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Institutes That Promote Chinese Culture

Posted October. 28, 2005 07:38,   


Some 2,500 years after his death, Confucius is making another trip around the world. This time, the scale of his trip is much larger. The spread of the Chinese language and culture around the world has begun through the opening of Chinese cultural institutes abroad.

Advanced countries have long established cultural institutes around the world to introduce and spread their languages and cultures. Examples include the United States Information Service (USIS), the Goethe Institute of Germany, the Alliance Française of France and the British Council. Now China is emerging as a new challenger.

China‘s Confucian Vanguard-

China has been spreading awareness of Chinese language and culture through the Chinese Cultural Institute under the Ministry of Culture and the “Confucius Institute” under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.

The Chinese Culture Institute, designed to introduce Chinese culture overseas, has been set up in six countries including Korea, France and Egypt. Negotiations are currently underway with the United Kingdom, India and Germany over its establishment in those countries. The Confucius Institute, centering on Chinese language education, has been established or has received permission to be set up in over 30 countries around the world, starting with its Seoul institute founded last November. It has the ambitious plan of establishing 100 more institutes by 2010.

Enjoying Continental Culture at the Chinese Cultural Institute-

“Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?” (Quoted from Chapter One of the Analects of Confucius)

Passing by the statue of a lion in front of the main gate of the Chinese Cultural Institute in Korea, visitors are greeted by four great Chinese thinkers: Confucius, Mencius, Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu. Portraits and famous sayings of the scholars are engraved on a wall. These thinkers represent the pride of the Chinese people that they have been the origin of culture.

The Chinese Culture Institute opened here in December for the first time in Asia. The institute is located at 200, Naeja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, which is near the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

It has only been 10 months since it opened, but the Institute has continuously been visited by enthusiastic Sinophiles. Since its opening, the number of Korean visitors has reached over 10,000 and its official website has been visited by more than 300,000.

The cultural institute holds a variety of exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year. Performances and lectures related to Chinese culture are held in a multi-purpose hall underground, and Chinese movies are also played there once a week. All these are for free. The library on the fourth floor has over 15,000 China-related books and magazines.

You can also learn about traditional Chinese cultures that have been largely inaccessible to the Korean public, such as Chinese medicine, Tai Chi Chuan and calligraphy. Special lectures on Chinese culture are also held once a month. Chinese language courses will start on November 8 and Chinese cooking courses will be starting soon as well.

“Exchanges between Korea and China have dramatically increased, but the level of mutual understanding is still insufficient. The Institute will be a venue for Koreans to appreciate the essence of Chinese culture, thereby serving as a bridge between Korean and Chinese cultures,” said Director Zhu Ying-jie of the Chinese Cultural Institute in Korea.

Starting November, the Institute’s opening hours will be changed to 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Thursday to Saturday. The institute is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Accordingly, schedules for film screenings will also change from 4:00 p.m. on Sundays to 2:00 p.m. on Fridays.

For detailed information, visit the institute’s official website at www.cccseoul.org.

Jae-Young Kim redfoot@donga.com