THE PRESENCE of the Republic of Korea and its cultural phenomena in Slovakia is comparatively recent, but can already be felt intensely – and some of the country’s events and traditions have already become a local tradition. However, some new facets of Korea’s cultural offering are emerging this year in connection with a special jubilee.
“The 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Slovakia and Korea represents a particularly good occasion for promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries,” Marianna Uherková of the embassy told The Slovak Spectator. “Our aim is to highlight the specificities of Korean culture and at the same time to respond to the particular demands of the Slovak audience, which are evolving.”
She listed the events highlighting the anniversary and exchanges between the two countries so far: a Slovak-Korean friendship concert, a Korean evening at the Ekotopfilm festival, and a Korean chamber music concert. “In 2012, we also organised a Korean cooking contest with students of Slovak secondary schools, the Korean-Slovak Goodwill Concert and a performance by world-famous Korean musicians featured at the annual Bratislava Music Festival, which met with great success,” Uherková said.
A unique happening was the Korean cooking competition, organised for students of hotel academies from across the country. Young apprentices had to cook, in pairs, one obligatory dish and one Korean meal of their choice.
The most recent events organised by the embassy include a chamber music concert by the Ola Viola Korean Orchestra on May 10, and the Korea Tourism photography exhibition held in Hviezdoslavovo Square throughout June. “As for the upcoming events, we are preparing a spectacular traditional Korean dance performance in the Slovak National Theatre on October 1 on the occasion of the Korean National Day,” Uherková explained. “In November, we plan a Taekwondo performance event in Košice.”
Uherková stressed the high level of cooperation with various Slovak institutions, giving as an example the cooperation between the Korea Foundation and Comenius University: a bachelor’s degree in Korean language and cultural studies was established at the university’s Faculty of Philosophy in 2012, starting with 21 students and becoming more and more popular and in-demand ever since.
She praised the response of Slovaks to the embassy’s cultural events, adding that ever more of them are travelling to Asian countries to discover Oriental cultures. “Hence, our aim is to focus on not only the differences, but also on the common values our cultures share across the continents. The Korean Embassy has always been keen to promote intercultural exchange,” the embassy concluded. “We indeed believe that it plays a crucial part in bringing people together and creating a multicultural society of mutual understanding and continuous enrichment. And that is what we all strive for.”