Watermill rolls its way to Germany

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Watermill rolls its way to Germany

A ceremony to unveil a stone monument inscribed with a Korean song was held last month in Gifhorn, Germany. The ceremony took place beside a real watermill and a house with wooden roof tiles, which was relocated in 2003 from Pyeongchang county, Gangwon province.
The stone monument is in the shape of a Korean drum and was 90 centimeters (35 inches) in diameter. On the stone, the lyrics of a Korean song titled “Love,” by Jeong Chi-geun, are inscribed.
Such was the scene at the Gifhorn International Wind and Water Mill Museum in Gifhorn, Germany.
“I intend to develop it as a place to foster Korean culture in Germany,” said Horst Wrobel, 71, the head of the museum.
The lyrics are carved on the stone in both Korean and English. They read, “Even if a great mountain becomes the sea, even if the sea becomes the great mountain again, my love for you, my dear, will never change.”
Mr. Wrobel said with an air of pride that the roof of the traditional Korean house is covered with blue ceramic roof tiles made in Gangjin, South Jeolla province, where celadon was produced during the Goryeo Dynasty.
Other programs showcasing Korean culture followed the ceremony. Korean flags were hung on the stage, and Korean traditional dances and songs were performed for German visitors.
The audience seemed impressed with the sad tunes of traditional Korean music and with the exorcism dance performance by a woman wearing a white traditional costume.
Dancers dressed in the full court robes used for state ceremonies during the Joseon Dynasty were performing “Taepyeongmu,” a traditional dance for prosperity and peace, this time illuminated by a wave of camera flashes.
The museum, which covers 15 hectares (37 acres), is a European culture museum that recently hosted an exhibition of contemporary art by 100 established Korean artists. The special exhibition attracted visitors from central Germany.
“We are going to present the culture of Korea, a country that not only hosted the World Cup but also has a strong cultural heritage,” Mr. Wrobel said.
Mr. Wrobel’s relationship with Korea began not too long ago. In 2000, he learned about the watermill in Gangwon province. “I became interested in Korea because it is a divided nation, just as Germany used to be,” Mr. Wrobel said. “The more I learn about Korean culture, the more I fall in love with it.”
Mr. Wrobel often wears a medallion in the shape of a Korean traditional mask. Having developed the barren land in the area into the world’s biggest wind and water mill museum in 1977, the people in the region know him well.
The museum has become something of a popular destination, with its visitors including Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

by Ryu Kwon-ha
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