Hallyu Festival “All Eyes on Korea” Enlivens the London 2012 Summer Olympics
SEOUL, KOREA — The London 2012 Summer Olympics is only a few days away. Due to the time difference between Korea and the UK, Koreans will have to pull an all-nighter to root for Korean national teams and athletes.Each and every move Korean national athletes make during the Olympic Games will have many people experiencing pins and needles in front of their TV sets. Yet, some may dismiss the London 2012 Summer Olympics as just another Olympics that come every four years.
However, the London 2012 Summer Olympics is different from its predecessors and takes on new meaning for Koreans. This is because the 14th Olympics, hosted by London in 1948, were the first Olympics Korea participated in holding up Korea’s national flags (Taegeukgi), not Hinomaru, after it was liberated from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.
Thanks to aid from developed nations and national fundraising campaigns, then poverty-stricken Korea managed to send a team of 67 national players to London. Though London is now 12 hours away from Korea by plane, the 67-strong national team at that time had to travel on a 20-day odyssey which required the national team to transfer 13 times at airports and ports to finally set foot in London.
As such, Korea was mendicant in the past, but 64 years later, Korea, packed with an average per capita income of USD 20,000 and a population of over 50 million, has become the 7th member of the so-called “20-50 club” (there are two criteria for the membership: the GDP per capita should be USD 20,000 or more, and the population should be 50 million or more). This level of remarkable economic successes has led to a heightened interest in Korean culture (which is better known as Korean wave (Hallyu) on the back of the popularity of K-pop and Korean soap operas. Undoubtedly, Hallyu is now taking the world by storm. It is astounding to witness the sea change in the international standing of Korea.
The Korean government is now well positioned to parade Korean national teams’ improved athletic prowess and showcase the various aspects of Hallyu during the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
To that end, the Korean government came up with a Hallyu festival titled “All Eyes on Korea” (a 100-day summer festival that will last from June 2 through to September, 2012). The Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) in London has joined forces with culture and art institutions in London to pull off “All Eyes on Korea,” which is a fascinating, attention-worthy festival for Londoners and foreigners visiting London.
“All Eyes on Korea,” which takes place at Southbank Centre (Europe’s largest center for the arts), will serve as a perfect venue for the Hallyu festival that shows off all things Korean – from K-pop and traditional Korean culture to Korean fashion and Korea’s modern art.
The highlights of All Eyes on Korea are K-Classic Concert that features the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), Sumi Jo (a Korean coloratura soprano) and Sarah Chang (a Korean-American classical violinist); the Korean musical extravaganza “Walkabout” (presented by GongMyoung, a Korean percussion quartet who performs traditional Korean music with more than 30 musical instruments); and Korean Masque Music Project “LeeMyenKongJak (Which means behind-the-scenes maneuvering). In addition, fashion shows, inspired by dancheong (traditional multicolored paintwork on wooden buildings) and traditional patchwork wrapping cloth will be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), the world's largest museum for decorative arts and design. On top of that, Korean Film Nights 2012 and Korean art exhibitions are also underway in London. An encouraging anecdote has been expressed. The organizers of All Eyes on Korea are able to work out difficult problems by drawing consensus from an artist who happened to have a Kpop-loving sister. Likewise, there is no doubt that Korean culture has established firm roots in European soil.
Unbeknownst to Koreans, Korean culture has struck a chord with a plethora of people around the globe and Korean companies are now leveraging Hallyu as part of their export strategies. If the first Olympics Korea partook in (the London 1948 Olympics) sowed the seeds of hope in the hearts of Koreans who were languishing in destitution right after Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, the London 2012 Summer Olympics will work as an opportunity for modernized Korea to sow the seeds of its superb culture in the world. There is strong hope that “All Eyes on Korea” will project Korean culture’s flamboyant, glittering colors in a positive light to mesmerize foreigners.
Written by Minister Choi Kwang-Sik of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism