Tuesday, August 11, 2009


This is the last part of Han Style forum which I attended two weeks ago.

Date: 28 July 2009 (Tuesday)
Venue: Member of National Assembly Hall, Main Auditorium
Topic: Let's talk about the future of Han Style
Purpose: To exchange ideas on Han Style and how it would impact the global brand image of Korea in future.

Just a simple introduction. Han Style, from my understanding, is a lifestyle that has a Korean origin, much like zen lifestyle is of Japanese origin. Han Style is about Hangeul (Korean alphabet), Korean Food, Hanbok (Korean traditional dress), Hanok (Korean traditional house), Hanji (Korean paper) and Korean music. They all constitute part of the larger picture which is the Korean culture. The ultimate objective of studying into Han Style is none other than to promote the Korean culture globally.

Prof. Kim, Dean IIE (1st from left, above), is the chairperson. The discussion panel is made up of stars from KBS's "Global Talk Show" (미녀들의 수다), foreign and Korean students. The forum is divided into 2 parts. The first part is on the 'Organic Power' of Han Style and the second on Korean food.

Prof Park (1st from right, above), first presented her research on the 'Organic Power' of Han Style. According to her, 'Organic Power' is different from 'Soft Power'. Soft Power is a cultural force used by big powerful nations to exert their influence on other nations while Organic Power is the influence exerted by individuals with similar interest in a common culture, coming together, in a borderless connected world. The 'Hallyu' phenomenon derives its energy essentially from this 'Organic Power'.

Yonsei's Master students, Mansur from Russia (2nd from left, above), spoke about the lack of publicity of Han Style in other parts of the world like Europe and America. As of now, Hallyu is predominantly localised in East and Southeast Asia. To the Russians, Korea is only about Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Daewoo. He proposed for more promotional activities on Korean culture, for Korean dramas to be dubbed into more languages and for more Korean language learning opportunity in Europe and other countries.

Christina (1st from right, above), from Italy, a familiar face in '미녀들의 수다' spoke about her love for Hanbok. She recalled her Hanbok-wearing experience. Her mother-in-law has a wardrobe full of Hanboks and she enjoys trying them out. For her wedding ceremony, she has two Hanboks. During one 'Chuseok' she went to Gyeongbok Palace with her husband, wearing Hanbok thinking that Koreans will also be wearing their Hanboks on this special day. But to her surprise, she found that she was alone.

Heu-eong (1st from right, above) from Vietnam, also of 미녀들의 수다's fame, spoke about the importance of Koreans making an effort to make all foreigners, regardless of nationality, feel welcome.

Larrisa (1st from right, above) from Russia, related her experience in staying in a pension (chalet or boarding house) which happens to be a Hanok. Initially, she thought she would feel uncomfortable but on the contrary, she slept very well in it. Jokingly, she said that more Hanok and not apartment should be built in Seoul.

Park Yoon-ju (1st from left, above), a native Korean, who is a Law graduate student at SNU, spoke on how little she knows about Korean traditional music. So she suggested that education system should make provision to acquaint both Koreans and foreigners to Korean traditional music. The ultimate goal is to make it a lifestyle rather than to increase awareness and a good way of achieving it is to go the 'fusion' way.

Kim No-su (1st from left, above), a representative from a Korean restaurant chain - 'Yongsusan', gave a presentation on globalising the "sincerity of mother" which is Korean food in other words. He noted that, compared to the number of Japanese restaurants, there are far fewer Korean restaurants in major hotels. He felt sorry that the price of Korean cuisines has to be lower than Chinese or Japanese cuisines and which unfortunately reinforces the idea that Korea stuff means discounted stuff. Among the many proposals he gave to elevate the status of Korean food, he pointed out that it is important for Koreans to first recognised the glamorous history and cultural value behind Korean food.

Benoit (centre, above), a French student in KHU, touched on the controversial topic of 'bosintang' (dog meat soup). Since it is controversial, I shan't write anything about it. I think it is not worth the time dwelling on this topic over and over again since better resolution will not be achieved. There are a lot more Korean food to woo the world than 'bosintang'. Live octopus may have a better chance in achieving success globally since most people have yet to develop an emotional connection to it.

Diana Kwon (centre, above), from Ecuador, spoke about how she learned to like Korean food. She stayed away from Korean food initially as they are quite different from Ecuadorian food but after she was 'forced' to eat them, she discovered that they actually tasted quite good. Other good points about Korean food is that they are not oily and low in calories.

Kang Do-won (1st from right, above), a native Korean, studying at Korea University was the last to speak. He spoke on the ways to globalise Korean food. But since I was kinda switched off by then, I did not really register what he actually suggested.

Finally, group photo to mark the end of the forum. While they were taking photo, we made our way to the canteen to queue for our Korean food since it was already lunch time when everything wrapped up.

It was a long morning especially for those foreign students who do not quite understand what the panel was talking about, but to me, I have learnt quite a bit from this forum, not to mention the opportunity to visit the National Assembly which was an eye-opener.


  1. wow this forum sounds really interesting. thanks for sharing. (:

  2. you are one part of the 'organic power'.

  3. Thanks for your beautiful photos. But why is it we never get to see you in the photos?

  4. because this blog is not about me as in the person.