‘East Asia Week’ dances its way across Korea

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‘East Asia Week’ dances its way across Korea


President Roh Moo-hyun, during the Asean+3 meeting last December, proposed the idea of an “East Asia Week,” in which the countries unite through music, film and dance to enhance their social and cultural ties.
The result was the first “East Asia Week,” which opened on Thursday. Organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the slogan of this year’s event is “Uniting East Asia through Cultural Exchange.”
“East Asia is home to one-fourth of the world’s population and many diverse cultures,” pointed out Vice Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan, speaking on behalf of Minister Ban Ki-moon during his opening speech.
“I borrow the words of late Korean leader Kim Goo, in saying it is only through culture that the mind of humanity can be nurtured. Promoting an East Asian identity and increasing cultural awareness through exchange will fortify the basis of East Asian cooperation,” he added.
The festival has three main events: the East Asia Film Festival (Sept. 14 to 17), the East Asia Performance Festival (Sept. 19 to 22) and the Asia Song Festival (Sept. 22).
A total of 24 films from East Asian countries such as Laos, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Myanmar and Vietnam were featured in Seoul and South Gyeongsang province.
This week, the performance festival will be held at the Grand Conference Room of COEX in southern Seoul. Tomorrow, the company Istana Budaya, from Malaysia, will put on a performance showcasing traditional Malaysian dance and song. An Indonesian group, Primavera All Stars, will have its traditional dancers feature their unique combination of Latin rhythms with Indonesian culture on Wednesday. On Thursday, the dance company Vietnam Contemporary Music Theater will show off Vietnamese dance routines, including royal court dances and dances from northern and central Vietnam. On Friday, the Korean street theater group Expression Crew will feature a puppetmaster and his marionettes.

The last day of the festival, Friday, will also include the Asia Song Festival, in which singers and groups such as Dongbangshingi, Arashi, Kelly Chen, Tanya Chua, and Kitchie Nadal, from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines and other countries, join in the concert.
During the opening ceremony held at the National Theater of Korea last Wednesday, many public figures associated with Asean+3 were in attendance, including the Philippines’s ambassador; Myanmar’s ambassador to Korea; Jeong Jae-wal, the chief director of the Seoul Performing Arts Company, and the director of the National Theater of Korea, Shin Sun-hee. The guests got a taste of the festivals, enjoying short performances by traditional musicians from Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines, a b-boy dance by the Korean group Gambler Crew, “Spring Snow,” a Korean traditional dance performed by Jang Yun-na of the National Dance Company of Korea, and a Korean narrative song, “Sail a Boat,” by Park Ae-ri of the National Changgeuk Company of Korea.
During the reception, Susan Castrence, the Philippine ambassador to Korea, said, “This event, which was first proposed by President Roh during the Asean+3 talks, is an excellent idea to inform the public of what’s going on in Asean regions through the use of culture and the arts.”
Others gave congratulatory blessings as well, including Korean movie director Im Kwon-taek, who said, “I hope this week will assist in our identification of the bonds we have as Asian countries by identifying with our histories, lives and culture.”

by Cho Jae-eun
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