Cultural center an outlet for French community

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Cultural center an outlet for French community

“The time is past when the Cultural Center located near Gyeongbok Palace was virtually the only place where industrious Koreans were free to explore the world of French cinema, invention or intellectualism. Koreans now have the means available to satisfy their curiosity [on their own].”
This is how Philippe Thiebaud, French ambassador to Seoul, sums up the challenge of keeping the French Embassy’s cultural center relevant. The problem, he says, is not too little interest ― it’s too many resources. His answer is the new, refurbished French Cultural Center that opened Friday on the 18th floor of the Woori Building near Namdaemun.
Pass through its oddly futuristic tube-shaped entryway and you’ll find not only a library stocked with French books, CDs and DVDs ― you’ll also find an entire community. The new center is focused on what the Internet can’t provide: face-to-face activities. These will include choral singing in French (every Thursday at 5 p.m.), French conversation club (Tuesdays at 6), French language classes for adults (Saturdays at 1:45 and 4 p.m.) and film screenings in the center’s theater (every Friday at 6:30 p.m.). The first cycle of French films to be screened will be organized around the theme “Women in France.”
Hungry Francophiles can visit the center’s Cafe de France, which will offer a rotating menu of such dishes as coq au vin, quiche lorraine, boeuf bourgignon and lapin au pruneaux.
As diverse as the new center’s activities were the guests at its opening, among whom were Im Kwon-taek, the famous Korean film director Kwon In-hyeok; the president of the Korea Foundation, and Cho Don-young, a vice president at Renault Samsung.


by Ben Applegate
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