South Korea has been developing rapidly and now has the world’s eleventh largest economy. For the Netherlands, it is the second most important export country in Asia. Its strong economy and trade with the world also generate an interest in and openness about art, culture, design and lifestyle among South Koreans, all of which indicate opportunities for the Dutch cultural sector.
Over the past several years, a great many dynamic Dutch cultural activities have taken place in South Korea, including the Dutch Design Showcase at the Seoul Design Festival and the Dutch Fellowship Programme at the Korean National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). In 2016, the Rijksakademie and Arts Council Korea (ARKO) celebrated ten years of cooperation. The Rijksakademie also piloted an exchange residency programme together with the Asia Culture Centre (ACC) in Gwangju. In South Korea, not only is Van Gogh well known across the country but, through various presentations, the children’s book characters Miffy and the Rubber Duck have also established themselves firmly as Dutch icons.
In September 2016, during Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s visit to South Korea, the Dutch and South Korean governments signed an official treaty to promote further collaboration between the two countries, including the cultural sector and the creative industry. The Netherlands’ International Cultural Policy 2017-2020 also calls for a strategic cultural relationship with South Korea by encouraging Dutch cultural programmes specifically made for that country.
The Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang (February 2018) will be an important event for South Korea, both locally and globally. It offers a great opportunity to showcase the Netherlands and reach out to both a Korean and an international public. That same year, construction on the new Netherlands Embassy, designed according to the concept of the ‘embassy of the future’, will be completed. On these two occasions, we expect to raise the visibility of the Netherlands in South Korea and build up a strong image of Dutch culture with presentations of visual art, the performing arts and new developments in (urban) design and architecture.