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제목 [문화소통 포럼 CCF] [INTERVIEW] CICI festival brings out similarities, diversities between Korean and foreign cultures [The Korea Times 2018-08-30]
글쓴이 webmaster 조회 605 등록일 2018.09.04
By Jung Da-min

The CICI, an international fraternity led by Prof. Choi Jung-hwa of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, again brought together interesting people from around the world for its annual 9th Cultural Communication Forum's Wednesday night event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul.

There were 10 delegates from 10 countries, including U.S. comic writer Amy Chu and best-selling Israeli author Eran Katz. About 250 people from all walks of life were there to see them.

Former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris and Korean Culture and Information Service Director Kim Tae-hoon were among the dignitaries. 

According to CICI's survey of 214 foreigners and 222 Koreans on what images promoted Korea, the April 27 inter-Korean summit and the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games topped the list. 

Director of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games opening and closing ceremonies Song Seung-hwan was honored during the event with a K-culture communication award, the first by CICI, while winners of CICI's second annual video and photography contest were also honored.

Various activities added to the night's fun, including a tasting of traditional Korean beef jerky, the Guinness record holder for memory Eran Katz's number memorization presentation, traditional Pansori and a lottery drawn by actor Ahn Sung-ki.

The night concluded the CICI's Culture Communication Forum (CCF), held on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, delegates also enjoyed traditional Korean royal foods at a luncheon held by the traditional culture research center ONJIUM. They tasted Korean beef jerky at a dinner hosted by Korean traditional food researcher Kim Jung-ja, who is also one of the cultural delegates.

The following are interviews with three first-time visitors to Korea among the 10 delegates to the forum on the image of Korea. ― ED. 

First female professional "jamon slicer" Esther Sobrino of Spain

Esther Sobrino. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min
"Korean dishes reflect the country. They are healthy, nutritious and rich in flavors as Koreans mix different flavors," Esther Sobrino, the first female professional "jamon slicer" from Spain said. "I think Koreans have an intelligent palate."

Although it is her first visit to Korea, Sobrino's relationship with the country began before she joined the jamon business six years ago: She used to work for a marketing company advertising Samsung products.

As a long-time watcher and a first-time visitor to the country, Sobrino said she found cultural similarities between Korea and Spain.

"I think the social and cultural experience of Spain fits perfectly into your society," she said. "As Koreans have kimchi, we have jamon, and both of the foods take a long time before we put them on the table."

Indian documentary producer and photographer Benoy K. Behl

Benoy K. Behl. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min
If Korea and Spain share the same tastes, Korea and India have a similar philosophy, Indian documentary producer and photographer Benoy Behl said.

"I think philosophical similarities between the two countries have not been explored as much as they deserved to be explored," Behl said. "India and Korea have deep connections in their cultural roots, which we have forgotten, as we have been focusing so much on Western culture."

As a cultural historian, Behl said he also found that Korea is at a crossroads, where there is a great deal of modernization while some of the traditional culture is still surviving.

"Modernization and commercialization have already become parts of your culture, but Korea should not lose its own traditional values such as discipline and diligence," he said. "Many Koreans I've met told me that modernization in the country is going to the extent where families are not being created and children not being made. Koreans should be looking and exploring their identities, and cultural exchanges can provide such opportunities."

Chinese art critic and curator Qilan Shen

Qilan Shen. Korea Times photo by Jung Da-min
Another Asian delegate, Qilan Shen, an art critic and curator from China, also said Korea should look back on what it already has to build its cultural identity.

During her first visit to the country, Shen found that although many people say Korea and China share similarities, Korea has uniqueness. She found the delegation's visit to the Korean Furniture Museum most interesting.

"I think it's all about the philosophy behind it that makes the country's culture," Shen said. "Seeing Korea's traditional furniture gave me the idea of the Korean philosophy of pragmatism. For example, drawers at the museum had small windows, unlike the big windows of those in China, to adapt to the weather of the country where it's humid during summer and dry during winter."

As a curator, Shen said she wants to explore more museums in Korea.

"Korea's cultural identities are already all there; Koreans should look at what they have."
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