"Culture is not possession, but sharing with others," said Hong Gap-pyo, founder of the Latin American Cultural Center Museum.
In an interview with the Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, Director Lee Bok-hyung of the Latin American Cultural Center Museum, said, "Our couple (Director Lee and Chairman Hong) want to preserve Latin American cultural center for a long time, and we want to assure young people that they will come true someday if they try to the end with a dream."
From a country receiving help to a country giving help, Korea has countless hidden heroes who have worked faithfully and did their best in various fields. Among them is former Ambassador Lee Bok-hyung, who was active for the national interest in the most important field of diplomacy.
The followings are excerpts of the Korea Post media interview with Director Lee.
Question: Please introduce the story and biography of the establishment of the Latin American Cultural Center Museum.
Answer: It has been 28 years since I started the museum attached to the Latin American Cultural Center in 1993 after 40 years of public service.
In order to survive and develop strong in our geopolitical environment, where conservation resources are scarce and externally dependent, we need a balanced worldview of our people.
I have come this far because of my wife (co-founder, Chairman Hong Gap-pyo), who has been preparing for a long time to establish a unique museum with a Latin American theme on the site of a cultural center that she dreamed of living in her old age 50 years ago.
Q: I would like to hear about the main activities of the Latin American Cultural Center.
A: An art museum (1997), a sculpture park (2001), a research institute (2010), and a religious center (2011) are additionally located in a well-landscaped park of about 5,000 pyeong.
Not only in Korea, but also in Asia and the world, we pride ourselves on having a comprehensive exhibition space with the theme of Latin America.
The museum collects and exhibits about 2,500 pieces, including earthenware and stoneware artifacts, which are various works of art from colonial and modern times.
Among the notable collections are the Chorrotega earthenware (Costa Rica, Central America), the stoneware of Mexico, Latin American Baroque symbols of the Quetzalcoatl Religious Center, and Mayan hieroglyphs on ceramic murals. And there are works by world-famous sculptors such as Botero, Zuniga, Soriano and Martin at the Sculpture Park. The institute is lined with culture and art and reference books from Latin American countries.
These works of art are the result of my and my wife's 50 years of collection during our active duty years, when I served as ambassador in four Central and South American countries (Costa Rica, Dominica, Argentina, and Mexico) and after the establishment of the cultural center.
From the planting of trees in the early 1970s to the design and subsequent construction of major buildings, the landscaping of the sculpture park and installation of works were made with the extraordinary passion and dedication of Chairman Hong.
For the past 28 years, the museum has focused on collection and preservation, research, exhibition, and education, which are the original roles of the museum. Invitations, exhibitions by some Central and South American embassies, support for national holidays, and other seminars and forums have been consistently practiced despite the COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.
Q: What is the promotion plan for the Latin American Cultural Center?
A: I usually give special lectures on Latin America at the request of some universities, corporations, and organizations. In November 2014, I introduced '48 famous museums in 11 Latin American countries' in the top creative CEO course hosted by the National Museum of Korea.
The Korea Tourism Organization has designated the museum attached to the Latin American Cultural Center as one of the '20 Unique Places of Korea,' along with DDP (Dongdaemun History and Culture Park), Korea House, National Museum of Korea, Samcheonggak, and Nami Island.
In particular, it would be greatly appreciated if the Korea Post media would herald our museum to the word.
Q: Please tell us about the characteristics of Latin America as seen from the Latin American Cultural Center.
A: Central and South America has a total area of about 20.6 million square kilometers and is a vast area composed of 33 independent countries and the colonial territories of some countries such as England, France, and the Netherlands.
It stretches 12,500 kilometers (7,600 miles) from the northernmost tip of Mexico to the southern tip of Chile. It also belongs to the Pacific Rim seismic zone, so it is prone to earthquakes and consists of numerous volcanoes. Mexico covers an area of about 1.97 million square kilometers, which is a quarter of Alaska.
Most of the country is a plateau, with a narrow plain area on the Pacific side and a wide coastal plain in the Gulf of Mexico basin.
As an oil-producing country, it is also rich in other natural resources.
There are seven independent countries in Central America, most of which are small countries made up of mountains, plateaus, valleys, and coastal plains.
The climate is similar to that of Mexico, so people live mainly in the extratropical highlands.
The Caribbean Sea, or West Indies, is made up of 13 independent countries and colonial islands.
Except for Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, most are small countries. Cuba is the largest of these countries, and sugarcane is the main product.
The island of La Espanola is bordered by Haiti to the west and the Dominican Republic to the east. Both of these countries are mountainous and have a lot of rainfall.
South America has 12 independent countries and one French colony.
In these areas, there are many mountainous areas, such as the Andes Highlands, the world's largest mountain range, and most of the residential areas are located at altitudes of 3,000 meters above sea level. But three-fifths of the continent forms low plains.
These include Pampas in Argentina, Selvas in Brazil, and Llanos in Venezuela.
All three regions have large rivers: the La Plata River in Argentina, the Amazon River in Brazil, and the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
In addition, Bolivia's Lake Titicaca lies 3,686 meters above sea level.
The Andes, reaching from Colombia to Peru, has many glaciers and also prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions
Q: What is the future plan of the Latin American Cultural Center?
A: Founder and concurrently Chairman Hong Gap-pyo emphasized, “Culture is not possession, but sharing with others.”
Brief profile of Director Lee Bok-hyung
Born in Seoul in 1932
Graduated from Seoul High School in 1951
1954-55 Georgia State University, USA
1960 Graduated from Dongguk University Law School
1961-62 Melbourne Graduate School, Australia (Fellow-International Relations)
1967 First Secretary and Consul General of the Embassy of Korea in Mexico
1974 Acting Ambassador to Costa Rica (Minister)
1981 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the State Dominican Republic
1985 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Argentina
1994 2002 FIFA World Cup bid committee member, organizing member
2000 Yeosu Expo host delegation leader
2004 World Museum Congress Organizing Committee advisor
Currently, the director of the Latin American Cultural Center, the director of the attached museum, the advisor of the Korean Council on Latin America & the Caribbean, the advisor of the Korean Museum Association, etc.