Ringing in the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Korea-China diplomatic ties, a musical performance of "Chunhyang", blending elements of both Korean and Chinese cultures, took place on April 3 at Theater Yong, National Museum of Korea.
Korea, China seek diverse cultural and civic exchanges throughout 2012
An evening embellished with a joint performance, following a celebratory reception for Korea-China Year of Friendship 2012, was hosted by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) under the auspices of the culture and foreign affairs ministers of both parties -- who also plan a series of cultural exchanges throughout this year.
A joint Korea-China performance held at Theater Yong of the National Museum of Korea on April 3 reinterprets Korea's traditional play "Chunhyang", bringing together cultural elements of both cultures.
Artists from both countries showcased a marvelous reinterpretation of Korea's folk tale Chunhyangjeon, bringing together pansori -- a UNESCO-designated genre of traditional Korean narrative opera -- and Chinese pingtan -- known for its humorous storytelling and aria singing -- fused with an inspiring mix of the two nations' dance and music traditions.
The first act began with a Chinese pingtan scene where two Chinese singers sitting on the stage passed melodious narrations back and forth, describing the night's repertory accompanied with Chinese traditional string instrumentals. The cheerful pingtan play was followed by a Yueju opera performance of Chunhyang's love story, featuring the traditional Korean folk song Arirang. The third act was filled with an energetic solo performance by pansori vocalist Park Aeri, who stirred up audience participation, as the night approached the climax of the performance: the reencounter of the two protagonists once suffering from unwanted separation.
The opening ceremony was attended by nearly 200 people, including Korean Vice-Minister Kwak Young-jin ofthe Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and his Chinese counterpart Vice-Minister of Culture Wang Wenzhang, alongside other high-level officials of the two nations.
Kwak Young-jin, Vice-Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism (fifth from right), Wang Wenzhang, Chinese Vice-Minister of Culture (fourth from right), and other senior officials of the two countries make a toast to the bilateral friendship.
"Since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties in 1992, Korea and China have extensively expanded the scope of cooperation beyond politics, economy, and trade into the sectors of education and culture", remarked Vice-Minister Kwak. "The bilateral bond has matured, making the two countries 'great friends' based on mutual confidence and diverse cultural exchanges over the past two decades".
Following the opening performance, the two sides will oversee a series of over 45 cultural events involving civic and governmental exchanges respectively throughout the year of 2012, under the slogan "A Beautiful Friendship, a Delightful Accompaniment ( )". The eight-month journey organized for more active civic contributions will wrap up with a closing ceremony slated this November, this time in Beijing.
Chinese journalists visit Korea, shed light on bilateral ties
In conjunction with the opening ceremony held to commemorate the bilateral friendship, KOCIS invited Chinese journalists for a group tour of Korea, offering them a chance to learn more about the local culture and society. From April 1 to 7, the reporters -- representing some of China's most influential media, including the People's Daily -- retrace the course of amity over the past two decades while also experiencing diverse aspects of Korean culture.
The event was designed to give Chinese journalists better access to Korea's culture and economy, in a bid to engage in civic exchanges between the two countries and provide a platform of active communication. Sixteen journalists representing nine leading Chinese press organizations took part in the weeklong stay, including Shi Fang from the People's Daily, Pan Xian from Shanghai Media Group, and Wu Yun from Guangming Daily.
A reception celebrating the 20th anniversary of bilateral ties and the Korea-China Year of Friendship 2012 on April 3 was swarmed by press from both nations, indicative of the growth in partnership over the two-decade period.
The reporters have gone on to provide in-depth coverage of the latest issues in the country in regards to the Korea-China relationship. On April 3, the participants visited Chinatown in Incheon ahead of the opening ceremony later that night. The next day, the group spent the day at Gunsan, where they were briefed on the Saemangeum Reclamation Project and Korea's green growth policy, followed by visits to the nearby seawall venue.
During their stay, the Chinese journalists also had time to get a glimpse of Korean culture and traditions through a visit to Jeonju, one of Korea's most representative traditional cities, alongside visits to Insadong and the National Museum of Korea.
The itinerary of Chinese journalists included visits to Incheon China Town (left) and KOCIS (right)
"Korea and China have long maintained close cultural and historical ties", said KOCIS Director Woo Jin-young, host of the cultural learning program. "Marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, we have invited Chinese journalists expecting their visit would boost the further development of the level of emotional intimacy among peoples beyond the geographical proximity of the two countries".