Opening of cultural centre gives Korea a UK space

The UK’s first Korean Cultural Centre will launch in London’s Trafalgar Square later this month, to showcase examples of work from every cultural discipline, from visual art to theatre and food.

From 30 January, the centre will open in Grand Buildings on Trafalgar Square, with interior space designed by Jeong Hwa Choi, the artist internationally known for his project in the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2005, as well as various galleries and bar spaces in Korea. In addition to an art gallery, lecture room, theatre and cultural lounge, the centre will host a library and hitech information resource, with support from South Korean companies including LG Electronics and Samsung, offering Korean language courses and specialist lectures by academics and experts.

At the launch event, there will be a preview of a monthlong exhibition about Korean composer, performer and artist Nam June Paik, also designed by Hwa Choi.

This exhibition celebrates Paik’s creativity and his contribution to the globalisation of the Korean contemporary art scene, while showcasing 23 internationally renowned and emerging Korean artists. Called Good Morning, Mr Nam June Paik: His Life, Friends and Art, the inaugural exhibition draws inspiration from the artist’s video project Good Morning, Mr Orwell (1984), and will show some of his major video works for the first time in London. Exposed & Enclosed, a media art project, will also be screened during the exhibition period.

Mr Kyu Hak Choi, director of the Korean Cultural Centre, says, ‘We hope that the Korean Cultural Centre will become a vital resource for those interested in engaging with Korea’s diverse and vibrant cultural scene, by offering outstanding events at our new central London venue. We will continue our good relationships with organisations such as the London International Mime Festival, the Liverpool Biennial and the Thames Festival to create dynamic and engaging events off-site throughout 2008.’

The centre will launch with a reception on the evening of 30 January with Tea Music, a multidisciplinary performance based on the rituals of a traditional Korean tea ceremony, speeches by viceminister Yang-Woo Park and South Korean ambassador Dr Cho, and the exhibition preview.

As part of the inaugural season of performances, Dance Theatre ON will open at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre on 5 February. Other future collaborations include joint projects between Korean institutions and historical sites around the UK, participation in the Liverpool Biennial 2008 as part of that city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations and inclusion in the Thames Festival.

The Korean Cultural Centre UK is the 12th of its kind in the world, overseen by the South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Embassy of the Republic of [South] Korea.

IMPERIAL AMBITION

• South Korean corporations such as LG Electronics and Samsung are major brands on the global technology scene

• Korea has an emerging film industry, producing movies such as Oldboy and Sassy Girl

• Korean sport has a strong influence in the UK, from Tae Kwon Do to the recent influx of Korean footballers into the Premiership

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