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Culture is a bridge between nations that allows for better mutual understanding. With the strengthening of the economic and political relations between Switzerland and Korea also comes the intensification of Swiss cultural activities in Korea.
Even though Switzerland has a very good image in Korea, not that many people know a lot about Swiss culture aside from yodeling. Traditional yodeling has received a great deal of attention from the public in Korea. As a consequence, in order to indulge one’s passion for yodeling, Korean yodel clubs were established throughout the country. In this sense, Korea is a unique and positive experience.
In 2008, the idea of creating a cultural fund crystallized at the Embassy and was discussed with Swiss companies present in Korea.
After the first few consultations and preparations, the Swiss Cultural Fund Korea (SCFK) was created in spring 2009 with the aim of promoting the Swiss cultural presence in Korea and contributing to a positive visibility of Switzerland and its companies. That same summer, the Fund sponsored its first big event, The Lindenbaum Music Festival. From the beginning, the Fund was composed of some of the most prominent Swiss companies that are active in Korea.
In 2013, the members of the Swiss Cultural Fund Korea are: ABB Ltd. Korea, Nagra Media Korea, Nestlé Korea Ltd., Novartis Korea Ltd., Oerlikon Balzers Coating Korea Co., Ltd., Roche Korea Co. Ltd., Rolex Korea Ltd., SGS Korea Co. Ltd., Syngenta Korea Ltd., Bystronic Korea, Ltd., Ferring Pharmaceuticals Korea Co., Ltd., Gudel Lineartec, Inc. Korea, Quadrant Korea Co. Ldt., Schoeller Korea Inc., Zuellig Pharma Co. Ltd.
The sponsorship activities of the Fund touch many cultural fields. They include classical music with well-known Swiss groups like the Festival Strings Lucerne and the ZHdK String Ensemble, both of which have visited Korea.
Design also became a focal point, with participation recorded at the Seoul Design Olympiad 2009 and at the Seoul Design Fair 2010. Additionally, there were exhibitions like 1001 Cups at the Icheon World Ceramic Center in 2010, Criss-Cross: Design from Switzerland at the Korea University and Busan Design Center in 2011, and the Design Prize Switzerland at the Sejong Center and KT&G SangsangMadang in 2012. The SCFK promoted dance through events like the performances of the world famous Béjart Ballet Lausanne in Deajeon in 2011 and the participation of various Swiss dance troupes at the MODAFE Dance Festival and the SiDance Festival. The Fund also sponsored two multifaceted events: The Swiss Festival 2009 and Switzerland in SongEun as part of the Swiss Weeks in Seoul in 2012. These festivals, organized by the Embassy, included many cultural activities designed to introduce an overview of Swiss culture to Seoulites.
After four years of activities, the Swiss Cultural Fund Korea is well established. Hopefully, in the years to come, many more Swiss companies will join the fund and contribute to more Swiss cultural activities in Korea.