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Asean culture house opens in Busan

The imposing ASEAN Culture House in Busan.

BUSAN – Over the past several years, Korean pop culture has captured the hearts of many Filipinos and other Southeast Asians, from food and K-drama to eyebrow shaping and fashion.

This time, it’s Southeast Asia that will “invade” Korean society with the opening of a four-story culture house – the first of its kind – in this port city.

Standing on a 6,524.7-square meter property in Jwadong-ro, Haeundae-gu, the ASEAN Culture House (ACH) was officially inaugurated on Sept. 1 by foreign ministers from the 10 member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and officials of the Republic of Korea led by Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

The facility includes a Permanent Exhibition Gallery, which showcases the national dress and traditonal artifacts from ASEAN nations, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The gallery is located at the second floor of the building.

In the Philippines section, visitors can find different handicrafts such as handwoven jars and furniture made of rattan, as well as Barong Tagalog, the official national costume of Filipino men.

Myanmar’s exhibit includes a traditional dress worn by Burmese boys during shin pyu, the most important ritual in the country.

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Thailand’s display includes brass kitchenware and a wide-range of Bhuddism-related artifacts. 

Located on the ground floor of the ACH is a Special Exhibition Gallery, which showcases important events in Korea-ASEAN relations. 

The culture house’s current theme is “Celebrating the Beauty of Marriage,” which shows wedding cultures of different ASEAN countries, including traditional wedding dresses.

One of the interesting displays in this section is Thailand’s Khan Mak tray, which contains gifts between the groom’s and the bride’s families.

The ACH is also equipped with a virtual reality room, where visitors can experience historical monuments and UNESCO heritage sites in Southeast Asia.

In her speech at the opening ceremony, Kang said the culture house will play a vital role in increasing awareness of the Korean people about ASEAN. 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who delivered his acceptance speech as chair of this year’s ASEAN, said the ACH is “a testament of the continuing friendship and camaraderie of the Korean and ASEAN peoples.” 

“While I note the Philippine films, performers and artists as well as artists and performers of different ASEAN countries are gaining recognition in Korea, we hope that the ASEAN Culture House will create an ‘ASEAN wave’ in Korea to bring people closer together,” he said.

“Hallyu or the Korean wave has been capturing the hearts of the ASEAN,” he added.

“In Korean soap operas and movies, Southeast Asians associate themselves with the Asian ethos that transcends language and affirms our shared values of family,” he added. 

Cayetano noted the cultural exchanges between ASEAN and Korea are “at their strongest,” with Korean artists and pop culture, including Korean telenovelas, getting an increasing following in the Philippines and the rest of the region. 

The opening of the ACH coincides with the ASEAN 50th anniversary celebration this year and the 10th anniversary of the region’s free trade agreement with South Korea, also this year.

The ACH is currently operated by the Korea Foundation. 

It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The ACH is closed on Mondays and on national holidays. 

It is a 15-minute walk from Jangsan Station and a three-minute walk from Buheung High School. 

The Korean government invites cultural and performing arts groups from the ASEAN nations as well as Southeast Asian residents in Korea to perform at cultural festivals.

The culture house also has special screenings of movies from ASEAN countries that are not easily accessible to Koreans and foreign residents. 

Trade volumes between ASEAN and Korea have increased 15-fold, from $8.2 billion in 1989 to $119 billion in 2015, according to Cayetano.

The ASEAN has surpassed the US, EU and Japan to become Korea’s second largest trading partner after China, he said. 

Korea is also the Philippines’ top trading partner as well as primary source for investment, development assistance and of tourists, he said. 

Over 1.4 million Koreans visit the Philippines every year.

“Filipinos and ASEAN were allies of Korea yesterday, we are very good partners with you today, but we look forward to being your brothers and sisters tomorrow,” Cayetano told Korean officials and residents who graced the opening of the ACH.

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