[VIEWPOINT]Korea’s culture is lost in space

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[VIEWPOINT]Korea’s culture is lost in space

In this era, we need a space culture that matches the space age. If a country does not have quality space-related cultural products because people have a low understanding about space, it will be a loser in the cultural competition. It is not a stretch to say that science-related movies such as “ET” and “Star Wars” were produced in the United States not just because Hollywood has excellent filmmakers, but also because the space culture there blossomed as the country developed space exploration programs. In that sense, a country’s development of space culture is more important than constructing roads and ports.
Despite desperate efforts made by Koreans working in the fields of science and technology, it seems that Korea has no other choice, at least for the time being, but to watch other countries explore the moon and Mars.
However, the question of whether Korea will be able to explore space is, in a way, not important. What is more important is whether our people will cherish the space culture of the space age. I hope that one day we will be able to watch television dramas or movies with various plot lines, such as these: In the basement of a National Intelligence Agency building, the corpse of an extraterrestrial is kept deeply frozen. Our air force squadron has chased an unidentified flying object. An agent of the National Intelligence Agency was killed while fighting the extraterrestrial. A space shuttle made in Korea finally landed on the moon.
If a blockbuster science fiction movie in which an asteroid or a comet plunges into the East Sea is produced, it will be useful for the publicity of the East Sea, which Japan insists on calling the Sea of Japan. Why should we always watch soap operas about extramarital love affairs or violent movies. I think we have to, first of all, create original science fiction movies produced by Koreans, with Korean protagonists, that take place on Korean territory. If money is poured into a film that is made with no country of origin, featuring protagonists who fight using laser swords in distant galaxies, viewers will think it is a cheap copy of a Hollywood movie.
I think the success of the movie “The Host” directed by Bong Joon-ho, which attracted a record number of viewers, was due to its originality.
I wish that a film, for example, about a Korean agent dispatched from the National Intelligence Office pursuing an extraterrestrial would be produced, possibly next year.
A popular space culture would be a culture in which a song that begins with the countdown of the launching of a space shuttle is sung at the university song festivals; where a piece of music with the title of, for example, “The Birth of the Universe” is composed; where an abstract painting titled, “Fantastic Black Hole 4,” hangs in a gallery; and where a dark red cocktail is called “The Bridal Night on Mars.” Recently there are signs of the growth of a space culture, which means its future could be bright.
Photojournalist Kim Seon-kyu of the Munwha Ilbo shot a scene that depicts the galaxy as if were gushing out of Cheonji, a volcanic lake on top of Mount Paekdu, while other people were busy taking pictures of the mountain. Lee Sung-hwan, a gagman and an ambassador for the publicity of stars, is staging a tour of the first science fiction drama, “Magical,” which should attract many students. Tae Eui-kyung, a female KBS announcer, is going to publish a book on space called “Space News” ― a first for a Korean broadcaster. We can also find the signs of hope and prospects in the growth of the army, too. For the first time, the Air Force will participate in the “Gyeonwujikyeo Science Festival” that will be held in Daejeon this summer at the National Science Museum and Kumdori Land. The Air Force says it will exert all its efforts toward showing space to the people at the star festival. Isn’t it becoming to the Air Force that shouts “To the sky! To space!” to participate in the space festival? Starting next year, we will enjoy a space festival in which the suits for astronauts and those for fighter pilots run around side by side.
A team of scientists led by Wohn Kwang-yun, a professor at the Graduate School of Culture Technology of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, is now preparing to participate in the space section of an exhibition on the meeting of science and art to be held at COEX starting Thursday and lasting for four days. I strongly recommend a visit to the exhibition as I am convinced that it will provide a good opportunity to understand Korea’s space culture at present.

* The writer is the president of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Seok-jae
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