The Korea Herald


Yoon promises continued support for Korean traditional music

By Park Min-young

Published : July 4, 2011 - 18:35

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Yoon Young-dal, CEO of Crown-Haitai Confectionary, received the 20th Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award on Monday at the Shilla Hotel’s Dynasty Hall in central Seoul.

The foundation recognized Yoon’s contributions to developing and promoting the Korean traditional music “gugak” worldwide and his efforts to discover and foster young gugak musicians.

“Since sometime ago, we have tended to think of Western music at the mention of the word ‘music,’ all the while our (Korean traditional) music is crowded out. What first came to my mind at the news of this award was that it would be a good opportunity to express my hope to redefine the word,” said Yoon at the press conference before the ceremony.

Montblanc, a global luxury pen and accessory maker, initiated the awards in 1992 to issue each year to outstanding art patrons who have given their time, energy and money to encourage cultural life to flourish. This year 12 were awarded from 12 different countries including from the Prince of Wales, Queen Sofia of Spain and Yoko Ono from Japan. In Korea, three jurors ― Korean Ballet Association president Park In-ja, author and historian You Hong-june and Lee Taek-ju, Dean of Music at Ewha Womans University ― selected Yoon.

Yoon established the RaGeum Orchestra, the first privately managed gugak orchestra, in 2007. The orchestra performs annually on Daeboreum, the day of the first full moon of the year according to the lunar calendar. He has also been holding many gugak competitions and festivals in which the nation’s best gugak musicians perform, and is constructing a 3.3 million square-meter wide total art valley in Songchu, Gyeonggi Province. The valley currently includes several exhibition spaces, artist ateliers where about 20 reside, and workshops that offer art and gugak lessons.

Yoon said he was first captivated by the sound of daegeum, a Korean traditional wind instrument, decades ago when his company was going through hard times.

“So I started to take daegeum lessons and met a teacher who suggested that I should organize a small performance. I did not believe in it until then, but seeing so many seniors who came and spent such a good time, I realized that gugak can really be full of fun,” said Yoon.

In the hopes of promoting gugak overseas, he said he is on the lookout for a good composer who can make world renowned orchestras play Korean music or collaborate with Korean traditional musicians. 
Lutz Bethge (left), CEO of Montblanc International, and Yoon Young-dal, CEO of Crown-Haitai Confectionary, talk at the press conference on Monday at the Shilla Hotel. (Yonhap News) Lutz Bethge (left), CEO of Montblanc International, and Yoon Young-dal, CEO of Crown-Haitai Confectionary, talk at the press conference on Monday at the Shilla Hotel. (Yonhap News)

Lutz Bethge, CEO of Montblanc International, said that how young Korean musicians swept the Tchaikovsky Competition held in Russia last week ― among which four were supported by late Park Seong-young, general director of the Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation at the time and the first Korean winner of the Montblanc award ― shows how valuable the award is.

“I believe that Mr. Yoon will build a link between traditional music and the modern world. We must not forget the past because it is our roots,” said Bethge.

“One of our dreams would be that in maybe 10 to 20 or 30 years, another winner would be awarded in Seoul or somewhere else in the world and say that I listened to Mr. Yoon in 2011 and was inspired, started supporting, and this year I am receiving the award.”

Yoon received 15,000 euros ($21,784) and a specially designed golden “Patron of Art Edition” fountain pen, with 4,810 silver editions of the same pen to go on sale worldwide. He plans to donate the award money to a small group of gugak masters in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province.

By Park Min-young  (