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Koreans' creative desire is one big factor behind hallyu's success: Sejong Center CEO

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Ahn Ho-sang, CEO of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, gives a lecture during the Corea Image Communication Institution's (CICI) Korea CQ Forum at the Singaporean ambassador's official residence in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of CICI
Ahn Ho-sang, CEO of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, gives a lecture during the Corea Image Communication Institution's (CICI) Korea CQ Forum at the Singaporean ambassador's official residence in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of CICI

By Dong Sun-hwa

People around the world are eager to uncover the secrets behind the global success of hallyu, or the Korean wave. Multiple factors have contributed to its rise, but Ahn Ho-sang, CEO of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, picks the creative desire of Koreans as one of the biggest driving forces.

"It seems Koreans have a strong desire for self-expression," Ahn said during the Corea Image Communication Institution's (CICI) Korea CQ Forum, which was held at the Singaporean ambassador's official residence in northern Seoul, Tuesday. The forum intends to bring together opinion leaders and promote cultural exchanges worldwide.

"Korean creators love making something of their own," he said. "In the case of musicals, many musical production companies here rack up profits from licensed musicals, but often use that money to create their own theatrical shows, which are not very lucrative. We also have some 400 troupes in Daehangno ― the mecca of performing arts in Korea ― but less than 10 percent of their performances are based on stories from abroad."

The CEO, who had previously been the president of the National Theater of Korea, added that Korean audiences also have a deep affection toward content made in Korea.

"The majority of the most commercially successful movies in our history were produced in Korea and the only exceptions were American films like 'The Avengers' and 'Avatar,'" he pointed out.

Today, big-name European theaters and museums are well aware of hallyu's influence as well, according to Ahn.

"Thanks to hallyu's global clout, they now welcome us," he said. "They already know that the fastest way to attract young audiences is to join hands with Korean celebrities. In fact, Victoria and Albert Museum in London is currently holding an exhibition centering on the Korean wave. It seems hallyu is gaining more momentum as time goes by."

The Korea CQ Forum was joined by Singaporean Ambassador to Korea Eric Teo, Swiss Ambassador Dagmar Schmidt, German Ambassador Michael Reiffenstuel, Greek Ambassador Ekaterini Loupas and EU Ambassador Maria Castillo-Fernandez, among others.

Participants of the Corea Image Communication Institution's (CICI) Korea CQ Forum pose at the official Seoul residence of Singaporean Ambassador Eric Teo, back row fifth from right, Tuesday. Courtesy of CICI
Participants of the Corea Image Communication Institution's (CICI) Korea CQ Forum pose at the official Seoul residence of Singaporean Ambassador Eric Teo, back row fifth from right, Tuesday. Courtesy of CICI
Dong Sun-hwa sunhwadong@koreatimes.co.kr


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