Marking the 140th Anniversary of Korea-US Diplomatic Ties, Growing Even Closer through Cultural Exchanges

Date May 31, 2022

In celebration of 140 years of diplomatic ties between Korea and the US, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (Minister PARK Bo Gyoon, MCST) will be hosting various culture festivals starting this May in three major US locations (Washington DC, New York (NY), and Los Angeles (LA)), in collaboration with the Korean Foundation for International Culture Exchange (KOFICE) and the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) with Korean Cultural Centers (KCC) in Washington DC, NYC, and LA.


Bilateral relations between Korea and the US began in 1882 (under King Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty), where diplomatic ambassadors from both countries signed the Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce and Navigation. The alliance became more significant when the Korean Legation was opened in Washington DC in 1889. The Korean Legation was the first modern diplomatic mission established by Korea in a western country, which became the stage for independent diplomacy. Since the first ambassador to the US was appointed in 1949, diplomatic and cultural exchanges between the two nations broadened and widended, including the opening of the first KCC in NYC (1979), LA (1980) and Washington DC (2010), serving to actively promote cultural exchanges to date.


At the recent Korea-US Summit in May, President YOON Suk Yeol and President BIDEN reaffirmed that the alliance between the two nations is stronger than ever and have agreed to deepen bilateral exchanges. During the press conference that followed the Summit, President Yoon announced that he would further strengthen cooperation between the two countries based on the amity and trust he and President Biden have built.


Against this backdrop, MCST will be holding a number of cultural exchange festivals to commemorate the 140 years of diplomatic ties. In addition to the already popular K-pop music and movies, the festivals are expected to present a diverse array of Korean culture, including contemporary dance performances, modern art exhibitions, VR exhibitions, tour programs, as well as exchange of media professionals, to promote the Korean charm to the American public and strengthen cultural cooperation.


In Washington DC, the National Museum of Korea and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art have collaborated to unveil the special exhibition: “Once Upon a Roof: Vanished Korean Architecture” to share the ancient construction culture of Korea (May 21 - Oct 30, Sackler Gallery). KCC in Washington DC has started to showcase an immersive content exhibition from May 27 (Fri) onwards, where visitors can enjoy the digital gallery “Royal Procession, with the People” of the National Museum of Korea, the movie Parasite, and concerts by the Korean celebrity music group BTS. Through these programs, MCST will be presenting two major aspects of Korea, its culture and technology. In September, Korea Press Foundation and the East-West Center of the US will be jointly rolling out the “Korea-US Media Exchange” program, where 14 members, including media professionals from both nations, will be covering articles and holding discussions about the Korea-US alliance and the economy. October will feature the Hanji Hanbok fashion show and exhibition as well as traditional cultural performances of Korea. It is also worthwhile to note that the Korea National Contemporary Dance Company and The Washington Ballet will jointly take to the stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in November.


In NYC, K-pop singers Brave Girls and AleXa will be performing on July 10 (Sun) on the outdoor stage of Central Park, while independent music groups Jannabi and Bye Bye Sea will be playing at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s New York Asian Film Festival, a major film event in North America, will also showcase special premiers by Korean movies in July. In August, Korea Cultural Tour Festival is to introduce major destinations and attractive tour programs in Korea.


In the West-American academic center of LA, the Korean cultural exchange will start with a K-pop concert in September at the University of South California (USC), to be followed by a K-pop debate and K-pop cover dance festival. In October, traditional music performances by eclectic traditional singer LEE Hee-moon and a Taekwondo performance are to be presented. October will also mark the start of Korean Culture events that are held in collaboration with key universities, including UCLA and USC. These will offer students the opportunity to experience and to engage in in-depth talks about Korean culture by watching Korean movies, taking part in the Korean language competition and academic discussions on Korean studies. An exhibition at the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) to be held from Sept 2022 to Feb 2023, which will display about 140 artworks by modern Korean artists, including GO Hui-dong and PYON Kwan-sik, will also welcome visitors.