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Korean Cultural Center advances Korea-Australia ties

A new Korean Cultural Center opened on April 4 in Sydney to mark the 50 anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between Korea and Australia.

The Korean Cultural Center in Sydney (Yonhap News)The center is the 17th of its kind built overseas, and is the first center in Oceania. 

The center has a multimedia exhibition hall that takes full advantage of Korea’s advanced IT technology, a kitchen for Korean food lessons, a cultural space which can accommodate up to 150 people, seminar rooms and a library which has nearly 1,500 Korean books and 500 DVDs and compact discs.

At the opening ceremony, Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Choung Byoung Gug said, “The new center will offer an opportunity for Korea and Australia to develop closer cultural bilateral relations."

The audience watching the Korean children singing folk songs at an event to mark the opening of the new center on Apr. 4 (Yonhap News)Opening ceremony attendees included Seo Kang-soo, Director of the Korean Culture and Information Service; Korean ambassador to Australia, Kim Woo-sang; chair of Australia-Korea Parliamentary Group, Julie Ann Owens; and Peter Rowe, former Australian ambassador to Korea.

Two leading Korean electronics makers, Samsung and LG Electronics, and an association of Korean firms in Australia have supported the center by providing electronic products and offering a support fund.

After the ceremony, a celebratory event was held under the theme of "Celebrating Mateship" by the Korean Culture and Information Service under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The event began with groups of Korean and Australian children singing popular folk songs from both countries. There was also a joint dance performance by Korean ballerina Kim Joo-won of the Korean National Ballet and modern dancer Lee Youngil, a fashion show of traditional ceremonial costumes of the royal family during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Joseon court dance performances, a pansori performance by Ahn Sook-Sun and music from the Korean group, Poolim. 

Performances to celebrate the opening of the new center on April 4 

The event was attended by more than 1,000 people, including nearly 150 influential figures from the Korean and Australian governments, and major figures from cultural and arts sectors.

The center will hold a similar event at Malvern Town Hall in Melbourne on April 8.

To mark the "Australia-Korea Year of Friendship 2011," the Culture Ministry plans to promote Korean culture to Australians by organizing a variety of programs, including a Korean film festival, cultural performances and exhibitions. The Korean Cultural Center in Sydney will introduce K-pop, TV dramas and films, as well as traditional Korean culture, by hosting seminars and organizing Korean food, Korean language and calligraphy classes. The center also plans to hold a series of exhibitions to introduce Korean artworks, crafts and media arts to Australian artists.

Before attending the ceremony, Minister Choung had met with Koreans residing in Australia and Australian veterans of the Korean War (1950-1953) on April 2. Australia was the second country after the United States to send troops to the Korean War.

Minister Choung (center) paying silent tribute to Australian veterans of the Korean War.Since the official establishment of diplomatic relations in 1961, Korea and Australia developed deep bilateral ties through active exchanges in a wide range of sectors, including politics, diplomacy, economic cooperation, tourism, immigration and education. As of 2010, more than 100,000 Koreans live in Australia. 

The "Australia-Korea Year of Friendship 2011" was agreed to by President Lee Myung-bak and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during summit talks as part of President Lee’s state visit to Australia in March of 2009.

Thanks to the opening of the Korean Cultural Center in Sydney, Korea and Australia hope to pave the way for deeper friendship in the future through cultural communication.

By Yoon Sojung
Korea.net Staff Writer

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