Travel the world through children's books

An exhibition featuring a wide collection of children's books from all around the world opened its doors in downtown Seoul last week. 

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of its establishment, the Korea Foundation (KF) launched the exhibition "Encounter the World Through Children's Books," featuring 400 children's books in 28 languages from 44 countries. The exhibit will run from April 27 through to June 8 at the KF Gallery.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Korea Foundation opens 'Encounter the World Through Children's Books,' an exhibition featuring 400 children's books in 28 languages from 44 countries. Books such as 'I Want My Hat Back' from Canada (left), 'Star and Poppy Seeds' from Ukraine (center) and 'A Week Full of Saturdays ' from Germany will be available to young readers.

At the show, visitors can explore books in two sections: "Explore the World with Children's Books" and "The Little Prince in a Variety of Languages." 

The first section takes readers on a journey around the world as they discover different books and their countries of origin. Here, readers can find books from diverse cultures, ranging from "The War that Changed Rondo" from Ukraine, "Tap, Tap, Tap" from Iran, "I Want My Hat Back" from Canada and the Moomin series from Finland. 

The second section introduces children to the familiar story of "The Little Prince" in 14 different languages. By engaging with the text through various educational activities, children can learn to appreciate the differences and similarities that exist between the various translations and the world's cultures. 

The exhibit 'Encounter the World Through Children's Books' also features a special book-reading program where ambassadors to Korea from 26 countries will read books in their own language to groups of children. The Swedish tale 'Pippi Longstocking' (left), the Ukrainian story 'The War that Changed Rondo' (center) and the Spanish version of 'The Little Prince' are some of the books that may be read at the event.

During the exhibition, there will also be a special book-reading program whereby ambassadors to Korea from 26 different countries will read books in their own language to groups of young children. The stories will be translated into Korean with added dramatization. The program is intended for children between six and 12, with 30 children allowed in per reading. Parents will need to sign up for the program via the link provided at the Korea Foundation website, provided below. Reservations for larger groups can be made by calling 02-2151-6520.

The KF Gallery will also be hosting the "World Through Magic" program on May 5, Children's Day. Other events throughout the rest of the month include film screenings of cartoons from around the world, as well as face painting and the taking of Polaroid pictures, among other things. 

More information about the exhibition and other related programs can be found at the link below.

Characteristics of Korean soap operas, from an overseas viewer's perspective

By Lyudmila Mikheesku 

I guess I naturally developed the new hobby of enjoying Korean soap operas ever since I began to learn the Korean language. I wasn't initially interested in Korean TV dramas, but I gradually watched Korean shows as I learned the language. I thought sensibly that, “Korean TV will be a good aid to studying the Korean language, as it will have dialogue that's easy for foreigners to understand.” The more I watched Korean soap operas, the more I fell in love with them. However, as I watched many shows, I found some strange sides to them. Today, I would like to talk about such features. 

Soap operas from the U.S. and Europe aren't aired until they're fully completed, like films. So the structure and flow of the story are logical and compelling. As it takes a long time to produce dramas, the producers, writers and actors can better prepare, which contributes to creativity and completion through to the final episodes. A few years ago, the quality and technical level of soap operas from the U.S. and Europe improved. Both viewers and film critics say the stories in soap operas has gotten more interesting with excellent performance from the actors and actresses. “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards” and “Sherlock” are some such examples. Compared to these shows, Korean soap operas are in such a different environment. As two episodes are broadcast every week, writers have to write the screenplays for two episodes each week, and the staff and crews have to work under time pressure. They sometimes have to change the story in order to increase ratings. However, what creativity can you expect from them, as soap operas are produced in such hurried, stressed conditions? As a result, Korean dramas often have low-quality scenes and features, and some actors and actresses show inconsistent behavior. To increase the number of broadcasts, they frequently use flashback, which makes the story boring. 

Furthermore, I'm not sure whether the writers have enough time, but they frequently use clichés or stale techniques. Russian fans of the "Korean Wave," or Hallyu, have even made a list of humorous features or clichés they can often find in Korean soap operas online. Some of them are like, “If the leading actress opens her eyes wide when the couple kisses for the first time, it must be a Korean drama,” and “In Korean soap operas, you can more than once find the same scene where the leading actor and actress are close by somehow in public but they don't see or recognize each other.” 

In my view, the strangest thing that I continue to notice about Korean soap operas is when the characters put on a Band-Aid. They always put on a Band-Aid even if they only have a very tiny scratch. This always later becomes a romantic memory that the lead actors and actresses cherish and keep for a long time. In “Oh! My Venus,” the lead actor and actress even used the same Band-Aid for more than a year, reminding each other of the same romantic memory! (Flashback, flashback!) Don’t you find it strange? Why do Koreans consider such an unhygienic thing romantic? Is it because one of the main investors in the soap opera is the billionaire of a Band-Aid company? 

The other thing I can't get used to is the scenes of actors and actresses crying, which can be found all the time. In Korean dramas, women cry, men cry; not only children, but grownups cry, too. They cry when they're sad. They cry when they're happy. They certainly cry when they meet or separate. They shed tears when they're touched. This is really weird for Russians. Russians are also emotional people, but we don't cry that often. In Russia, shedding tears is considered shameful or weak, and in particular not manly at all. 

Another difference is in regard to men, as the sophisticated or even girly appearance of the actors is often found on Korean TV. In Russia, masculinity is highlighted in movies and in reality. When I watched the Korean drama “A Gentleman’s Dignity,” I took screenshots of the four male actors who are all handsome and nicely dressed. I put the pictures on my blog and explained that Korean men aged 40 look as young as these pictures. Many Russians who read my blog, however, wrote comments that, “They are not men.” 

If I begin to talk about the weird characteristics of Korean soap operas from a non-Korean's poitn of view, I can't stop myself. I find the habit of talking loudly to themselves very strange. I don’t think it's fun to see embarrassing toilet scenes which are often seen in many episodes. Commercials inside the soap operas are annoying and irritating. The final episode of many soap operas often sucks. 

Despite their many weaknesses, however, why do I love Korean dramas and why do I keep watching them? Why do I wait for the next episode of “Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho” when my Russian friends are waiting for the next season of “Game of Thrones”? For me, the over-the-top romantic Korea soap operas are like pure and beautiful fairy tales for the modern world. Nonetheless, I will talk about the strengths of Korean soap operas in my next column. 

Lyudmila Mikheesku is a photo editor at the Russian media company Nezavisimaya Gazeta. 
Translated by Yoon Sojung, Korea.net Staff Writer 

Korea’s Public Sector Basks in the Limelight

Diplomatic Corps in Korea Invited to National Police Agency and Incheon City Hall

The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Korea arranged a tour programme for diplomatic corps in Korea and invited them to hear about best practices in Korea’s public sector.

The Interior Ministry is working with many countries around the world as a government body in charge of public administration.

On April 28, the Ministry started its one-day tour programme with the Korean National Police Agency and the Incheon Metropolitan City Government. Members of diplomatic corps in Korea who attended the tour had a chance to visit the two organizations and learn about their best practices and policies.

For this first round of tour on April 28, 34 members of diplomatic corps in Korea from 31 countries, including four ambassadors, attended to visit the National Police Agency and then the Incheon City Hall. After their visit to the City Hall, they headed to the Incheon Free Economic Zone, and toured its PR Center and Integrated Urban Management Center of U-City. U-City is an ICT-driven city designed to deliver quality services to citizens whenever and wherever they want.

Starting from this first tour, a total of six rounds of one-day tours are organized throughout the year, engaging twelve government bodies or public organizations in Korea. The organizations include the Ministry of Government Legislation, the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, and the Ministry of Personnel Management.

As the organizer of the programme, the Ministry of the Interior hopes to share Korea’s development experience by introducing its best practices and policies to the international community and enhance its partnership and cooperation with countries around the world, thereby making its contribution to administrative capacity building and development of the international community.

MOTIE Vice Minister Lee Addresses Korea EUREKA Day 2016

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE)’s First Vice Minister Lee Kwan-sup underlined the importance of “technological innovation and structural reform” in a low-growth global economy in his opening speech to Korea EUREKA Day 2016 on April 26.
He also stressed the need for industrial cooperation between the Republic of Korea and European countries, especially in new technology areas. About 400 government officials and industry representatives from South Korea and European nations attended the event, which was held at the Stockholm City Conference Center.

MOTIE Hosts 2nd China Week for Chinese Investors

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyunghwan hosted a roundtable meeting with representatives from 11 major Chinese companies in Seoul this week.
During the meeting, Minister Joo and the participants discussed ways to promote business investment between South Korea and China on the back of their bilateral free trade agreement.
The minister also pledged to provide all support for Chinese investment in South Korea, especially high-end consumer goods, services and new industries.
Today’s meeting took place on the sidelines of the Second China Week, an investment forum for Chinese investors hosted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).

MOTIE and Saxony Seek Economic Cooperation

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyunghwan received a visit by Stanislaw Rudi Tillich, Minister-President of Saxony at his satellite office in Seoul this week.
During their meeting, the two exchanged views on how to promote economic cooperation between South Korea and the German state, especially on energy storage systems (ESS) and intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

MOTIE Vice Ministers Seek to Promote Korea’s Global Economic Cooperation

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE)’s two vice ministers are stepping up efforts to promote economic cooperation between South Korea and the rest of the world.
The MOTIE’s First Vice Minister Lee Kwan-sup met with China’s Deputy Commerce Minister Gao Yan in Seoul last week to discuss ways to strengthen industrial ties between their countries.
The MOTIE’s Second Vice Minister Woo Taehee also visited Warsaw last week to deliver a congratulatory speech at the Korea-Poland Business Partnership 2016.

“2016 Korea & Timor-Leste Friendship Week” Event to Take Place

The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Timor-Leste, together Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts, will hold the “2016 Korea & Timor-Leste Friendship Week” event in Timor-Leste capital of Dili from May 9 through 14. The two sides first held this event in 2015.

The event will consist of a Korean Film Festival at universities and the Dili Convention Center (DCC) from May 10 through 12; and a Korea & Timor-Leste Friendship Concert at the DCC on May 14.

The Friendship Week event, which will take place around Timor-Leste’s independence day, the most celebrated day in the country, is expected to serve as an opportunity to elevate the festive mood and to spread Hallyu (Korean Wave) in the country. Going forward, the governments of the two countries will hold the Friendship Week event on a regular basis in active efforts to promote their friendship.

Vice President of Argentina to Make an Official Visit to the ROK

Vice President and President of the Senate Gabriela Michetti of Argentina will make an official visit to the Republic of Korea from May 8 till 10 at the invitation of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

During her first visit to the ROK, Vice President Michetti will pay a courtesy call on the President, attend a working luncheon with the Prime Minister, meet with the National Assembly Speaker and receive an honorary doctorate from Catholic University of Daegu.

Argentina, the third largest economy in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico and a country with abundant minerals and energy sources, has been actively implementing market-friendly and pro-Western policies for cooperation with other countries since the launch of the incumbent government in December 2015. The visit of Vice President Michetti to the ROK is expected to contribute to efforts to increase substantive cooperation between the two countries based on their friendship.

Prime Minister of Kuwait to Make an Official Visit to the ROK

Prime Minister H.H. Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah of Kuwait will make an official visit to the Republic of Korea from May 8 till 11 at the invitation of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

During his first visit to the ROK after his taking up the current post in December 2011, Prime Minister Jaber will pay a courtesy call on the President, hold meetings with the ROK Prime Minister and leading Korean entrepreneurs, and visit medical facilities. He will be accompanied to the ROK by ministers in charge of oil, education, housing, health and foreign affairs, among others

The ROK and Kuwait, since establishing diplomatic relations in 1977, have enhanced their friendship and substantive cooperation mainly in the sectors of energy, construction and power plants. Since President Park Geun-hye’s visit to Kuwait in March 2015, the two countries have seen bilateral high-level exchanges continue, coupled with active ongoing efforts of Korean companies to expand their presence in Kuwait. The visit of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister to the ROK is expected to serve as a significant opportunity to further step up cooperation between the two countries.