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 Ambassador Sung: T&T can Create Sweet Music with South Korea  주트리니다드토바고 대한민국 성문업 대사, 한국문화 소개 및 양국 간 협력 관련 인터뷰

South Korea Ambassador to T&T Moon-up Sung. Photo: Sue-Ann Wayow

Ambassador Sung: T&T can Create Sweet Music with South Korea

주트리니다드토바고 대한민국 성문업 대사, 한국문화 소개 및 양국 간 협력 관련 인터뷰
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By Sue-Ann Wayow

THE Republic of Korea is approximately 15,000 km away from Trinidad and Tobago.

With a history stemming more than 700,000 years ago, the nation that is also known as South Korea is clearly not to be confused with its northern counterpart which boasts of having one of the strongest military borders in the world.

Its peninsula is flanked by China to its west and Japan to its east with a total area of 100,364 kilometres squared. Surrounded by water on three sides, the mostly mountainous country has an average population of over 50 million people compared to Trinidad and Tobago’s 1.4 million.

But these two countries, miles apart, have strong relational ties with a foundation being built in 1985 with the establishment of the Korean Embassy in the capital city of Port-of-Spain.

Current ambassador Moon-up Sung has been in T&T since May 2018.

He has represented his country in other parts of the world including France, Afghanistan, the United States, Sweden and Australia before landing on Caribbean terrain. His favourite aspect of this twin-island state apart from the kind and loving people is the weather.

Ambassador Sung spoke with AZPNews.com recently at the Embassy at Elizabeth  Street, St Clair.

Korean culture exploding

He shared how proud he was that the dynamite Korean culture was making a name globally, the peaceful relationship between the two countries and made suggestions on how greater influences could be made.

Additionally, he spoke about the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on both countries mentioning that Korea and T&T have been relatively successful at managing the spread.

He said the T&T’s management has been quite “impressive” due to Covid-19 protocols enforcement and the collaboration from citizens.

While the pandemic continues to evolve, Sung says that focus on public health and the medical sector should take precedence for both countries going forward.

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And though vastly different, there are similar traits shared between the two, including importance on education, human resource development, diversity, rich culture and creativity and modernisation.

About the influence of Korean culture that has been exploding into the world and captivating the attention of men and women, young and old with T&T being no exception, Sung said that he felt proud that even though Korea was so physically distant, nationals from Korea and T&T were able to connect through many cultural exchanges and interactions with not even language being a barrier.

Both countries, he said, should capitalise on this cultural exchange.

Last year, Korean film Parasite won four awards at the Oscars including Best Picture, the first non-English film to win the award.

T&T embracing Korean culture

Global sensation boy band BTS was named by Time magazine as the Entertainer of the Year 2020 and is also the first K-pop group to be nominated for a Grammy award which will now take place on March 14 instead of January due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is delightful to witness and celebrate the international accomplishments and local recognition of Korean entertainers influence on the music and film industries.

“I appreciate how much Trinbagonians have embraced Korean culture locally and I am pleased to see their interests and love for K-Pop and Korean films continue to grow over the years. Especially, when everyone has been so affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it really does mean a lot that Korean culture has created such a platform where everyone across the world could relate to each other,” Sung said.

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Over the years, the Embassy has held several Korean cultural events ranging from traditional music and dance performances to Korean films, essay and K-Pop contests.

However, due to Covid-19, some of these events were held through an online platform. It is mainly through these cultural platforms that knowledge about Korea is shared with the local public.

The ambassador said last year, it was encouraging to receive many entries for the competitions beyond their expectation. The embassy hosted its annual K-Pop contest which had participants showcasing their K-pop singing or dancing talents, as well as  the Essay contest. Those who wrote essays had meaningful suggestions on ways in which relations can be strengthened with one suggestion being Korea, because of its technological influence can better assist with the medical care in T&T.

Korean Wave or Hallyu

One major event which could not be hosted was the annual Korean Film Festival due to Covid-19. Sung is hopeful that this year, it will be possible.

He said, “Given the many restrictions caused by Covid-19, the Embassy was unable to host its usual cultural events this year as it would be best to enjoy these cultural experiences through gatherings and face-to-face activities.

“In 2021, the embassy will continue being committed to encouraging Korean culture to be shared among Trinbagonians and promoting the culture of T&T in Korea.”

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Some of these events will be hosted by combining online and offline platforms while observing all heath protocols, he added.

The Hallyu or Korean Wave– a term used to refer to the popularity of Korean entertainment and culture began rolling across firstly the East Asia countries and then the rest of the world in the mid-1990s after Korea entered into diplomatic relations with China, and Korean TV dramas and pop music became quite popular in Chinese speaking communities.

Sweet music

The internet has aided greatly in building a virtual bridge between the two republics and Sung believes that this will continue to play a crucial role in cross- culture.

T&T can create sweet music with Korea, Sung said and he is optimistic about the possibilities.

“I believe T&T and Caribbean music and culture are so creative, which has produced so many outstanding artists over the years. I hope to see this creativity continue to blossom in the future with possible musical and cultural collaborations between Korea and the Caribbean region on a global scale,” he told AZPNews.com.

South Korea Ambassador to T&T Moon-up Sung speaking with AZPNews.com Senior Reporter Sue-Ann Wayow

The culture demonstrated through the mass media is being accepted more internationally because Korea is showcasing it to the world, he said.

Korean producers include elements that anyone can relate to and artists simply perform well due to their hard work, Sung said.

Trade

In terms of trade, Korea, a global leader in technology, has given T&T, automobiles and electronics mainly mobile phones while T&T has traded natural gas, petrochemicals including ammonia and methanol to Korea.

Sung said, “Trade between T&T and Korea has continuously increased over the past decade. The trade has been adversely affected by Covid-19 in 2020 due to the fluctuation of prices of natural gas and petrochemicals which are the main export of T&T to Korea.

“Once the world recovers from Covid-19, the trade between the two countries is believed to continue to grow again. And this mutually complementary economic and trade structure will become a fundamental stepping stone to deepen the relations between the two countries.”

T&T citizens have also increased their interest in Korean food, snacks and clothing which he thinks Korea can export more to T&T. He suggested that T&T export more food, namely chocolates and alcohol to Korea.

Korea and T&T also agree in protecting universal values such as global peace and human rights at the government to government level and on the international stage including the United Nations.

“Trinidad and Tobago has been a great partner country with Korea to protect those universal values. In light of this, I greatly appreciate the Government of T&T for supporting the efforts to ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” Sung said.

Through the Global Korea Scholarship (GKS) Programme, the Embassy has recommended Trinbagonian students with great interests in Korea to study for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in Korea. The GKS programme provides students with an opportunity to gain deeper knowledge in their field of study and have a first-hand experience of Korean culture.

Sung said, “I wish more Trinbagonians will visit and travel to Korea to experience Korean culture, values and advanced Information Technology and simultaneously I wish, on the other hand, more Korean tourists to come to T&T to appreciate Caribbean culture including Carnival. By enjoying creative music such as the steelpan and calypso, they will be able to experience the diversity of Caribbean culture.”

He hopes that post-Covid-19 and with the opening up of borders that there will be more personal interactions amongst citizens of the two nations.

He said, “I also think it was a period for testing for how the people of T&T operate and endure. Economically, there have been some suffering and I hope that, that will change soon. We have had a sense of community, of taking care of each other and I wish everybody health and success.”

(Information about Korea taken from the book Facts about Korea published by the Korean Culture and Information Service, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism).

SEE TRANSLATION IN KOREAN BELOW:

주트리니다드토바고 대한민국 성문업 대사, 한국문화 소개 양국 협력 관련 인터뷰

Sue-Ann Wayow 기자

 

한국은 트리니다드토바고와 15,000km 떨어져 있으며 중국, 일본과 국경이 인접해 있다.

트리니다드토바고의 인구가 140만명인데 비해 한국의 인구는 5천만명이다. 한국의 지형은 삼면이 바다로 둘러싸인 반도로 약 64%가 산지로 이루어져 있다.

양국의 외교 관계는 1985년도에 수립되어 현 성문업 대사는 2018.5월에 트리니다드토바고에 부임하였다.

트리니다드토바고에 부임 전, 성 대사는 프랑스, 아프가니스탄, 미국, 스웨덴, 호주 등에서 한국을 대표하였다.

성 대사는 한국문화 소개 및 양국간 협력 등을 주제로 AZPNews.com과 인터뷰를 가졌다.

(한국문화의 번영)

성 대사는 한국문화의 국제적인 명성을 기쁘게 생각하며 양국의 평화로운 관계가 향후 더욱 발전할 수 있는 방안을 제시했다.

성 대사는 코로나19가 양국에 끼치는 영향에 대해서 설명하며 양국이 상대적으로 성공적인 방역조치를 시행했다고 덧붙였다. 또한, 양국은 지리적, 문화적인 차이에도 불구하고 교육열, 인적자원 개발, 다양성, 풍부한 문화 등 유사점이 많다며 향후 의료보〮건 분야 등 양국간 협력이 확대되기를 희망한다고 밝혔다.

그는 지리적 거리 및 언어장벽에도 문화적 교류를 통해 한국 국민과 트리니다드토바고 국민이 소통할 수 있는 데에 대해 기쁘게 생각하며 이러한 문화적 교류를 토대로 양국 관계를 발전시켜나가기를 바란다고 했다.

작년, 한국영화 기생충은 비영어영화 중 최초로 오스카에서 최우수작품상을 수상했다.

(트리니다드토바고의 한국문화 포용)

BTS는 최근 첫 K-Pop 그룹으로서 그래미 후보에 오르고 Time지에서 2020년도 엔터테이너로서 소개되는 등 세계적인 인기를 끌고 있다.

성 대사는 한국의 음악과 영화산업의 국제적인 성공을 기쁘게 생각하며 특히, 코로나19 상황에서도 한국문화가 전 세계인을 위한 소통의 장을 마련한 것은 상당한 의의가 있다고 언급했다.

성 대사는 한국-트리니다드토바고 간 지리적 거리에도 불구하고 문화적 교류를 통해 양국 간의 소통을 이어가고 있는데 한국 대사관은 한국주간 문화행사를 매년 개최해오며 코로나19로 인해 2020년도에는 온라인으로 개최한 에세이, K-Pop 콘테스트에 많은 트리니다드토바고 국민들의 참여가 있었다며, 참가자들의 K-Pop 노래 및 춤에 대한 열정과 양국 간 협력 증진 방안에 대한 창의적인 의견들이 굉장히 인상적이었다고 언급했다.

(한류)

성 대사는 코로나19로 인해 2020년도에는 한국영화제가 개최되지 못하였지만 2021년에는 개최될 수 있기를 바란다고 했다. 많은 문화행사들이 직접적인 모임을 통해 오프라인으로 개최되는 것이 바람직하나 코로나19 보건수칙으로 인해 2020년도에는 개최할 수 없었다고 전했다. 그는 2021년에도 한국대사관은 트리니다드토바고 내 한국문화를 알리고 트리니다드토바고 문화를 한국에 소개하기 위한 지속적인 노력을 기울이겠다고 했다.

한류는 한국문화에 대한 인기를 지칭하는 단어로서 한국과 중국이 외교관계를 수립한 이후 한국의 드라마 및 음악이 중국사회 및 동아시아에서 인기가 증가하면서 만들어진 개념이다.

(음악)

인터넷은 양국이 문화교류를 지속할 수 있는 원동력이 되었다. 성 대사는 트리니다드토바고가 한국과 협력하여 달콤한 음악(sweet music)을 만들 수 있는 기회에 대해 긍정적인 입장을 표명했다.

성 대사는 “트리니다드토바고와 카리브 음악 및 문화는 굉장히 창의적이고 그에 따라 훌륭한 아티스트를 배출해내었다. 이러한 창의성이 향후 한국과의 협력을 통해 꽃 피우기를 바란다”라고 전했다. 문화는 대중매체를 통해서 더욱 국제적으로 전달이 되는데 한국문화는 전 세계인을 대상으로 만들어지고 보여진다. 한국의 문화제작자는 모든 사람들이 공감할 수 있는 요소들을 포함시키며 아티스트들은 그들의 엄청난 노력으로 완벽한 공연을 할 수 있다고 전했다.

(무역)

한국은 스마트폰, 자동차 등을 수출하고 천연가스, 석유화학 등을 수입함으로써 상호호혜적인 무역관계를 지속해왔다. 성 대사는 “양국간의 무역은 지난 몇년간 계속적으로 증가해왔다. 2020년도에는 양국의 무역 또한 코로나19로 인해 영향을 받았지만 세계가 코로나19로부터 회복하면서 양국간의 무역도 다시 증가할 것이며 이런 상호호혜적인 경제, 무역구조는 양국관계의 초석이 될 것”이라고 밝혔다. 트리니다드토바고 내 증가하는 한국 음식, 패션 등에 대한 관심으로 한국의 트리니다드토바고로의 수출이 다양화되고 또한 트리니다드토바고는 한국으로 쵸콜렛 및 럼 등을 수출할 수 있기를 바란다고 전했다.

아울러, 성 대사는 양국이 UN 등 국제무대에서 정부간 세계평화, 인권 등 보편적 가치를 수호하는 파트너국가로서, 한반도 평화와 안정을 지지해주는 트리니다드토바고 정부에 감사의 뜻을 전했다.

성 대사는 트리니다드토바고 국민들의 한국 정부장학생(GKS) 프로그램 지원을 독려하고 코로나19 이후 한국 방문을 희망하며 이는 한국 문화를 직접 경험할 수 있는 좋은 기회가 될 것이라고 했다.

마지막으로 성 대사는 “지금은 트리니다드토바고 국민에게 어려운 시기라는 것에 대해 공감하며 경제적으로 많은 고통들이 있었지만 곧 변화가 있기를 바라며 우리는 공동체 시민으로서 서로를 보살피고 지지해야한다. 2021년에도 모든 트리니다드토바고 국민들의 건강과 건승을 희망한다”고 전했다.

 

(Translated by Dr Kyungeun Park at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea)

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