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​​Cambodians embrace Korean culture

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Contestants line up on stage in their hanboks to see who wins the Korean traditional clothing competition. PHOTO SUPPLIED

​​Cambodians embrace Korean culture

With Korea’s culture raging through the countries of Asia through K-pop, food and business, the Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center (CKCC) brings Korean culture to the Kingdom through training courses, events and cultural exchanges.

This year, at the Korean Harvest Moon Festival held last Wednesday, girls and boys dressed up in hanbok dress for the Korean traditional clothing competition, while dancers moved to the rhythm of drums in their samul nori performance and students even entertained the crowd with their own K-Pop concert, mixing three or four famous songs throughout the show.

Next on stage, taekwondo students dressed in white robes and green or yellow belts, to show off their fighting skills with a skilled routine of breaking boards with only their kicks. Korean language students then picked their brains for answers during the Korean culture quiz.

The event was complete with the scent of sweet bean paste, honey and rice as tables laid out song pyeon – Korean rice cakes – to truly bring in the essence of the Korean to the capital.

Besides the Korean Harvest Moon Festival, CKCC organises programs throughout the year to actively participate in the development of the Kingdom.

“Korean culture has hit many [Asian countries] very hard and we give them the opportunity to experience the real thing. They see it on TV, but through [these events], they can actually experience it,” said CKCC director Thavouth Khoun.

CKCC has operated in Cambodia since April 2013, when it was founded with a $7.4 million grant from the Korean government and private donors.

Finding a niche in Phnom Penh, it regularly provides information and communications technology (ICT) training, taekwondo lessons and Korean language classes.

To date, the CKCC’s ICT program has trained 2,000 students in software development and computer literacy. The ICT program focuses on five main subjects: Android application and IOS application development, web and software development, and Java programming.

Although the school is open to all students, Khoun said that CKCC encourages students from the countryside who have little to no experience with computers to participate so they can learn essential tools needed in the job market.

“We are proud of that because students increase their capacity and once they graduate, they have something extra to put on their CV,” said Khoun, adding that although they do not provide academic degrees, they do provide a certification. “Most of our students are university or high school students,” Khoun said. “However, some students come only to learn the ICT program and go on to start their own business or go to work [straight away].”

Because the technology sector is constantly growing and changing, CKCC only hires professors who can keep up with rapid change. Their professors perform daily research to stay ahead of the curve.

Apart from the technology-based classes, the CKCC also has Korean-language classes, which aim to expand students’ career opportunities. In addition, CKCC is dedicated to hosting various events throughout the year that are celebrated in Korea.

For example, CKCC has also hosts food tasting events regularly where students, faculty and the public are invited to watch live cooking demonstrations to appreciate the skill needed in perfecting a recipe. Khoun explained that NGOs often bring in students that can apply these cooking skills for employment, or their personal lives.

He added that while CKCC is still relatively new, the centre is continually trying out new events and programs best suited to aid in the Kingdom’s development, a point that is important to him.

“Korea and Cambodia [relations] is very important because Korea has a historical past with war and development, so it’s important for Cambodia to look at that and see [we] can move [this] country further and faster,” said Thavouth.

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