A piece of South Korea

Mar Chamorro and Enma Viera in the Korean Cultural Center in Madrid

For the study of one region of the world I preferred to focus on Asia, Australia and Oceania because I considered that nowadays the economic, political and military importance of this region have increased, opening up a range of possibilities in the near future. For this reason I decided to concentrate the interview especially on South Korea.

I had the pleasure to meet Mar Chamorro, the press representative of the Korean Cultural Center in Madrid. Not only she gladly accepted to have her do an interview but she also showed me around the different facilities of the modern Center. The interview focused on the cultural relations of Spain and South Korea and the role of the Center in them.

First of all, it is important to mention that the Cultural Center is established and regulated by the Republic of Korea’s Government and have for its objective the increase of cultural bonds between the two countries.

When asked about this, the interviewee highlighted that the different activities that take place in order to stimulate the cultural relations between the two countries and its citizens are  the offer of courses and workshops of Korean food (hansik), traditional music (gukak), Korean painting (hanguk-hwa), Korean paper (hanji), Korean pop (k-pop) and Korean language (hangul), among others such as the projections of Korean movies and the celebration of an annual “Muestra de Cine Coreano” (35mm) in collaboration with the “Filmoteca Española”.

She also suggested the diverse and temporary projects that will take place this year apart from the courses and workshops that are offered.  Some of the events that have been prepared are exhibitions of Korean and Spanish artists, “la Noche de los Libros”, concerts of Korean music, a K-pop contest, a literary forum, or the concert of the “Grupo Vocal Millennium”. In addition to these events, the Center will collaborate with “Casa Asia” in ARCO and in the “Festival Asia” among others.

The Korean Cultural Center is making a great effort to make the Spanish society get to know the culture of South Korea. As Mar Chamorro said, “Spaniards know Korea superficially”, so to get to know this society she points out the fact that Korea has always maintain its traditional culture but because of the economic development based of exportation and exchange with the whole world the last 50 years, it has provoked a transformation in the Korean society, making it more dynamic and open.  Mar Chamorro defines the Korean society as open, dynamic and as very kind people.

Spain and South Korean share, in her opinion, lots of things in common. Both countries are peninsulas and its people are very passionate. They share a vision of peace and international security, probably because of their membership in international organizations that have for objective this goal.

These common things makes the Spanish and South Korean relations strengthen day by day and this can be seen in the increase of the amount of Spanish visitors that travel to South Korea this past three years. Mar Chamorro thinks that the interest of the Spanish society has risen gradually, and for this reason, a direct flight stands between Madrid and Seoul with Korean Airlines.

The interviewee considers that Spain is not only known in this Asian country for its football teams or its tourism. The Korean society knows different aspects of Spain because of the promotion that takes place in South Korea, such as “el Camino de Santiago” or Gaudi’s architecture. Besides this, the Korean government considers that Spain is a very important country in order to connect Korea and South America because it serves as a bridge to strengthen cultural ties with the South American countries. This is the reason why South Korea decided to stablish the Korean Cultural Center in Madrid in 2011, becoming one of the 24 Cultural Centers that have been opened in the world.

In order to finish the interview, I could not let go the opportunity to ask Mar Chamorro about what advice she could give to International Relations students that soon will finish their studies and will enter the “real world”. She considered that it is very important to have the experience of traveling to other countries and living in them to have a different vision on how the world functions. For her point of view, it is vital to go in depth into the culture of the country that you moved into in order to open your mind. This, she says, will help us greatly.

As a nice way to finish our meeting, she nicely offered to show me the various rooms of the Center, from the amazing exhibition of traditional Korean items brought directly from South Korea, to the great collection of books in both languages, Spanish and Korean, for all ages and interests.

Tourist guides and a book that Mar Chamorro gave to me after the interview

It was a fantastic experience!


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