BUSAN, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- The ASEAN Culture House, which opened in South Korea's southern port city of Busan on Friday, is expected to become the biggest center for disseminating the cultural heritage of all 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the president of the Korea Foundation (KF), which is in charge of the new entity.
"ASEAN is a region that has high receptivity toward Korean culture and little possibility of getting entangled in sensitive issues with South Korea like China and Japan do," President Lee Si-hyung of the KF, a government foundation for the promotion of Korean culture, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
Despite such ample potential, there's a lack of awareness of ASEAN on the South Korean side, creating an imbalance in cultural exchanges between the regional block and South Korea, Lee said of the background of the ASEAN Culture House's launch.
The four-story culture house was unveiled in Busan earlier in the day, as ASEAN marks its 50th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of its free trade agreement with South Korea this year.
Built on land measuring some 2,600 square meters in central Busan, the culture house will be used to host exhibitions, academic events, art performances and other cultural events all related to ASEAN.
"It is the first cultural house covering the culture of ASEAN countries as one single group in South Korea and also the first of its kind built outside of the ASEAN region itself," Lee said.
"I expected the ASEAN Culture House to become the biggest facility for disseminating ASEAN culture even in or outside of the ASEAN region," he said. "It symbolizes South Korea's efforts to understand ASEAN better and strengthen two-way exchanges and cooperation between ASEAN and South Korea."
The cultural center is hosting the inaugural exhibition depicting wedding ceremonies of ASEAN countries, and Vietnam is planning to hold a fashion show featuring the country's traditional dress, "ao dai."
Lee also said he plans to make the center a library specialized in Southeast Asia. "I aspire to make it a hub for companies, students and researchers who study the region. So whenever they are in need of information, they could turn to the ASEAN Culture House."
"Attention to ASEAN is as keen as ever especially as (bilateral feuds over) the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense exposed problems stemming from South Korea's excessive reliance on China," Lee said, stressing the need to diversify South Korea's diplomacy spectrum.
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