For Korea and Japan, a year to expand tiesBe it “Korea-Japan Friendship” or “Japan-Korea Friendship,” this year means a lot to the two neighboring countries, whose relationship over the centuries has been said to be “physically close yet mentally apart.”
Commemorating the 40th year of the normalization of diplomatic relations, 2005 is dubbed “Korea-Japan Friendship Year,” involving more than 40 government-initiated and about 180 civic events throughout the period, under the catchphrase “Let’s move on to the future, together to the world.”
To celebrate the start of the friendship year, an opening event took place Thursday evening at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul, under the auspices of the Japanese government.
Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Kwon Yang-sook, the first lady, were in attendance along with other guests, including Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister of Japan. Prior to the event in Seoul, the Korean government held an opening ceremony in Tokyo, attended by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Performances by Korean and Japanese musicians were the first celebratory events. Japanese rhythm and blues duo Chemistry and Korean vocalist Lena Park opened by singing “Dance With Me,” the anthem for the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.
The upbeat rhythm was not enough to move the audience, consisting mostly of middle-aged people, who were too reserved to dance to the music. But when President Roh, wearing his trademark smile, starting to clap to the rhythm, so did Mr. Mori, followed by the special guests and the rest of the audience.
Next, to the delight of the audience, renowned Japanese pianist Yuhki Kuramoto and Korean singer Ryu performed “From the Beginning Till Now,” the theme of “Winter Sonata,” the Korean TV drama that is a phenomenal hit in Japan.
After the performances came speeches, first by Mr. Mori, who ended his remarks by saying “gamsahamnida” (thank you) in relatively fluent Korean.
Then, Mr. Roh said, “Nowadays it’s no longer an option for Korea and Japan to be friends. If we don’t become friends, it’s a matter of life and death.
“The relationship between the two countries has become close. If we’re to become friends despite some chagrin, let’s happily do so,” he added.
The president’s speech drew strong applause from the audience. He closed by saying, “Let’s widen the Korea-Japan highway as broadly as we can. First face up to the obstacles, instead of pretending that they don’t exist, and then let’s gather our strength together to remove any obstacles in the way.”
Korea-Japan Friendship Year 2005 / Event Schedule of the Year
Jan. 29-30: National Center For Korean Traditional Performing Arts, Seoul
(March 3-7 in Tokyo, Japan)
Korean Culture Content Exhibition
Feb. 24-March 3: Tokyo
Korean Beauty Maksabal (Korean Traditional Bowls) Exhibition in Tokyo
March 7-April 5: Korea Japan Art Exhibition in Fukuoka, Japan
Kabuki/Changgeuk (Korean Classical Opera) co-performance
April 1-17: National Theater of Korea
April 7: Korean traditional dance and song in Tokyo; April 9 in Kyoto
NHK Symphony Orchestra
May 4 in Daejeon and May 6 in Seoul
Enactment of Tongshinsa (Korean traditional diplomatic group) from May to October in Busan and Japan
Korea Japan Opera Concert
May 22 at Opera City in Tyoko
Korea Japan Co-seminar
June-July: Seminars on Korea-Japan cooperation, Tokyo
Korea Japan Dance Exhibition
June 25-July 14: National Theater of Korea
Aichi Expo Game Exhibition
July 18-Aug. 22 in Aichi, Japan
Korea Japan National Universities’ Art Exhibition
Aug. 25-Sept. 7 at Seoul Arts Center
(Dec. 5-19 at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music)
Korea Japan Future Project, from August to November in Japan
Korea Japan Traditional Art performance exchange
Sept. 4-9 at the National Theater of Japan in Osaka
Sept. 20-26 at Chongdong Theater, Seoul
Ku Nauka Theater Company from Japan performs Macbeth in Korea
Sept. 16-19 at National Theater of Korea
National Museum of Korea opens Japan Hall from September to October
Korean ssireum (wrestling) for the month in Tokyo
Japanese Culture Symposium in Seoul
Korea Japan Chamber Music Concert
Nov. 9 at Tokyo Opera City
Korea Japan Young Artists Exhibition
Dec. 7-20 at Sejong Center, Seoul
by Chun Su-jin