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Korean arts and culture arrive in European capitals

2012/02/18 | 350 views |  | Permalink | Source

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(left) Children showcase Taekwondo moves; (right) a bibimbap performance celebrated the opening of the Korean cultural center in Budapest (photos courtesy of KOCIS).

Last week, Korean arts and culture impressed two of Europe's culturally-rich cities, Budapest and Stockholm, on the occasion of the opening of the first Korean Cultural Center in Hungary and a Korea gallery in the Swedish capital.

The Korean Cultural Center in Budapest, Hungary opened its doors on February 10. The center's inauguration marked the opening of the 22nd overseas Korean Cultural Center and eighth on the European continent following branches in France, the UK, Germany, Russia, Poland, Spain, and Turkey.

Hungary is home to world-renowned composers such as Franz Liszt and Béla Bartók as well as several recipients of the Nobel Prize like Imre Kertész and Albert Szent-Györgyi. This culturally-rich nation has recently emerged as a country with high affinity for Korean contemporary culture, since one of Korea's most popular television dramas, Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace), became a major hit broadcast on Hungary's state-run station in 2008.

The history of Korea-Hungary relations dates back to 1989 when Hungary established diplomatic ties with Korea as the first East-European bloc nation, yet the initial bilateral cultural exchanges go back even further to the late 1930s, when Ahn Eak-tai, the composer of Korea's national anthem, came to Hungary to pursue his studies at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music.

The opening ceremony featured a series of performances ranging from traditional Korean music performed by members of the National Gugak Center to a taekwondo demonstration by Hungarian children, followed by a reception serving authentic Korean gastronomic delights. The evening of Korean culture and bilateral friendship was also attended by Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik and his Hungarian counterpart National Resources Minister Miklós Réthelyi.

The newly opened Korean Cultural Center is located in the center of the Buda part of the Hungarian capital, where it will run diverse cultural programs for the Hungarian public, including Korean language education, taekwondo classes, exhibitions, and cooking classes for authentic Korean cuisine. The center is also set to support Korean film, drama, or K-pop club activities for local communities, while paving the way for active person-to-person and cultural exchanges on both sides.

For more information, please visit the official website at: (English and Hungarian) or add the center to your Facebook page at: For a full list of overseas Korean Cultural Centers, click here:

Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik (above, far left) and King Carl Gustaf of Sweden attended the opening ceremony of the Korea Gallery at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm on February 11 (photos courtesy of KOCIS).

Meanwhile, a new permanent exhibition dedicated to showcasing Korean artistic traditions opened its doors on February 11 at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, one of the four annexes administered by Sweden's National Museums of World Culture.

The collections at the Korea gallery encompass an exquisite treasure trove of about 350 Korean artifacts, paintings, and decorative art objects, including donations acquired by King Gustav VI Adolf during his visit to Korea in 1926 as crown prince. For the inaugural exhibition, nearly 160 pieces, most of which are ceramics, were unveiled.

The installation of a new Korea gallery in a European museum follows the precedent of the British Museum and France's Guimet Museum, alongside the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne and the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg, Germany.

For more information, please visit the official website at: (English and Swedish).

By Hwang Dana Staff Writer

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