By Lee Kyung-sik
Publisher, The Korea Post media
This year again, Mayor and Mrs. Jeon Dong-pyung of Yeongam County of Jeollanam-do Province are hosting the impressive Yeongam Wangin Culture Festival on April 6-7, 2017, and invite ambassadors and madams to attend the opening ceremony and enjoy various interesting events of the Festival in a one-night, two-day tour.
The Festival was designated as the Most Promising Culture & Tourism Festival by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism for the third consecutive year.
(For participation in this year's tour and inquiries, please directly contact the Publisher at 010-5201-1740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.--Ed.)
To celebrate the birth and outstanding achievements of Wangin, the great scholar of the Baekje Dynasty, the Yeongam County has been hosting the Festival in April since 1992.
Born in the Yeongam County, Dr. Wangin went to Japan to teach scholastic knowledge and culture to the leaders of Japan including the Crown Prince at the time. Major programs of the Festival consist of an exhibition of artifacts and rituals related to Dr. Wangin, and performance of traditional folk arts, including spring rites, performance of folk music and dances, folk games, parades, shamanistic ritual, and fashion show of the Baekje costumes. The designation as the most promising culture and tourism festival for the third consecutive year is more significant as it was selected when screening processes got more rigorous in fiercer competition since 2015.
Notably, the Festival demonstrated potential of evolving into a global event as it has been visited by ambassadors and senior diplomats of many foreign embassies in Korea, including Russia and Poland, as well as delegations from Hirakata and Kanzaki, Japan. In addition, the Festival largely expanded programs that can easily be participated in and enjoyed by tourists and regional residents.
For example, a musical entitled, ‘Scholar Wangin Leaves for Japan,’ enhanced the degree of enjoyment and understanding by the tourists through re-enactment activities of Dr. Wangin who helped Japan create and flourish the Asuka Culture.
The musical provided over 1,000 local residents and foreign tourists with excitement and invited them to join the subsequent street parade. Moreover, colorful folk games and programs aroused strong interest among international visitors, evaluating the event as a premium and safe festival.
“We are committed to upgrading the Wangin Culture Festival to a leading international festival which more visitors and regional residents can enjoy and experience the traditional Korean local culture,” said an official at the Yeongam County government. Yeongam is a county located in the southwestern region of Korea producing a large variety of agricultural products.
Last year, Ambassadors Krzysztof Majka of Poland and 18 other members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps attended the significant 2016 Yeongam Dr. Wangin Culture Festival in Yeongam County in a two-day tour on April 7-8, 2016.
Also attending the event were Ambassadors Antonio Quinteiro Nobre of Portugal, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain and Ruben Eloy Arosemena of Panama and a number of other senior diplomats and their madams, who included Charge d' Affaires Yadira Hidalgo de Ortiz of Venezuela, Counsellors Diaa Hammad of Egypt, Begench Durdiyev of Turkmenistan and Yasuhiro Morimoto of Japan, Head of Chancery Rossana Stanziola of Panama and senior members Novikova Irina and Rud Aleksandra of the Russian Trade Representation.
During the two-day tour of the Festival, the visiting envoys, other senior diplomats and their spouses attended various interesting ceremonies and events, which included a hands-on experience in playing the traditional Korean zithters, Gayageum, at the Gayageum Sanjo Memorial Hall in the Yeongam County. Ambassador Krzysztof Majka of Poland surprised the Korean hosts as well as the fellow members of the visiting Diplomatic Corps by skillfully playing on the traditional Korean musical instrument.At the opening ceremony at the Wangin After the first day’s schedule, Mayor Jeon Dong-pyung of the Yeongam County said, “Yeongam is the home county of the historically famous Wangin Baksa (Dr. Wangin or Wani as is known in Japan), who spread Linyu (the Analects of the Chinese) and Cheonjamun (Thousand Chinese Character Text) to Japan 1,600 years ago, which gave rise to the brilliant Asuka Culture of Japan.” Then he said, “At present, Yeongam houses the Daebul National Industrial Complex and the Hyundai and Samho heavy industrial bases and together with them all the citizens of the Yeongam County are one in the construction of an affluent, welfare county through development of agriculture.”(See excerpts from the speech toward the end of this article.)
In response to the welcome speech, Ambassador Majka of Poland, in his capacity as the dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps said, “In response, Ambassador Majka of Poland said, “I am especially proud and happy to participate in this noteworthy event, which is the only Historical Personality Festival in Korea that takes place along the Cherry Blossom Tree-lined Road of 100-ri.” “The theme of this year Festival: “The Light of Wangin Opens the Way to Communication and Co-existence,” he said, “brings to my mind something we now refer to as ‘cultural diplomacy’.” (See excerpts from his speech at the end of this article.)On day 2, the visiting ambassadors toured the Ha Jung-Woong Art Museum where they met with Artist Lee Ho-Shin and obtained his hand-written signatures.
Then they visited the Pottery Museum of Hwangju and had a hands-on experience in pottery making. Each participant in the tour made his/her own pottery work and signed their name on the bottom of their pot they have created. Later, Mayor Seon sent all the works to the makers after having them all baked in the pottery kiln.The farewell luncheon for the visiting ambassadors, senior diplomats and their spouses were hosted on April 8 was by Chairman Kim Ha-nam of the Yeongam County at the Gichan Village, Yeongam County.He said, “I would like to express my ardent hopes that though it has been but a short time your memory of the Yeongam County will last for a long, long time and that wherever you may be you will all kindly remember at all times the Yeongam County, the home of Wangin Baksa, or Doctor Wangin, and kindly disseminate the information you have had access to during your stay here.” (See excerpts at the end of this article.)
Excerpts from the welcome speech by Mayor Jeon:
I extend my warmest welcome to all the Excellencies and Madam who have taken the trouble of coming a long way to grace our Festival with your kind attendance.Together with the 60,000 citizens of the Yeongam County, I extend my warmest welcome to His Excellency Governor Lee Nak-yeon of the Jeolla Province, His Excellency Ambassador Krzysztof Majka of Poland in Seoul and all the distinguished guests from Korea and abroad, who have kindly taken their precious time of their schedule to grace us with their presence here today.Through your kind attendance, I feel your brotherly love and affection for us.
The Yeongam County of the Jeollanam-do Province is home of many historical and cultural legacies of distinction such as the National Park of Mt. Wolchul and the National Treasure Buddhist Temple of Dogap-sa.In particular, Yeongam is the home county of the historically famous Wangin Baksa (Dr. Wangin or Wani as is known in Japan), who spread Linyu (the Analects of the Chinese) and Cheonjamun (Thousand Chinese Character Text) to Japan 1600 years ago, which gave rise to the brilliant Asuka Culture of Japan.
At present, the Yeongam County houses the Daebul National Industrial Complex and the Hyundai and Samho heavy industrial bases. Together with them all the citizens of the Yeongam County are one in the construction of an affluent, welfare county through development of agriculture.Today, the Yeongam County is simultaneously opening the Wangin Culture Festival and the Republic of Korea Hanok Construction Expo of the Traditional Korean Housing Architecture. Through your attendance, I hope that the distinguished guests will all take home a wonderful memory. Once again, I would like express my heart-felt gratitude and welcome to all the distinguished guests here today for their kind visit to the Yeongam County and I would like to express my sincere hopes that you will all enjoy the fragrance and sight of the beautiful cherry blossoms and all take home a wonderful memory.And also, I would like solicit that wherever you may be our distinguished guests will always remember our Yeongam County. I wish endless blessings of God to the all the countries and families of the distinguished guests here today who grace our county with your kind presence. Thank you very much.
Congratulatory speech by Ambassador Majka of Poland:
Honorable Mayor Jeon Dong-pyung, distinguished hosts of the Yeongam County, honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen.It is my great honor to share this words with you; here in Jeolla Province, on the occasion of the Yeongam Wangin Culture Festival. This Festival is a remarkable event, held every year in memory of the Great Will of Dr. Wangin who was a precursor of the long-lasting and complex relations between Korea and Japan.
It is without doubt that 1600 years ago, Dr. Wangin significantly contributed to the development of a mutual friendship through cultural exchange as his trip to Japan was followed by further bilateral visits aimed to exchange knowledge and experience in science, education and culture.I am especially proud and happy to participate in this noteworthy event, which is the only Historical Personality Festival in Korea that takes place along the Cherry Blossom Tree-lined Road of 100-ri. The theme of this year Festival: “The Light of Wangin Opens the Way to Communication and Co-existence” brings to my mind something we now refer to as “Cultural Diplomacy.”
This event is a commemoration of great historical example of cultural diplomacy that was conducted centuries ago by Dr. Wangin who brought together Korea and Japan by introducing the Analects of Confucius, Cheonjamun (One Thousand Basic Chinese Characters), calligraphy, pottery and many others ancient achievements. His efforts extraordinarily contributed to the development of Japanese society and culture in its Asuka Period. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Dr. Wangin could be easily considered as a progenitor of the concept now known as Hallyu, or Korean Wave. In this regard, also the Festival is a representative example of Hallyu, especially in the grand way it has been organized and promoted, not only domestically but also internationally.
Let this event remind us about the importance of cooperation and mutual exchange in peaceful and creative way as we all live in more complex and interconnected world. On behalf of the diplomatic corps, I would also like to use this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the whole community of Jeolla Province. Our participation in such an event serves as a unique opportunity to bring Korea and our countries and provinces together, which would strengthen the existing cultural and economic ties between Korea and other parts of the world that we represent here in the spirit of Dr. Wangin’s mission centuries ago.Thank you for your hospitality and for inviting us to this memorable festival and through it giving us a chance of interacting with the people and authorities of the Jeolla Province and Yeongam County.
Address by Chairman Kim Ha-nam of the Yeongam County at farewell luncheon:
I would like express my deepest gratitude to all the distinguished members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps who have kindly taken time out of their business to grace us with your visit to the Yeongam County. I hope that Your Excellencies and Madams have all had a pleasant time.It has been a really short time. However, I hope that it has been a beautiful and precious time while in Yeongam.Thanks to your kind attendance at the Festival despite your busy schedule, the Wangin Culture Festival has become all the more brilliant and sparkling as well as more widely known among all the different countries of the world.Once again, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the Excellencies and other Distinguished Diplomats from Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Spain, Panama, Venezuela, Egypt, Turkmenistan, Japan and Russia.I ardently wish that the precious relationship formed between Yeongam and the distinguished guests will continue flourish into the future. Our Yeongam County will now seek to increase our active exchange and cooperation with all the countries of the world as well as those kindly represented by the Excellencies and other distinguished diplomats here today.In closing, I would like to express my ardent hopes that though it has been but a short time your memory of the Yeongam County will last for a long, long time and that wherever you may be you will all kindly remember at all times the Yeongam County, the home of Wangin Baksa, or Doctor Wangin, and kindly disseminate the information you have had access to during your stay here.Please stay in the best of health and be happy at all times. I offer my prayers for the continued prosperity and development of your countries.