A successful cross-cultural relationship rests on a sincere interest in each other and an eagerness to learn in mutual respect, this is of course true for friendship, love, and not surprisingly also for international relations.
Indonesia and South Korea have been developing their ties in all aspects, including through cultural interaction. The Korea-Indonesia Friendship Festival organized by the Korean Association in Indonesia has been part of efforts to help the relationship flourish.
The event, which took place in the Nusa Indah Theater, Balai Kartini, South Jakarta, attracted an audience of hundreds. The organizers invited 600 young Indonesians along with 600 Korean nationals in order to promote trans-cultural ties.
“There are 2,200 Korean companies operating in Indonesia, providing work to more than 1 million Indonesians. By organizing this cultural event, on a people-to-people basis, I want to show that our two countries have a lot to share, beyond politics and business” Shin Kee-yup, chairman of the association, told The Jakarta Post.
“I am looking forward to a second edition in 2015” he added.
Approximately 50,000 Koreans live in Indonesia, making it one of the biggest foreign communities in the archipelago.
During the three-hour show, a short introduction to the traditional arts of both countries was performed, namely the Sogo dance of Korea and the Javanese Kraton dance. Videos promoting tourism in the two countries as well as recalling 41 years of official relations were also broadcast, ending with a photo of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s recent trip to Busan to attend the ASEAN-South Korea Summit.
Performing during the first edition of the festival on Saturday, Korean dangdut singer Woojong Hwang, popularly known as Ricky Ujung fully embodied the inter-relationship.
Mixing the artistic codes of K-pop and dangdut, the artist fascinated the audience with his sensational “best of two countries” hybrid style. “I love Indonesia and dangdut is the best way to express myself. I think you could define what I do as K-dut”, he told the Post after his show.
But what really electrified the audience were the long awaited K-pop dance performances by local University of Indonesia (UI) and National University (UNAS) students.
The glamorous S.O.S. Indonesian K-pop girl band caused youngsters to get out of their seats and cheer when they performed two of their hits.
Performers of the world-acclaimed JUMP! comic wushu took to the stage as guest stars to give an insight into their irresistibly funny and impressively mastered show. They were due to give full performance on Sunday.
During his welcoming speech, South Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Cho Tai-young, said he never “experienced such a special relationship in his more than 30-year career”.
He explained that he was an enthusiastic student of the Indonesian language and claimed that he already knew seven local songs, triggering applause among the audience hoping he would sing a song, but to no avail.
When asked by the Post about the popularity of Indonesian culture in his country, compared to the K-wave here, he admitted there was an imbalance at home. “But when Korean tourists come to Indonesia, they are always fascinated by the country’s dances and traditions. And I always encourage my colleagues and fellow Koreans who stay here to immerse in Indonesian culture. For example, whenever we organize the Korean film festival here, we also feature Indonesian movies with Korean subtitles”.
He enumerated nationalist songs and excerpts of them for the Post, such as “Indonesia Raya”, “Bengawan Solo”, “Satu Nusa, Satu Bangsa” and more popular ones like “Cinta ini Membunuhku”