Festivals Provide Bridge Of Understanding Linking Hosts of 2002 World Cup

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Festivals Provide Bridge Of Understanding Linking Hosts of 2002 World Cup

Korea and Japan, co-hosts of the 2002 Korea Japan World Cup, are at odds over the event's official headline. Japanese organizers refuse to use "Korea-Japan," designated by FIFA, soccer's international governing body. But a series of festivals held in each country contradicts the premise of the quarrel. Each nation's government has agreed to sponsor cultural festivals for the World Cup, which will be called the "Japan-Korea Festival," in Korea and the "Korea-Japan Festival" in Japan.

"Japan-Korea Festival," the first of three planned festivals in Korea, is currently running at the Pacific Hall in the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) in Seoul. The event, which is sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), began last Friday and will continue through Sunday. With "Building the Future Together" as its theme, the festival's exhibitions highlight four aspects of today's Japan: welfare and aging society, information technology, environment and lifestyle. Along with the exhibitions, special events such as Japanese traditional art performances, fashion shows and film screenings are scheduled.

Cutting-edge technology products on display, such as robotics and electronic goods, have already attracted considerable public interest. "Paro," a robotic seal has been especially popular. The lifelike robot reacts to outside stimulation, responding to its name with a succession of movements, causing the many children attending the show to squeal in delight and pester their mothers to buy the toy until they are told the 35,000,000 won ($28,135) price tag.

The Japanese "hybrid car," fueled by both gas and electricity and striking in appearance with its greenish yellow sheen, also attracted viewers. Environmentally friendly and convenient, the car received much praise.

Lee Jung-hyun, a student at Pohang University of Science and Technology who is working part-time at the festival, remarked, "I was surprised to see so many people come to the festival. To learn about Japan and see what they have developed must be an astounding experience."

Katsumi Machida, director-general of JETRO and secretariat of the festival, said, "I hope this festival will be a chance for Koreans to get a true picture of today's Japan. There must be disagreeable things as well as likable things, because Japan and Korea are two separate countries with different cultures. However, the festivals are convenient opportunities to figure out ways for the two cultures to harmonize."

The second "Japan-Korea Festival" will take place in Pusan from Nov. 14 to Nov. 18, and the third festival will take place sometime in 2002 before the games. The counterpart "Korea-Japan Festival," or "Korea Super-Expo," sponsored by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, will be held in Osaka, Japan from Nov. 15 to Nov. 19. Hopefully, these cultural festivals will encourage better understanding between Korean and Japanese citizens, who have been quite sensitive to each other as of late.

'Japan-Korea Festival,' running until Sunday, could be the cornerstone for a better understanding of Japan.

by Chun Su-jin

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