|From right, portraits of ambassadors to Korea ― James Choi of Australia, Luis Henrique Sobreira Lopes of Brazil, Simon Smith of the United Kingdom and Sripriya Ranganathan of India ― are on exhibition at a studio in Bukchon Hanok Village in central Seoul from Oct. 8 to 14 to promote peace and prosperity through art. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
|From left are portraits of ambassadors to Korea: Qiu Guohong of China, Umar Hadi of Indonesia, Michael Reiterer of the European Union and Michael Danagher of Canada. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
|Dignitaries watch a traditional Korean music performance during the opening ceremony of the exhibition at Bukchon Hanok Village in central Seoul, Oct. 8./ Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
By Yi Whan-woo
The portraits of 14 ambassadors to Korea among G20 members and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha are on display at a special exhibition in Seoul from Oct. 8 to 14.
The exhibition also features the names of the 15 diplomats in calligraphy and seal engraving.
The 14 are Harry Harris of the United States, Qiu Guohong of China, Andrey Kulik of Russia, Alfredo Carlos Bascou of Argentina, James Choi of Australia, Luis Henrique Sobreira Lopes of Brazil, Michael Danagher of Canada, Michael Reiterer of the European Union, Sripriya Ranganathan of India, Umar Hadi of Indonesia, Federico Failla of Italy, Ersin Ercin of Turkey and Simon Smith of the United Kingdom, plus Fabien Penone of France who returned home after completing his term this summer.
Oeun Corporation, which publishes Geulc 21 calligraphy magazine online, organized the week-long exhibition as part of efforts to promote peace and friendship among G20 member nations through art.
The 14 were chosen after they supported the idea of the project, according to Oeun Corporation CEO Suk Tae-jin.
Eight calligraphers, eight engravers and 11 Korean traditional painters worked on the project, which also aims to raise global awareness of Korean art.
|Australian Ambassador to Korea James Choi, left, and painter Lee Jae-yeol, stand beside Lee's portrait of Choi, Oct. 8. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
"I thank the artist who drew me, because I think that is much more attractive than the same person who stands before you," Australian Ambassador Choi told the audience during the opening ceremony at an art studio in Bukchon Hanok Village.
Citing Vice Unification Minister Suh Ho, who was also at the ceremony, Choi said the exhibition "reflects key themes that are relevant today" ― peace on the Korean Peninsula and around the world.
"I think this is a very important way to bring art and culture but also diplomacy together."
|EU Ambassador to Korea Michael Reiterer, right, and painter Kim Ha-jin, stand beside Kim's portrait of Reiterer, Oct. 8. / Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo|
EU Ambassador Michael Reiterer shared his experience in Brussels where he worked for three years on a project to introduce culture in international relations.
He said the EU's position is that culture is an integral part of modern foreign policy.
"And therefore this exhibition is 100 percent in line with what we are doing or trying to do. I thank you very much for this initiative," he said.
He said art could be "the basis for sound diplomacy," adding, "Art, whether it's a painting, music or dance, it's much easier to connect because you talk to people on a different level."
Meanwhile, two artists told The Korea Times they had highlighted "unique Korean artistic tastes."
"Ambassador Choi has a great smile and that's what I have tried to visualize as best as I can through an ink-and-wash painting," Lee Jae-yeol said of his portrait of Choi.
Kim Young-bae, who made seal engravings of the ambassadors of Argentina and Indonesia, said his works were inspired by Hunminjeongeum, a document created in 1446 to introduce a native script for the Korean language.