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Sunday, 16 December 2018

A Korean in Cairo

If Egyptians have embraced Korean culture, it is because the two cultures share many fundamental values

Yang Sang Keun, Sunday 18 Nov 2018
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Views: 1260

It has been 10 months since I became the head of the Korean Cultural Centre in February this year. 

It seems like yesterday that I arrived; time really flew by. Perhaps it was because meeting new people here and introducing Korean culture to the Egyptian people was so interesting and meaningful. 

Expectations were high when I first came to Egypt, but there was a lot of pressure.

I thought it would not be easy to spread Korean culture to people in a strange country, or in a completely different culture called Islam. 

However, my prejudices soon broke down after I came here.

In February, we held an event called "K-Fans Got Talent," which was designed to help people interested in Korean culture show off their talents to their heart's content.

As soon as I entered the event, I was surprised by how many people cheered for K-pop, and by how many people showed their talent for Korean culture. 

The scene has become accustomed to it. Every performance and exhibition hosted by the Korea Cultural Centre has been visited by many Egyptian citizens, the event completed successfully. As the head of the Korean Cultural Centre, I am grateful to these Egyptians. 

Now I am thinking about what to do for these Egyptians. As much as I love Korean culture, I want to give something more precious to me. In particular, there are many people in this country who want to learn about K-pop, traditional Korean music, and Korean food. From now on, I will not let such people learn Korean culture alone. 

With the help of a professional instructor dispatched from Korea, I will help them to learn Korean dance, song, and cuisine systematically, so they can develop their talents.

In addition, the two countries plan to further expand their cultural exchanges. As much as the people of Egypt love Korean culture, the closer Koreans become to Egypt, the closer they will be to it. 

When I first went through the Islamic Ramadan in this country in May this year, I saw people who practice family-centred culture and sharing in person, and thought that there were many similarities with family-centred Korean culture.

There is a cultural consensus underlying our lives, so I think the people of Egypt are embracing Korean culture without resistance. 

Last October, I went on a business trip to Paris, France for about a month. As the work was drawing to an end, some people said that they wanted to go home. Then I thought about it. Is the home I want to go to in Korea, with my family, or in Cairo, where I live alone?

I realised then the fact that the home in my heart is Cairo, not Seoul.

Before I knew it, Cairo had become my second home. 

*The writer is Director of the Korean Cultural Centre in Egypt  

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