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Five ways to explore Korean culture in Brussels this autumn

02:00 10/09/2021

2021 is the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Korea - and the Korean Cultural Centre is pulling out all the stops to offer an autumn full of events.

Comics Art Museum

The Comics Art Museum is hosting a major exhibition on the history of Korean comics. Covering more than 100 years, from the first cartoons published in the press to the paperless webtoons, through popular characters and major series, the beautifully curated The Rise of Korean Comics uncovers the dynamics and diversity of Korean comics and some uniquely Korean institutions such as the manhwabang, a sort of comics café that spread across Korea starting in the 1960s. 

The Comic Strip Festival of Brussels

The guest of honour at the festival is the Republic of Korea and there will be a six-week-long exhibition, Speak through Comics, at the BELvue Museum, which examines the Belgian-Korean comics phenomenon.

Additionally, during this first weekend of the festival, there will be a number of live events including the possibility of having your caricature done by Korean newspaper cartoonists Park Jae-dong and Kim Yong-cheol, autograph sessions with Doha Kang and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, who will also give a lecture on her focus on marginalised people which has made her works recognised around the world. Park and Doha will also be giving lectures and finally there will be a Korean Hunt at the Parc d’Egmont for which one hundred totems will be hidden.

Korean Cultural Days

For one weekend (24-25 September) the Place de Brouckère will be bursting with Korean culture in all its facets. On the Friday there will be the K-POP World Festival dance competition, followed by an outdoor screening of Bong Joon-ho’s multi-award-winning sensation Parasite (four Academy Awards, the Palme d’Or, Bafta, Golden Globes and more). On Saturday, there will be taekwondo performances, various traditional music and dance performances and a live concert by K-Pop mega group Black Swan, a female quartet which includes a Belgian.

All through the weekend, some 37 stands divided into five themes will be offering a wide variety of activities, products and food, including a kimchi truck, Korean cosmetics, which are a growing international phenomenon known as K-beauty, various workshops highlighting different aspects of Korean culture such as calligraphy, Hanji paper fabrication and sampling of Korean liqueurs and “temple food” presented by a Buddhist nun. 

Brussels Press Club

Moon Chung-in, special advisor to the President of Korea Moon Jae-in, has participated in the US/Korean and Korean/Korean talks and will be giving a talk with Q&A on inter-Korean relations at the Press Club Brussels Europe (13 October, 17.00-19.00).

Korean Film Festival

To celebrate the 120th of diplomatic relations, the ninth edition of the Korean Film Festival will be taking place in more venues - not only in Brussels, but also in Ghent, Antwerp, and Luxembourg. Under the title Taste of Friendship, there will be 20 films presented under three themes: Korean Film Today, Anima-zing Animation and My Hidden Gem. Each film will be screened with French, Dutch and English subtitles.

The opening film, Samjin Company English Class, screening at Bozar, the adventures of three female office workers who uncover corruption at their work, is an amusing look at a serious subject. The Anima-zing Animation section will be presenting 10 films that epitomise the various currents of the vibrant Korean animation scene since the turn of the millennium. Finally, My Hidden Gem are Korean films that were selected as their favourites by members of the Belgian film industry (22-30 October).

Written by Richard Harris