Korea-Japan cultural exchanges, which took off in the late 90s, have never been more active in transcending national boundaries than now. With Hallyu, the Korean wave, strengthening Korean pop culture in Japan, two government-related Japanese cultural organizations have been established in Korea to boost bilateral exchanges and mutual understanding.
Public Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan (Address: 114-8 Unni-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul)
The Public Information and Cultural Center of the Embassy of Japan opened its doors in 1971 and has been working to promote Japanese culture in Korea. Over the last four decades, the center has hosted and sponsored a wide variety of cultural events, while providing information services and support to those interested in learning more about Japan.
|Public Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan (photographed by Hwang Dana)|
One of the core programs of the Public Information and Cultural Center is “Japan Week,” which is held annually in different cities all around Korea in cooperation with local governmental organizations. The event was first initiated in 1998, in conjunction with an official visit to Japan by former president Kim Dae-jung, who was working on lifting restrictions on Japanese cultural imports.
|Master Tamami Imafuji teaches the shamisen, a traditional Japanese musical instrument, at the Public Information and Cultural Center. The center offers traditional music lessons for free. (photographed by Hwang Dana)|
Cultural exchanges reached a new high point in 2005, the “Year of Friendship” in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations. The center has taken an important role in hosting the “Korea-Japan Festival,” every October, in close collaboration with the Korean government and its affiliated organizations.
The Public Information and Cultural Center is housed near one of Korea’s major cultural and tourist areas, Insadong, and holds the Japan Information Square, the “Silk Gallery exhibition hall and Japan Music Information Center, along with spaces for seminars and film screenings. The center itself offers a wide range of programs and seasonal events, including a New Year’s celebration and Japanese Doll Festival, known as Hinamatsuri.
|Artists Kawahara Eiji and Kanayo held their third exhibition in Korea under the auspices of the Public Information and Cultural Center. The exhibition took place through May 31 at the Korea Craft & Design Foundation gallery. (photographed by Hwang Dana)|
From July 21 to July 30, the center will present an exhibition on Japanese traditions and culture, ranging from classical kabuki dramas to sumo wrestling. Visitors can participate to in activities like Japanese tea ceremony and learn how to wear kimono. Advance phone reservations (02-765-3011, ext. 120, 123) are mandatory.
The Public Information and Cultural Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on weekdays and closed on weekends and public holidays. For more information, please visit the official website at: www.kr.emb-japan.go.jp/cult/cul_guide_hist.htm (Korean and Japanese).
The Japan Foundation (Address: Vertigo Bldg. 2&3F, Yonseiro 10-1, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul)
Founded in 2001, the Japan Foundation’s Seoul office has played an increasingly important role in delivering up-to-date information on Japan. They provide language training courses and have been at the forefront of intellectual exchange through their fellowship programs. The foundation differentiates itself by specializing in international cultural exchanges at the organizational level, while also serving the general public through its cutting-edge multimedia library. Moreover, it provides funding for Japan-related arts and activities to non-profit organizations across Korea, with a particular focus on modern and contemporary Japanese cultural contents.
|“Painting for Joy: New Japanese Paintings in 1990s” (from left) Yoshitomo Nara, Little Riding Red Hood, 120x110cm, 1997; Takanobu Kobayashi, Dog, oil on panel, 165x135cm, 1998; Takashi Murakami, I can’t touch (Blue), 1996 (Images courtesy of the Japan Foundation)|
The foundation also helped organize the exhibition “Painting for Joy: New Japanese Paintings in 1990s,” featuring nine prominent Japanese artists, including Yoshitomo Nara and Takashi Murakami, from their collection. First held in Busan in May, it is now being hosted in Seoul at the Silk Gallery from June 10 to 25, before traveling to Daegu and Jeju.
During an interview with Korea.net, Yamasaki Hiroki, Assistant Director of the Japan Foundation, said that this free exhibition has been organized as part of the Foundation’s worldwide touring exhibition. Yamasaki, who also oversees the foundation’s general affairs and arts departments, added that the next round of foundation’s exhibition focuses on Japanese handicrafts. (right) Yamasaki Hiroki, Assistant Director of the Japan Foundation
The Seoul office has partnered with local organizations like the Seoul Art Cinema (www.cinematheque.seoul.kr) and Cinus Eche (www.at9.co.kr) on its series of free screenings of Japanese films from their archives.
Another upcoming film event, the “3K-Great Japanese Directors Retrospective,” will kick off on July 1, for three weeks of complimentary screenings at the Korean Film Archive (www.koreafilm.or.kr). Through July 20, a total of 26 Japanese films directed by Kobayashi Masaki, Kinoshita Keisuke and Kimura Takeo will be shown with subtitles in Korean and English. The retrospective continues at the Cinematheque Gwangju from August 4 to 10.
|The Japan Foundation (photographed by Hwang Dana)|
The foundation’s offices are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, every first and third Saturday and open until 9 p.m. every Wednesday. For more information, please visit the official website at: www.jpf.or.kr (Korean, Japanese and English)