Deputy Commissioner Korea Padillion
Interview to Deputy Commissioner Deokhyun Jo Ph.d
by Ivan De Stefano
Known around the world for its high-tech products (SAMSUNG) and for excellent car engineering (HYUNDAI/KIA), Korea seems to be underestimated for other unique qualities, particularly its food and culinary culture; which takes pride in the important criteria of foods such as health, balance and harmony, that convey a wider message as the foods for the future, which is still unknown to most.
“It is strange having to highlight this – underlines DEOKHYUN JO, the Deputy Commissioner of the Korea Pavilion, commissioned by the Korean Tourism Organization – but we have noticed that many visitors are still confused about the two Koreas, which is a clear sign that we are in need of a widespread promotion of our country beyond Expo, where it has surely demonstrated its value”.
Korea pavilion which covers four thousand square meters of exhibition space has clearly impressed the visitors, but what was the message?
“Food is not just what feeds our body, but also the tangible expression of our identity: what, how and the people we eat together with are indicators of who we are.”
Appreciated for its design, the Korean building oozes culture, modernity, art and tradition; but how about the post-Expo promotion?
“Next year Korean Cultural Center will be inaugurated in Rome, which will start a series of projects to promote Korea and its rich culture in Italy, a nation whose culture is very similar to ours; and I feel I am not exaggerating when I say that in terms of culture and tourism our two countries show many similar and converging points.”
We know you have been part of the Biennale of Venezia, was this not sufficient to support the promotion of your country?”
“One project cannot cover all cultural aspects of Korea with more than 5, 000 year history. We are closely working with Consulate General in Milan and Embassy in Rome as well as with the Korean societies in Italy to boost our collaboration to strengthen the multi-coloured images of Korea, known by most only for its high-tech brands.”
In terms of exchanges between industries, the import of Ital-ian products from the food industry is consistent in your coun-try, is it your intention to match this trend?”
“The volume of food imports from Italy is constantly growing on the Korean market: wine, cheese and pasta are extremely popular; and
Korea is equally starting to promote the export of its quality food products, such as fruits and vegetables.”
Is the presence of Korea in Italy to be undervalued?
“Our community which strives for harmony and balance is numerous, there are over five-thousand citizens who live and work in your country. Most of them arrived here to study then excelled in their fields, and now occupy prestigious roles in the fashion industry, art, music, design and so on. These people are the pride of South Korea.”
How long have you been in Italy?
“I arrived last April, but during the last 5 months in Expo I have been appreciating the beauties and tastes of your nation. I am really passionate about your love of food and the culture which develops around it, another social aspect which surprised me is the devotion to family of the Italian people. Koreans also place importance on the Faith, Family and Foods.
What do you value about our people in the work environ-ment?
“Taking the time to do one thing at a time. In Korea we work very quickly, with the risk of not being precise; this is why I think the fusion of these two attitudes between the two countries would be positive.”
Economically Korea is growing rapidly, does this not cause damage to the environment?
“Our objective in the past had been the economical development, but for the last decade our priority has been shifted toward the environment. We have been applying a sustainable development programs to our economy and the results are encouraging.”
To conclude, how does Korea see Italy in this period of crisis which struggles to end?
“Koreans view Italy as the country of Fashion, History and Cul-ture; therefore I believe it will always be a country that one must visit at least once in a lifetime regardless of what happens now !. The EXPO will be a good platform to showcase other unique as-pects of Italy.’