Prospect of cultural cooperation between Korea, Iran highly bright

September 30, 2016

As the vice minister for culture, sports and tourism of the Republic of Korea, I am going to arrive at Tehran in a few days for the first time in my life with a large cultural delegation. I am eager to see with my own eyes the cradle of human culture and meet the Iranian people who deserve to be praised for their contribution to the humanity achievements, be it literature, philosophy, art, architecture, and many others. And I am also delighted to introduce many aspects of Korean culture to Iranian friends during my stay in Tehran.

By Chung Kwan-Joo

Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea

As the vice minister for culture, sports and tourism of the Republic of Korea, I am going to arrive at Tehran in a few days for the first time in my life with a large cultural delegation. I am eager to see with my own eyes the cradle of human culture and meet the Iranian people who deserve to be praised for their contribution to the humanity achievements, be it literature, philosophy, art, architecture, and many others. And I am also delighted to introduce many aspects of Korean culture to Iranian friends during my stay in Tehran.

A large scale Korean non-verbal performance on the legendary love story of Persian prince and Korean princess will be performed at the Milad Tower on the 1st and 2nd October along with the Korean modern painting exhibition and try-out activities of various Korean culture to be held from 27th September. Particularly, the non-verbal performance shows how old our two countries relations can trace back, despite geographical remoteness and cultural difference. In addition to these performances during my stay, throughout October, a series of cultural events will continue such as Korean music night with Tehran Orchestra, Iranian calligraphy contest on Korea-Iran friendship, Korea seen by Iranian photographer exhibition, Korean Ambassador’s Cup Taekwondo competition, and so on. 

My visit to Iran and all ensuing cultural activities are good evidence of how much importance Korean government puts in the relation with Iran. That importance does neither come from any sense of competition, nor expectation of support for commercial activities. Why Korean government is so keen about cultural cooperation with Iran is because the bilateral relations of the two countries could be much more strengthened through enhanced cultural ties. With someone whom we know only superficially, we end up with superficial relations accordingly. And building trust is almost impossible in such relationship. This axiom is applied to the national relations too. In order to build mutually complementary and sustainable relations with other countries, first of all, we have to be familiar with them, be friends with them. The first step to do so is to know who they are, what they like. Namely, it is a mutual understanding and respect to the other’s culture. The relation we want with Iran is an interlinked, stable and comprehensive one. I am sure that our countries will be even closer in every aspect and enjoy higher level of cooperation through cultural activities. 

However, such cultural activities shall be mutual and reciprocal. Unilateral promotion of one country is neither sustainable nor effective. Occasional visits of cultural delegation should be advanced into the upper level of sustainable and mutual cultural exchange. It is very encouraging that the two governments already started to consult in this regard. During the historic visit of Korean president to Iran last May, year 2017 was designated as the Year of Korea-Iran Cultural Exchange. In order to boost cultural activities, Iran and Korea also expressed their readiness to negotiate establishing cultural centers in their respective capitals in the near future. Preparatory works are already in process. Two countries officials are expected to meet within this year in order to prepare cultural exchange program in 2017. Discussion for Korean cultural center in Tehran is started. Recently it was agreed to open a section for Iranian books in the National Library of Korea. I hope that such mutual activities will be stepped up during my stay in Tehran. 

The cultural activities need not to be confined to art and traditional things. It is a comprehensive concept incorporating education, people to people exchange, tourism, sports and other aspects of humanity. While staying in Tehran, I expect to meet relevant Iranian officials to discuss on how to enlarge cooperative activities in these fields too. I am particularly interested in the Iranian touristic potentials which are regrettably not yet fully introduced to Koreans. Likewise abundant cultural heritage and beautiful sceneries of Korea wait for Iranian friends. Education is another effective tool to promote mutual understanding of the two countries. I thank the Tehran University for their decision to establish Korean language department in 2017. In October, Korean embassy in Iran will organize an expo of Korean universities for the Iranian students who are interested in studying in Korea. Some of winners of Iranian college math contest will be invited to Korea in November. The news that the first Olympic medal won by Iranian women player was in no other than Taekwondo signifies that there are a lot of work we can collaborate in sports too. 

By the means of various exchanges which are already in the pipeline and to be executed hand-in-hand with Iran, I am confident that the prospect of cultural cooperation between Korea and Iran is highly bright and soon bear fruits which our people commonly benefit from. I genuinely hope we go beyond our interests, yet build a solid partnership with the virtue of trust. I would like to reiterate that culture shall be the foundation of this relations. When we pursue commercial benefits, we have to face each other to haggle over the price. Partners put their shoulders each other to travel together. Korea and Iran are partners not merely in oil and gas, TVs and phones. As declared when Korean President visited Iran, Korea and Iran are partners in all areas, namely comprehensive partners. In order to make the foundation of this partnership more solid, Korean government will not spare efforts to reach out Iranian people and support Iranians to be friends with Koreans. I hope my humble visit with cultural delegation to be accepted as a sign of Korean government’s determination in this regards.
 
CKJ/MMS

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