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[Herald Interview] Korean Cultural Center in Madrid aims to extend, expand Korean culture in SpainBy Hwang Dong-hee
Published : Oct. 30, 2023 - 20:44
MADRID -- With the flourishing popularity of Korean culture, now is the time to contemplate its sustainability and expansion, according to the newly appointed director of the Korean Cultural Center in Madrid.
Shin Jae-kwang, who took on the role in September, sat down with The Korea Herald for an interview at the Korean Cultural Center in Madrid on Oct. 19.
He expressed his hope to not only extend the influence of K-pop and K-drama, but also to broaden the scope of Hallyu to encompass various cultural facets, create a platform for visitor participation and ultimately establish a signature event that people can enjoy each year.
“Many of my colleagues who have been and are working overseas said that cultural centers are like merchants promoting Korean culture,” he explained.
Under the Korean Culture and Information Service, an agency affiliated with the Culture Ministry, there are now 35 overseas Korean Cultural Centers in 30 countries. The Korean Cultural Center in Madrid opened in 2011 and is approaching 12 full years of operation.
Speaking of its central location in the Spanish capital, Shin said, "The center is located in Madrid, but we travel to every corner of the country and cities.”
Recently, the center hosted the Korean Contemporary Dance Festival and introduced Korean contemporary dance in cities like Malaga and Cordoba. The center also invited the traditional Korean music ensemble team Groove& to perform in Burgos, Guadalajara and Madrid last week.
"I had always wanted to have a chance to work in Spain. Before joining the cultural center, I mainly had experience in planning cultural events and promoting them, so I've been involved in many tasks that are essential for the centers. I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity."
The 42-year-old government official, who majored in Spanish and Spanish literature, began his civil service career in 2009. He has worked at various organizations under the Culture Ministry for about 15 years, including the National Gugak Center, the Korea National University of Arts, the Media Policy Bureau and the Sports Bureau.
"More than 2,000 people work in government-affiliated organizations under the Culture Ministry. The overseas cultural centers perform similar tasks but with much fewer personnel. So, the work is quite familiar, but it is so much more dynamic and involves managing multiple tasks simultaneously," said Shin.
Looking ahead to his three-year term, Shin is considering ways to sustain and expand the reach of the Korean Wave.
“We are hoping to increase the number of events that visitors can directly engage with, where they can create, taste, feel and experience things directly, firsthand,” he added.
Shin pointed out that Korea and Spain share many similarities, including economic scale, per capita gross domestic product, population and a family-oriented sentiment.
“In planning events, we would find points of common ground with Spain’s culture, foster empathy and build connections based on shared characteristics to allow Spanish people to become more acquainted with Korean culture.”
"I hope the Korean Cultural Center in Madrid becomes a 'sarangbang' -- a platform where people can freely come and go and share their interests and experiences in Korean culture."
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