France to open events to mark 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Korea

March 23, 2016
Henri Loyrette, chief of the French organizing committee for the "French Year in South Korea," speaks during a press conference in Seoul on March 23, 2016, to mark the launch of the Seoul-Paris exchange event, which will run through the end of the year as part of a celebration of the 130th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship. (Yonhap)

Henri Loyrette, chief of the French organizing committee for the “French Year in South Korea,” speaks during a press conference in Seoul on March 23, 2016, to mark the launch of the Seoul-Paris exchange event, which will run through the end of the year as part of a celebration of the 130th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship. (Yonhap)

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL (Yonhap) — France will showcase various aspects of its culture in South Korea for a year starting Wednesday as part of the two countries’ joint program to celebrate the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties, organizers said.

The two countries have been celebrating the anniversary, which falls on June 4 this year, in the largest scale ever, with about 350 events in such areas as culture, education, science-technology, economy and industry. The events first kicked off in September of last year.

In 2010, the countries agreed to designate the period from the latter part of 2015 to the end of 2016 as the “2015-2016 Korea-France Year” to allow citizens to experience each other’s culture without having to travel.

Under the bilateral exchange programs, France plans to offer about 200 events that will best represent it as “a country of creation and innovation” throughout South Korea this year.

The events will open with a joint performance of national dance companies of the two nations titled “Shigane Nai,” or “Age of Time” in English, at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul Wednesday night, they said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Byung-se; Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Kim Jong-deok; and French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault will attend a congratulatory reception that will precede the opening performance.

In September, South Korea began its side of the yearlong festival with the performance of Jongmyo Jeryeak, a UNESCO-listed royal ancestral ritual music, at the Chaillot National Theater in Paris. There also was a spectacular light show that projects colorful lights featuring the Korean national flag Taegukgi on the Eiffel Tower. The Korea-hosted festival is scheduled to last till August.

“The France Year in Korea invites all Koreans to take a tour of France,” Henri Loyrette, chief of the French-side organizing committee of the bilateral exchange year, said during a press briefing on the upcoming events. “I hope France and Korea will cement their bilateral cooperation in all fields so their relations can be further developed and become a comprehensive partnership.”

French Ambassador to South Korea Fabien Penone said the Korea-organized events held in his country already “have been a big success.”

“I hope France, which is open toward the world, will be properly introduced in the events and, many young people, in particular, will visit them.”

Park Younggoog, chief of the Korean Culture and Information Service affiliated with the culture ministry, said the French events will serve as a chance to let Koreans learn how the country found business opportunities from its culture by combining its own creativeness and innovative ideas that made its culture beloved by people around the world.

“Shigane Nai” is a dance program co-produced by the National Theater of Korea and the Chaillot National Theater of France with the prominent French dancer and choreographer Jose Montalvo. Twenty-four members of the Korean dance company will perform the show combining traditional Korean dance and contemporary dance of France five times — once per day from Wednesday to Sunday — in South Korea. After South Korea, the show will be performed in France from June 16 to 24.

The opening week has a variety of events lined up for Seoul, Busan and other big cities.

One of them is the “So French Delice” food festival in which 12 top-class French chefs will showcase the tastes of the country from Wednesday to Saturday. Among them will be Guillaume Gomez, head chef at France’s Elysee Palace. There also will be an open-air tasting event for French street food at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun square as part of the last two days of the chef festival.

On Thursday, about 100 social, economic and political leaders from the two countries will exchange opinions on various issues in the “South Korea-France Leaders’ Forum” at Hotel Shilla in central Seoul.

Among cultural events, there will be concerts by French rock star M, a.k.a. Matthieu Chedid on the same day and an exhibition by French photographer Francoise Huguier at Seoul History Museum on March 23-May 29.

An exhibition will open on Friday at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in central Seoul giving a glimpse into iconic Parisian fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s fashion world spanning his 40-year career. The exhibit will last till June 30.

For more details, visit the official website of the “2015-2016 Korea-France Year” at www.anneefrancecoree.kr.

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