By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- An industrial robot slowly performs "seungmu," a traditional Korean monk's dance, wearing part of a sheer white ritual robe around its arms.
Just beside it is a three-dimensional display set where visitors can enjoy folk paintings from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) while freely strolling through a park and moving between buildings in a virtual-reality space.
They are among some 250 items on display in an exhibition under way at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in central Seoul. Titled "Made in Korea," the government-organized event opened Wednesday for a five-day run.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs co-organized the exhibition to display the essence of Korean culture and explore the possibilities of turning traditional ideas and technological expertise into business opportunities.
On display across from the robot was a high-end glossy black sedan from Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's No. 2 automaker, the interior decorated with brown lacquer panels.
The K9 Quantum sedan has key interior features, like the center stack, finished with lacquer work by Park Kang-yong. He is an artist who has been designated as an intangible cultural asset by the North Jeolla provincial government.
Those items were the fruits of government-led efforts to create convergence content through collaboration between master artisans and corporations, or through startups operating at a government-run cultural venture complex in central Seoul.
The government began creating the Culture Creation Convergence Belt, composed of a creative convergence center, a creative venture center, an academy and a cluster of cultural performance facilities, early last year to help tech venture startups work with each other to develop and commercialize creative ideas and foster talent in the culture and content industries.
"The exhibition will serve as a good chance to showcase the results of the convergence between the government policies for cultural enrichment and the creative economy," the ministry said in a press release.
Adding importance to the event, President Park Geun-hye attended the exhibition's opening ceremony Wednesday.
She called for full government support for the production and distribution of cultural goods that can breathe new life into the national economy.
"I ask you to join forces to ensure that we can move toward an era of new takeoff bolstered by the power of creation and culture," Park said during the ceremony.
The president made it clear that she views the creation of attractive cultural content that makes full use of Korea's traditional culture and technological expertise as a key component in prevailing on the global market.
The exhibition consists of three sections themed on the essence, possibility and evolution of Korean culture. According to the organizers, visitors can see the past, present and future of Korean culture while walking from the entrance to the exit.
The first section shows the most popular traditional Korean items from the "Korea Now" exhibition held at the Decorative Arts Museum of France last year. It was part of the Korean events to celebrate the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and France.
Some 185 woodcraft items, the traditional costume of hanbok and Korean calligraphy are on show in the Seoul exhibition.
The second section has 35 items recently designated by the ministry as "quality cultural products." The "quality cultural products" registry originally had only craftworks. But the ministry expanded the system this year to include all fields of Korean culture -- ranging from food to crafts, hanbok and cultural content. Among the 35 are food products such as CJ Foodville's Bibigo rice; Hansung Kimchi from Hansung Food Co.; Jeonggwanjang red ginseng products from the Korea Ginseng Corp.; Baekseju, a fermented alcoholic rice beverage produced by Kooksoondang; and hanbok dresses made by renowned designer Lee Young-hee.
In the third section, there are seven products made through collaboration between traditional Korean artisans and corporations and five created by startups operating in the government-run cultural venture complex. The seungmu-dancing robot, the Kia sedan and the 3D display set are among the seven. Others drawing attention were lacquer-decorated ceramic Bluetooth speakers produced by KEAS, a local home appliance brand, through collaboration with Jung Soo-hwa, a master lacquerware artisan, and pressure rice cookers from PN Poongnyun Co. The black cookers also have Jung's lacquer works on the handle.
After Seoul, the exhibition will travel to the southwestern provincial city of Gwangju on March 18-23 and to Busan on April 1-6, according to the organizer.
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