South Korea may set up cultural centre in Malaysia

Korean Wave: A man walking past an advertisement screen showing J-Hope, a member of K-pop group BTS, at a subway station in Seoul. South Korean entertaiment finds many fans around the world. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: The South Korean government may look into setting up a Korean cultural centre here if the need arises, says its Ambassador to Malaysia Lee Chi Beom.

To further promote cultural exchange, Lee said his government was looking into the possibility of such a project.

Throughout his three-year tenure as his country’s chief diplomat in Malaysia, Lee said he observed that the “Korean Wave” in Malaysia had played a huge part in fostering mutual understanding in the people-to-people context.

“I think the positive effects derived from the Korean Wave are not limited to just the cultural sector. The popularity of Korean movies, dramas and music has extended beyond the entertainment industry to other aspects of Korea – language, food, travel, studies and so on.”

The Korean Wave or “Hallyu” denotes the global popularity of South Korean entertainment and culture, which started since the 1990s.

“Unlike other cultural flows which are often one-way and only export contents to overseas markets, the Korean Wave is unique in the sense that it is able to grow and come this far based on two-way interactions.

“The Korean Wave is able to gain this much popularity because of the two-way interactions among global fans including those in Malaysia. I think it will continue to bring positive impacts to both our countries,” Lee told Bernama in conjunction with the country’s National Foundation Day observed on Oct 3.

He also said the governments of South Korea and Malaysia were in discussions to raise existing bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.

The establishment of the partnership would lay out a direction and setting for further potential cooperation that covers political, economic, cultural, regional and international dimensions, he added.

“It will mark a new momentum between South Korea and Malaysia to strengthen existing strong bilateral relations.

“After agreeing in principle to elevate bilateral ties to a strategic partnership in November 2019, both governments are now discussing the draft agreement.”

Lee said along with the elevation of cooperation, it was also important to explore and expand the areas of cooperation, especially in new areas such as healthcare, digital, artificial intelligence and the halal industry.

“I am confident that the foundation for our bilateral partnership can be further solidified as we continue our efforts to deepen mutual understanding via various public diplomacy initiatives and cultural engagements.”

On the international front, Lee expressed hope that both nations could join forces to respond to global issues, among others on supply chain, regional growth and security.

“This is important, especially with the intensifying conflict and tensions between superpowers associated with a slowdown in the global economy,” he said.

Currently, there is a 13,000-strong Korean community in Malaysia.

This year marks the 62nd year of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Malaysia is the third largest trading partner of South Korea in South-East Asia.

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