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Envoys make, sample premium Kimchi and see creative designs

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At the 20th Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival

Envoys make, sample premium
Kimchi and see creative designs

Ambassador Dusan Bella of the Slovak Republic and a number of other ambassadors and senior diplomats visited Gwangju Metropolitan City on Oct. 5, 2013 at the invitation of Mayor Kang Un-tae of the City to attend the opening ceremony of the 20th Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival and also to inspect various creative art works at the Gwangju Design Biennale.

Mayor Kang Un-tae of Gwangju and Chairman Kim Sung-hoon of the Organizing Committee (third and fourth from right, respectively, write remarks for time capsule with (from left) Ambassadors Ganbold Baasanjav of Mongolia, Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica, Mohammad Yunos Farman of Afghanistan, Ngovi Kitau of Kenya and Dusan Bella of Slovakia. The messages will be uncached 10 years later.

Mayor Kang personally came with other leaders of his City all the way to the Gwangju International Airport to welcome the visiting foreign dignitaries, who also included Ambassadors Ngovi Kitau, Ambassador of Kenya, Mohammad Yunos Farman of Afghanistan, Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica, Ganbold Baasanjav of Mongolia; Director Irinia Maria Elizondo Delgado of International Cooperation Division of Costa Rica; Attache Oliver Kestel of Germany; and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.

▲Mayor Kang of Gwangju (left) receives a Plaque of Appreciation from Ambassador Bella of the Slovak Republic.

Mayor Kang then hosted a traditional premium Korean-cuisine luncheon at the Joseon Hanjeongsik Restaurant, where many Korean guests are known to exclaim, “Why, I never knew if we had this type of Korean food!” The ambassadors and madams and the other senior diplomats should have been even more surprised at the quality and taste of the rare Korean food.

▲Photo shows Hongikjae premium Korean-cuisine restaurant with, from left, Ambassador Mohammad Yunos Farman of Afghanistan, Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post, Mrs. Eugenia Bellova (wife of the Slovak ambassador), Ambassador Ngovi Kitau of Kenya and Mrs. Fahima Farman (wife of the Afghan ambassador).

Offhand, there was a seven-section Chiljeolpan of salad where each section was filled with a different kind of premium Kimchi, which was neither salty nor sour but just right to perfectly meet the different palates of the different peoples. The menu included pumpkin gruel, self-heated Sinseollo of seafood (including crams, prawns, abalone, and mushroom), and steamed short ribs, pancakes (with croaker, mushroom, squash and prawns), taro soup, roasted wild pine mushroom and charcoal-roasted yellow corbina. (Yellow corbina used to be a cheap fish that teemed in the Yellow Sea in the past but today Gulbi [salted and dried yellow corbina] sells for several million won for 10 and this means that each yellow corbina is priced at several hundred thousand won each.)

▲Ambassadors and spouses sit in the front row with the mayor and National Assembly members and civic figures at the opening ceremony of the Gwangju Kimchi Festival.

Welcoming the ambassadors and others senior diplomats at the luncheon, Mayor Kang Un-tae said, “The secret (of the Gwangju Kimchi) comes from the main materials such as radish and cabbage that are grown in the unique fertile soil of the Gwangju area named Hwangto and the sun-dried salt, pickled seafood and other materials. Above all, however, taste of the Gwangju Kimchi in fact comes from the skillful hands of the women of the Jeolla provinces.” (See further details of Mayor Kang’s speech at the end of this article.)

The visiting ambassadors and spouses then attended the opening ceremony of the 20th Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival where the front-line VVIP seats were reserved for the ambassadors and other senior diplomats.

The Korean dignitaries, besides Mayor Kang Un-tae of the Gwangju Metropolitan City, included National Assemblyman Im Nae-hyun, President Park Wan-soo of the World Kimchi Research Institute, Chairman Cho Ho-kwon of the Gwangju Metropolitan City Council, Korea’s Kimchi Master Han Bok-nyeo and President Kim Soon-ja of the Hansung Food Co, Ltd. Specializing in Kimchi.

▲This time-capsule message by Ambassador Ngovi Kitau says, "Kimchi tastes very good."

There were various performances on the stage, which included writing remarks on Korean Kimchi by the VVIPs guests, including the ambassadors. Standing out of all such remarks was one written by Ambassador Ngovi Kitau of Kenya who wrote in Korean: “김치 맛있어요 Ngovi Kitau,” meaning “Kimchi tastes very good.” It attracted the admiring remarks from Mayor Kang and other Korean civic leaders attending the opening ceremony.

The performances on the stage also included a traditional Korean folk religious rite (Opening Gut), Green Earthen Jar and a 20-year-old Maiden impersonated to mark the 20th anniversary of the Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival.

The visiting group of diplomats then were invited to take part in the Kimchi-making contest at the Kimchi Design Industrial Hall nearby where Mayor Kang Un-tae, Chairman Kim Seong-hoon of the Organizing Committee of the Gwangju Kimchi Culture Festival (former minister of agriculture and forestry) and other leaders of the Gwangju and Jeollanam-do Province competed with the ambassadors and their spouses. Everyone was the winner and was awarded with a transparent jar full of Kimchi which he/she made.

▲Left and right photos show the leaders of the Gwangju Metropolitan City, ambassadors and their spouses demonstrating their Kimchi-making skills in a Kimchi Contest. Everyone was the winner and won a transparent jar full of Kimchi they had made.

After the Kimchi Festival, the diplomats were invited to tour various exhibits of the Gwangju Design Biennale. There were many creative art works on display, which included Gwangju Design Biennale Art Bus Shelter Hwang Seung-joon, Evolution of Design by Ahn Dong-min, Louis Viutton Objects Nomades from Atelier Oi, The Precious Things in Gwangju by Sue Young-hee, City Farmer’s Garden by Choi Si-young, and Farmer’s Bread by Lee Young- hwan.

On the theme of the 5th Gwangju Design Biennale, ‘Geosigi Meosigi,’ the guiding official explained as follows:

“The 5th Gwangju Design Biennale will explore cultural habits, shared characteristics, and coded conventions that inform the many unspoken contexts by which we communicate with one another. Our use of empty or ambiguous signifiers or placeholders, such as ‘anything’ and ‘something’ key into different elements of communication beyond literal speech such as emotional and cultural prompts as well as responses. The ability to grasp these hidden contexts and habits in our day-to-day communication can be especially important for designers who constantly search for insight into new, subconscious or concealed needs and wants.

“Reciprocal communication and contextual understanding related to cultural habits and characteristics are essential to the conceptual word pair ‘Geosigi, Meosigi’ which informs this exhibition. Two Korean words widely used in the Jeolla province, ‘Geosigi Meosigi,’ is used to refer to an object or idea when the actual name escapes the mind, and is similar to the phrase ‘what do you call it’ in English. ‘Geosigi, Meosigi’ are excellent keywords for designers sensitive to both familiar and new environments who strive toward creative forms of understanding and expression.

“Anything gestures to the day-to-day task of designers to create an endless storehouse of things, while Something points to the designers’ value-creating role and task to identify specific needs and forms. Thus the processes and contexts that go into creating ‘Something’ from ‘Anything’ in accordance with users’ specific needs and desires will be of primary concern in this exhibition.”

▲Left: Seven-section plate of Kimchi appetizers Right: Visiting ambassadors and diplomats at the premium Korean-cuisine luncheon at the Hongikjae Korean restaurant in Gwangju.

Excerpts from the speech of Mayor Kang Un-tae:
I express my heart-felt welcome to the Excellencies and Madams visiting Gwangju today, which is known as the home of tasteful food and art. My warm gratitude goes also to Chairman Kim Sung-hoon of the Festival Organizing Committee, who has been working so hard to prepare this Festival as well as to Chairman Joh Ho-kwon of the Gwangju City Council.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival which has become the representative premium food of Korea. As you may be aware, Kimchi is the preserved fermented traditional Korean food that has developed throughout the history of Korea only as its typical food. Kimchi has now been scientifically proven to be a health food recognized by the world.

People’s interest in good health continues to grow in the world and Korean Kimchi is getting increased attention from around the world. Among the variety of Korean Kimchi, Gwangju Kimchi is especially noted for its taste and health promoting effects and functions. The secret comes from the main materials such as radish and cabbage that are grown in the unique fertile soil of the Gwangju area and the sun-dried salt, pickled seafood and other materials. Above all, however, taste of the Gwangju Kimchi in fact comes from the skillful hands of the women of the Jeolla provinces.

Against this backdrop, the theme of this year’s Gwangju Kimchi

Festival is “Namdo Kimchi now flies to the world” with an intention for the Gwangju Kimchi to contribute to the promotion of health and happiness of all the peoples of the world.

▲Many unique designs attracted the attention of the Korean and international visitors.

There was a special Gwangju Kimchi event at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul on September 7 this year with an eye to publishing this theme and seeking UNESCO’s registration of the Gwangju Kimchi and Kimjang (Winter Kimchi) Culture as intangible human cultural heritage. At this event, we had a demonstration presented by Korea’s Royal Kimchi Master who has the skill of the important intangible cultural asset of Korea. The event was accorded great responses.

Last year, young Korean ‘Kimchi masters’ toured various cities of Europe and North America and Europe riding the World Kimchi Tour Bus introducing and demonstrating how to make Kimchi. This year, we are going to do this in Japan and other countries of Asia.

▲Many unique designs attracted the attention of the Korean and international visitors.

Kimchi is not simply something to eat. It is a culture. In the past, Kimchi was made and taken by the common people as well as by the King and the people made Kimchi together and shared it among them. Kimchi thus had the meaning of equality and sharing. This is true even today.

In this sense, we thought that we should provide a variety of Kimchi at our lunch today to boast the taste and flavor of the Gwangju Kimchi, which I hope the Excellencies and Madams will try at the luncheon.

If the Kimchi Festival today succeeds in winning the kind attention and interest from the Excellencies and Madams, I would never be happier as the Mayor of the Gwangju City, home of Korean Kimchi.

Once again, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Excellencies and Madams who have kindly taken time out of their busy schedule to grace our Festival. I wish that you will have a good time today attending the Kimchi Festival and touring the Design Biennale. Thank you very much.

▲Visiting ambassadors and other diplomats to Gwangju Biennale with their family members pose for the camera in front of the exhibition building of the Biennale.

Excerpts from the speech

of Ambassador Dusan Bella of the Slovak Republic

Allow me on behalf of participating diplomats to convey our sincere thanks to you for your kind invitation to Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival and Gwangju Design Biennale 2013. We are very pleased to visit your city of light, citizens of which throughout the Korean history have been standing at the forefront of the democracy movement of your country.

But we know, that here in Korea, Gwangju is famous also for its tasty cuisine and delicious Kimchi, as well as for a diverse culture and creative art.

▲Ambassadors, diplomats and their family members pose with the kind and hard-working employees of the Asiana Airlines VIP Lounge (at far left and right) at the Gimpo Airport.

This is the second time that my wife and me participate in both these festivals. And in this context, I am proud to remind that it was just my wife Eugenia, who two years ago won Kimchi-making competition here at your festival.

As it was mentioned in welcome remarks of Mayor Kang Un-tae, this year the Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival marks its 20th anniversary. And during those 20 years, this exceptional event contributed significantly to promotion of Gwangju Kimchi as probably the best kimchi in the world.

▲Mrs. Bella (wife of the Slovak ambassador) takes a break sitting on a bamboo art work for the visitors sit and lie down on their back. It could be used for a comfortable chair and also as a bed.

This traditional Korean fermented food has become not only representative premium food of Korea, but also a leading representative of Korean healthy nutrition, which has been gaining more and more recognition among scientists and health food experts around the globe.

We also noticed your effort to promote Gwangju Kimchi through a special event held at the Gyeongbok Palace at the beginning of September and we wish you a success in your aspiration to register Gwangju Kimchi and Kimjang (Winter Kimchi) on the UNESCO list of intangible human cultural heritage.

▲Ambassador and Mrs. Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica pose with bamboo winnows in the back drop.

Last year’s Korean Kimchi tour in Europe and North America together with just started Kimchi tour in Norway, Sweden, Poland and Netherlands will for sure contribute to global promotion of this Korean premium food together with diverse and rich Korean culture.

I already mentioned that Gwangju is known also as a city rich in culture and art aspiring to become a cultural hub of Asia. Here I would like to draw your attention to a project of the European Capital of Culture, which may provide you with a number of good ideas and inspirations. I am very proud to say, that this year it is a Slovak city of Kosice, which together with city of Marseilles was designated by European Union with the title European Capital of Culture.

Having said that allow me to wish Mayor Kang and people of Gwangju a lot of prosperity, many good ideas transformed into successful projects and happy life for citizens of this vibrant and charming City of Light.

▲Ambassador Kitau of Kenya and Chairman Lee KS of The Korea Post walk on the bamboo work.

On the theme of the 5th Gwangju Design Biennale, the guiding official explained as follows:
“The 5th Gwangju Design Biennale will explore cultural habits, shared characteristics, and coded conventions that inform the many unspoken contexts by which we communicate with one another. Our use of empty or ambiguous signifiers or placeholders, such as ‘anything’ and ‘something’ key into different elements of communication beyond literal speech such as emotional and cultural prompts as well as responses. The ability to grasp these hidden contexts and habits in our day-to-day communication can be especially important for designers who constantly search for insight into new, subconscious or concealed needs and wants.

“Reciprocal communication and contextual understanding related to cultural habits and characteristics are essential to the conceptual word pair ‘Geosigi, Meosigi’ which informs this exhibition. Two Korean words widely used in the Jeolla province, ‘Geosigi Meosigi,’ are used to refer to an object or idea when the actual name escapes the mind, and is similar to the phrase ‘what do you call it’ in English. ‘Geosigi, Meosigi’ are excellent keywords for designers sensitive to both familiar and new environments who strive toward creative forms of understanding and expression.

“Anything gestures to the day-to-day task of designers to create an endless storehouse of things, while Something points to the designers’ value-creating role and task to identify specific needs and forms. Thus the processes and contexts that go into creating ‘Something’ from ‘Anything’ in accordance with users’ specific needs and desires will be of primary concern in this exhibition.”

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

<저작권자 © 코리아포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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