2017 CCF forum discusses image of Korea through eyes of the world

By Hong Dam-young
  • Published : Aug 29, 2017 - 19:24
  • Updated : Aug 29, 2017 - 19:24

A cultural exchange event discussing Korea’s image, seen through the eyes of the global community, took place in Seoul on Monday and Tuesday.

The eighth annual Culture Communication Forum 2017 brought together several leading figures in arts and culture from across the world to discuss “Korea’s image felt through sight,” at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Tuesday.

“I was born in Korea, and got adopted by a French family when I was 7 years old. I’ve been visiting Korea for the last seven years, and each time I visit the country, I can see that Korean culture is a fusion of tradition and modernity. And that’s what makes Korea stand strong to this day,” said French politician Jean-Vincent Place during a press conference. 

(From left) Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art co-founder Miriam Sun, photographer Bae Bien-u, WBZ Radio news anchor Rod Fritz, French Ecologist Party president Jean-Vincent Place, CICI president Choi Jung-wha, Belgian photographer Hughes Dubois, BBC journalist Francine Stock, Spanish photographer Tino Soriano and photographer Caroline Dubois attend a press conference for this year’s Culture Communication Forum organized by the Corea Image Communication Institute at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Tuesday. (CICI)

Participants of this year’s forum, ranging from politicians to journalists and photographers, got a taste of Korean culture by visiting cultural attractions Monday, including Jogyesa Temple, Choonwondang Museum of Korean Medicine, Hyundai Card Music Library and a nighttime visit to Gyeongbokgung.

A veteran US journalist, Rod Fritz, who is a news anchor and reporter for WBZ Radio CBS in Boston, said, “I’m a rookie here. What impressed me the most is that Koreans do not forget their past and heritage. And that is just very important.” He added that he especially enjoyed the Hyundai Card Music Library, where he got a glimpse of footage of big name artists.

Other cultural leaders at the forum included Spanish photographer Tino Soriano, BBC journalist Francine Stock, photographers Caroline Dubuois and Hughes Dubois, and Miriam Sun, co-founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai.

During interviews after the conference, the leaders went on to share how Korean culture is received on the international stage.

“Korean films have carved out their own places in British culture over the last decade. Films such as ‘Train to Busan’ and ‘Okja’ have become big hits as well, but I think ‘Handmaiden’ by Park Chan-wook has been the most successful Korean work here (UK),” said Stock, who also worked as a film critic.

“I think British people get enthralled by how Korean directors such as Park and Kim Ki-duk illustrate the complicated human instincts in such a vivid and honest way. In British films, violence is often described almost like a choreography with the aid of visual and sound effects, but Korean films show the violence as it is. Film is truly an influential cultural language,” she added.

Miriam Sun, who has been visiting Korea every year to promote exchange between Chinese and Korean artists, commented on how much traditional and contemporary art in Korea, such as works of video art by late Paik Nam-june, has been gaining ground in China. “In the past, traditional Korean art used to look similar to Chinese art, as the two countries share many cultural elements. But these days, I can confidently say that Korean art has changed a lot, establishing its own character that is incomparable to any other country. The Korean government is also doing a good job supporting its artists (to) promote their work internationally.”

Sun added that the Chinese government had also recently started to learn how to brand the country’s cultural values and promote its artists worldwide. 

From left, second row: WBZ Radio news anchor Rod Fritz, Spanish photographer Tino Soriano, Belgian photographers Hughes Dubois and Caroline Dubois, BBC journalist Francine Stock, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art co-founder Miriam Sun, Canadian Ambassador to Korea Eric Walsh, Spanish Ambassador to Korea Gonzalo Ortiz. From left, first row: Korean actor Ahn Sung-ki, photographer Bae Bien-u, Ambassador for Public Diplomacy Park Eun-ha, CICI president Choi Jung-wha, former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, Second Vice Minister of Culture Roh Tae-kang, French Ecologist Party president Jean-Vincent Place, CJ Co-chairman Sohn Kyung-shik and president of Cs Didier Beltoise pose at the dinner gala of this year’s Culture Communication Forum at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Tuesday. (CICI)

The forum also offered a chance to view the winning works of the Korea Through the Lens contest held from May 15 to July 16. Koreans and foreign nationals residing in the country submitted photos and videos that they felt best represented the country. The winners received their awards during the CCF gala dinner Tuesday.

The Grand Award went to calligrapher Kang Byung-in and photographer Lim Chae-wook for “Beautiful Korea and Hangeul.” The excellence award for videos went to “An Ode to Korea” by Erwan Vilfeu, CEO of Nestle Korea, and “Travel Diary, South Korea 2017,” a travel film recorded by Elodie Bouladon, a student at Le Rosey Boarding School. “Nature” by Peteris Vaivars, Latvian Ambassador to Korea, and “Marriage of Korea” by Curt Olson, a former CEO of ING Life Korea, were given excellence awards for photos. 

Some 300 opinion leaders from around the world attended Tuesday‘s gala dinner, including Roh Tae-kang, the second vice minister of the  Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, ambassadors from about 40 countries, former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, CJ Co-chairman Sohn Kyung-shik and Korean actor Ahn Sung-ki.

Corea Image Communication Institute has been hosting the annual Culture Communication Forum event since 2011, after the successful “The Culture 20,” a cultural exchange event held in 2010. The forum seeks to showcase the true essence of Korean culture by having international and domestic participants engage in a series of Korean cultural experiences.

By Hong Dam-young (