ABU DHABI, Park Yang-woo, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea has said that his country and the UAE have a "firm intention of decisively" raising the level of cultural exchanges through 'UAE-Korea Cultural Dialogue'.

"This is not just formulaic rhetoric," he noted in an interview with Emirates News Agency, WAM, adding that the UAE has become the first country in the Middle East to hold a 'Cultural Dialogue' with South Korea.

"Exchanges in culture and arts are based on the inspiration from people-to-people exchanges," the Minister said, adding that they also stimulate creativity and are "win-win" for both sides.

"I believe that the more active exchanges facilitated by the MoU signed between Korea and the UAE to celebrate the 40th anniversary of bilateral ties will further strengthen our shared bonds, helping to expand exchanges in other areas like politics and economy as well," he emphasised.

The Minister was speaking on the occasion of 'UAE-Korea Cultural Dialogue,' launched officially at the Abu Dhabi National Theatre on Monday to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The inauguration was attended by Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Park Yang-woo, Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Kwon Yongwoo, Korean Ambassador to the UAE, and a number of senior officials from both countries.

In his interview Park Yang-woo spoke about cultural, art, educational, media, sports and tourism ties between the two countries, saying that music, media and language have helped strengthen people-to-people ties between Korea and the UAE.

This has also helped "people understand each other's respective ways of life and traditions, while also helping us discover the things we share in common, and have been crucial in strengthening the bilateral ties."

Park Yang-woo hoped that the 'Cultural Dialogue' will serve as an opportunity for the Korea Arts and Culture Education Service or the National Museum of Korea to create partnerships and exchange programmes with education experts at cultural and artistic institutions like the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The Minister said that there is a word in Korean for the way people look after people they have known for a long time: "Jeong."

"I understand that the Emirati people have a lot of 'Jeong' as well, they are kind to strangers, and treat people they are close to like family," he said.

Park Yang-woo also commented on hosting Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, in the UAE in February 2019, saying, "It left a deep impression of a country and leader sending a message of tolerance and peaceful coexistence to the world."

"I think that 'tolerance' is a core value in Emirati history.

"The culture of tolerance that the Emirati state has succeeded in forging should be shared and emulated not just across Asia, but across the world," he went on to say.

He said that Korean TV shows (like 'Grandpas over Flowers', 'My Little Old Boy'), which have been shot in the UAE, have contributed in increasing the number of Koreans visiting the UAE, while K-pop, Korean drama and medical technology led to rising numbers of tourists from the UAE to Korea.

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing even opened an office in Seoul in 2015, he noted.

"K-pop, Korean dramas and medical technology have led to an almost 90 percent rise in the number of Emiratis visiting Korea over the last 5 years, and 11427 Emiratis visited Korea in 2018," he said.

"If we add the number of foreigners living in the UAE, it is estimated that around 17,000 people from the UAE visited Korea.

"Over the last few years, the number of Korean tourists to the UAE has jumped to approximately 169,000 people (2018 numbers)."

On diplomacy, the Minister said he believes that President Moon Jae-in's visit to the UAE in March 2018 marked the beginning of a special strategic partnership between the UAE and Korea, while His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's visit to Korea in February 2019 "laid the basis for the construction of real cooperative relations."

"This has created a virtuous circle of more active cultural exchanges," he said.

Source: Emirates News Agency