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People & Culture


December 2010




ISSN: 2005-2162

The Beauty of Korea Buyeo,

located in the west of Korea, was the third
capital of the ancient Baekje Kingdom
(c. 18 BC-AD 660) and is home to a great
number of historic sites dating from that
era. Featuring a variety of cultural
heritage sites, including fortresses, temple
sites and tombs, the Buyeo Historic Sites
were included on UNESCO’s Tentative
List of World Heritage Sites in January
2010. Recently, the Baekje Cultural Land
(pictured on this page), the first restored
Baekje palace in the country, was opened
to the public, providing a remarkable
insight into the heyday of Baekje culture.
Choi Ji-young
Gyeongju is one of the most historic cities G20 REPORT The Christmas season is not always a
in Korea. With its famous nickname “the The G20 Seoul Summit successfuly merry time for all. Here, some Koreans
ancient capital for a thousand years”, the ended on November 12. The leaders of are preparing special year-end parties
city evokes the glory of the Silla Dynasty. the G20 nations announced the “Seoul for charities and causes.
Action Plan”, an agreement to pursue
global financial stability.

DECEMBER 2010 VOL. 6 NO. 12
Kimchi is a “soul food” for Koreans.
Especially in late autumn or early winter, GLOBAL KOREA 40
people rush to make kimchi, or gimjang, Developing countries look to Korea for
to prepare for the winter season. outstanding government programs,
The eventful year of 2010 in review. KOREA As a young artist, Kang Young-min never Kim Joo-won is a Korea’s star ballerina.
economic projects, and practical,
featured several news issues throughout stops finding new subjects to capture in art. A natural-born talent, she nevertheless
effective approaches to education.
the year as a special feature each month. Inspired and driven to alter perceptions, he practices eight hours a day. It’s these
Read the stories behind the year’s events. believes art should reflect the real world. efforts that have made her the best.

PUBLISHER Seo Kang-soo,

Korean Culture and Information Service



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Over this year, KOREA has covered a wide

range of topics in its cover stories. To say
goodbye to 2010, here’s a look at all our top
topics this year, and what happened next.
by Seo Dong-cheol | photographs by Kim Nam-heon

Multibits Image (background); DTI Pictures, Yonhap News Agency, Kim Nam-heon,
Samsung Electronics, Topic Photo, Seoul Economy Daily, Yegam Inc., Victory
Production, AD Motors, Kim Nam-heon (clociwise from top left)
At the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, James Korean athletes now excel. In England, Park Ji-sung plays Dae Jang Geum, Korea’s TV shows, movies and music have on September. And the hotly anticipated sequel to Jump, pro-
Cameron’s blockbuster 3D hit Avatar refocused the world’s Premier League football with Manchester United; in the US, gained legions of fans in Japan, China and Southeast Asia, visionally called Martial Arts 2, is to be unveiled late this year.
attention on the power of great special effects — and Korea Choo Shin-soo plays baseball for the Cleveland Indians; and and now as far afield as Central Asia and Africa. In Europe, As interest in Korea’s culture has grown, so have the
was no exception. Indeed, 2009 was also a banner year for Shin Jiyai and Yang Yong-eun have made waves on, respec- Korean films have wowed the critics, with Im Sang-soo’s The number of people signing up to learn Korean and its unique
Korea’s computer graphics (CG) industry, with almost 20 tively, the women’s and men’s golf circuits worldwide. Maid and Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry picking up plaudits at written system, Hangeul. It is both a linguistic anomaly and
million spectators going to theaters to see domestic The Korean automobile industry is having a global this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France. And in the latter a big source of pride for Koreans. Comprising just 10 vowels
productions such as disaster flick Haeundae(or Tidal Wave) impact. Hyundai Motors has been particularly successful, half of this year, Korean girl groups such as Girls’ Generation and 14 consonants, the Korean alphabet can produce more
and sports comedy Take Off, both of which made heavy starting with practically no funding or technological and Kara started making a big splash in Japan, showing that than 11,000 sounds and is the only writing system in the
use of Korean CG technology. Now, Korea’s visual effects knowhow 40 years ago to become, by some measures, one of hallyu has got plenty of room to grow yet. world whose creation is clearly recorded in the history books.
industry is turning its attention overseas. With ideas and the world’s top five car makers today. Hyundai affiliate Kia As with automobiles, so with Korea’s electronics industry. In the 15th century, King Sejong the Great commissioned the
experience gleaned from domestic success, they are knocking Motors has also been making great strides of late, with Korean TVs, cellphones, washing machines and air condi- creation of a new alphabet better suited to the Korean
on the doors of the world cinema market, with the full positive media coverage in the US helping reposition Kia as tioners are all world beaters, and a host of other top products language than the Chinese characters that had been used up
backing of the Korean government. an increasingly innovative brand. The success of Korean cars — PCs, display units, cameras — are powered by compo- to that point. In doing so, he made the written language
The ongoing Visit Korea Year (actually three years, 2010 has come through constant improvements in quality, shrewd nents from Korean electronics powerhouses Samsung and more accessible than it had ever been, and sealed his place
through 2012) brought the globalization of Korean food to marketing and an exceptional ability to adapt to local LG. After decades in which Korean companies had to scrape as Korea’s greatest monarch.
the fore in 2010. With Korean food already gaining greater business and consumers conditions. In the face of global together technological knowledge from overseas, today, MBA Back to the present, and all eyes were on Korea last month
popularity in regions of the world with sizeable Korean economic woes triggered by the US subprime mortgage students, executives and engineers from around the world are when the G20 Seoul Summit was held. Though Korea had
populations, the government has embarked on a concerted crisis in 2008, Korean carmakers actually enjoyed substantial coming to Korea to learn the secret of its electronics success. already played host to major world events, most famously the
push to make the national cuisine as well known as that of growth, and are now looking to roar further ahead with their Not always considered part of hallyu, but no less wildly Summer Olympics in 1988 and the World Cup in 2002,
China, Thailand and other Asian culinary hotspots. Helping new ranges of eco-friendly cars. successful, are Korean “non-verbal” performances blending holding the G20 Summit truly symbolized Korea’s ascension
with this drive is the growing international hankering for It’s all a far cry from the Korean War, which began 60 years dance, acrobatics and physical comedy to exhilarating effect. from the periphery of the world economy to its center.
“slow food” — healthier, more natural alternatives to fast ago. Breaking out on June 25 in 1950, the subsequent three Set in a kitchen, Nanta thunders along to sped-up version of Presiding over critical discussions relating to the prevention
food — of which Korea’s fermented foods, most famously years of war turned most of the country into ruins and traditional Korean beats, while crime caper Jump splices of future financial crises and reducing global inequality
kimchi, are prime examples. What’s more, with Korea having resulted in the deaths of millions. From these most traditional Korean martial arts such as taekwondo with ensured that Korea had its hands full over the two-day meet-
its own analogs of dishes popular elsewhere — such as unpromising of beginnings, Korea set about transforming acrobatics. Gaining rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival ing. But as an opportunity to demonstrate its growing influ-
bulgogi(barbecued beef) and jeon(pancake) — a Korean food itself from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of Fringe in Scotland and now with their own, exclusive theaters ence on world affairs, the hosting of the summit was a true
is already gaining fans as an exotic and healthy alternative. the richest. In a little over 50 years, Korea went from receiving on Broadway in New York, these shows have almost single- watershed in Korean history.
The success of young Korean sports stars was also much large-scale foreign aid to becoming a donor, an achievement handedly put Korean theater on the world map. More This increasing international presence could also be seen in
in the news this year. The hot streak began at the Winter that was crowned this November when Korea became the recently, Miso has gained a lot of popularity among foreign KOREA’s other cover stories this year. Whether in film,
Olympics in Canada, when a country whose sole route to first Asian country to host the G20 Summit. crowds for its live-wire update of traditional Korean dance, Korean food, sports, electronics or Hangeul, Korea’s impact
gold had been short track, suddenly hit pay dirt with its speed Hallyu, or “Korean wave”, is another element of Korea’s folk songs and music. Adding breakdance to taekwondo and on the world has become ever-more apparent over the course
skaters and the extraordinary performances of figure skater modern culture that continues to shine. Beginning with Korean percussion and dance, Tal-The Legend of the Korean of 2010. To see how, here, we take a more in-depth look at the
“Queen” Kim Yu-na. Winter sports are just one field where slushy romance story Winter Sonata and historical drama Extreme Taekwondo Performance began its world tour in LA issues of KOREA over the past months.

06 2010 2010 07
smash hit espionage TV show Iris. And with each passing
year, the quality of CG technology gets better. KOREAN FOOD
Having built up their experience and knowhow, Korea’s
VFX companies are now looking to up their game by
competing with the best overseas. Industry experts
acknowledge, however, there’s a long way to go yet. Thanks in part to Visit Korea Year, from 2010 to 2012,
“What we need, for the time being, is a discreet approach,” interest in Korean food is on the rise. According to a survey
says Chang Seong-ho, CEO of Mofac Studio, a major VFX conducted by a daily newspaper last year, foreign residents in
company. “We plan to slowly work our way into the market, Korea most enjoy bulgogi(barbecued, marinated beef), galbi
and then, when we’ve made a bit of a name for ourselves, (beef short ribs) and bibimbap(a mixture of rice and
good opportunities will start looking for us.” vegetables). More recently, the Minister of Culture, Sports
In countries such as Canada, Australia, the UK and and Tourism surveyed foreigners to find out which foods are
Singapore, the government already has shaped policy to help top of the menu in Korean restaurants overseas. The results
nurture their domestic CG industries. Though currently play- were: kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew), bibimbap, hanjeongsik (a
ing catch-up, the Korean government recently announced its Korean “set lunch”), galbi, bulgogi, samgyeopsal(barbecued
“CG Promotion Plan for the Global Market,” and the pork), samgyetang(chicken and ginseng soup),
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism says it will invest naengmyeon(iced buckwheat or starch noodles),
200 billion won (US$174 million) in CG by 2013. Tax relief haemul-pajeon(Korean-style seafood pancakes),
programs are also on the way, as is a fund of 50 billion won to and ttoek(rice cakes).
help support domestic CG companies. To help smaller com- Today, dishes like these are becoming than just
panies gain access to top technology, the government will also exotic experiences in far-off restaurants. With more
provide support in funding costly facilities and programs, people around the world growing tired of fast food, slow
while enforcing market- food is looking to fill the gap. And Korea’s fermented foods There are various kinds of side
ing transit at American — most famously kimchi, but also soy sauce and bean pastes dishes in Korea, including
traditional liquors (top). Kimchi
Film Market and more. such as gochujang — are an ideal example, boasting unique, is the essence of Korean cuisine
KOREAN CG CONTINUES Of course, the CG (above). Foreign chefs, at an
multi-layered flavors and numerous health properties. “Infinite Taste of Seoul” in
industry is also working “Few foods quite as slow as Korean food,” says Professor September, concentrate during
TO PUSH BORDERS the conference (right).
hard to develop itself. Jeong Hye-kyeong from Hoseo University. “Korean soy sauce
Last May, three Korean and soy pastes are aged for over a year, sometimes even up to
Haeundae(or Tidal Wave) and Take Off were two of Korea’s VFX firms — DTI 60 years. For whatever reason, Koreans seem to be some of similar to chicken soup. Tteok, a cake made from ground and
biggest cinematic hits in 2009, selling almost 20 million Pictures, EON Digital the biggest slow-food lovers anywhere.” steamed rice or sticky rice, isn’t too far away from cakes you
tickets between them. Given that the total domestic audience Films and Insight Visual Most Korean dishes have fermented ingredients in them. might elsewhere in the world. Naengmyeon is simply cold
last year was 156 million, more than one in eight cinema — merged to form Bar the rice itself, which is generally just steamed, side dishes noodles, with samgyeopsal is just like small strips of thick
viewers saw one or both of these smash hits. Digital Idea Corporation. are usually spiced with doenjang, gochujang, soy sauce, salted bacon, served up with vegetables such as Korean lettuce.
Besides being Korean productions, perhaps the most With combined CG seafood and kimchi, which is just as good as a seasoning as it Determined to see Korean food take its place among major
important feature these films shared was their heavy use of experience in such hits is on its own. Kimchi-jjigae and doenjang-jjigae both contain world cuisines, the Korean government is helping out. Within
A still from the movie Take Off (above left).
homegrown VFX (virtual effects) technology, and CG (com- CG effects from the movie Forbidden as The Restless, Taegukgi kimchi and doenjang, and neither bibimbap nor meat are the next decade, the government says it wants Korean food to
Kingdom (above).
puter graphics) in particular. But they were far from the first and the monster movie, respectively complete without soy sauce or gochujang. be recognized as one of the top five in the world, and to
Korean films to do so: 2003’s Taegukgi and this year’s 71-Into The Host, they plan to Looking again at the 10 dishes named the most popular at increase the number of Korean restaurants overseas to 40,000
the Fire used CG to recreate the horrors of the battlefield, use their combined economies of scale and seek out opportu- overseas Korean restaurants, there is another common thread from the current 10,000. In May 2009, the “Korean
with The Restless (2006) and Haunters (2010) employed nities in overseas markets. Already, Korea is making a name besides fermentation. In their own way, many of them are a Globalization Promotion Committee,” a joint government-
Korean high-tech to fantastic and chilling effect. for itself in Asian markets, where domestic companies are variation on dishes that are known around the world. public initiative, was launched to lead the way.
The improvement of Korean CG expertise means it is now involved in joint productions with firms from China, Japan Take haemul-pajeon. Combining flour paste mixed with The private sector is pushing ahead as well. Foremost
possible to tell more stories than ever before. In the last few and elsewhere. Having made central contributions to CG oysters, squid and shellfish, then green onion and peppers, among its efforts has been Bibigo, a chain of Korean
years, Korean cinema and TV have made extensive use of new work on these films and TV shows, it hopefully won’t be too this Korean concoction is fried in a pan to produce some- restaurants, which food conglomerate CJ Foodville said in
technology to create dazzling sets or ornate stunts in shows long before the wider world is paying attention to Korea’s thing akin to pizza or pancakes. Samgyetang, favored during May it plans to open in the US, China, Singapore and
KM Culture (top left); DTI Pictures (left)
Multibits Images (circle); Yonhap News Agency (above right)

such as 2008 historical drama, The Legend, or this year’s special effects masters, too. the summer for its supposed regenerative properties, is quite elsewhere around the world.

08 2010 2010 09
skating races, respectively. It was the first time in Winter
Olympics history that the men’s and women’s golds in the KOREA MOTORS AROUND
500m had been won by one country.
However, the highlight was the breathtaking performances
of Kim Yu-na. Chalking up a record-breaking score of 228.56,
Kim won the gold medal in figure skating and the admiration Korea’s success in the car-making industry has been little
of the world’s media. Canada’s Vancouver Sun called Kim a short of dazzling. In the space of three decades, since Korea
“breathing work of art,” while AP described her program as began exporting cars, its auto companies have been
“skating fast as the wind, landing soft as a feather, sliding transformed from the butt of jokes to world beaters. Just a
across the ice like notes on music.” few years ago, major auto makers would never have imagined
It’s not just in winter games when Korea flexes its sporting that the likes of Hyundai-Kia would be breathing down their
muscles. Since the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Park Ji-sung has necks, but in markets from Brazil to the US to Europe, they
excelled overseas, first with PSV Eindhoven of the are doing exactly that.
Netherlands, and since 2005, with Manchester United in the Much of the change took place the beginning of the
English Premier League. Park has since paved the way for a decade, when Korean cars, long known for their low cost,
series of Koreans at top European clubs: Park Chu-young started taking quality management seriously too. As a result,
with AS Monaco in the French league Ligue 1, Lee Chung- Hyundai jumped from the bottom of the car quality survey
yong with England’s Bolton Wanderers, and Ki Sung-yueng by JD Power, a market research firm, in 2001, to top last year.
and Cha Du-ri at Celtic in Scotland. When asked which up-and-coming car brand poses the
As Park Ji-sung led the way in football, so did Park Chan- biggest threat, auto executives will usually point to Hyundai.
ho in baseball. Now with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Park’s career While many companies reeled in the recent financial crisis,
has started a string of Korean players in the pro leagues of the Hyundai-Kia saw its overseas earnings jump thanks to the
US and Japan. Of the current crop, Choo Shin-soo of the weak won, and then plowed this windfall back into some
Cleveland Indians enjoys the greatest success, with a batting highly innovative marketing. The most inspired initiative was Besides Hyundai-Kia, other car firms based in Korea are
average of 0.3 and membership of the “20-20 Club” (hitting undoubtedly the “Assurance Program,” in which Hyundai-Kia also thriving on the international stage. GM Daewoo and
20 home runs and stealing 20 bases in a season). promised to buy the car back if the owner lost his or her job Renault Samsung are both proving invaluable as strategic
In golf, Park Se-ri blazed a trail for Korean golf. Since her in the 12 months after purchase, or to waive payments on the bases for their respective parent companies while helping to
debut year on the US LPGA tour in 1996, Park has won an car for three months while the owner looked for work. In a promote Korean brands overseas. Ssangyong, creator of
KOREAN ATHLETES REACH incredible 24 tournaments, a feat that secured her a place in sickly auto market, Hyundai went from strength to strength. Korea’s first ever station wagon, the Korando Family, back in
the women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Though Korean men have Hyundai has also worked hard to improve its brand name. 1988, is maintaining its reputation as a solid maker of SUVs.
FOR THE STARS not been as successful overall, Yang Yong-eun made golfing By advertising the luxury Genesis sedan at halftime during Korea’s auto makers are now looking to stay at the
history last year, beating Tiger Woods to claim the US PGA the Superbowl and other Hyundai cars throughout the vanguard of the auto industry with ever more environmen-
At the Vancouver Winter Olympics this year, Korea’s athletes crown, the first time an Asian player has won a major Academy Award ceremony, Hyundai did much to position tally friendly models. Hyundai made its first foray into the
had their day in the sun. Prior to 2010, Korea had never championship. itself strongly in the minds of American consumers. The world of electric cars last September with the Blue On, and
excelled in any winter sports except short track, but this time, Today, a new generation of women golfers, dubbed the results, according to Global Insight, an economic research the government has recently announced plans to promote
speed skating and figure skating yielded a string of medals “Seri Kids,” is going strong. Shin Jiyai ranked number one in firm, have been impressive: From 6.1% of the global car mar- electric cars from 2012. With Korean auto brands stronger
too. The success began with 22-year-old Lee Seung-hoon prize earnings on the women’s tour last year, and another ket in 2005, Hyundai-Kia’s share grew to 6.4% in 2006 and than ever, the timing couldn’t be better for a big push into
came from nowhere to win the silver Korean player, Choi Na-yeon, is clipping at her heels. 7.7% in 2009. This year, it is expected to top 8%. the “blue ocean” of eco-friendly cars.
in the men’s 5,000m speed skating Crucial to the success of Korean auto firms has been their
Figure skating star Kim Yu-na Brand new Kia
race. And in an event traditionally gives a performance at long-standing policy of adapting their operations to local cars on display at
dominated by bigger Europeans or “Samsung’s 2010 All That a flagship factory
Skate Summer Ice Show” on
needs. When Hyundai-Kia first began building factories over-
in Georgia, US
North Americans, Lee went one bet- July 25 in Korea (above). Park seas, it went to great lengths to explain why the factories were (above). Korea’s
Tae-hwan, a swimming star eco-friendly
ter in the 10,000m, taking the gold. and triple champion at the being located there and how they would benefit locals. In
electric concept
The good times continued in the 16 Asian Games in addition, by rolling out new or modified models for specific car, Aurora
Guangzhou, celebrates his 3 (right).
short distances, with Mo Tae-beom gold medal (right). Korean markets, Korea’s auto makers convinced their regional work-
and Lee Sang-hwa winning the national baseball team won ers that their factory was a key part of the overall picture, and
the gold medal at Guangzhou
Yonhap News Agency (opposite); Hyundai-Kia Motor Company (right above); AD Motors (right below)

men’s and women’s 500m speed Asian Games (far right). not just a production line for the Korean headquarters.

10 2010 2010 11
per capita income stood at US$67; today, it is well over graduate school at Chugye University for the Arts, says,
US$20,000. With the exception of the oil shock in the 1970s HALLYU, THE STORY “While the first stage of hallyu, the ‘made in’ era, was primari-
and the Asian currency crisis in the late ’90s, Korea’s GDP has ly concerned with where the production was made, we are
grown by an average of 6.8% every year since 1954. Between
CONTINUES now moving into the ‘made by’ era, which is more interested
1948 and 2007, the country’s trade volume rocketed from in the comapny producing the show. We are also increasingly
around US$230 million to US$728.3 billion, while its current When traveling to Southeast Asia or China nowadays, entering the era of ‘made for,’ in which the overriding
account balance leaped from US$23 million in 1950 to Koreans don’t have to wait long to see how big hallyu — the question becomes, “Who will like this production the most?”
US$5.95 billion in 2007. “Korean wave” of popular culture — really is. As soon as they In the meantime, Korean-made shows continue to have a
When overseas veterans of the war return to Korea, they land at the airport, chances are they’ll see the faces of Korean ready audience overseas. Playful Kiss, with hallyu superstar
are simply unable to recognize it. Where once there were stars staring back at them from advertising billboards. When Kim Hyun-jung, will soon air in eleven Asian countries. The
churned-up fields and rubble, now there are expressways they turn on the TV at their hotel, Korean soap operas show hot streak for historical dramas also continues, with shows
sprawled across the country and some of the fastest commu- almost back-to-back. In Hong Kong, the historical drama Dae like Chuno and Seongkyungwan Scandal being picked up in
nication networks in the world. Headquarters of electronics Jang Geum claimed an extraordinary 50% audience share, Japan and elsewhere.
giants Samsung and LG scrape the Seoul skyline, and send thus kickstarting the craze for Korea TV there. In the years In the world of pop, Korean girl groups Kara and Girls’
out cell phones, PCs and much else to countries around the since, TVs there have been saturated with a succession of Generation have recently made a splash in Japan. Having
globe. Elsewhere in the country, manufacturers churn out Korean hits: Full House, Iris, East of Eden, Here Goes Ajumma, already established themselves in China, Taiwan and
cutting-edge ships, semiconductors and displays. Looking at Infinite Challenge; the list goes on. Southeast Asia, this new success for K-pop groups marks yet
the glistening high-rises of Seoul, or the string of bridges It is not much different in mainland China. After Dae Jang another stage in the ongong story of hallyu.
crossing the Hangang River, or the 16-lane roads packed with Geum claimed an audience share of over 15%
brand new cars, it’s almost impossible to imagine that this is in 31 Chinese cities, the love affair with Korean shows was
a country that was devastated by war just six decades ago. well and truly on. Full House and Stairway to Heaven were
Korea is now the only country in the world to have both smash hits, and Korean stars increasingly started
changed from an aid recipient to a donor nation. From this popping up in Chinese productions.
year, Korea has begun playing an active role as a member of Now, however, hallyu has advanced beyond the Chinese-
the Development Assistance speaking world to Southeast and Central Asia, and even
Committee, helping both Africa. Egypt succumbed to hallyu fever as long ago as 2004,
developing countries and with the airing of Autumn in My Heart, while nearby Tunisia
FLOURISHING international aid organizations. switched on for Korean historical series such as Jamyeonggo.
The government has recently In Iran, following a 90% audience share for Dae Jang Geum,
RUINS TO RICHES announced it will increase up Jumong claimed 60%. In Uzbekistan viewers flocked to
the overseas development aid Garden of Wind, while in Mongolia, A scene from the hit
It is hard to overstate the impact of the Korean War, which budget to 0.13% of gross Temptation of a Wife caught the public drama Iris, starred
Choi Seung-hyun, as
began 60 years ago. A country was cut in half, and families domestic income. Having imagination. known as TOP of
were divided or even pitted against one another. Social order gotten through hard times Japan, perhaps the first country where famous boy group, Big
Bang (right above).
collapsed, infrastructure was completely destroyed, and with the generous help of other hallyu took hold, continues to enjoy its Actors and actress
from the famous drama
forlorn people wandered the streets in a desperate search for countries, Korea now knows it is share of Korean fare. Many believed the Boys Over Flowers
food. After it broke out on June 25, 1950, the armies of the Korean War veterans visited the time to give back. hallyu fire had petered out in Japan fol- (right).
country to commemorate this
North and South, then UN forces, then the Chinese Army th Though now widely known as lowing the runaway success of Winter
year’s 60 anniversary of the
entered the war, escalating it to ever greater heights of Korean War (left top). A commem- the “Forgotten War,” the Korean Sonata and Dae Jang Geum, but a string of other shows,
orative photography exhibition was
destruction and leaving millions dead. When hostilities held at Seoul Station in June (left War was a conflict that shaped including My Name is Kim Samsoon and Brilliant Legacy also
finally ceased three years and one month later, Korea was a above). A view of Cheonggyecheon, the lives of millions of people drew big audiences. More recently, historical dramas such as
central Seoul, is seen (above).
burned-out shell. around the globe. Young men Jumong and Queen Seondeok have been hits with Japanese
All this happened just 60 years ago, but to see Korea today, and women from 21 UN member nations helped and in men, who had previously remained largely impervious to the
it might as well have taken place on another planet. The many cases gave their lives to defend South Korea. Many charms of Korean TV shows.
statistics on South Korea’s remarkable recovery speak for reasons are given for South Korea’s post-war success, but the Released this year, the spy drama Iris has done much to
themselves. A population of 20.19 million in 1949 has fact remains that without the help of these people from redefine hallyu by using production companies from both
Ministry of Patriots & Veterans Affairs (left top); Taewon Entertainment (opposite right above); Creative Leaders Group Eight (opposite right)
Taewon Entertainment (right above); Creative Leaders Group Eight (right)

ballooned to 49.77 million in 2009. At the war’s end in 1953, around the world, Korea simply wouldn’t exist today. Korean and Japan. Professor Kim Hyu-jong, dean of the

12 2010 2010 13
success through innovation and
KOREA LEADING THE WAY hard work, the governmet has
played a key role in Korea’s
IN ELECTRONICS success. As an enthusiastic
adopter of “electronic govern-
ment,” or “e-government,”
Korea has agreed to jointly
develop an electronic public
administration system with the
UN’s Department of Economic
and Social Affairs. The system
will collect and provide basic
data on strategy, infrastructure
and assessments of individual
countries’ e-government An eyecatching
LG Electronics launched a full LED capabilities to each of the 192 scene from Fanta-
monitor in March (left). Samsung Stick (above).
Electronics’ smartphone, Galaxy S
UN member nations. KOREA’S SILENT ACTORS MAKE Jump shows
(above). Visitors to SK Telecom’s dramatic martial
The third element in Korea’s arts performances
ICT interactive hall,, see the A BIG NOISE WORLDWIDE
newest products in vehicle (below). electronics trifecta is its tech- (right).
savvy consumers. Endlessly
Certain spots in Seoul are at the top of every tourist’s list of looking for the newest gadget or technology, Korea’s They may be based on traditional Korean culture, but Korea’s addictive rhythms, Jump enthralled them with fantastic yet
places to visit: Dongdaemun market, for instance, or the consumers understand and adapt the latest products quickly, “non-verbal” performances are madcap and modern — and comical displays of martial arts. Also taking the Edinburgh
traditonal shops of Insadong, Gyeongbokgung Palace, too, is providing the country’s electronics companies with a ready- they’ve become smash hits worldwide. Festival Fringe by storm, Jump won the Award Winner, the
always a big draw. To that list, we can now add the city’s made testing ground. Debuting in 1997, Nanta, a live wire mix of traditional Comedian Award, the Cavalcade 2006 Best Walking Group,
cluster of dazzling electronics showrooms that show off With a depth of knowledge that would put many “experts” Korean rhythms and slapstick humor set in a kitchen, was the and a host of other prizes. Most importantly, Jump’s full
Korea’s high-tech prowess to the world. to shame, Korean consumers pounce on problems in new first non-verbal Korean show to be a hit with audiences houses throughout the festival earned it the coveted Sell-Out
At Samsung Electronics’ headquarters in Seocho, Samsung products and immediately post them on blogs or other online worldwide. When it first ventured beyond Korea’s shores, no Show award.
Delight, has welcomed more than 800,000 visitors since forums. Such is their influence that Korean firms now one knew how Nanta would play with foreign viewers. It had From there, Jump traveled to the Peacock Theater in
opening in 2008. Students from Japan and China, and MBAs routinely invite bloggers to media events or launches, and a hugely successful run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in London’s West End, where it sold out every single show.
from around the world have all come to take a look. In the seek out their opinions on the newest product lines. 1999, where it won the “Award for Best Performance,” put Just like Nanta, this success in the UK was then repeated
first half of this year, the exhibition’s visitors included 95 With this formidable combination of government, paid to any doubts. elsewhere, with a string of sell-out shows in Athens, Madrid,
groups from Japan, 192 from Southeast Asia, 216 from corporations and consumers, Korean electronics firms are By eschewing dialogue in favor of rattling drumbeats and Mumbai, Tokyo, Osaka, Barcelona, Bangkok, Hong Kong,
Chinese-speaking countries, 149 from Europe and 105 from now moving headlong toward the next big things: glasses-free highly physical performances, Nanta struck a chord with Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.
North America. And when they come, they are usually 3D TV, displays that can be bent or curved, phones that are audiences wherever it played. The media was swept along in Though not, as yet, on the same scale, Korea has produced
impressed by Samsung’s dazzlingly advanced ultra-slim 3D slimmer, lighter and faster than ever before. In the world of Nanta fever, too, and within three years, it had its own, several other shows with international appeal. Miso, a
TVs, mini notebooks, smartphones and much else. Korean electronics, the sky really is the limit. devoted theater in Seoul. In 2003, the show hit new heights retelling of the classic Korean love story, Chunhyang, using
Headed by Samsung and LG Electronics, Korean firms are when it took opened its own venue on Broadway in New traditional Korean dance, folk songs and music, has played to
leading the global electronics industry. They are, respectively, York. The following year, yet another Nanta theater opened over 550,000 people, of whom 85% were foreigners, since
the world’s No 1 and No 2 TV makers, and No 2 and No 3 in for business, this time off-Broadway. starting its run in Seoul 13 years ago. More recently, other
cellphones. At the same time, Nanta continued to tour the world, non-verbal performances such as The Ballerina Who Loved a
Even if you’re using products made by Nokia, Apple or playing to packed houses in Japan, Taiwan, China, the UK, B-Boy and Fanta-Stick have drawn big crowds of foreign
DELL, you only need open them up to find a component that France, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, and many other places tourists. Now looking to follow in Nanta’s and Jump’s
was “made in Korea.” Samsung and Hynix between them in-between. Last year, with performances in Tunisia, Nanta footsteps are shows such as Taal, based on traditional Korean
account for more than half the global DRAM memory joined the elite club of shows to have appeared on all six mask dances, and Tal-The Legend of the Korean Extreme
market, while Apple’s iPhone and iPad both rely on screens inhabited continents. Taekwondo Performance, which blends Taekwondo, b-boys
made by LG Display. In 2003, Nanta was joined by another fast-paced show and percussionists. Thirteen years since Nanta emerged,
LG Electronics (opposite top left); Samsung Electronics (opposite top right); SK Telecom (opppsite bottom); KJ Ent & Haera Inc. (above left); Yegam Inc. (above right)

Though Korea’s electronics giants have achieved their called Jump. But where Nanta entranced audiences with its Korea’s non-verbal performances have never looked better.

14 2010 2010 15
Korea now enjoys very high literacy rates, around 99%,
meaning that Koreans are still feeling the legacy of King G20 SUMMIT TAKES
Sejong today.
Hangeul’s distinctive character and history have made it
well-known to scholars and authors around the world. In the
foreword The Living Reed, her novel about life in Korea, Held in Seoul on November 11 and 12, the G20 Summit fixed
Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner Pearl S Buck wrote: the eyes of the world on Korea. With 33 leaders representing
“Hangeul is the simplest and the most splendid alphabet in 19 countries, the European Union, and the world’s top finan-
the whole world. By combining the 24 letters you can express cial and development organizations, the summit involved the
any sound that comes from a throat of a human being most powerful people in the world, discussing economic
accurately. King Sejong, with his deep and diverse talents, issues that would effect virtually everyone on the planet.
can be likened to Leonardo da Vinci.” The first G20 Summit took place back in 1999, when it
Jared Diamond, the noted author and a professor at comprised the G7 advanced economies, plus a representative
A Hangeul Writing Contest was held on
October 9 in Seoul, as a commemora- University of California, Los Angeles, is also a fan of Hangeul. from the EU and the leaders of 12 developing countries.
tive event (left). A Korean-majoring “Hangeul is easy to learn since it makes letters by combining Though its main priorities are economic, it is also an event of
student from Sofia University introduces
Hangeul to an audience at “Autumn 10 vowels and 14 consonants,” he wrote. “It can express over huge political import, with discussions there always heavily
Days in Korea” in Bulgaria on the same
day (above). Some Cia-Cia tribe’s
11,000 kinds of sounds with just 24 characters; no other influenced by each country’s political considerations.
people visited Korea and held an alphabet can do that.” Though not the first time Korea had hosted such a major
impressive traditional performance at
“2010 Hangeul-Love Festival” (below). Hangeul’s simplicity and versatility have also made it a event — the country was the venue for the 1988 Summer
potentially attractive option for languages that don’t have Olympics and the co-host of the 2002 FIFA World Cup — the
alphabets of their own. At present, more than 6,600 of the G20 has an entirely different order of significance: from being
roughly 6,800 extant languages in the world don’t have their on the periphery of the world economy, Korea’s chairing of
own writing system, so in 2001, the UN launched a plan to the G20 Summit showed that the country had moved firmly
address this. Called the Babel Initiative, the program aims to to the center.
help preserve these languges in written form by giving them Korea’s right to host
alphabets, a task for which, according to many scholars, the event was largely due
Hangeul is very well suited. to the irrepressible will of guidelines on current account balances was reached. Plans to
And Hangeul’s benefits don’t end there. Because it is a its president, Lee Myung- improve the functions of the IMF, including the transferral of
phonetic script, hangeul corresponds very closely to spoken bak. He personally 6% of IMF voting rights from developed to developing
words, making it an excellent match for speech recognition spearheaded the countries, were adopted by the nations at the summit. Also,
programs. As any SMS-loving Korean teen will aver, Hangeul campaign to bring the Korea Initiative provided the opportunity to demonstrate
is also a very easy script to type into mobile devices. the summit to Seoul, its role as a credible mediator between developed and
As Hangeul’s profile has risen in academic circles, it has drawing on all his leader- developing nations.
HANGEUL, A BEAUTIFUL taken awareness of Korean language. Korean may only be the ship skills from his time “The G20 Seoul Summit was successful and achieved
13th most widely used language in the world, but its influence as a CEO and engaging meaningful outcomes by pursuing ‘strong, sustainable
SCIENTIFIC MASTERPIECE has grown considerably in recent years. In 2007, WIPO in incessant bouts of growth,’” said President Lee at the close of the summit. “The
(World Intellectual Property Organization) designated diplomatic activity. most remarkable piece of progress was that the G20 leaders
In the 15th century, King Sejong decided that Korea was not Korean as its 9th official language. Currently, there are about As a result, at the third President Lee Myung-bak, second from left, took the results of previous G20 meetings and turned them
delivers a speech at the summit (right top).
well served by using Chinese characters, and that it needed a 2,200 facilities overseas teaching Korean, with student G20 Summit held in The G20 leaders from participating nations into a concrete plan of action.”
writing system of its own. Enlisting the help of the finest numbers estimated at around 250,000. There are perhaps Pittsburgh, in 2009, attend the conference (right middle). First Having the chance to take its place in the global
Lady Kim Yoon-ok, left, is shown at the G20
minds in the nation, Sejong thus oversaw the creation of 3,400 textbooks for learning Korean as a second language, Korea was unanimously Summit’s ceremony (above). community has been a momentous occasion for Korea, and
Korea’s unique alphabet — Hangeul — earning a place in and 628 primary and secondary schools worldwide offer voted to be host of the 5 yet another chance to show just how far it has come. That the
world history and the eternal gratitide of the Korean people. classes in the language. Also, 642 colleges in 54 countries G20 in November of this year. summit went so well will only further boost the country as it
Today, Hangeul is widely recognized as one of the most have either courses or major in the Korean language. The results of the Seoul Summit are significant for their seeks to join the ranks of the world’s most advanced nations.
flexible and practical writing systems in the world. According Hangeul is a precious cultural asset that holds the history, scope and clarity. Though the current account target policy, But as the country must now realize, with this heightened
to Human Development Index reports carried out by the culture and traditions of Korea. Far more than a mere suggested as a solution to ongoing wrangles over exchange profile comes heightened responsibility. More than ever
Yonhap News Agency (opposite); Seoul Economy Daily

United Nations Development Program in 2008 and 2009, historical relic, it is as relevant as it was 600 years ago. rates, was turned down, an agreement to determine specific before, the world is watching.

16 2010 2010 17

Youth can be a powerful source of
inspiration in an artist. But while Kang
Young-min is full of the vivacity and
verve of a young visionary, he avoids
forcing subjective standards on art
aficionados. “I prefer that they approach
and interpret my work in their own
way,” he says. In short, rather than
imposing authority on those viewing
his creations, this unique artist prefers
to fuel the imagination of spectators,
encouraging them to let it run free.
by Oh Kyong-yon | photographs by Park Jeong-roh

Kang Young-min may be young, but his reputation and

experience already spans two nations. With bachelor’s and
master’s degrees gained in Korea, plus a second master’s in
the US, Kang has exhibited his work publicly and privately in
both countries. He has received funding from the ARKO
(Arts Council Korea) and the Paradise Culture Foundation in
Korea, and from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in the US.
In his home country, he has won the prestigious Dong-A Art
Prize; in the States, the Roy Crane Award. For the time being,
however, Kang is choosing to pursue his career in Korea.
How might such international experiences have impacted
a young artist? First, there will have been the expectations
upon a “Korean artist” practicing his craft overseas. Then he
would have experienced the inspiration an artist absorbs

Spaghetti Western (2009), a sculpture of thread, silicon, wood and plastic (left).
Kang Young-min in front of his art work Hillerova’s Faces (2008) of digital print and
PVC pipe (opposite).

Kang Young-min
working in a foreign environment. countries under one roof into one community,” he says. Kang’s work constantly creates new definitions as he
Wary of the first expectation, Kang made a conscious “The program is ideal for artists practicing in similar fields reinterprets objects and phenomena.
decision not to emphasize his Korean roots in his work. to experience different cultures. I received substantial artistic Another key concept in Kang’s work is “illusion.” Though
“Although many people definitely thought my work would nutrition from residency programs in Korea and the US. I he does not aim to produce realism per se in his work, Kang
have a distinct Korean feel to it, I never felt the need to be would very much like other artists to try, experience and tends to adhere to certain preconditions found in realistic
bound by such restrictions,” says Kang. “I was born in Korea, make use of such programs. Particularly, there are many portrayals. His work Reconstruction, for instance, shows an
and so my works have a distinct Korean atmosphere even residency programs in Korea where many foreign artists can image as a vision on a Braun tube. By combining pixels, and
without a conscious effort on my part.” find Korean artistic inspiration.” sketches, an image of a city in thin bands is made. In visionary
As for his inspiration, Kang says that exchanges with pieces such as these, Kang strives to reveal the uncomfortable
foreign artists helped him broaden his personal horizons THE WORLD IN HIS WORK Kang’s method involves breaking truths behind phenomena shown in the mass media.
and widen the scope of his work. down standard objects or media, and then reconstructing Another example of Kang’s distinctive worldview is
“We share many common characteristics under the them in a new form. This “anamorphic” technique, which Spaghetti Western, a title is drawn from the famous Westerns
common title of ‘artist,’ and then differences from our diverse modifies original images to convey something new, is key to produced and directed by Italians, but usually starring
cultural backgrounds,” he says. “However, behind those the expression in Kang’s main work. Americans, in the 1960s and ’70s. Ignoring its famous
common characteristics differences do appear, often Typically, Kang will cut images or objects into pieces and connotations, Kang focuses instead on the literal meaning
stemming from social problems and political issues. This is then use them to create an entirely new object. For his of the words, using strings of spaghetti to create a depiction
fascinating to me, and there is a lot for us all to learn.” acclaimed work Hillerova’s Faces, part of the “Face Series,” of the tangled road system in the United States. Kang injects
Kang says that the residency programs he took part in — at Kang divided the picture of a woman’s face into cylindrical a further touch of wit by including a likeness not of a fork
the Goyang Art Studio in Korea and Art Omi, Skowhegan, images and then reassembled them in a different form. and knife, but chopsticks. This blend of word games and an
Bemis Center and Yaddo in the US — were also central in As a type of installation art, Kang’s anamorphic pieces are Eastern reinterpretation of Western culture imbues Spaghetti
shaping his worldview. especially well suited to temporary exhibitions, where Western with several layers of meaning.
“Residency programs gather artists from numerous changes in space and layout can actually add to the piece. “Our understanding of media and technology is a mash
of misconceptions and illusions,” says Kang. “As I change my
subjects into objects of different properties, we can experi-
ence intuitively the different truths behind the phenomena.”
The notion that we can get closer to the truth by decon- is happiest when he is focused on creative activities in his
structing objects and concepts presented Kang with the studio. However, communication with the public drives us
opportunity to challenge the nature of the mass media itself. artists to hold exhibitions at least once a year.” Next year,
But Kang came to ask himself, “Will I be content with Kang is planning to participate in a public art project.
destruction alone?”, prompting him to concentrate more Having given a lot of attention to political and social
closely on the problems inherent in communication. This, in issues in his art, Kang is beginning to display a more
turn, led to his using more control in deconstructing his environmentally-conscious interest, reflected in his increasing
subjects, and more focus in deciding the course of his work. references to “plastic” and “energy.” Two of his pieces on
“The space that art communicates is not a space of reality show in Diversion Era, Infinite Cooling and USID, Juyugi are
but a space of display,” Kang says. The dramatic characteris- clear demonstrations of this new focus.
tics of his work are thus, to Kang, not innate, but simply “I don’t see myself as an environmental activist, but as I
another realm of possibility. focus on the subject of plastic my awareness of the environ-
Kang’s work lacks long annotations or explanations. In his ment is naturally growing,” says Kang. “The work in the
words, the works are “thrown at” the spectators for them to ‘Energy Saver’ series depicts the idea of consumption for
interpret and imagine. A thorough explanation, he feels, conservation, while also expressing the absolute power of
sometimes hinders the spectators from thinking freely. energy through paradoxical expressions depicting opposing
cultures, gaining of power, and the occupation of space.”
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY I meet Kang at his exhibition Kang’s view seems consistent while always changing, a
“Diversion Era,” which is taking place in the Space CAN characteristic we can certainly call evolution. And seeing the
gallery in Seongbuk-dong, northern Seoul. It is his first development and growth of an artist in his work is perhaps
exhibition in a year, and a joint project with Chinese artist no different to discovering art itself, and its gradual,
Liu Wei. Asked about his future plans, he says that “an artist unfurling pleasures.

Kang stands in front of his work Gravity Zero (2007) made of styrofoam and a toy car
(opposite). Kang with his newest piece USID, Juyugi (2010), gas pump (right top).
Negative Exposure (2006), fragments of a comic book (right above).
20 2010 2010 21

There is a passionate expression on Kim Joo-won’s face as cannot perform at a satisfying level. A born genius cannot
she rehearses routines with her partner in the mirrored beat someone who continuously practices. That is what I
practice room. While she prepares her parts in Tchaikovsky: believe.”
THE BRIGHTEST The Mystery of Life and Death and Swan Lake, her self-
appraisal of the gestures and motions she makes has an
Kim joined the Korea National Ballet after graduating the
Bolshoi Ballet Academy (Moscow State Academy of
undeniable beauty of its own. Choreography) and has been Korea’s top ballerina for over
STAR ON STAGE “I practice for eight hours a day, and 12 when a perform- 10 years. But as she is always quick to stress, Kim considers
ance is looming,” she says. “There is a saying that ‘I will her success to have come through sheer hard work rather
Ballet is a language of the body, a magical blend of purity and ambition. Kim know when I miss practice for a day, my colleagues will than from any great natural blessings.
Joo-won displays both sentiments masterfully, with control and expression know when I miss two days, and the audience will know “I wasn’t born with the best physical attributes for ballet,”
when I miss three.’ I feel something is lacking when I miss a says Kim. “My arms are too long and my joints stick out,
that can leave audiences gasping in admiration. As the country’s best ballerina
practice. I need to feel and control each muscle in my body, which make it difficult to express a strong character like
and the winner of the world-famous Benois de la Danse competition in 2006, but this is not possible if I miss practice. Eghina in Spartacus. However, I practiced hundreds and
Kim has become a legend of Korean ballet, and never relents in her efforts to “Good natural physical characteristics and talent are thousands of times so my lines flow naturally with the
create her own physical vocabulary. by Choi Hye-jung | photographs by Kim Hong-jin all important. However, if I don’t practice constantly I character.”

22 2010 2010 23
“Artists should never fear challenges. When water stops delighted that the performance was so well received by the
flowing it stagnates. I am a ballerina who uses her body as an audience.”
expression of language. I believe that in order to move the And Kim’s challenges keep on coming. Following a special
audience, I should never be idle in mastering new expressive performance on November 12 to mark the G20 Seoul
methods with my body. As I accumulate more knowledge Summit, Kim will perform in The Mystery of Life and Death
through, those diverse experiences make the language of my and Swan Lake this month.
body more plentiful.”
Raymonda, staged in the Seoul Arts Center in September HAPPIEST ONSTAGE “I cannot give you any specific dates as
to commemorate 20 years of Korean-Russian diplomatic the Korea National Ballet’s schedules are not set, but there
relations, and Romeo and Juliet, which played in the Moscow will be more foreign performances in the future,” she says.
Bolshoi Theater in October, also represented new challenges “When I was younger, I never had time to be grateful for
for Kim. what I had, as I was busy just thinking about myself.
“I was greatly looking forward to Raymonda as it was the However, I started to see my colleagues and the other staff
THE THRILL OF THE CHALLENGE If Kim’s daily routine first full-length ballet to be staged in Korea,” says Kim. “It was working hard for every performance. Now I am just grateful
comprises continuous practice, her inspiration comes from challenging because the character is elegant but also proud, and happy to be able to perform on stage.”
bold challenges. To take two examples, Kim appeared in the sentimental and gentle, and because four couples from the Having been at the top of her game for so long, and having
musical Contact in January of this year, and posed as a model Bolshoi Ballet and the Korea National Ballet performed in won a prestigious Benois de la Danse prize in 2006, what
for Park Il-yong’s photo exhibition “Ballerina Kim Joo-won their own respective colors.” keeps Kim motivated when there are seemingly no bigger
in the City” in March. On both occasions Kim enjoyed yet “Romeo and Juliet was a unique experience in that the goals to achieve?
more success, winning the Best New Female Artist Award at main characters were played by the Korea National Ballet “I am not sure. I haven’t really thought of anything beyond
The Musical Awards, in Seoul and great praise for her elegant dancers while the group dances were performed by the performing on stage. People around me say me that I should
and sensual appeal in Park’s works. Bolshoi Ballet at the birthplace of ballet, Russia. I was start thinking and planning for what I will do after retire-
ment. But I believe that when a ballerina starts thinking of
anything other than performing on stage, that is when she
should step down.
“This is why I only think of performing on stage and ballet.
But I do have one wish. The ballet world is slowly taking
interest in Korean dancers and foreign audiences are taking
interest in the detailed but deep repertoire of Korean ballet.
I sincerely hope that Korean ballet becomes an important
actor as ballet continues to progress around the world.”
Unfailingly elegant and measured, Kim becomes most
animated when talking about ballet and the stage. She
believes that continuous practice and continual challenges
are all crucial to expressing herself more fully as a ballerina.
She is, in her own, the consummate perfectionist.


Kim Joo-won joined the Korea National Ballet after graduating
from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy (Moscow State Academy of
Choreography) in 1997. She debuted as the lead in the ballet Le
Corsaire. After winning a bronze medal in the Moscow International
Ballet Competition in 2001, she started making her name in the
global ballet scene. Five years later, Kim was awarded the best
female dancer at the Benois de la Danse, marking her ascension
to the status of truly world-class. Currently, Kim is a principal
dancer for the Korea National Ballet.
Korea National Ballet

Kim Joo-won dances a duet in Romeo and Juliet (top). Kim, in the middle, dances in a Kim gives a performance as the lead role, the swan, in Swan Lake (right top). Kim
group movement at Le Corsaire (above). practices some movements with her colleagues at a rehearsal room (middle, above).
24 2010 2010 25

City of the Ancients
Industrial civilization, which worships convenience and speed, has left dark
shadows in its wake: climate change, environmental degradation and rocketing
stress levels. Sometimes, it seems the only solution is to get back to the past, when
things seemed slower and more innocent. If that feeling overcomes you in Korea,
the first port of call should be the city of Gyeongju. Here, visitors can find the
beauty of life lived in slow motion, in a setting that thrived a millennium ago.
by Chung Dong-muk | photographs by Park Jeong-roh

Yangdong Flok Village newly added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List this year.
Is it winter or fall? Spring or summer? To be sure, people at four bridges that come into view just beyond the
this time of year store crops they harvested in previous Cheonwangmun (Gate of Four Guardians), and the two
months, while trees drop their foliage. Birds leave their homes stone pagodas in the front yard of the Daeungjeon Hall.
deep in the valley, fleeing the cold weather. For the traveler, it The Yeonhwagyo (Lotus Flower Bridge) and Chilbogyo
is the perfect time to walk alone and get lost in thought on (Seven Treasures Bridge) in the west, and the Cheongungyo
the road along Bomun Lake. (Blue Cloud Bridge) and Baekungyo (White Cloud Bridge)
Yet as I look at the cherry blossom trees flanking the lakeside in the east, are almost identical, but slightly different in scale.
promenade, I am transfixed by the idea of how they must have Steeped in holy symbolism, the bridges are not mere
seemed in April in all their colorful pomp. The still sky reflect- conveyances for people on foot, but reserved for those who
ed on the lake’s surface reminds me how full of life it is before are already on the true path to enlightenment. Because of
the clouds of winter approach. True essence is rarely visible to this, visitors must receive permission from the monks before
the naked eye, but man, who struggles to see even seconds into stepping foot on these bridges.
the future, must constantly be reminded that it exists. Two renowned stone pagodas can be found here: Dabotap,
Speaking of what you can see, there are few cities in Korea whose likeness is carved on the back of the 10 won Korean
with such clear attractions as Gyeongju. Located in the south- coin; and Seokgatap, also known as Samcheung Seoktap
east of the peninsula, the city was the capital of the ancient (“three-storied stone pagoda”). In 1966, during restoration
kingdom of Silla for 1,000 years, wielding national and even work, the Seokgatap was found to contain the Mugujeong-
international influence until its downfall in the year 935. gwang Great Dharani Sutra, the world’s oldest extant wood-
Visitors to the city, after arriving by train or bus and having
a look around downtown Gyeongju, can see numerous royal
tombs that have been there since the days of the great Silla
kings. The Silla Dynasty’s 56 kings, all buried in Gyeongju,
contributed to the one of the most sophisticated cultural and
political systems of its day. And this culture continues to
dazzle visitors, since the dynasty came to an end.


by the passage of time, the historical relics of Silla stand
completely silent today. The remnants of the people who
lived then are mostly gone, and only purple Korean daisies
tilt in the wind. To learn more about the true colors of our
ancestors, I decide to visit Bulguksa Temple, on the slopes of
Tohamsan Mountain, and the Seokguram Grotto.
One of the most famous temples in the country, Bulguksa
Temple is known to all Koreans, most of whom will have
been there at least once on a school trip. I, too, visited this
place when I was in middle school, so this marks the first
time I have returned in close to 30 years.
There are two different records of the origins of Bulguksa
Temple. One has it that the temple was established by
Youngje, mother of King Beopheung, in 528. The other says
that it was set up by Adohwasang, a monk during the reign of
King Nulji (?~458 AD). Whatever the truth, Bulguksa Temple
was definitely expanded by Kim Dae-seong, the prime
minister during the reign of King Gyeongdeok (?-765 AD).
Though the entire temple is, quite literally, designated
Topic Photo (right bottom)

UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, its greatest highlights are the

Bulguksa Temple is one of the most famous and historic temples in Korea (opposite).
Dabotap Stone Pagoda, right, and Bulguksa’s three-storied pagoda, also known as
Seokgatap Stone Pagoda, located at Bulguksa Temple (right top). Seokguram Grotto is
famous for its giant Bonjonsang Statue (right above). DECEMBER
2010 29
block print, thought to date from around 700 AD. to spare a good bit of time. It takes two full days to appreciate
I’d love to while away several more hours here, but there’s both Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto, and even a
still the Bonjonsang Statue, in the Seokguram Grotto, to visit, week might not do justice to the numerous royal tombs and
so I head for the peak of Tohamsan Mountain. historical sites. I have only two days to see everything. So
According to scanty historical evidence, Kim Dae-seong, with some reluctance, I decide not to visit the sites within
King Gyeongdeok’s prime minister, also oversaw the con- Gyeongju itself, and head for the nearby Bomun Lake Resort.
struction of Seokguram. The grotto is renowned for its strik-
ingly ambitious architectural beauty: The fact that an artifi- LAKESIDE LEISURE Completed in 1963, Bomun Lake Resort
cial stone cave was built high on a mountaintop is surprising is a tourist complex centered around the manmade Bomun
enough, but the spatial composition of the cave, a mixture of Lake. It includes hotels and condominiums, theme parks
curves and straight lines, is nothing less than awe-inspiring. such as Gyeongju World and Gyeongju EXPO Park, and
The benign gaze of the Buddha, pointing down toward leisure facilities such as a golf club and boat rides.
the underwater tomb of King Munmu in the East Sea, is a Perhaps the resort’s biggest draw is the Shilla Millennium
beguiling sight in itself. After treading down the Sinjakro Park, which opened in March 2007. Spanning 180,000sqm
road, I jump in my waiting car and take the windy route between Bomun Lake and Deokdong Lake, the park is a
down the mountain. The roughness of the road surprises multipurpose, leisure and educational facility themed around
me, the beauty of the landscape astonishes me. the Silla Dynasty. Among its many attractions, Emile Polis has
To see these ancient historical remains properly, you have restored, Silla-era dwellings from 1,000 years ago, and studios
and workshops offer lessons in using traditional dyes and
making earthenware pottery. Elsewhere are a 990sqm main
stage and a 1,980sqm floating stage. During my visit, the
stages are providing the setting for The Secret of the Heavenly
Chest, an effects-laden performance about an elite young Silla
man called Misirang, who defeats Silla’s foreign enemies
using 300 treasures handed down from the heavens. The slow life has another home in Gyeongju, in a place also
Taking my leave, I head toward Bomun Lake while looking renowned for its traditional Korean architecture: Yangdong HOW TO GET TO GYEONGJU
over Gyeongju EXPO Park and the Gyeongju Tower, gleaming Folk Village, located 30 minutes by car from the Bomun Lake > By Car Take the Gyeongju Interchange from the
Gyeongbu Expressway and drive for 20 minutes toward
in the afternoon sun. Take an elevator to the top of the 82- Resort. After resting for the night, I visit the village in the Gampo on Route 4. Keep going to Bomun Lake Resort,
meter tower and you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of morning, when it’s tile-roofed and straw-thatched houses are and Bulguksa Temple is a further 10 minutes away. Total
the resort. The moonlight laser show, which illuminates the tinged with a seductive sunlight. travel time is approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.
> By Public Transportation Take the KTX (Korea Train
tower’s windows at night, is said to be spectacular. This village has existed for 500 years, thanks largely to the Express), get off at Singyeongju Station (It takes about 2
While you’re here, be sure to visit the Artsonje Museum, tireless efforts of the Gyeongju Son family and the Yeogang Yi hours), and board express city bus No 700. The journey
located near the resort family, whose have lived here for generations. Though the vil- to Bomun Lake Resort takes around 30 minutes, and
the bus then continues on to Bulguksa Temple.
entrance. In the muse- lage once had 350 houses, just 160 or so remain. Of those,
um’s outdoor sculpture perhaps 140 are still inhabited today. <Information>
park, located along the Traditional homes for nobility, hanok, such as Accommodation
Ragung 719-70, Sinpyeong-dong, Gyeongju,
promenade by the lake, Gwangajeong and Hyangdan, are very well preserved here, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province
the artworks of global making Yangdong the perfect destination for anyone seeking Hanok Suite 300,000 won (US$260) weekdays / 350,000
artists such as Alexander a genuine taste of the Korea of yore. The promise of authentic won (US$304) weekends; Breakfast and dinner for two
persons included, Millennium Park Pass included
Liberman are exhibited in Korean even brought Britain’s Prince Charles to the village in Hanok Royal Suite 400,000 won (US$348) weekdays /
a bamboo grove, making 1992. In recognition of its historical value, UNESCO added 460,000 won (US$400) weekends; Breakfast and Dinner
it feel like you’re unearth- the village to its World Heritage List this year. for two persons included, Millennium Park Pass included
Tel +82 54 778 2100 Website
ing long-lost treasure. Tall earthen walls connect to create roads here, and Art Gallery
More beautiful artworks travelers and villagers follow those roads as people have done Artsonje Museum 370 Sinpyeong-dong, Gyeongju
are also on view in the for centuries past. As they stroll around these remnants of a Opening Hours 10am-6pm (closed on Mondays)
Admission 3,000 won (US$2.60) for adults / 1,500 won
museum’s main building disappeared time, the idle afternoon sun of Yangdong Folk (US$1.30) for students
and second exhibit hall. Village descends slowly. Tel +82 54 745 7075 Website

To-u, or Korea’s mud dolls, are shown at Shilla Millenium Park (left top). Shilla A peaceful scenery of Shilla Millenium Park is seen (above).
Millenium Park is an edutaintment park on the theme of “Silla, a thousand-years-old
ancient capital” (left above). Gyeongju Tower, representing the Hwangnyongsatap, a
nine-story Wooden Pagoda, stands in Gyeongju EXPO Park (above). DECEMBER
30 2010 2010 31

Despite living just a few kilometers from a big Koreatown in
the United States, Charles Montgomery knew practically
borhoods. And the food? I had no idea.
Many years later I ran the night tutoring
program at Chabot College in Hayward. One
nothing of Korea or its food. But when an opportunity arose The first bite of kimchi is one of my favorite moments during any meal. From of the tutors was Ed Park, a young Korean.
to try Korean cuisine, with a Korean student studying nearby, hot and spicy, to refreshing and even cool, I never know exactly what kimchi I Ed was studying for his MA in Comparative
Montgomery discovered how much he liked Korea’s will taste. In homes or restaurants, kimchi comes to the table with the rest of Literature at the University of California at
barbecued pork, zingy, indigenous liquor, and the unforget- banchan (side dishes) and I sneak a first peek. Is it fiery red? Elegant white? Berkeley, and tutoring because he knew it
Does the cabbage look crisp, or cling to the plate? Is it cabbage or cucumber? was a good way to improve his own English
table spicy condiment that comes with everything.
Then, chopsticks descend, kimchi ascends, and my mouth closes. Taste-buds skills. One night he asked me if I’d like to
Now teaching English translation at a university in
begin to dance and a rush rises up my nose and into my brain. The meal is have a beer, and after shutting the center
Seoul, Montgomery’s passion for all things Korean going to be good! down, we went out for drinks and food. Our
continues to grow — especially for Korea’s This is not how I used to begin my meals. Although I grew up in California, friendship developed, and eventually Ed
fiery, fermented favorite, kimchi. less than 20km away from the Koreatown in Santa Clara, I knew little about asked if I had ever eaten Korean food. I said
Korea. Passing through Koreatown I couldn’t see a difference between signs in no, so he took me out for a meal.
Hangeul (Korean alphabet) and the signs I saw in Japanese or Chinese neigh- We began with samgyeopsal (barbecued

32 2010 2010 33
pork) and soju (a distilled Korean spirit), a combination that, Ed helpfully food, the final product was also a nutritional in kimchi pots for fermentation. Gimjang goes beyond mere food-making,
pointed out, was quite similar to barbecues in the Western world. But then, bonanza: high in fiber, low in fat, loaded with however, as it is also a social event, in which Koreans socialize at all steps
out came banchan. This, I had never seen before: Little plates covered with vitamins A, B and C, and also containing lac- in the process, and then help each other prepare kimchi. As I came to
different kinds of (to me) very unfamiliar food. On one of those plates there tobacilli, a “healthy bacteria” that aids diges- know kimchi, I came to learn these things, and others, about Korean
was something red and sort of scary looking. tion and may even prevent yeast infections. culture.
Ed pointed to that plate and asked the question that I’ve been asked scores There are hundreds of kinds of kimchi, Driven by an interest in Korean literature and culture, I arrived in
of times since I have lived in Korea, “Do you know kimchi?” By the end of the made of vegetables including cabbage, Korea 10 years after my introduction to kimchi. I landed in Daejeon and my
evening, I thought I could answer that I did. In fact, I my knowledge of the radish, green onion, cucumber and chili pep- personal “kimchi education” really began. While I was fairly used to baechu-
inimitable side dish had only just begun. per. Each region of Korea has its own special, kimchi as a side dish, I was mostly unaware of the wide range of kimchi and
Several years later, I now know that kimchi, the “soul food” of Korea, is a representative version. Besides baechu- completely unaware of the many dishes that feature kimchi as an ingredient.
simple dish with a deep role in Korean culture. It is so embedded in the kimchi, well-known kimchi include the Imagine my surprise when I discovered “summer kimchi” (e.g. stuffed
Korean psyche that instead of saying “1, 2, 3, cheese!” when taking photos, crunchy kkakdugi, a kimchi made with cubed cucumber kimchi), which is frequently eaten before it has time to ferment.
Koreans say, “1, 2, 3 kimchi!” The fiery side dish has roots stretching at least radish; the scallion based pa-kimchi; and a White kimchi (which leaves out the chili pepper) was also a bit of an eye-
as far back as the 7th century, with the first written mention of it appearing hot and spicy kimchi named oi-sobagi. opener, but refreshed me during Korea’s hot summers.
nearly 3,000 years ago. At first, I did my exploring alone. But my wife followed me to Korea six
Kimchi is, along with rice, the staple of every Korean meal, and so THE CULTURE OF GIMJANG Kimchi is months after I arrived. In the United States she had been afraid of kimchi’s
important that in many Korean homes (and in the homes of ethnic Koreans generally divided into two types, seasonal, strong taste, but once in Korea she quickly came to love it. I can still the variety of gourmet dishes that chefs had
across the world) there is a special “kimchi refrigerator” to hold it. But kimchi which is made from locally sourced vegeta- remember the first time we sat down together and, while we waited for our concocted using kimchi. Here, also, I got to
is more than just food to Koreans. It also represents solidarity, community bles, intended for immediate consumption, galbitang (beef soup) to arrive, she sank a pair of tongs into the communal watch the creation of kimchi and felt as
and survival. and gimjang, which is made in large quanti- kimchi-bowl on the table, slapped a hefty sized pile of kimchi onto a banchan though I was watching something timeless.
Perhaps most importantly, kimchi is the food that has sustained ties in late autumn. Kimchi’s characteristic plate, scissored it once, lifted a piece to her mouth and ate it. She looked at me I have been in Korea for three years and
generations of Koreans. When the cold winds of winter rushed down the red color didn’t actually appear until some- and said, “It’s good, it has a kind of hot aftertaste.” Now, it’s impossible to get will stay at least another two. My wife and I
Korean Peninsula, it was impossible to grow crops. In order to survive this time after 16th century, and certainly by 19th my wife to eat plain rice. have not determined where in the US we
cold season, Koreans had to develop a nutritious food with a long shelf life. century, when the red chili was introduced to To me, certain foods seem to go together naturally. In the United States we plan to move to, but we have decided one
Kimchi was the answer. Not only did the fermentation process preserve the Korea and red chili pepper flakes were added have: pizza and beer, cookies and milk, turkey and stuffing, and, macaroni thing — we won’t move anywhere there isn’t
to the kimchi recipe. The latest and cheese. Now I have added to these eternal combinations, kimchi and rice a Korean market or restaurant. 5,000 years of
addition to the kimchi we (although my wife does not drink I’d also like to say a kind word about food tradition has converted us! by Charles
know today was the introduc- samgyeopsal and soju as this kind of special pairing). Montgomery | illustrations by Jo Seung-yeon
tion of the Chinese cabbage We also discovered dishes with kimchi in them that we had been unaware
in the 1900s. of. Dubu-kimchi (tofu and kimchi) pairs soft, silky tofu with chewy, tangy
Kimchi preparation is kimchi, and is also excellent chopstick practice as the tofu can be quite elusive.
uniquely Korean. Following Kimchi-jjigae is a spicy stew made with kimchi, pork and tofu and is a perfect
the cabbage harvest in fall, dish for a cold Korean night. Kimchi-bokkeumjeon is savory pancake, crunchy PROFILE

Korean villages would tradi- at the edges and chewy inside, made with kimchi, flour, water, eggs and Charles Montgomery
teaches in the
tionally spend part of sometimes seafood. Mix in a bowl, panfry, and eat! English Interpretation
November conducting gimjang, Last but not least, the delicious “fast food” kimchi-mandu are dumplings and Translation
Department at
a communal process of kimchi- filled with kimchi, tofu and often pork and glassy noodles called dangmyeon. Dongguk University.
making that united generations in They can be boiled, steamed, fried, or added to soups and stews. A little bit He has spent 3 years
in Korea. He is a big
preparation for the winter. This meaty, a little bit tangy, they are great for adding a bit of substance to fan of modern Korean
tradition continues today, with everyday soups. I like to buy my kimchi-mandu from the vending trucks literature (in transla-
tion) and comments
some families buying hundreds of that park on corners in many neighborhoods in Seoul. about it at And
heads of cabbage, as well as the Now, of course, after the initial success of “kogi” taco-trucks in Los Angeles he also loves kimchi!
other ingredients necessary to make and elsewhere, kimchi has gone international. World famous restaurants such
kimchi. Women wash and trim the as New York’s Momofuku serve it in dishes like kimchi-jjigae with rice cakes.
produce, prepare the brine, painstak- Online you can find recipes for making kimchi as well as a wide variety of
ingly interlace layers of ingredients and kimchi inspired dishes, even including kimchi-deviled eggs!
carefully fold the cabbage before storing it In Seoul this year, I visited the Kimchi Sarang Festival and was amazed at

34 2010 2010 35

After long, often heated debate, the The G20 leaders at COEX in Seoul on November 12 leaders again endorsed the state-
(opposite above). The UK’s Prime Minister David
leaders of the Group of 20 nations ments from the finance ministers’
Cameron visited Bongeunsa Temple during the sum-
announced the “Seoul Action Plan” at mit’s period (opposite below). President Lee Myung- meeting in Gyeongju, according to
the end of their summit held in the bak gives a speech during the summit (above). which the countries would move
CURRENCIES, FINANCE AND TEMPLE Korean capital from November 11-12. toward “more market-determined
In addition to agreeing to certain exchange rate systems, [while] refrain-
points of a global financial safety net, summit, as well as for introducing the ing from the competitive devaluation
VISITS: THE STORIES BEHIND THE one of Seoul’s key goals, the leaders “Korea Initiative,” which placed cen- of currencies.” In addition, according
pledged to work toward resolving their tral focus on development and the cre- to the statements, they would use of
G20 SEOUL SUMMIT disagreements on exchange rates at ation of a global financial safety net. any and all policy measures to keep
the next G20 Summit, being held in deficits at sustainable levels.
Cannes, France, next year. GLOBAL FINANCE, SEOUL’S PLAN On The “Korea Initiative” was largely
The assembled nations also the second day of the summit, the adopted in the G20 Seoul Summit
The G20 Seoul Summit, the 5th meeting of the
reaffirmed their commitment to G20 leaders announced a resolution Leaders’ Declaration, especially in
world’s leaders, came to an end on November reforming the International Monetary to strengthen global financial regard to the global financial safety
12 after two days of speeches, negotiations and Fund (IMF), strengthening financial regulations in order to avoid a repeat net. By reforming IMF loan programs
regulation, combating corruption and of the financial crisis at the end of and laying the foundations for a Global
agreements. As the host country, Korea won avoiding protectionist trade measures. 2008. With “Shared Growth Beyond Stabilization Mechanism (GSM), the
plaudits for what was considered a smoothly Although agreements over deficit rules the Crisis” the stated goal of the safety net is already opening channels
run event, as well as for its role as an effective and exchange rates were not ultimate- meeting, Korean President Lee Myung- for countries facing difficulties with
ly reached, the summit was widely bak and the other G20 leaders agreed their foreign currency flow.
mediator between developed and developing considered a success for having set to strive for strong, sustainable and The leaders of the G20 nations also
countries. This article, the last in a series, takes a the direction for further talks and balanced growth in the world economy. adopted a “Multi-Year Action Plan”
look at the stories and outcomes of Seoul’s reaching a commitment to produce Debate was especially robust regarding development issues in nine
firm guidelines for the outstanding regarding the wording for the G20 areas — including infrastructure,
momentous turn as host of the G20 Summit. issues by the first half of 2011. As Seoul Summit Leaders’ Declaration, human resource development and
by Kwon Kyeong-hui the host country, Korea received considered key in setting binding trade. The plan includes detailed and
generally positive reviews for its goals and figures for resolving the practical development support plans
Seoul Economy Daily

leadership throughout the two-day impasse over exchange rates. The in areas such as improving access to

36 2010 2010 37
his hotel in a sweatsuit on both days
of the G20 Summit. Staff at the Ritz
Carlton Hotel, where Zapatero was
staying, said, “He was energetic, even
after a long distance flight.” ISLAND, BUT “NO RISK ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA”
Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancel-
lor, stayed at the Ritz Carlton. The
hotel’s general manager, himself a On November 23, North Korea launched an attack on Yeonpyeong- that “the provocation is unprecedented,” but “[we] believe the
do Island, off South Korea’s west coast, firing scores of artillery impact on the financial markets could be short-lived” given how
German, prepared an assortment of
rounds from coastal batteries. In addition the tragic human cost – previous provocations, including nuclear testing, have played out.
German beers, saying, “Korean beer
two civilians and two marines lost their lives – an immediate
is too thin and watery.” But after impact was felt on the world’s financial markets, with nervous KOREAN GOVERNMENT TO BOLSTER MILITARY FORCES ON
graciously saying that the manager investors pushing stock prices down as far afield as the US. YEONPYEONGDO ISLAND In the days following the attack, with
shouldn’t have gone to so much The markets quickly recovered, and domestic and international serious misgiving arising over the South’s military response to the
trouble, Merkel proceeded to try some experts began predicting that the attacks wouldn’t have a signifi- attacks, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigned and will be
Korean beer, and also drank it during cant impact on the economy after all. The world is aware of South replaced by Kim Kwan-jin, former [the 33rd] Chairman of the JCS
meetings with German reporters. Korea’s geopolitical risks, and the Yeonpyeongdo Island artillery (Joint Chiefs of Staff). With tensions generally decreasing in
Hotel staff were delighted by the attacks were confined to a small region. recent years, the South had begun to scale back its operations
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, left, shakes Nonetheless, the sudden and ferocious nature of the attacks on Yeonpyeongdo Island and four other islands in the Yellow Sea.
financial services, expanding opportu- easygoing attitude of some leaders.
hands with Argentina’s President Cristina shocked people around the world. A number of shells struck They are now increasing security measures, while also reexamining
nities for poor households, and nar- Julia Gillard, the prime minister of
Fernandez, right, during the summit (above). Korea’s Yeonpyeongdo Island directly, forcing residents to flee to Incheon. the rules of engagement for skirmishes with the North.
rowing the gap in agricultural produc- First Lady Kim Yoon-ok gave a luncheon for the G20 Australia, told staff at the Westin
The Korean government instructed the military to strengthen their While North Korea has an estimated 1,000 coastal artillery and
tivity levels around the world. Leaders’ First Ladies on November 12 (right below). Chosun Hotel to prepare her meals positions and be vigilant against any further military provocations howitzers, South Korea currently has just six K9 self-propelled
With the exchange rate issues still and rooms when it was convenient to from the North. howitzers on Yeonpyeongdo and Baengnyeongdo Islands, along
largely unresolved, the Declaration do so. Gillard looked through the with ten 155mm howitzers on Baengnyeongdo Island. The Korean
made a clear commitment to avoiding hotels had to tailor every little detail menu and ordered bulgogi (barbecued, GLOBAL FINANCIAL MARKETS CONTINUE TO “BUY KOREA” military is considering increasing its deployment of mid- to long-
all forms of protectionism. to meet the requirements of their marinated beef) and sandwiches Overall, the attacks had minimal effect on financial markets. range weaponry in the area, including long-range cannons and
Looking to reform problem banks, illustrious guests. via room service and thanked an Analysts on Wall Street said that while the incident served to additional marine battalions.
the financial regulatory reforms Russian President Dmitry Medvedev employee for “a wonderful meal.” remind investors of the dangers that exist on the peninsula, they “No matter the circumstances, the economy and daily activities
didn’t think it would have too strong an effect on the Korean should be conducted normally,” said President Lee Myung-bak.
devised by the Financial Stability arrived at the Millennium Seoul Hilton Traveling with his wife, Malawian
economy or global markets. “This will show the world how stable Korean society is.”
Board (FSB) and the Basel Committee Hotel on the 10th and appeared at a President Bingu wa Mutharika was the
On the day of the attacks, Korean credit default swaps (CDS)
on Banking Supervision (BCBS) were French Restaurant with ten staff at 11 first leader to arrive in Korea for the and American Depositary Receipts (ADR) showed signs of REMAINING VIGILANT On top of the extra deployments of arms,
completed. pm. Just 20 minutes previously, the G20 Summit. Upon arrival, he handed instability on the New York Stock Exchange, but most experts the South Korean military has begun a full-scale overhaul of its
An agreement for reform of president’s secretary had called the two paper bags containing wooden predicted that barring any other serious incidents, the long-term posture in the Yellow Sea. Plans are in place to establish a
international financial institutions, restaurant asking for “a Western-style sculptures and handmade chocolate prospects for the Korean economy remained strong. division-sized command for the area, and the Korean military
initially reached in Gyeongju, was buffet with lobster.” After polishing off cookies to staff. “Unlike the welcomes Credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) plans to strengthen joint exercises with their US counterparts.
approved by the IMF’s board of the buffet, Medvedev and his for other leaders, the Malawian both said that their “A” foreign-currency ratings for South Korea The US 7th Fleet Carrier Strike Group recently participated in
governors. This added to other deals entourage took a brief look at the escorts arrived early dressed in tradi- took into account the possibility of attacks from the North. S&P joint exercises with the Korean Navy and Air Forces, which
also said that South Korea’s sovereign foreign currency rating included simulations of strikes on coastal artillery batteries.
confirmed in Gyeongju, the doubling of menu and ordered some roasted tional costumes and sang as they wel-
would likely remain unchanged. “The exercises are of a defensive nature, to strengthen restraint
the IMF quota, guaranteeing emerging abalone and a bean dish. comed their president,” said a hotel
South Korea’s credit rating has also proved resilient, against North Korea and increase stability within the area,”
markets and developing countries with At 8am on the 12th, David Cameron, employee. “This was the most cheer- remaining between 22nd and 23rd among Organization for Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said.
quota shares of more than 6%, and the prime minister of the United ful of all the leaders’ welcomes.” Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and on a par Though the ministry also said that the exercise had been
restructuring the IMF executive board Kingdom, visited Bongeunsa Temple with Eastern European states like the Czech Republic and scheduled prior to the attacks on Yeonpyeongdo Island, the
with European countries giving up two near the Intercontinental Hotel, Slovakia. Indeed, South Korea’s credit rating remains relatively announcement appears to have been timed to demonstrate the
of their seats. where he was staying, without a word low for an economy of its size. solidity of the alliance between the US and South Korea.
The leaders also agreed on three to any of the hotel staff. Harboring a John Chambers, head of sovereign credit ratings at S&P, also Five American vessels took part in the exercises, including the
energy-related initiatives for the future: long-time interest in bells, Cameron said that he didn’t believe the attacks would damage South aircraft carrier USS George Washington. The Korean Military
Korea’s international balance of payments or other indicators used deployed destroyers, corvettes, frigates, mobile landing platforms
fossil fuel subsidies, trying to reportedly said he wanted to “drink
to assess credit ratings. and anti-submarine aircraft to check and practice anti-aircraft and
decrease the volatility of energy tea at the bell tower.” Chief monk
Tom Byrne, a senior vice president at Moody’s, said, “The naval defense drills.
prices, and protection of the marine. Jinhwa said to Cameron, “Let us toll
materialization of geopolitical event risk, a low probability but high The two countries combined forces included early warning and
the bell for world peace,” before severity event, is contained by the strategic interests of the US control systems with aircraft able to target enemy military facilities.
TWO DAYS, TWO EXPERIENCES The striking the bell three times and talk- and China and as such, geopolitical risks as currently assessed The exercise focused not just on naval superiority, but on the
two days of the G20 Summit were ing with the prime minister over tea. will not adversely affect South Korea’s rating.” ability to mount accurate strikes on the mainland, including North
packed with events. On November 11- The Spanish prime minister, José In their November report, investment bank Goldman Sachs said Korea’s west coast artillery.
Seoul Economy Daily

12, chefs in Seoul’s finest five-star Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, jogged near

38 2010 2010 39

countries,” said Sohn Ae-ri from the

KOREA SHARES EXPERIENCES WITH international relations team at the
Ministry of Gender Equality and
Family. “We also want to expand the
COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD ODA project to make it a truly national
Ewha Womans University is another
In a little over half a century, Korea has risen from the major institution taking part in the
smoldering ruins of war to become one of the world’s most initiatives. Since 2006, the university
vibrant economies. And just as Koreans are rightfully has offered full scholarships to top
female talents under its Ewha Global
proud of this achievement, other countries are following Partnership Program (EGPP).
suit by using it as a template for success. Having overcome Applicants, who are recommended
conflict, poverty and a crippling financial crisis, Korea by educational ministries, embassies
and universities from developing
today is a dynamic case study of problems that beset countries around the world, go through
developing countries. by Lee Se-mi a rigorous selection process.
Successful candidates have all their
expenses covered for a four-year
degree program, including tuition,
Korea’s rise to economic powerhouse living expenses and language training.
is nothing if not inspirational. Today, In its first year in 2006, 24 out of 130
developing countries with economic applicants were selected; 13 were
ambitions of their own are increasingly admitted to undergraduate programs,
looking at the “Korean model” to see 11 to graduate programs.
what lessons they can draw from it. Many women who take part in the
Korea, ever eager to promote its EGPP face highly restricted education-
success story, is increasingly looking al opportunities at home. Due to this,
to help. the program not only helps improve
This year, the Ministry of Gender overall levels of education, but also
Equality and Family expanded its helps to narrow the gap in status and
highly successful ODA (official opportunities that exist between men
development assistance) project, and women.
which supports policy training programs
in e-Biz, IT and job development for FROM RECEIVER TO DONOR Hyundai
240 female public officials and civil Heavy Industries received 66 visits by
experts from 60 developing countries. Students on the Ewha Global Partnership Program public officials from developing
The IT sessions, which have been smile at Ewha Womans University (opposite). countries in the first half of this year.
Participants from developing countries, for
running since 2003, involved more Vocational Development Program for Women, In July alone, 19 Senegalese public
countries than ever in 2010. The first attend a seminar and lesson (top, above). officials and an 11-member delegation
session, held over two weeks from including Angola’s vice-minister of
August 23, gave 30 female public energy visited the firm’s facilities. In
officials and IT experts from 10 to all the attendees, the program also that month, Hyundai Heavy Industries
countries (Myanmar, Malaysia, included specialized training sessions, has welcomed a total of 500 visitors
China, the Philippines, Thailand, compiled after site visits, that from 47 countries, including Iran,
Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal and addressed specific challenges in each Indonesia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Bhutan) the opportunity to learn about of the countries. In September and Iraq and Algeria. In going to the
Korea’s IT policies and technical October, a separate training program Hyundai Heavy Industries’ exhibition
skills. It also included visits to the was held for female public officials in halls and its shipyard in Ulsan,
Korea Institute of Energy Research Vietnam and Indonesia. currently the world’s largest, the
and Samsung Electronics, Korea’s “We plan to continue operating esteemed guests have had a chance
top electronics company. training programs that help broaden to witness the fruits of Korea’s eco-
Ewha Womans University
Ministry of Gender Equality & Family

To ensure the content was relevant the skills of women from developing nomic development for themselves.

40 2010 2010 41
the maritime industry, and visited the Development Institute for Health and
ports of Busan and Ulsan to learn Welfare (KHRDI), a government body,
about management and loading and runs educational programs in which
unloading techniques. healthcare workers and officials from
“The shipping and port training developing countries can learn about
program is an effective cooperative the experiences, technology and
method for port development projects success of Korea’s healthcare
in developing countries,” said an industry. As well as helping cultivate
official at the Ministry of Land, the healthcare skills that so much of
Transport and Maritime Affairs. the developing world urgently needs,
“After discussions with KOICA, we fully this initiative also strengthens ties
intend to keep expanding the project.” with the countries that take part.
Since 2001, the ministry has To ensure that the programs are a
operated an educational training good fit for the needs of developing
program inviting aviation professionals countries, the KHRDI employs leaders
from developing countries; 380 people in Korea’s healthcare industry as
from 91 countries have already taken lecturers, and devises the curriculum
part. As part of the initiative, aviation in conjunction with international health
students from 11 countries, including experts. The institute also undertakes
the Philippines and Pakistan, were extensive research on health issues in
invited to Incheon International relevant countries, and encourages
Airport’s Talent Development Center. participants to adjust and then to
Earlier this year, 12 engineers from There, they learned about the design apply what they learn to healthcare
Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity spent 10 of runways and airport lighting, as well issues at home.
days at Hyundai Heavy Industries, as lessons on everything from effec- Since 2008, the program has grown
where they got the chance to learn tive management to preventing planes from two courses for 24 trainees from
about the operation and maintenance from colliding with birds. two countries, to 13 courses, 190
of the Diesel Power Plant (DPP) that trainees and 39 countries. The
the company is currently constructing BUILDING FRIENDLY TIES Health and initiative now includes the KOICA
in Iraq. The group also received hands- welfare are two more fields where training program, the WHO Fellowship
on experience with Hyundai’s high- Korea is forging cooperative ties. Program, and the Lee Jong-Wook
tech HiMSEN Engine, along with Korea is aligning with the UN Fellowship Program, and covers
certification qualifying them to main- Millennium Development Goals everything from regional healthcare
Senegalese officials look around facilities at
tain and repair the engines. Hyundai Heavy Industries (top, above). Officials
(MDGs), eight objectives adopted at a to maternal and child health to the
In doing so, the Iraqis joined a from Congo visit Korea Maritime University to UN Summit in 2000, four of which are eradication of measles.
growing list of newly qualified experience Korea’s achievements (right below). related to healthcare. For 21 days from September 26,
engineers from countries around the The Korea Human Resource the institute held the Child and
world. The number of HiMSEN Engine Maternal Health Promotion training
experts certified through the into a regional logistics hub. program, which brought together 22 Participants from developing countries inspect Disease Control and Prevention, the
Samsung Medical Center as a part of nurse-traning
program now stands at 770 from Though the Democratic Republic of health officials and experts from 13 program (top). Participants awarded the certificate
National Institute of Health and Seoul
10 countries, including Malaysia, the Congo has big ambitions for the countries, including Cambodia, Egypt of Child and Maternal Health program (above). National University Hospital — helped
Brazil and Panama. redeveloped port, it is hampered by a and Haiti. The associated Joint Action participants get both hands-on
Developing countries are also lack of experience in developing and Plan for Women’s and Children’s practice and a broader perspective
gaining technical knowledge in the operating such large-scale ventures. Health will involve a series of projects compare and analyze methods used in on Korea.
shipping, maritime, and aviation To try and bridge this gap, nine senior aimed at improving maternal health dealing with these issues both in By joining the OECD’s Development
industries. In October, the Ministry of public officials from the country, and reducing infant mortality, two key Korea and in developing countries. Assistance Committee (DAC) at the
Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, including staff from the president’s aims of the UN Millennium Through six workshops, participants end of 2009, Korea’s role in delivering
in conjunction with the Korea office and the Ministry of Development Goals. were able to analyze the causes of overseas aid has become much more
International Cooperation Agency, ran Infrastructure and Public Works, The Child and Maternal Health maternal and child health issues, and significant. As such, sharing its recent
a month-long training course related to attended the course, which took place Promotion program featured lectures draw on useful lessons from Korea’s experience as a developing country is
the Port of Banana in the Congo at the Korea Maritime University in on government policy along with case own development. A range of visits nothing less than a duty, and one it is
Project, a major infrastructure project Busan. The officials heard lectures on studies and site visits. These initia- and cultural experience programs — increasingly expected to fill as a key
Hyundai Heavy Industries (top, middle); Korea Maritime University (left)
Korea Human Resource Development Institute for Health and Welfare

aimed at turning the West African port Korea’s port policies, technology and tives give participants the chance to taking place at the Korea Center for member of the global community.

42 2010 2010 43

December isn’t just the final
chapter of 2010 — it’s the
busiest, most festive month of
the year. For four weeks,
appointments and meetings
suddenly transform into informal
meals and parties as people
celebrate the end of another year.
Increasingly in Korea, however,
people are taking those opportu-
nities not to get sauced at a
Christmas shindig, but to engage
in more edifying activities,
whether it’s helping at charity
bazaars, donating money, or
going to poetry recitals.
KOREA met groups of people,
warming up their winters with
special year-end parties.
by Lim Ji-young | photographs by Kim Hong-jin

Staff in Itaewon Animal Hospital enjoy preparing a year-

end party. They will also run a bazzar selling items donat-
ed by pet lovers to raise money for a year-end collection.
44 2010
computers from KT so that the foreign workers could make Purme’s website (, asks businesses to donate
international calls whenever they wanted. The residents of any money they save to charities that help the needy in Korea.
the house kept the volunteers company until the painting was Suh Sang-wook, who registered for the campaign this year
finished, and then clasped their hands in gratitude, saying, along with his four staff at the Itaewon Animal Hospital, says,
“Gamsahamnida,” meaning “thank you” in Korean. “We decided to join the campaign as we all wanted to end the
“When we all held hands, we felt we were having the most year with a truly memorable and valuable event. We will
valuable year-end party we could have,” says Park Yeon-Mi, definitely hold a similar thing this year too.”
who helped organize the event. “This year, we are planning to Instead of their usual year-end party, Avalon, an English-
run cultural exchange programs and computer classes for the education company, decided to hold a charity bazaar. After
foreign workers. We are really looking forward to shaking collecting items donated by executives and the staff through-
hands with them again.” out December, the company held the “Love Share
Hanaro Club, a chain of food stores, is another big Volunteering Bazaar,” and donated all the money they raised
company that has swapped an office blowout for Yuletide to the Christian relief organization World Vision.
altruism. Paying attention to one of their own, most impor- “As so many people have faced difficulties over the past
tant partners, 50 Hanaro staff, including a handful of couple of years, we wanted to share what we have with people
executives, spent a special year-end event at a tomato farm less fortunate than ourselves,” says Kim Myeong-Gi, the
To Koreans, a year-end party has traditionally meant two in Songak-myeon, Chungcheongnam-do Province, picking company’s president. “Although it’s just a small event, we
things: mountains of sizzling grilled pork and an indecent and packing tomatoes and cleaning the farm. Getting some hope it helped people enjoy a truly happy end to the year.”
amount of the local firewater, soju. This year, however, change hands-on experience of farming gave the staff a whole new Nor is it just big organizations that are looking to spread
is in the air. With the economy in the doldrums during the perspective on the food they sell, and many of them formed festive cheer. Last year, instead of the usual year-end party,
past year or two, year-end pigouts aren’t quite as common as lasting friendships with the farmers. office worker Park Jong-pil and seven of his old elementary
they once were, and more people are paying attention to The Purme Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted school chums met up at a friend’s house in northern Seoul,
those less fortunate than themselves. to building rehabilitation hospitals, is once again carrying out where they ate chop suey and salads they made themselves.
Embracing the true spirit of Christmas, a growing band of its 119 campaign this year encouraging workers to have “one By eating in, Park and his friends saved 100,000 won (US$87),
Koreans are planning parties that aren’t just booze-fueled, but party, one drink, and finish by 9pm” at their end-of-year which they donated to some of their needier neighbors.
driven by a desire to donate and share. Some companies and events. The campaign, which anyone can join up for via “We wanted to consider people who were facing tough
groups may even be canceling their year-end festivities. These
Christmas Samaritans are preparing events that will never be
forgotten or regretted on the morning after.

VOLUNTARY CELEBRATIONS The staff at KT’s global business

department still light up when recalling their last year-end
party, at the House of Foreign Workers in Taepyeong-dong,
Seongnam. The link between the two groups came about
quite by chance. Kim Han-suk, the department’s head, came
across the premises one day when he was in the neighbor-
hood, and felt a sudden urge to help. On inquiring, he was
told that it would be much appreciated if he could help paint
the walls in the house — and a lasting friendship was born.
Kim soon came to realize that although he had some
dealings with foreign workers through his work, he had been
utterly indifferent to how they lived. Their house was small
and shabby, despite being home to more than 70 people.
Many of the inhabitants were in bad shape too, tired and
run-down by long hours and often tough physical work.
Enlisting the help of his own firm, Kim brought 33 staff
Lee Gwang-hee (right top); LG N-Sys (right middle); Yonhap News Agency (far right)

along to help paint the building and also donated some spare

Staff in Itaewon Animal Hospital preparing gifts for low-income families with pets or One staff at LG N-Sys is doing voluntary service that helping elderly people (right mid-
families who adopted stray cats or dogs (top, above). Designer Lee Gwang-hee’s dle). Volunteers for the event “Making Kimchi with Love” making kimchi on
“Himango” fashion show to help the southern Sudanese who are victims of a long November 19 in Jecheon, Chungcheongbuk-do Province (right above). Gifts and
civil war (opposite right top). donated goods to support low-income families with a pet (left top, above). DECEMBER
46 2010 2010 47
times,” says Park, “So we decided to have a meaningful party
rather than the usual booze-up.” With plenty of people still in
need, Park says he is planning a similar event this year.

CULTURE CLUBS “I am going to read the poem Night and My

Ritornello, which quotes the phrase ‘I died only little bit’ from
a poem by [Peruvian poet] Cesar Vallejo,” poet Kim Ji-nyo
said to the gathered guests. “Sitting in this pleasant place, I
feel like tonight is the night ‘I die only a little bit.’”
The streets outside were deserted, frozen and windswept
by the winter chill. But last December, at the Female Laborer
Center in the Mapo district of Seoul, the atmosphere was
aglow as 50 guests sat around with small parcels in their
hands. They sat quietly, listening to Kim recite her verse. They
had come from as far as Yeosu, on Korea’s south coast, and
the city of Daejeon. Though they lived far apart, were of dif-
ferent ages, and, in many cases, meeting each other for the
first time, the women had gathered to celebrate the end of
the year together, not with revelry, but with literature.
Organized by Moonjangui Sori, an Internet radio show
about literature, this event was the first such literary gather-
ing held as a year-end party and not a radio broadcast. The
show invited its listeners to reply to an online invitation, and
then gather in a poetic celebration of the year’s end.
Other unusual year-end parties generated great enjoyment
elsewhere. Perhaps taking a cue from more Western event, which had special ice cream and Christmas-tree cakes
Christmas parties, Kim Young-ik, the president of from CJ subsidiary Tous Les Jours and the Dairy Farm
Hangeulgwa Computer, last year donned a Santa outfit and Management Association.
dished out gifts and personal thanks to staff at his company’s “I didn’t just want to overdo it like we usually do at
party at the head office in eastern Seoul. Christmas parties,” says Kim Mi-song, a university student
“It was great to have our year-end party with people who went to the event with two friends. “I wanted to spend
dressed up as Santa,” says Kwon Jung-gu, then a new recruit some quality time with my friends, and by eating and making
at the company. “The party really made us feel like family, cakes at this event, that’s exactly what we did.”
which was especially nice for a new guy like me.” Staff at the Gasan Digital branch of IBK Investment
Kim says, “I simply prepared the party so I could have a Securities also decided to eschew the year-end booze in favor
relaxed, happy time with my staff before the end of the year.” of watching a musical together. And like their counterparts
Elsewhere, the staff at Hansae Fashion, a clothing export elsewhere, these Yuletide do-gooders also decided to donate
company, celebrated the end of the year by watching a musi- the money they saved to worthy causes.
cal. Some 850 people, from new recruits up to the CEO, went With more people taking this edifying path at
in groups in the first two weeks of December, as the company Christmastime, phrases such as “892” (dining between 8 and
looked to offer a more cultural year-end event than the usual 9pm, with no “second stage” drinking) and “222” (no double
drinking parties. This year, the company plans to hold a shots, no more than two drinks, and no “second stage”) have
donation party and give the proceeds to the needy in Seoul. arisen to fit the trend. But more than just warning people off
Some big companies are also looking to offer their excess, these parties are about seeing year-end parties in a
customers novel ways to end the year. CJ Foodville, a major new light: as a way both to do something more enlightening,
food conglomerate, threw a party at Volt, a hip nightspot in and, hopefully, to spread some light into the lives of the less
Yonhap News Agency

Seoul’s Hongdae district. Around 70 people took part in the fortunate, too.

A Christmas message around City Hall square, the very center of Seoul, is celebrat-
ing the year-end season last year (above).
48 2010
Priority / Priorilaire
By airmail / Par avion

IBRS / CCRI N° : 10024-40730



15 Hyoja-ro, Jongno-gu
Seoul (110-040)
Republic of Korea

Choi Ji-young
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