Endowed with abundant cultural resources and a large-scale economy, the UAE will act as a bridge to promote Korean culture to other Middle Eastern countries, according to a top South Korean official.
“The UAE is Korea’s first ‘Cultural Dialogue’ partner country in the Middle East and has shown an active interest in Korean culture,” wrote Park Yang-woo, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in an op-ed published in Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, one of the three major newspapers in Korea with a daily circulation of more than 1.2 million.
“The convergence of our cultural resources will be a driving force that will enrich the culture of both Korea and the UAE, leading to more dynamic political and economic exchanges with the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries,” he added.
During his recent UAE visit to celebrate the designation of the ‘Korea-UAE Cultural Dialogue 2020’ and to discuss policy measures to enhance bilateral cooperation, the Minister experienced the excitement and joy while watching the traditional Emirati performances.
“I also felt a very special connection when I joined the local performers on stage for the ‘Al Ayala’ dance, which is similar to the Korean ‘Ganggangsullae’ dance,” Park reminisced.
The UAE also has a ‘Majlis’ culture that is very similar to the Korean ‘Sarangbang’ culture, he pointed out.
Majlis is a community gathering where people come together to talk about wide-ranging social issues, connecting different generations. The Korean spirit of ‘Jeong,’ which is openness to different generations and caring for others is very much alive inside the Majlis, he explained.
In March 2018, the bilateral relationship between Korea and the UAE was elevated to a ‘special strategic partnership’ after Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to the UAE in March 2018.
Following the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Korea in February 2019, a strong platform for the development of bilateral cooperation was established, Park said.
“During my visit, I met Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, [UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development], and our partners at her Ministry who warmly welcomed the Korean delegation and showed keen interest in Korea.
“I also had a chance to meet members of the ‘Korean Club’ at the Zayed University, as well as students at the King Sejong Institute learning the Korean language, motivated by their interest in Korean culture,” he recalled.
“These interactions gave me a glimpse of the strong potential of cultural developments between Korea and the UAE. There is a Korean idiom ‘Jigijiwoo’ that is used to describe close friends who understand each other and I believe true friendship begins from knowing more about each other.
“The ‘Korea-UAE Cultural Dialogue 2020’ will present diverse aspects of Korean culture to the UAE, moving beyond the ‘Korean Wave’ [global popularity of South Korea’s cultural economy] and its focus on popular culture, and conversely, it will introduce Emirati culture to the Korean people, giving us an opportunity to deepen mutual understanding.
“Culture will lead the way in ensuring Korea and the UAE’s 40-year-long relationship develops into a true ‘Jigijiwoo,'” he concluded.