Get connected globally: Korean Cultural Centers

Written by on January 28, 2011 in Special Report

The successful execution of the G20 Seoul Summit in November 2010 brought more global citizens’ attention to this country in Far East Asia named Korea. Should you be reading this post, I very well assume that you might also be one of those global citizens seeking for more information about Korea. Well, if you were looking for a place to learn about Korea and the Korean culture, check this out!

Since the opening of the first Korean Cultural Center in Tokyo in 1979, the Korean Cultural and Information Service Centers across the world have been connecting Korea with the outside world, over the last three decades.

As of January 2011, there are 16 Korean Cultural centers located in 12 countries

As of January 2011, there are 16 Korean Cultural Centers across the globe including the Korean Cultural Centre in Aduja, Nigeria – the first center of its kind to be located in Africa – which opened to the public last February.

The Korean Cultural Service Centers have been engaged in getting in touch with the locals through an extensive roster of activities from organizing Korean culture festivals to hosting classes on Korean topics, dedicated to providing insight and information on Korea.

As the nature of interest in Korea differs from country to country, each Korean Cultural Center has held a number of “personalized” cultural programs. In this regard, the centers host an array of events such as exhibitions, performances, movie screenings, Korean language classes, Taekwondo contests, cultural lectures and symposiums to better suit local and regional needs. The centers aim to encourage and further reinforce bilateral cultural exchanges, as well.

Nam June Paik Exhibition held at the “Gallery Korea” located inside the Korean Cultural Service, New York

The Korean Cultural Centre in UK has been one of the most active centers. It supported “The 5th London Korean Film Festival,” which officially came to an end on November 23rd. It has also hosted more than sixty “Korean Film Night” events, screening Korean movies on a monthly basis.

In conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the Korean Cultural Centre UK consecutively held two Charity Auctions in October 2010 in close collaboration with Sotheby’s and the Royal British Legion to raise funds for the Relief Fund of The British Korean Veterans Association. This particular event was recognized as the best practice by the Korean government.

In October 2010, the KCC UK held a charity auction in honor of the British Veterans of the Korean War

Meanwhile, the impact of Hallyu (Korean Wave) has dramatically changed the Centers’ program agenda. A great number of centers started to see great potential for Hallyu to help spread interest in Korean culture. Argentina, which never experienced the first wave of Hallyu, is no longer considered one of the toughest places for the Korean Wave as it was several years ago. The second wave of music and k-pop is truly gaining momentum; the gentle breeze is turning into a tornado, with the help of programs and support from the Korean Culture Center.

Local participants performing at the final round of the K-pop contests, held in Argentina

The Korean government plans to put up 8 more Korean Cultural Centers this year, tentatively in Australia, Spain, Indonesia, India, Mexico and Turkey, equipped with a selection of custom-made events.

While staying true to the concept of cultural centers as places for cultural exchange and diffusion, the Korean government has been seeking out to expand the functions of Cultural Centers by converting the current Cultural Centers into Korea Centers.

Korea Centers house not only cultural centers but also institutions like the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) to create synergy, serving as one-stop information centers. So far, Korea Centers are being run in Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and Los Angeles.

Good news to those who are interested in learning the Korean language! The Korean government, which has established a number of King Sejong Institutes around the world to help promote the Korean language, will offer more study opportunities by extending the King Sejong Institute network. The National Academy of the Korean Language plans to have more than 200 institutes by 2016 to bring Korean language studies to greater prominence worldwide.

If you can find a center near you from the below table, be sure to drop by!

State or City Website Address
New York (U.S) 460 Park Avenue 6th.Fl New York, NY 10022
L.A (U.S) 5505 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90036
Washington (U.S) 2370 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.,Washington D.C. 20008
U.K Unit E&F, Grand Buildings, Northumberland Avenue, London
France 2 Avenue D’léna, 75116 Paris
Germany Luetzowufer26. 10787 Berlin
Russia 109028, Vorontsovo Pole st.3 Moscow
Poland Ul. Kruczkowskiego 8 (Nordic Park, Parter), 00-380, Warszawa
Tokyo (Japan) 4-4-10, Yotsuya, Shinzuku, Tokyo
Osaka (Japan) 4th FL. Mindan Bldg. 2-4-2 Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka
Beijing (China) No.1 Guanghua Xili, Guanghua Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Shanghai (China) Room 501, Huizhi Building, No.396 North Caoxi Rd. Shanghai
Vietnam 49 Nguyen Du Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi
Argentina Coronel Diaz 2884, Cap.Fed. 1425, Buenos Aires
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan, Astana, Imanova st., 13
Nigeria Rivers State Building,83 Abuja

About the Author

Dana Hwang

Dana specializes in contemporary art and culture, and has contributed to the as a staff writer. As a Master of Arts graduate in Art Business from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York and a prior retail executive of Louis Vuitton Korea, she is particularly interested in corporations’ commitment to promote art and culture, the role of audience in contemporary art practice, and discovering new cultures while travelling around the world