South Korea and France to Celebrate 130th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties

luvsmiling, Sept. 14, 2015, 10:06 a.m.

South Korea and France will begin a series of cultural events in each other's capital this week to celebrate the 130th anniversary of their diplomatic ties which falls next year. The South Korea-hosted events will open with the performance of Jongmyo Jeryeak, a Korean royal ancestral rite that is accompanied by traditional court music, at the Chaillot National Theater in Paris on Friday and Saturday.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is scheduled to make an official trip to France where he will declare the opening of the "Years 2015-2016 of Korea-France Bilateral Exchanges" on Friday night. During the visit, he is also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on French President Francois Hollande and meet with his French counterpart Manuel Valls.

Friday night's performance will be attended by Hwang, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius and culture minister Fleur Pellerin, among others. The music that Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) kings used in ancestral memorial ceremonies at Jongmyo Shrine in downtown Seoul became the first Korean item on UNESCO's list of intangible world heritage along with the ancestral ritual in 2001.

South Korea plans to play the ritual piece in full, employing 120 people, including 50 musicians and 35 dancers. This will be the first time that the musical piece is performed in full outside of South Korea, although a brief version of it was staged in Japan in 2000 and Italy and Germany in 2007.

South Korea and France agreed during a summit in November 2010 to designate the period from the latter part of 2015 to the end of 2016 as "Years 2015-2016 of Korea-France Bilateral Exchanges" under which more than 200 cultural programs will be held in both countries to allow citizens to experience each other's culture without having to travel.

There will be 149 Korea-hosted events to be held in France and 60 French events to be held in South Korea. The performance of Jongmyo Jeryeak was also designated as the national theater's 2015-2016 season opener. It will be performed at the 1,200-seat theater before paid audiences. Also on Friday, there will be a spectacular light show that projects colorful lights featuring the Korean national flag Taegukgi on the iconic Eiffel Tower.

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