-strapped customers. The company entered the Korean market later than its rivals, but said it has 16 stores in the country and is expanding its business operations.

Park said, “Young shoppers like me want to be fashionable, but they don’t want to spend a lot of money. Fast-fashion brands work well for that.”

Amid the sluggish economy, SPA fashion retailers have been showing a strong performance in Korea, as well as in other countries.

The fashion retail conglomerates say they sell cheap and trendy fashion clothes for customers.

There has been a dispute over quality and price as SPA firms insist that while products may be cheap, all products maintain the same standard of quality.

There may be benefits for customers in buying clothes priced so reasonably. However, whether the quality of the product matches the price is another issue.

The real costs to cheaper products

“Considering the quality of the clothes, I think the price is not reasonable at all. I bought a pair of jeans in one SPA store in Korea that stretched out after wearing them few times,” an office employee working near Seoul Station said.

“The products look fine at first glance, but when you take a closer look, you can see the sewing is incomplete or not carefully done,” a university student surnamed Koo said.

Uniqlo recently released its fall-winter product lines in cashmere and silk, which sell from 50,000 won. Zara sells products at relatively expensive prices, especially in men’s clothes, according to a fashion blogger in Naver, who has been comparing the prices of Zara products over the years. “Clothes are overpriced compared to those in other countries. I bought a set of six socks for 990 yen (10,900 won) in Uniqlo in Beppu in Japan. But I bought four socks in Uniqlo for 15,900 won in Korea. SPA firms likely think of Korean customers as easy-money,” an office worker surnamed Park said.

In terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), Uniqlo has been active in such activities since 2011, but Zara, which posted some 200 billion won in sales in 2012 in Korea, has never engaged in such activities during the four years the firm has been in Korea.

“I barely see SPA companies performing CSR activities in Korea, even though they make a lot of money here. Looking at that, I just assume that they only just want to earn money,” a consumer said.

Structural problems over clothing manufacturing

A garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed on April 24, killing more than 1,000 local people who worked inside the building. The rise in the demand for cheap clothing overseas has led to cuts in production costs. The factory where the workers worked was shabbily built, leading to the accident, and the wages they received were deemed to be the cheapest among Asian countries. This naturally came at the expense of the workers’ health and safety, all in order to win a bid from overseas SPAs amid fiercer competition.

The disaster in Bangladesh is a prominent case highlighted in the media. However, the sufferers remain victims of the SPA manufacturing system.

“Most of our clothes are made in China, India and Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The factory which provides the cheapest labor wins our bid. Most SPA firms outsource production, not directly manufacturing,” said a manager at one of the Korean SPA firms by telephone.

“With globalization has come consumer apathy. Who cares about people who make clothing? As long as it is cheap we will buy it,” Anna McMullen, a reporter at CNN, said in a recent article.

“Customers would think that the cheap cost would inevitably come at a sacrifice,” a fashion-related office worker said.

Source : The Korea Times

Sugar Pop group crawling back to fame

The five members of Crayon Pop hope the new release of their music video “Bar Bar Bar,” Monday, will restore the group's popularity.
/ Courtesy of Chrome Entertainment

Crayon Pop jumping, stomping again after scandal

By Park Jin-hai

They seemingly had every reason to fail.

Gum-mi, ChoA, Way, Ellin and So-yul, the five members of Crayon Pop were “different.” Unlike other sexy or cute female K-pop groups, they were dorky.

Dressed in tracksuits and bicycle helmets as colorful as crayons, the five girls in the music video bounce up and down to the repetitive and catchy tune of “Bar Bar Bar” on the tilt-a-whirl and merry-go-round at an amusement park. To the retro sound of fast electronic beats, its lyrics urge people to leave their worries behind and jump along.

“We have always tried to challenge the mainstream in some way,” said ChoA, 23, in an interview with The Korea Times. “As a girl group, we needed to gather up what courage we had simply to be different.”

The quintet recalls the moment they heard that their music would be wacky and funny. “Up to the moment we were called on stage, we were not sure how people would react to our quirkiness,” said Way, ChoA’s twin sister. “So our success was unexpected and sudden.”

Their momentary fall was just as sudden. The previous comments the members left on Twitter, using words from rightist-online media, got them in trouble where angry netizens harshly criticized them. An ad was pulled, an event was cancelled and the public response was negative.

But on Aug. 30, the rookie girl group beat the 12-member boy band EXO on the music program “Music Bank” to top the chart. It also earned them a fandom that is comparable to Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”

On Monday, Sony Korea released the revised version of their “Bar Bar Bar” music video, aimed at the global music industry. The new music video was filmed at locations like a subway station, Han river, and children’s park in Seoul. Their core fan base “pop jeossi” made a surprise appearance in the video.

“All of the difficult moments flashed through in my head,” said Gum-mi, recalling when their name was called out on “Music Bank” in a separate e-interview. She, caught in a torrent of emotion, burst into tears, referring to the recent public backlash against the group.

The other members also spoke cautiously about the incident, even though they were a tough independent group that rose out of obscurity and against all odds. The girls all debuted late. Plus, they all had other careers: Gum-mi worked as a skin therapist; Ellin, a shopping mall fitting model; Way, an indie band singer; and So-yul, a member of another girl band. They spent only a year as group members before they debuted as “Crayon Pop.”

Their entertainment company was small in size, premature in experience, and was lacking finance to promote the girl group. But the rest of the story would have it that the band had a sudden miraculous rise, a series of managerial mishaps, and then fall from fame.

But their viral hit song “Bar Bar Bar” is making the rounds all over the nation, with fans and celebrities parodying their signature quirky dance moves – dubbed the “Straight-Five Engine Dance” for its resemblance to an engine’s cylinders - on YouTube.

Since its release on June 23, their video has received about 5 million views. In just six weeks, it sits at the top of the Billboard’s K-Pop Hot 100 and it also succeeded in making a license deal with Sony Music Entertainment, which is home to Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne.

“It was right after our album was released,” said Way, when asked about when the most trying moment of their year-long career was. “We initially thought that once our album was out, all doors would open for us,” she added. The group’s album was released in June, when the K-pop stage was already crowded with existing and new groups.

“The chance to stand on stage was few and far between for us. We found ourselves spending more and more time stuck in the studio,” ChoA added. “It was suffocating.”

These girls, however, didn’t back off. They chose to go forward. With the sole purpose of showing who they were and what they had, they took to the streets, giving “street guerilla concerts,” something unprecedented by an idol group.

They performed wherever they could find space. They even performed in subway stations. Members said that sometimes all the girls huddled together and shed tears at the end of the day. But, because of those days, they secured their core fan base called “pop jeossi” or middle-aged male fans who virtually triggered the nation-wide craze for the group.

“In hindsight, although it was tough, we tried to find a silver lining,” said Gum-mi. “Anyhow, it was way better to be outside performing than staying in the studio,” added Way.

In the freezing winter wind, they performed only in their tracksuits, because with their signature outfit on people would recognize them. “When it was really cold, we used to move to a nearby location and perform more, just to warm up our bodies,” said Way.

Asked about their role models, they name singers such as Lee Hyo-ri and Lee Jung-hyun, who debuted in their teens but hold iconic status and perform even now in their mid 30s.

“But, we would like to be the ‘girl-next-door’ kind of group. A group that can recharge people’s energy levels to the fullest with cheery and light music,” said ChoA.
Source: The Korea Times

When you are at Korea : Asking someone's age

Old Chinese Maps Show Dokdo Belonged to Korea


Two old Chinese maps have been discovered showing that the Dokdo islets belonged to Korea, further undermining Japan's flimsy colonial claim to the rocks.

The two maps were made in the 19th century during the Qing Dynasty and were unveiled by Lee Myeong-hee of Kyunghee University's Humanitas College at a seminar on Sept. 6.

One is an eight-piece folding-screen map of the world from 1845 and depicts Ulleung Island and Dokdo in close proximity to the Korean Peninsula, clearly showing that they belonged to the Chosun Kingdom.

The other map, created in 1851, depicts Ulleung Island and Dokdo in the same way.

A Chinese map made in 1845 depicts Ulleung Island and Dokdo (in red circle) as belonging to the Chosun Kingdom. /Courtesy of Lee Myeong-hee A Chinese map made in 1845 depicts Ulleung Island and Dokdo (in red circle) as belonging to the Chosun Kingdom. /Courtesy of Lee Myeong-hee

Lee Sang-tae, another researcher who also presented his findings at the seminar, said, "Study of maps produced by Japan's Shimane Prefecture," which claims ownership of Dokdo, "shows that Dokdo was not identified as part of the prefecture for around a dozen years just before and after it illegally laid claim to Dokdo in 1905."

Japanese maps dating back to 1895 and 1899 and even those from 1908 and 1912 show Dokdo excluded from Japanese territory.

Maps from 1948 following Japan's surrender in World War II and from 1963 also do not include Dokdo in Japanese territory, according to Lee. The expert said this was because Japan "lacked any confidence" in claiming the islets.
Source: The Chosun Ilbo


Friday, September 6, 2013

Miss President Park meets role model Merkel

President Park Geun-hye, left, meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. The two leaders are the first woman leaders of their respective countries with great influence. / Yonhap

By Kim Tae-gyu

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia ― Two of the world’s most influential women met Friday on the sidelines of the G20 Summit as President Park Geun-hye had a one-on-one meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Park, Korea’s first woman head of state, has cited Merkel, who is also the first woman chancellor of Germany, as a role model.

“In time with the 130th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relationships between the two nations, Park met with Merkel,” said Ju Chul-ki, Park’s senior secretary for foreign affairs and security.

“Germany has strong small- and medium-sized enterprises and renewable energy. Accordingly, it can be our benchmark in achieving a creative economy.”

Park has attempted to realize a creative economy by boosting venture start-ups and stimulating the convergence between IT and other business areas so that Asia’s No. 4 economy will be able to find new growth engines.

Germany has been touted as a country bracing for the concept of a creative economy as its economy is underpinned by small exporters, which boast of unrivaled technological competitiveness.

By contrast, Korea Inc. has been represented by large conglomerates such as the Samsung and Hyundai Motor groups instead of small corporations. This has been seen as a potential weakness.

Park and Merkel share many things in common.

In May, the Forbes magazine published the world’s 100 most influential women with Merkel topping the table for three consecutive years ― Park was listed as 11th.

From the perspective of Park who leads one half of the divided Korean Peninsula, she can learn something from Merkel whose country attained national reunification in 1990.

They are also close ― Park dubbed Merkel as a role model. The German chancellor was one of the first world leaders who congratulated Park’s political success.

Just after Park won the presidential race last December, Merkel called Park to invite the latter to Berlin in 2013, the invitation was accepted by Park.

The official schedule is not fixed yet but political analysts expect that she may fly to Berlin in November when she has a state visit to the United Kingdom.

Park also had one-one-one meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev to discuss ways of strengthening relationships.

Health Mania : Phytoestrogen, is it natural and safe?

By Lee Hye-jun

Suddenly an intense heat hits all over the head and neck. On top of being unpleasant, it is embarrassing to be the only one sweating in the room. Knee joints ache, but doctors do not find anything wrong. It is hard to get sound sleep at night. It hurts during sexual intercourse, and sometimes bleeding occurs.

Menopause brings various kinds of discomfort to women, mostly caused by estrogen deprivation. The introduction of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was sensational. It cured them all. It not only reduced menopausal discomfort, but it also seemed to revive women’s youth. But in 2002, the tragic news came out; the risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease was reported to increase in HRT users. It was later revealed that the previous report contained major errors and the researchers say the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks. Yet, women are still reluctant to get HRT. Instead, they began to look for something more “natural.”

Phytoestrogens, extracted from plants (phyto means plant in Greek), are structurally similar to estrogens. The most well-known among them is isoflavone found abundantly in soybeans and red clover; women must have heard at least once that soybeans are good for them. Therefore it was suggested that phytoestrogen can replace HRT’s role in reducing hot flushes and cardiovascular protection. Additionally, they believe that as a “natural” product, phytoestrogen should be harmless unlike HRT.

Phytoestrogen sounds attractive to menopausal women. They want to stay young and get rid of all the menopausal symptoms, but they don’t want any of the risk of HRT either. But with phytoestrogen, what is there to lose? The worst thing that can happen is to waste some money.

Actually, phytoestrogen can be harmful. To begin with, its effectiveness against menopausal symptoms as well as the safety is not proven. The results of studies vary, but in most of the well-designed ones phytoestrogen was no better than a placebo in reducing hot flushes and improving cardiovascular function. Also, whether phytoestrogen imposes any health risks is unknown. Moreover, soy is one of the most common sources of allergies, putting some women at serious risk. Furthermore, the preparations of phytoestrogen may contain a mixture of unlabeled ingredients in unclear concentrations. Thus, taking phytoestrogen is not a nothing-to-lose-option.

In recent studies, the researchers found that HRT is likely to induce the growth of existing cancer cells in breasts rather than new tumor cells, resulting in a mild form of cancer. So breast cancer patients after HRT survived longer than patients without an HRT history. In addition, when used at the early stage of menopause, HRT can provide cardiovascular protection.

We all feel drawn to something “natural.” It sounds more physiologically safe. But we should look closely at which is truly physiologically safe — a mixture of unknown ingredients that has no proven effect or harm, or a well-defined component with minimal amount of estrogen and progestin that have proven benefits and known risks? The latter sounds better to me.

The writer is a doctor at Maria Fertility Hospital in Seoul. For further questions, send an e-mail to the writer at, or call the hospital’s English-speaking coordinator at (02)2250-5577, or visit the hospital’s website,

Incheon Archipelago Yields Desert-like Islet


Desert islets that almost magically grow out of the sea are few and far between, but a day trip to Daeijak Island near Incheon affords precious access to one, as well as superb views of the surrounding sea from its various peaks.

It takes about two hours to reach Daeijak from ferry terminals in either Incheon or nearby Daebu Island. Upon arrival, visitors are advised to check the time of the tides and head straight to the southwest of the island so they are within view of Puldeung islet -- a huge sandbar that comes into view at low tide, measuring 5 km by 1 km. As most ferries reach Daeijak when the tide is ebbing, this should be considered the first sightseeing stop of any tour here.

For the best views of Puldeung, head to the middle of Daeijak and look for the totem pole near its main intersection. Once here, turn right to Jageunpulan Beach.

Tickets to enter the islet can be purchased here, with ferries leaving regularly from its wooden promenade. It is only a short journey to Puldeung, which, due to the blazing sun at this time of year, makes visitors feel as though they have arrived in the middle of a desert encircled by the sea.

As the islet is fully submerged once a day, it retains its pristine nature. Visitors can soak up the scenery for a maximum of three hours before taking the boat trip back to the larger island.

Jageunpulan Beach also has its fair share of attractions. This small but popular spot commands great views and offer plenty of amenities and accommodations.

Most of the beaches on the island have gentle slopes and fine sand, making them safe for kids to play on and enjoy water activities there. Camping sites with restrooms and clear drinking water are also available in its pine forest that opens onto several beaches.

One of the island's highest slopes, Mt. Bua, contains a park with an octagonal pavilion and an observatory granting panoramic views of neighboring islands such as Soijakdo and Seungbongdo.

Daeijak is also a decent destination for climbing enthusiasts. Some people arrive here in the morning and climb Mt. Bua (159 m) and Mt. Songi (188.5 m) before heading home in the afternoon. It takes just three or four hours to walk along the gentle mountain ridges.

Those who prefer exploring every nook and cranny of the island can bring their own tents and stay overnight, giving them more time to sunbathe, fish, barbecue or drink with friends in a picturesque setting for some unforgettable memories.

Visitors are advised to bring their own equipment and food and beverages as prices are higher than on the mainland. But daily necessities, sodas and alcohol beverages can be purchases easily at kiosks on the pier and beaches.

There is no public transportation on the island, but those who reserve rooms or other accommodation facilities can enjoy private pickup services. Ferry tickets to the island can be booked online at


Experience The Changing Ecosystems on Wetland Treks and Tours of Korea


Korea is known for its four distinct seasons. Each has its distinct charms and properties, giving rise to changing ecosystems depending on the time of year as different flora and water plants sprout up and color the landscape. It is best to observe the lotus blossom and other water plants, for example, between the months of August and October.

Wetland Tours in Ulsan

With an eco tour program around the constructed wetlands in the Hoiya Dam, the city of Ulsan in the southeastern part of the country is now one of best places to get closer to nature around this time.

A local guide conducts the tours around a 4.6-km circuit while also providing clear explanations of the history, topography, flora and fauna of the landscape. As there is little natural shade and the terrain can at times be a little challenging to navigate, hiking boots or sturdy sneakers, cold drinks and baseball hats or sun visors are strongly recommended.

Access to the wetlands is restricted to protect the environment and its wildlife, meaning that just 100 people can visit the area each day by signing up for one of the tours, which only run for a certain period. The dense forest of tall trees retains a pristine charm and provides a refreshing atmosphere as visitors stroll along a trail inside it.

After walking for about 30 minutes, the wetlands come into view. Lotus flowers grow over a 50,000 sq.m area, while a larger field of reeds stretches for a breathtaking 123,000 sq.m. Some 40 species of aquatic plants, such as sweet flag and water snowflake, are grown here. Visitors sometimes receive free gifts of powdered lotus roots that have been cultivated and processed in the area to take home as keepsakes.

For more information about the free tour program, visit the city's website at

◆ Mt. Soimi Eco-Village in Busan

Those who are interested in learning more about a remote village's ecosystem can attend free classes on this subject at a beautiful location on Mt. Soimi in Busan's Dongnae-gu every Saturday from April to October.

Eco-tours from the village to nearby wetlands are also available. On the first and third Wednesdays of each month during this period, students often head there on field trips, while group and family tours take precedence on the second and fourth Saturdays.

More information can be found at

◆ Junam Wetlands Park in Changwon

Junam Wetlands Park in Changwon serves as the nation's largest habitat for migratory birds due to optimum conditions as the water here does not freeze in winter. Visitors can watch them nestle and feed among the reeds and ponds.

For more information, visit the park's website at


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Korean Cool: How the Tiger Peninsula is Seducing the World

Stroll around most major North American cities and you’ll find a large community of Korean restaurants and stores that illuminate the downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods. Chances are you’ll find a large library of Korean film in your local video store if you live in an eclectic hub like Montreal, or if you happen to be visiting Japan, you’ll get to see one of K-pop’s hottest quartets 2AM at K-Fest Summer!an event entirely devoted to the media phenomenon. From university Korean Societies to entire communities of expats and second generations, the presence of Korean culture is loud, strong, and welcomed with open arms around the world.

Korean Cuisine a Cosmopolitan Hit

Korean cuisine is one of the most popular cultural exports showing up on the menu of trendy eats today. Healthy and delicious, bulgolgi, gimbap, mandoo and kimchi grace the tables in restaurants which are cropping up in every borough, where establishments strive to produce a fine-dining experience with a peaceful and classy ambience resonating Korean cool. It’s become a staple of cosmopolitan education, with westerners striving to perfect their palate, master the use of chopsticks, and turn their hand to making Korean recipes at home – made easier by the increasing number of Korean markets, catered to everyone.

Pop Culture & Entertainment

But food isn’t just the only aspect of Korean culture to take the world by storm. The K-pop industry is a booming economy, generating more than 700 million US dollars per year. Sensations like Super Junior, Big Bang, SNSD and soloists like Rain and Hyorin are just a few of the big-star names to hit the charts, not to mention the smash wonder “Gangnam Style” by Psy, scoring over 2 billion views on YouTube and followed by a wave of fan-made tributes. Glamorous looks, skilled choreography and passionate lyrics in the form of ballads and beats have captured the hearts of youngsters everywhere, evolving into its own unique subculture.

In the same vein, Korean dramas are becoming another sought-after commodity on television networks and online. From the historical epics to contemporary romance, “drama fever” has been raging overseas with avid followers in China, Japan, the Philippines, and America with its highly-charged characters and conceits, and a powerful theatricality which has become so provocative to global audiences. Its literary counterpart, Korean animation or Han-guk Manhwa Aenimeisyeon, is promising to make a big splash in the cartoon world this year with its UK debut The King of Pigs inspired by Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River.

Cinema of Korea

Without a doubt, Korean cinema has achieved mightier success with the Korean film industry valued at approximately $1.4 trillion US in 2012. The juxtaposition of the brutal and beautiful in thrillers like Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy, (2004 Cannes Festival Grand Prix Winner) has ignited a long-list of masterpieces occupying record stores, mainstream venues, and international film festivals. Now, cities on the other side of the world are devoting their entire program to Korean content; from summer celebrations in Toronto, Canada to The London Film Festival coming up in autumn, people want more of this poignant art form which eludes competing industries. Recognition from leading universities, directors and actors have helped to cement Korea’s artistic legacy onscreen, as well as invoking Hollywood to take on bleaker, more complex imagery itself.

Art, Architecture, & Music

Yet film isn’t the only genre to ride the Korean Wave. Korea’s magnificent history of traditional and modern art is dominating exhibits and living rooms worldwide. From the ground-breaking work of Nam June Paik to the Korean Bell Gardens at Meadowlark in Virginia, US, more people are seeking to fulfill their curiosity surrounding Korean culture, even imitating it. Workspaces, cafes, and homes from abroad are adopting a Korean décor and filling their spaces with Korean art, while ambitious architects construct new buildings which suggest a hint of Korean flavor and lobbies are lulled to the haunting tones of a Korean folk tune, yet another export which has received popular applause thanks to the likes of soprano Jo Sumi and others.

Hungering for Sport

Since Korea co-hosted and dominated the 2002 World Cup, the world has shifted its eyes towards the peninsula. National team captain and Manchester United midfielder Park Ji Sung has enjoyed a rapturous response from English fans as well as at home. Olympians Park Tae-Hwan and compatriot Kim Yuna have stunned audiences with their spectacular performances, while mountaineer Oh Eun-Sun crossed a milestone for women by becoming the first female explorer to scale the world’s tallest peaks. Korea’s soccer and baseball teams continue to set the bar high and show the world what perseverance, persistence, and passion can achieve. Be it Taekwondo – the national sport which enjoys great popularity in the West – or pro-gaming for the strategy-based game Starcraft, Korea’s role is ever-increasing the multiculturalism – as well as the caliber – of the sporting world.

Community At Home and Abroad

It’s not just about icons and mass-media, though. While not exclusively Korean, Buddhism and Confucianism have influenced the habits and practices of much of the world. With a highly capitalist society striving to find meaning, people are turning further east to find answers for their daily struggles. Temples, classes, and courses are now regular aspects of cosmopolitan city life, and several bookstores and libraries accommodate this curiosity by supplying a comprehensive spirituality section geared toward newcomers with a western perspective.

Leading the Way

The love-affair with Korean culture has drawn in people who to experience it first-hand as well, with more than 11 million overseas visitors making the peninsula their destination of choice in 2012. Due to economic and corporate investment, the country has also attracted native English teachers – primarily from Canada, Australia, and the US to make Korea their home for a few years. Thanks to an excellent health care service for visitors, bilingualism, efficient transportation system and friendly, helpful people, Korea has become one of the most accessible destinations in East Asia. The great health service provision is of importance to many visitors and ex-pats, who take advantage of local facilities as well as additional health resources online. It’s one of the best choices for working abroad, attracting the best young minds of the west while Korea continues to implement its own innovative ideas with industry-leading powers like Samsung (with a net worth of over $200 billion and Apple’s best competitor in the tablet generation) and car manufacturers like Hyundai.

While Korea continues to pave the way for the future, more global companies, institutions and organizations look for Korean minds. An unbeatable work-ethic and desire for perfection, as well as the vast trove of historical and cultural treasures which are distinct to Korean heritage have enriched and enlightened the lives of millions of people all across the world, and will continue to do so for generations to come.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Actor Lee Sang-yoon finally graduated from Seoul National University (SNU) on Thursday. It has been 13 years since he first set foot on the university’s Gwanak campus.

Lee attended the the graduation ceremony where he received his diploma along with the rest of the class of 2013.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Folklore - treasure trove of cultural content

Professor Kim Byong-sun of Korean Literature at the Academy of Korean Studies
By Kim Byong-sun

“Hallyu” does not simply imply extending the domain of Korean culture into the world. It is sharing Korean life and cultural resources that have been produced throughout Korean history with the peoples of the world. Although cultural content made in Korea is now being highlighted overseas, a true “Korean wave” should be what contains Korean taste. I believe hallyu cannot be simply defined by the geographical origin of cultural content. Especially, Korean dramas that have been exported and gained popularity among foreigners have taken their subject matter from historical recordings, such as “The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty.”

I have worked in the University of Pécs in Hungary for a year as a visiting scholar. At that time, a Korean drama named “Dong-I” was being aired by a Hungarian public broadcasting company. The local people I met were interested in Joseon Kingdom’s royal court system and what actually happened in history.

How the manufacturers of cultural content were able to access such sources was because our ancestors, especially in the royal court, had the custom of exhaustive recording, that such historical recording written in Hanja was translated for the general public in modern “hangeul,” and that it was digitalized in this new era.

Another source for such cultural content is our folklore. Even though they are now fading due to diverse dramas provided by the mass media, traditional tales and legends were created and transmitted along with the life of the Korean people through thousands of years. Folklore that strongly reflects life consists of the joys and sorrows of Koreans along their dreams and passions. People all over the world are able to sympathize with such a spiritual heritage. Folktales and fairy tales that are orally transmitted among the general populace are simple in content. However, as they are closely related to the very basic sentiments of the people, they can be accepted worldwide.

As the Academy of Korean Studies (the Academy) recognized the importance of such folklore, it began researching and collecting Korean folklore in the 1980’s and published it in a “book” comprising 83 volumes. This, “The Complete Works of Korean Oral Literature,” as it is called, is accepted as one of the major cultural projects to have taken place since the independence of Korea. The work was done to transcribe folktales that had been orally transmitted and publish them. For a certain period of time, Korean television programs that dealt with Korean legends reproduced parts of this work as dramas, providing Korean people with something interesting to watch.

Through the Korean Studies Digitalization Project done by the Academy, this content was digitalized and all of its components have been constructed into a database that is accessible via the Internet. This database contains around 15,000 folktales, which are categorized into standards invented by the Academy, and provides an opportunity not only to read the text form of the tales, but also to listen to a verbal form. However, as the budget provided by the government was cut short, the project was only conducted on a third of South Korean territory.
Fortunately, as a new folklore collecting project was chosen as a part of the Ministry of Education’s Korean studies promotion, the research continued on the rest of the land from 2008, and most folklore scholars nationwide are participating in it. This time, the project to be conducted for 10 years was adjusted to the advanced environment. Voices were recorded with the sound quality of a CD, while some of the content is being recorded with digital video cameras. From the very beginning of the survey, the digitalized content is stored on the server of the Academy via the Internet. The content can be searched not only from a desktop computer but also various mobile instruments. When we are finally able to collect content from North Korea and overseas Koreans, The Complete Works of Korean Oral Literature will compile a vast accumulation of folklore from the Korean people.

While the folklore is being surveyed, collected and digitalized, there is also an ongoing project to translate the metadata and to categorize it into internationally accepted standards, and to select and modernize the representative work. In the “International Conference on the Asian Folklore Digital Network” between Korean, Chinese and Japanese scholars held in 2011 at the Academy, all the participants acknowledged the advanced database of Korea and agreed in principle on establishing an interchange system between the three countries. Although there are countries that are more advanced than us in collecting folklore content, the Korean technique of digitalizing the content has developed to a level where many countries are taking a major interest in it. Should the plan to survey and research Korean folklore by digitalization succeed, this would contribute greatly in comparing our folklore content with foreign content. This is important as international exchange of folklore was not rare even in a time when transportation and communication was undeveloped.

As I am responsible for the revision and enlargement of The Complete works of Korean Oral Literature, I believe it is fortunate that such a cultural resource of my people is being preserved in digital form in this era of knowledge and information. I also hope that the content collected by scholars and students all over the country, who are visiting villages here and there, will be put into practical use as a new cultural resource for hallyu.

The writer is a professor of Korean Literature at the Academy of Korean Studies.

Source: The Korea Times

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Korea’s cultural ‘Davos’ CCF to start Sept.1

Participants try out Korean traditional cuisine at Si.Wha.Dam Seoul, in this Sept. 6, 2012 file photo.
/ Courtesy of Corea Image and Communication Institute

Choi Jung-wha
President of Corea Image and
Communication Institute
James Suckling
Wine expert
Jair Oliveiria
Brazil’s foremost samba and jazz musician
Gabrielle Trainor, chairman of Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive
Actor and director Park Joong-hoon
By Kim Ji-soo

Culture has a special place in the Park Geun-hye administration. In her inaugural address, she put emphasis on achieving “cultural flourishing,” and a government-supported panel on cultural flourishing has been launched as well. It’s a timely acknowledgement of the rise of Korean culture and the popularity of “hallyu” or Korean wave.

“There is a lot of anticipation, more so with this year’s Culture and Communication Forum (CCF). We are hoping to turn the CCF 2013 into a stepping stone for cultural flourishing,” said Choi Jung-wha, president of Corea Image and Communication Institute (CICI). Choi is also the president of the organizing committee for the CCF2013. James Bemowski is the vice president of the organizing committee.

The CICI will host the 2013 Culture and Communication Forum from Sept. 1 through Sept. 3 in Seoul under the theme: “Old vs. New:Presenting the case for traditional or modern culture—First Mover, Fast Follower.”

Choi has said in previous interviews that Korea stands both economically and culturally at a point where it must think whether it will continue to fast follow or move first.

“Also, I can feel the participants’ love for Korea deepen every year,” said Choi. “Some joked whether they would get to see Psy this year. I hope the CCF will help spark a deeper and broader interest in Korean culture for those whose interest first began with ‘hallyu.’”

To that end, before the day-long conference on Sept. 3 that will be held at Westin Chosun’s Lilac Room, participants will experience Korean royal cuisine with Han Bok-ryeo as well as contemporary Korean food with chef Kang Leo. They will also have a chance to experience Korean architecture as well as a variety of performances from around the world, from traditional Korean music performances such as “gugak” as well as Brazilian samba music.

The CCF 2013 will see the gathering of 16 specialists in the field of culture and arts from around the world. The event will be hosted by the CICI and supported by Samsung Electronics, Asiana Airlines and Pernod Ricard.

Participating in this year’s CCF are the top experts in music, film, literature and publishing, food and wine. The participants include the world-renowned wine expert James Suckling and Paolo de Maria, owner chef of Paolodemaria and La Taverna, Brazil’s foremost samba and jazz musician Jair Oliveiria, Mexico’s painter and choreographer Luis Arreguin, French writer and curator Ludovic Burel.

Heads of cultural bodies including Joachim Sartorius, head of the Goethe Institute will be attending the three-day event. Gabrielle Trainor, chairman of Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive, Natalia Sipovskaya, director of the State Institute of Art in Moscow, Helun Firat, managing partner of Cer Modern Center for Modern Arts in Turkey and Andrew Pettie, head of culture for the Daily Telegraph will also attend.

From Asia, leading figu­ res in field of fashion and performance have been invited. They are Tian Qinxin, director of the National Theater of China, Kazuko Umewaka, CEO of Umewawka International involved in Japanese traditional Noh productions, Archan Kapoor, publisher of Hard News and an independent filmmaker, and Lisa Mihardja, a batik designer from Indonesia will attend.

From Korea, actor and director Park Joong-hoon will partake in the forum.

Choi said that she is encouraged by the response that the participants show after the conference, where they will return to respective countries and take initiative in hosting Korean culture-related events such as “hansik” or the Korean food festival that was held in Mumbai and New Delhi in September 2011. That festival was the creation of Hemant Oberoi, executive chef at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in India who was a previous CCF participant.

In the days leading up to the main conference,they will visit Changdeok Palace, Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, Leeum Museum and the Hyundai Card Design Library.

The CCF, in its fourth edition this year, was launched at the G20 Seoul Summit. Since then, it has established itself as the cultural and communication forum to promote Korea and Korean content overseas.
Source: The Korea Times News