Friday, October 25, 2013

Today in Korea...
Happy Dokdo Day!
Today, Koreans celebrate 'Dokdo Day', a day designated four years ago to promote Korea's sovereignty over the island of Dokdo, which is situated to the East of the Korean peninsular.
Unfortunately there has been a dispute lasting several decades over who owns the island.

Facts about Dokdo island
The island of Dokdo is situated in the East Sea (off the Korean peninsular) and has been a part of Korean territory since 512 A.D.
Countries must understand that invading (or seizing) another country's island does not rightfully make it yours. It is therefore wrong to suggest Dokdo belongs to any country other than Korea.

For more information please visit A Story of Dokdo

Monday, October 07, 2013

Dae Jang Geum Campaign Update
"On the Route of Dae Jang Geum"

대장금  루트를  가다
A new documentary to be aired tonight on MBC
Alice Bennell, founder of the "Show Dae Jang Geum on BBC" Campaign, will be featured tonight in a documentary on Korean TV station MBC.

At the beginning of the summer, I was approached by a film producer from Korean TV station MBC (Munwha Broadcasting Corporation), asking if I would be willing to appear in a new documentary (called 'On the Route of Dae Jang Geum') to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the popular Korean historical drama. The producers of the documentary travelled around the globe (on the 'route of Dae Jang Geum') to investigate the cultural phenomenon of the drama, and the impact it has had in the countries where it has been shown (or not, in the case of the United Kingdom).

Since I was already busy preparing to attend "Chethams International Summer School and Festival for Pianists" in Manchester, filming was delayed until the end of August.
The filming for the documentary took place over two days, and we had a long list of things we needed to cover. I played two songs from the soundtrack of Dae Jang Geum on the piano, I discussed my compositions, painted a minwha picture (as I had taken Korean painting classes last term), talked about my interest in Korean culture and literature, designed a Korea unification flag, travelled to the Korean Cultural Centre in Central London to be interviewed with KCC's artistic director Hye-Jung Jeon.... It was a lot of fun, but very tiring!

Tonight, 'On the Route of Dae Jang Geum' will be focusing on people from four countries: a girl from Sri Lanka, a small community in Sierra Leone, a girl from the UK (me!), and a couple from Belarus.
"장금이 파이팅! 앨리스 파이팅!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Decade of Dae Jang Geum
Dae Jang Geum celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Since its debut on Korean TV station MBC (Munwha Broadcasting Corporation) in 2003, Dae Jang Geum has gained huge popularity in 87 countries Worldwide; including Russia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Hungary and the United States. 
There have been over 96,500 visitors to this website since I launched my campaign in April 2006. Now in 2013, Dae Jang Geum celebrates its 10th Anniversary - I think it's time to revive my "Show Dae Jang on BBC" Campaign!
My next step is to write another letter to Sue Deeks (Head of Acquisitions at the BBC), and I will let you know how she responds.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Alice Goes to South Korea...
Last month, I was awarded 3rd prize in LTI Korea's annual 'International Korean Literature Essay Competition' (see previous post). My prize was an all-expenses paid trip to Korea; to attend the Awards Ceremony, and to have a sightseeing tour around Seoul with the other prizewinners.
I had a such wonderful time, there was so much to see and I was fascinated by everything. I met the other competition winners on the first night: Rosa (a University Professor from Spain), Michelle (who works in International Relations, from Mexico), Federico (a student from Italy), and Rick (a student from Taiwan).

On our first full-day, we were taken to the head office of the Korean Literature Translation Institute (LTI Korea). It is an organisation supporting the translation of Korean literature around the world, and it is funded by the Korean government.
They showed us around their library that has Korean books translated into 28 languages, and we also met the President of the Institute. Then at the award ceremony, all the competition winners were given a big bunch of flowers, and we had to do a 3-minute speech in front of members of the Institute.

For the next few days we were taken on a grand tour around Seoul. We saw the changing of the guards at Gyeonghui Palace, and we visited the Korean Folk Museum. We also went to a traditional Korean Folk Village, to see how people of the Joseon dynasty lived: the houses they lived in, the games they played, and how they stored their food. For lunch we were treated to a formal Royal Court meal, where about a million courses were brought out. It was alot of fun!

On the last day, I went to two palaces in Seoul - Changdeokgung (where many scenes from Dae Jang Geum were filmed!) and Changyeong. Changdeokgung was my favourite palace, it was so big and grand, and the royal garden of Changyeong was full of red maple trees. It was really pretty!
I was sad to leave Seoul, I knew I would really miss it. On the last morning, Miss Park (the lady who looked after us during our stay), came to say goodbye and gave everyone a farewell gift. It was a silver business card holder, decorated with Korean characters, and with LTI Korea's logo on the inside.

During my stay, Seoul held their annual Lantern Festival. Along a stream that runs through downtown Seoul, there were hundreds of intricate paper lanterns that looked really pretty when lit up at night.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Special Message
Alice Bennell to visit South Korea in November
Ever since I first watched Korean historical drama Dae Jang Geum back in 2006, I began to to develop a strong interest in Korean culture. With encouragement from several DJG fans, I set up an online campaign to get Dae Jang Geum shown here in the UK.
And so the 'Show Dae Jang Geum on BBC' Campaign was formed, this website created, and an online petition set up. The campaign soon caught the attention of the Korean media; in particular a
news report by Korean channel YTN News, which attracted 16,000 visitors to this site within a 24-hour period.

It was in 2006 that I first discovered Korean culture. Fast forward 4 years - I find myself the 3rd place winner in a worldwide Korean Literature Essay Contest, and preparing for my first ever trip to the capital of South Korea. So much has happened so quickly...

Since 2005, the Korean Literature Translation Institute in Seoul has held an annual 'Korean Literature Essay Competition' to promote Korean literature throughout the world. Through each country's Korean Embassy and Cultural Centre, the competition is held in 16 countries worldwide.
2009 was the first year the competition was open to UK entrants, so I decided to enter. The rules were simple - read the set text of a Korean masterpiece and write a 2,000 word critical essay.

And so I spent the summer reading Ch'oe Yun's 'There a Petal Silently Falls', a complex story told in a polyphonic narrative. Many found the story difficult to understand, and I was perplexed. Eventually I decided to just write my own thoughts and feelings about the book. Luckily, the judge (a Korean professor at Oxford University) really liked my essay, and awarded my essay 1st place in the UK's first 'Korean Literature Essay Competition'. At the award ceremony in December 2009 (held in London's Korean Cultural Centre), I was presented with my prize - a beautiful hand-painted scroll, and a Samsung laptop.

As the UK winner of last year's essay competition, I was put forward for the international competition (along with essay winners from 15 other countries - America, Canada, Mexico, Peru, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Japan).

I am very honoured to be named as the 3rd place essay winner worldwide! The Korean Literature Translation Institute have invited me to Seoul for an award ceremony, along with the other 'top 5' winners. I am very excited, this will be my first time visiting South Korea. I look forward to visiting the museums and palaces in Seoul, experiencing Korean cuisine (잘먹겠습니다!), and of course shopping in one of the many Dae-mun markets!

My dream to 'visit Korea one day' has come true! I will be arriving in Seoul (from London) on Wednesday 17th November, and will be spending 5 days in the city.