KOFICE

Hello Asia editor Johnny Au speaks with KOFICE General Director Mr Kim Deok Jung about the organisation’s plans for exporting Korean culture to Australia.The Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange (KOFICE) is a Korean government organisation that is tasked to raise the national brand awareness of Korea through the arts, culture, fashion, and industry. KOFICE is a non-profit organisation working under Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. KOFICE is active within Australia with its successful 2K13 Feel Korea concert in Perth, sponsorship of local Korean culture projects and regular correspondent reporting of Korean events in Australia. I spoke to its General Director Mr Kim Deok Jung whilst in Seoul about KOFICE’s role in Australia and its future plans.

What do you think are keys to success for exporting Korean culture to a country such as Australia? And how is success judged?

In our opinion, we believe that increasing the access on Korean culture contents should be the key element for success.

Every year, KOFICE conducts a survey within Australian Hallyu fans regarding their use of Hallyu contents. Moreover, based on the various industry’s data, we analyze the Hallyu trend in Australia. According to the result of the survey, there is a lack of information on Korean pop culture provided in multiple languages and when watching dramas or movies, subtitles or dubbing is incomplete which makes it hard to enjoy the contents. These results show the improvement point regarding Hallyu contents in Australia.

Meanwhile, the scale of evaluation is judged by the statistics and research on export of Hallyu contents, activation of Hallyu communities, recognition of Hallyu contents, frequency or substance of coverage on Hallyu by Australian media.

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How important is a country like Australia to KOFICE’s overall strategy? What in your opinion are the strengths and weaknesses in promoting to a country like Australia?

KOFICE pushes ahead the strategy with the scale of the world zone rather than the individual state. For an example, in Asia region Hallyu is in the mature stage but in regions such as Oceania, North America, Central and South America, Middle East, and Africa, Hallyu is in the development stage. Australia is one of the main country on behalf of Oceania region, thereby is considered heavily when making the strategy for the Oceanian region.

Hallyu’s groundwork in Australia is very weak. Therefore, KOFICE is facing a lot of difficulties when targeting Australia. In this regard, KOFICE has not been able to build cooperation or systematic system with Australian institutions. This can be seen as KOFICE’s current weakness in Australia. However, KOFICE is trying hard to get over this weakness. In the event that KOFICE held in 2013, KOFICE has cooperated with many institutions such as Australian embassy and Korean cultural center in Australia. Moreover, through the correspondent in Australia KOFICE is trying to improve the relationships with Australian institutions and Hallyu communities.

Recently, KOFICE has hosted and supported various events for interactive culture exchange between Korea and Australia. In 2013, KOFICE has invited ‘Dandy Man’ from Australia to Busan International Comedy Festival. In the same year, in Perth, KOFICE has hosted ‘Feel Korea’ which is a Hallyu Festival that puts together K-POP performance, contest, joint performance with the local singer, Korean culture class and etc. In 2014, we were invited to Sydney Festival and have supported the performance of Korean traditional culture called ‘Pansori’. Through various support and host we were able to activate culture exchange between two countries.

Above all, since Hallyu is developing among small communities in Australia, in order to expand their chance to experience Hallyu, KOFICE has supported communities such as UNSW K-POP Society and K-POP Camp in 2014, XOKpop Dance’s event in 2015. Also, by inviting Australian opinion leader to Korea, we have provided opportunities to experience Korean culture.

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KOFICE has been successful in hosting concerts in Australia. What are KOFICE’s future plans for Australia? Do you have a wish list of things you would like to do in Australia?

Hallyu has started to expand only recently in Australia. KOFICE will host projects based on reciprocality and will continuously carry interactive culture exchange projects that can raise the amity between two countries. At the same time, we will continue to put effort on raising the recognition of Hallyu. By supporting the Hallyu communities, KOFICE will try to fulfill the demands to experience Hallyu, and of course, we will keep assigning correspondents and continue to conduct surveys.

Wish list regarding Australia will be activating interactive culture exchange between two countries. In this regard, KOFICE is carrying various global projects among countries. To invite Australia in these global projects is our desire. For an example, KOFICE hosts Asian TV Drama Conference mainly in Korea, China, Japan and South Asia annually. KOFICE is trying hard to develop the conference to the state where we can invite entire Asian countries including Australia.

Visit KOFICE website for the latest news on Korean culture.

Translation by Julia Choi

Johnny travelled to South Korea as part of KOFICE Korea Joa 2015 culture exchange project