Interview: Yu Byung-Chae, Consul of Culture and Public Relations, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Hong Kong


October 29, 2014 | BY Hong Kong Tatler

Majestic Drums XIX: Pangut Performers of Folk Music 

Upon his arrival to Hong Kong in February 2014, Yu Byung-Chae, the Consulate General to the Republic of Korea in Hong Kong was immediately put in charge of Festive Korea. Having graduated with a Public Policy and Management degree from the University of Pittsburg in the United States and Yonsei University in Korea, Consul Yu worked at the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism before coming to Hong Kong where he is responsible for culture, arts and tourism policy. I spoke with him recently to gather his views on Hong Kong, Festive Korea and Korean culture overall.

Joanne Chan: What do you think of Hong Kong so far?

Yu Byung-Chae: I am happy in Hong Kong. Although Hong Kong is much more densely populated than Seoul, the convenience and atmosphere of Hong Kong makes me feel very comfortable here. Being here, I recognised that Hong Kong is a truly global city in Asia and the people are very well educated and open to the idea of different cultures and people.

JC: What inspired the creation of Festive Korea?

YBC: Hong Kong people highly enjoy K-pop, movies and dramas however; they are not as familiar with other Korean cultural art forms, such as dance, traditional music, and literature. It would be great to have a platform to allow Hong Kong people to experience Korean culture in a broader context, and as such we host Festive Korea.

JC: Is it part of Korea's foreign policy and diplomacy?

YBC: I understand diplomacy to mean a building up of relations between countries. The important thing in building up good relations is getting to the other person's heart. In order to understand each other more deeply, understanding your counterpart’s history and culture is important, and we feel that Festive Korea is a wonderful occasion for people to improve cultural understanding while cultivating our relations.

JC: Are there other countries hosting Festive Korea as well?

YBC: There are Korean cultural weeks in other counties but as far as I know, Festive Korea in Hong Kong is the only month-long Korean cultural festival in the world.

Yu Byung-Chae, Consul of Culture and Public Relations, Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Hong Kong

JC: What are the challenges of building a successful Festive Korea?

YBC: Festive Korea celebrates its fourth year, and is growing annually in terms of its size and the quality of programmes. We are still working on improving the financial structure and organisation. I would really like Festive Korea to involve more local partners to participate and collaborate with the Korean Consulate. It would allow the festival to be more sustainable and we could utilise more resources and encourage more participants.

JC: Who decides the programming of Festive Korea?

YBC: The Korean Consulate decides and organises the entire festival, with advice given by experts in the fields of culture and arts in Hong Kong and Korea. Various partners in Hong Kong help to plan Festive Korea and invite Korean artists.

JC: What are some of the highlights for this year's programme?

YBC: The music show “Wedding”, “Andersen’s Gazes” by Lee Kyung-ok dance company, “Majestic Drum XIX” collaboration with Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and Korea National Gugak (traditional Korean music) Center, and “Taste of Korea 2014” presented by Korean Women’s Association of HK.

JC: What are your views on the rising interest and popularity in Korean culture in Hong Kong and the world?

YBC: We often hear that we live in ‘the era of creative economy’, and creative ideas produce wealth. I think culture and arts are fountains of creativity. Furthermore, culture and arts enrich our daily lives, people from different nationalities and backgrounds understand each other efficiently through cultural exchanges and they break down barriers between people.

Andersen's Gazes

JC: Korea film, music and entertainment have taken Asia by storm. What are their secrets to success?

YBC: I think success can be attributed to different aspects of the industry coming together in concert, without it, it would not be able to flourish. Korea offers tailor-made content, cultivating a training system for talented entertainers, and new content distribution channels such as YouTube and other SNS certainly help.

The plots and scenarios of Korean soap operas and movies are becoming increasingly sophisticated compared to the past. Many TV stars and singers are well trained by the entertainment companies sprouting in Korea. The government is also very supportive, the Korean Film Council in the public sector has operated the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) for over 30 years. Lastly, thanks to YouTube and other forms of new media, Korean entertainers are able to reach audiences around the world in real time and at a very low cost.

For more details of Festive Korea 2014, click here