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(LEAD) 3rd international 'culture Olympics' kicks off on S. Korean island

All Headlines 16:32 September 09, 2009

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES para 2-5, 9-10 with details)
By Shin Hae-in

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- Clad in multifarious costumes, performers from all over the globe gathered on South Korea's Jeju Island Wednesday to show off their artistic traditions during the third International Delphic Games.

Under the theme "Turning into Nature," the event will run from Wednesday through Sept. 15 on this resort island with performers from 54 countries taking part in six artistic categories including music and acoustic art, the performing arts, craft, architecture and social arts, according to the Jeju Delphic Committee.

Korean music and dance -- representing the country's Confucian, Buddhist and Shamanic traditions -- and contemporary performances heated up the opening ceremony, attended by Lee Jong-duck, chairperson of the organizing committee for the 3rd Delphic Games, Seoul's Vice Culture Minister Kim Dae-ki, and the International Delphic Council (IDC) founder and secretary-general Christian Kirsch among others.

"Let's illuminate the East and West together," Kirsch said in his congratulatory address.

Akin to the Olympic torch relay, a consecration using lake water from Jeju's Mount Halla was held to kick off the event. Once performed in ancient Greece to sanctify the Delphic Games as an offering to the gods, the ritual is held to ensure the event's success.

The Delphic Games originated out of the ancient Greek festivals that were held every four years at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. Cultural fairs were dedicated to the sun god Apollo, featuring various musical and drama performances, while the Olympic Games were intended as a platform for military drills.

The Delphic movement of the modern era was initiated by Germany's Kirsch, who promoted the importance of global cultural understanding and proposed artistic competition as a form of education. Representatives of 18 nations founded the IDC in Berlin, Germany in 1994.

The event in South Korea is the largest so far. Twenty-seven countries attended the first Delphic games in Russia and 21 countries attended the 2005 games in Malaysia.

Along with competitions, organizers have also prepared various non-competition events, including Buddhist and Shamanic festivals, a break-dance and hip hop performance, and the Delphic Bar-Global Food Festival, during which attendants will be able to experience hundreds of exotic cuisines.

Meanwhile, organizers were on high alert due to the fast-spreading influenza A virus, setting up special medical desks in all performance halls. Attendants were asked to sterilize their hands while volunteer workers checked the body temperatures of all those entering event halls.

Anyone aged 19 and older is qualified to compete at the Delphic games where winners will receive either the gold, silver or bronze Delphic Medal Award, the Delphic Laurel Award, the Delphic Peace Award and the Delphic Lyre Award.


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