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South Koreans use scent of culture to bring nations together
By M. A. Saki - Tehran Times
South Korea -- At first glance, many people may think that South
Korea is mainly an industrial country. However, South Korea enjoys a
very deep culture and ancient history. In addition, Korean people
cherish peace, democracy, and human rights, and efforts are also
underway in South Korea to promote cultural exchanges between Korean
people and other nations in response to the needs of modern times.
South Korea seeks rapprochement between different cultures across
the world. In line with this strategy, the Korea Foundation for
International Culture Exchange (KOFICE) was established in 2003 with
the aim of promoting understanding between cultures, especially
among Asian countries.
KOFICE encourages a correct understanding of different cultures and
acts as the civilian exchange window for mutual cooperation. KOFICE
is in fact a timely and proper response to globalization as the
development of digital technology in the 21st century transcends
national borders and even emotion.
one of its main principles, KOFICE says: “We deliver the scent of
culture to the world, and suggest the right directions. When we
share our scent, the heart of the world becomes one.”
The organization has launched television and other media programs to
promote tourist attractions and the tourism industry in South Korea
and other countries with the aim of promoting the proximity of
It also plans various cultural enterprises, ranging from traditional
to modern, especially with countries in Southeast and Central Asia.
KOFICE has overseas correspondents and cultural experts who work in
major cities around the world, contributing to cultural exchanges by
providing and sharing world cultural enterprises.
As a professional center, a committee consisting of South Korean
cultural experts gives advice to KOFICE on how to implement its
projects successfully. It holds seminars to understand the different
cultures of countries through future-oriented popular cultural
Koreans’ hospitality toward foreigners is so enchanting that no
visitor can ever forget it. Everyone that you meet in South Korea
says, “I hope you will enjoy your stay in Korea.”
Support for human rights
South Koreans are a peaceful people and defenders of human rights.
One can see the younger generation working to obtain reparations for
the Korean “comfort women” who were abused by Japanese soldiers
during World War II. South Korean human rights activists have been
campaigning for the recognition of the human rights of the victims
of the Japanese military’s sexual slavery and all women who have
suffered in wars. They take care of the elderly women and have been
converging in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul every Wednesday
since 1992. The activists plan to build a War and Women’s Human
Rights Museum. Through the museum, they hope to restore the honor
and dignity of the victims and prevent the recurrence of such a
tragedy in the future. They also plan to address the serious issues
of violence against women who are being abused in war or war-like
situations around the world.
As a group of reporters from the Middle East were meeting with the
KOFICE director in Seoul on November 22, the shouts of human rights
activists who were protesting against Israel for committing
atrocities against the Palestinian people could be heard from a
Incheon reaches out to the world
In line with efforts to bring nations closer together, the Incheon
Center for International Cooperation and Exchange (ICICE) was
founded in 2005. The main role of the ICICE, as a non-governmental
and non-profit organization, is to act as a bridge between Incheon
and other cities across the world, including those in the Middle
East, contribute to inter-Korean affairs and promote peace among the
nations in Northeast Asia, collect and provide information and data
relevant to international affairs, help in hosting and organizing
international events, conferences and organizations in the Incheon
metropolitan area, and develop programs to increase citizens’
knowledge of international affairs. The center also plans to act as
an essential base for interactive affairs with North Korea.
The center has “great ambitions”. It plans to establish a UN office
for information technology. It also plans to organize student
exchange programs with other nations and language classes for
minorities, including Muslims, living in South Korea in order to
help them make their lives happier.
Incheon is gaining international recognition as a hub city of
Northeast Asia in the 21st century with a number of attractive
features such as the Incheon International Airport.
The desire for reunification
All Koreans long for a peaceful settlement of the thorny issues of
the Korean peninsula and all of East Asia. They are impatiently
awaiting reunification of the two Koreas. Every South Korean that
you meet immediately says, “We wish to rejoin each other soon.” They
lament the fact that some family members who were separated during
the Korean War may never get a chance to see their relatives again
since they are getting old and may die soon.
At the War Museum in Seoul, a huge statue speaks volumes. It depicts
a chance meeting on the battlefield between a South Korean Army
officer and his younger brother, who was a soldier in the North
Korean Army. The two are embracing each other. The statue explains
very clearly how the Koreans feel sad about the 1950-1953 Korean War
and hope for reunification. It shows how the hearts of people on
both sides of the peninsula beat for each other.
Success through hard work
South Koreans’ desire for cultural connections between nations,
peace, democracy, and human rights is as strong as their work ethic,
which has made their country the 11th largest economy in the world.
A slogan written in the POSCO Steel Museum by a construction crew
which says “If we fail, we should all do a ‘right face’ and drown
ourselves in Yeongil Bay” clearly illustrates South Koreans’ strong
resolve for development.
South Korea’s annual exports were projected to exceed the landmark
$300 billion mark by early December 2006. By the end of the year,
exports are estimated to hit $318 billion. It is a great leap and a
source of great pride for all South Koreans and those who love South
South Koreans should be proud of themselves since they have
transformed their country from a poor Third World country into a
great economic power in a very short time. The major economic powers
were colonial powers and exploited the resources of other countries
to reach the economic heights, committing flagrant human rights
violations and even war crimes along the way. However, Koreans were
themselves victims of colonialism, but South Korea has emerged as a
player able to challenge the great economic powers.
Seoul is also moving to play an important political role in the
international arena commensurate with its economic and democratic
status, especially since South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon
was recently elected to be the next United Nations secretary
general. It was a great success for South Korea because it only
joined the UN in 1991, after the end of the Cold War. However, after
15 years, its foreign minister succeeded in gaining the title of the
world’s chief diplomat.
Today, people around the world are familiar with the name of South
Korea since its industrial products have made the country famous.
Hopefully, South Korea’s experience of development through hard work
will serve as a model for all countries in the Third World.