Korea's Hwan-gap!

by Anne Ladouceur, 05/08/2008

In Korea, one’s 60th birthday has traditionally been an important event, as it marks the completion of the 60-year cycle of the oriental zodiac – every 60 years the cycle begins again. And just as the Hwan-gap is a momentous occasion in a person’s life, so is the 60th anniversary of South Korea as a nation. On Friday 15 August, the country will be its 60 birthday since the Republic of Korea was formally established in 1948.

As befits a Hang-gap there will be lots of celebrating. Among them are a number of exhibitions that spotlight life in Korea over the past sixty years. Music is another part of the celebration and some of those options are also listed below.

The National Library of Korea is hosting1948 and Today” with displays of books, photos, films and other records of modern Korea on the first floor of its building for the whole month of August.
The National Archives of Korea are shining the spotlight on rare records and documents of the early Korean government 60 years ago. Over 90 original copies of state records that bear the president's signature and 200 photos of significant moments of modern Korean history will be shown at the exhibition, which will be opened from Aug. 5 to 31 at the Seoul Museum of History.

Images of Korea through foreign textbooks” at the Insa Art Center in Insa-dong. Put on by the Academy of Korean Studies this exhibition displays how Korea has been viewed in the world over the past 60 years through the fallacies and misunderstandings found in the textbooks of twenty different nations. Most of the detailed explanations in this exhibition are given in Korea, the textbooks are in their original language. This exhibition runs until 12 August.

The ETP Urban Rock Festival has lined up 21 bands for its shows on 14 and 15 August at the Jamsil Sports Complex. Among the performers are alternative/heavy-metal star Marilyn Manson, American indie rock group Death Cab for Cutie and the Japanese rock band Dragong Ash.  Local pop music is also on offer through SMTOWN LIVE08 on 15 August at the Olympic Main Stadium from 5PM to 10PM. And just outside Seoul, in Ilsan, theres the Beer Rock Festival from 15 to 17 August in the 4th and 5th Hall of the KINTEX Building. The Hall can accomodate up to 20,000 people and will open its doors from 3PM to Midnight for 9 hours of free entertainment.

Specifically for the occasion, the Celebration of the 63rd Anniversary of Independence and the 60th Anniversary of the Republic of Korea will be held at City Hall Plaza on 14 August from 8PM. This is also a free event and seating (except for invited guests) is on a first-come-first-served basis. There may be a small fireworks display after the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra's performance.

It should be noted that not everyone agrees that 1948 marks the beginning of the Republic of Korea. There are some who argue that it should be counted from 1919, while others feel that the nation’s true birthday goes back to its founding in 20 BC. Different points of view notwithstanding, there will a number of events, exhibitions, etc. to celebrate 15 August 2008.

For more information on the events described above and others, you can go to www.korea.net or to Korea4Expats' What's Going On section. 

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