SHARJAH, 27th October, 2023 (WAM) — Visitors to the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) will have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich and ancient culture of the Republic of Korea and try out traditional Hanbok during the 42nd edition, themed ‘We Speak Books,’ which celebrates the Republic of Korea as the Guest of Honour. This event will take place between 1st and 12th November at Expo Centre Sharjah. This year, the Republic of Koreans wore traditional Emirati Abaya and Kandura to celebrate Sharjah as the Guest of Honor at the Seoul International Book Fair.
Under the theme of ‘Unlimited Imagination,’ the Republic of Korea’s pavilion at SIBF 2023 promises a diverse and culturally rich experience, allowing visitors to explore various facets of Korean history and civilisation. Above the pavilion, shaped like a circular structure extending infinitely to symbolise the boundless imagination found in books, the Guest of Honour agenda includes performing arts, and 20 engaging workshops and sessions led by 25 prominent figures from Korean culture, literature, and the arts scene. The Guest of Honour will also showcase over 200 inspiring art pieces in a series of exhibitions, offering insights into Korean literature, graphic novels, and imaginative portrayals of traditional Korean stories.
Try on Korea’s traditional Hanbok
For three days during the 12-day international event, the Korean pavilion will host interactive workshops that provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about local arts and culture. In the “Traditional Korean Fan Decorating and Beautiful Mother-Of-Pearl Craft Programme” workshop, being held on Wednesday the 8th of November from 10:00 to 16:00; and Friday the 10th from 16:00 to 21:00; participants will immerse themselves in traditional arts, learning techniques and colouring traditional patterns onto a fan to craft their masterpiece.
In the “Experience the Beauty Of Korea’s Traditional Hanbok” activity, on Thursday 9th November, from 10:00 to 16:00, visitors can immerse themselves in the elegance of Korean traditional attire by trying out various types of Hanbok, including everyday wear, ceremonial attire, and royal garments, allowing them to delve into the rich history and culture of the Asian country.
The Republic of Korea will celebrate its ancient culture through a series of activities, including “Dance on Paper,” part of the Calligraphy Programme titled “Seoye.” Visitors will experience the dynamic and powerful art of Seoye (Korean traditional calligraphy) as they write their names in Hangeul (Korean alphabet) while watching a powerful performance by Calligrapher Lee Jeong Hwa scribbling with powerful brushstrokes across a vast expanse of paper.
The Republic of Korean chefs will showcase Korean cuisine at SIBF’s Cookery Corner. Chef Kim Kyeongmin, author of “The Vegetable Table,” will introduce food lovers to mouth-watering Korean vegetarian recipes that anyone can make with readily available ingredients, providing healthy and enjoyable bites.
Traditional Korean desserts will also be on the menu. Kim Joohyun, author of “Korean Dessert Class of Nullicake” and owner of Korean dessert studio Nullicake, will showcase a variety of tastes and shapes influenced by Korea’s distinct seasonal changes, offering a perfect balance between rich flavours and nutritional value, rather than simply focusing on sweetness.
Exhibitions narrating Korea’s unlimited imagination: History, science, webtoons, literature, and picture books
In a time where humans have a substantial impact on our planet, the Korean Pavilion seeks to bridge the gap between Arab and Korean cultures by showcasing the transformative power of imagination, language and sustainability through knowledge exchange. The “Unlimited Imagination” exhibition at the Republic of Korea’s Guest of Honour Pavilion will be a captivating exploration of history, science, webtoons, literature and picture books. With a curated collection of 80 books, this exhibition embodies the essence of boundless creativity and intellectual curiosity.
Through these tales of space, machines, nature, artificial intelligence and other emerging technology, as well as the enigmatic, the exhibited works offer visitors the chance to reconfigure their understanding of the past, rekindle their connection to the present, and ultimately, empower the emergence of an unprecedented future where the inconceivable becomes achievable.
Wider Horizons, Wider Worlds
Under the overarching theme of “Unlimited Imagination,” the “Wider Horizons, Wider Worlds” exhibition will be a delightful exploration of Korean literature, bringing together the written works of seven Korean authors, offering a rich tapestry of poetic imagery and fictional characters to captivate readers in both Arabic and English. As a commemorative effort by LTI Korea, the anthology of Korean literature serves as a bridge connecting diverse cultures and languages, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the distinctive and expansive creative imaginations of these seven talented authors, thus widening horizons and fostering a deeper understanding of the worlds they have woven through their words.
The Republic of Korea will host an amazing collection of shows that combine modernity with heritage. Haepaary, an alt-electronic duo comprising Minhee and Hyewon, creatively fuses the aural language of rave and trance to showcase the pop side of precise Gamuak (a traditional Korean performing art).
Sangjaru, a music group formed in 2014 by three performers, Cho Sung-yoon, Nam Seong-hun, and Kwon Hyochang, will captivate SIBF visitors with their music, infusing culture and arts they experienced during their travels around the world into their traditional symphonies to create new Korean modern music.
Picture Book Exhibition
The “Picture Book Exhibition” is a captivating showcase of creativity that comprises three distinct programmes: “Picture Books, a Whole Universe of Imagination,” “Playful Artists, Expanding Genre,” and “Bottari Vacance: Let Stories Take You on an Exciting Vacation.” This exhibition serves as a gateway to the enchanting world of Korean picture books, demonstrating the boundless potential of these works. In “Picture Books, a Whole Universe of Imagination,” visitors are introduced to a realm where reality and fantasy blend seamlessly, engaging young and old alike. “Playful Artists, Expanding Genre” explores the innovative and multifaceted aspects of the picture book genre, where artists’ creativity knows no bounds.
Finally, the “Bottari Vacance: Let Stories Take You on An Exciting Vacation” exhibition blends tradition and modernity in an immersive journey through Korean folktales. With 180 captivating artworks by 11 talented artists, it reinterprets age-old stories, offering a fresh perspective on cultural heritage. The exhibition includes interactive art, and 360-degree VR experiences, making it an unforgettable encounter with Korea’s cultural tapestry, where visitors become active participants in the dynamic world of Korean folktales.
Discussions on History, Science, Humanity, Webtoons, and Web Novels
The Guest of Honour pavilion will be home to literary seminars that cover diverse and engaging topics, including culture, history, art, and science. The panel discussion “Korea and UAE: 1,200 Years” Long and Deep-Rooted Historical Encounter and Future Prospects,” moderated by Kim Ho, HK Professor at Seoul National University Asia Center, will host Lee Hee Soo, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Hanyang University, to discuss the relations between the Asian country and the Arab world, which spans 1,200 years. This includes trade and commercial activities that gradually led to cultural exchanges, which further evolved into interpersonal interactions that brought Muslims to the Korean Peninsula. The session will also discuss the strategic partnership between Korea and the UAE, deep-rooted in the humanities, cultural exchange programmes, and joint research between the two countries.
In the “Walking On Pixel Lines: Surviving as a Freelance Cartoonist” session, Cartoonist Chung Sewon, aka “OOO,” known for breaking the conventions of cartoons and webtoons, will share her seven-year journey as a freelance cartoonist, shedding light on the process and concerns of creating original cartoons in Korea’s market. Moderated by novelist Jeong Munee, the renowned artist will share some of his works that delve into societal issues in a comedic style.
In a lecture titled “Imagine History,” Kim Ho, HK Professor at Seoul National University Asia Center, will highlight the values that underlie Korean culture by exploring the stories of Joseon kings, scholars, doctors, and commoners through historical texts and literature.
The session “How Far Has Humanity’s Dream of Heading to Space Come?”, moderated by Lee Hee Soo, Emeritus Professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Hanyang University, will explore with Orbit, Science Communicator, the challenges and opportunities in exploring space, as well as the future of the partnership between Korea and the UAE in this field.
During the seminar, “The Appearance of Cost-Effective Readers: Why are they crazy about regression, possession, and reincarnation?,” Jeong Munee, a celebrated Korean web novelist, will take centre stage alongside moderator Ahn Jina to discuss the enduring themes of “regression, possession, and reincarnation” that have long defined Korean online novels. These stories provide an escape from reality, offering a world where the extraordinary is possible, fuelled by boundless imagination. The session will explore the impact of these themes in Korean novels, inviting Sharjah’s readers to dive into the captivating realm of Korean content.
Another compelling discussion will be titled “Beyond the Pages: Exploring the Dynamic Universe of Korean Web Novels and Webtoons,” where Associate Professor Ahn Jina of Okinawa International University will cover the incredible growth of the Korean content industry including the likes of ‘K-pop’ and ‘K-drama’ and mediums such as web novels and webtoons. The talk will investigate the factors driving this surge, focusing on the impact of digitalisation and the ever-expanding realm of Korean storytelling.
Celebrating Literature and Artistry: Korean Author and Picture Book Talks
The “Korean Literature Author Talks” will feature a series of seven engaging discussions, bringing together renowned Korean authors such as Sun-mi Hwang, Kim Ae-ran, Kim Un-su, Sohn Won-pyung, and Bae Myung-hoon, and poets Kim Seung-Hee and Jeong Ho-seung, as well as talented authors and poets from the UAE. With topics ranging from literature and poetry to young adult fiction, these talks promise a dynamic and culturally enriching exchange of ideas, bridging the gap between Korean and Emirati literary traditions, and celebrating the shared love for storytelling that unites us all.
The “Picture Book Talks” will offer an engaging platform where Korean picture book authors, including Kyung Hyewon, Kim Sangkeun, Seo Hyeon, and Park Hyunmin, discuss insightful perspectives on storytelling, particularly tailored for younger audiences. With six immersive talks, these authors will reflect on their unique approaches to creating captivating narratives, drawing from their own creative worlds and innovative spirits. One of the featured talks hosted by Choi Hyejin, author of “Asking Korean Picture Book Artists,” will introduce a diverse range of Korean picture book artists who have left their mark on the genre with their distinctive and imaginative contributions. These discussions serve as an enriching opportunity to delve into the art of storytelling through images, igniting the imaginations of both authors and young readers.
The transformation of the Republic of Korean publishing scene
The Republic of Korea will share the experiences of prominent Korean publishers during Sharjah’s Publishers Conference through four engaging panel discussions that shed light on changes in the Korean publishing model in response to social and media transformations. Publishing experts will highlight how the Korean publishing industry’s ecosystem has changed, garnering significant interest from foreign markets and how technological advancements are applied and expanded within the publishing sector.
As part of the Korean Round Table Programme, featured speakers will include Kang Jaeho, Professor at the Department of Communication at Seoul National University; Lee Hakjun, Researcher at the Korean Publishers Research Institute of the Korean Publishers Association; Park Jong Hwa, Director of Kyungmoonsa; Song Minwoo, CEO of English Egg; alongside their guest speaker, Pedro Sobral, President of Portuguese Publishers and Booksellers Association.