Winding up the year of 2009, the Korea Foundation held the Korea Foundation Award ceremony on December 16, in Seoul. The event was held in conjunction with the 18th Anniversary Winter Concert “Passion” at Kumho Art Hall, in appreciation of the participation and support the Foundation received for its various programs and activities.
To recognize the noteworthy contributions of the individuals, who help to boost Korea’s image among the global community, the Korea Foundation Award
is now presented annually to shine the spotlight on these deserving individuals. For the second year of this tribute program, the Foundation was pleased to present the Korea Foundation Award to Professor John B. Duncan, a renowned Korean Studies scholar, along with a special Honorary Award to Kim Jun-yop, President of the Institute for Social Sciences. Lifetime Dedication to Korean Studies
With an audience that included representatives from various sectors of Korean society, the second Korea Foundation Award Ceremony began with Foundation President Yim Sung-joon’s welcoming remarks, followed by a congratulatory message from Unification Minister Hyun In-taek. In 2008, the initial Korea Foundation Award was presented to Dr. Martina Deuchler, Professor-Emerita of Korean Studies at SOAS. For this year, the honor was bestowed upon Professor John B. Duncan, Director of the Center for Korean Studies at UCLA.
Professor Duncan’s involvement with Korea dates back to the 1960s when he served with the U.S. Forces in Korea. Since that time, he has maintained close relations with Korea, which include his in depth research work on various subjects on Korea. He has also actively sought to disseminate an accurate understanding of Korea among the U.S. academic community and general public. For example, he has played a key role in having high school textbooks in California include proper references and descriptions of Korea. In addition to his noteworthy achievements, his personal love for Korea is another factor behind his selection for the Korea Foundation Award.
Prior to the award presentation, in his endorsement remarks, Yonsei University Museum Director Kim Do-hyung revealed Professor John B. Duncan’s profound love for Korea and its people. He noted: “He usually thinks in Korean and behaves like a Korean, more so than even regular Koreans. His research on Korea has made a great contribution to broadening the scope of Korean Studies worldwide.”
During his acceptance remarks, the audience was clearly surprised and impressed with Professor Duncan’s fluency in Korean when he stated: “It is my honor to receive this award. It is more than I deserve. I realize much pleasure in studying about Korea, but the greatest pleasure I have is the chance to teach about Korea and its history to more than 1,500 undergraduate students. I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Korea Foundation for providing generous scholarship aid and program support to the students and scholars of Korean Studies so far.”
Following this, the Foundation presented a special Honorary Award to Dr. Kim Jun-yop, President of the Institute for Social Sciences. Of note, Dr. Kim has been named professor emeritus at 11 universities in China as a result of his personal dedication to promoting academic exchange between Korea and China, during the time when he taught at Korea University.
President Kim Jun-yop expressed his special feelings about receiving the Honorary Award at his advanced age. “I am extremely pleased to receive an award for my work in Korea and China. At this moment, I feel as if I am receiving a diploma for my six decades of Korean Studies work in China. As for the status of Korean Studies in China, just a foundation has been laid. So I ask for more people’s interest in this regard in the future.” Winding up the 2009 Year
The formal awards ceremony was followed by the annual Winter Concert, on the occasion of the Korea Foundation’s 18th anniversary. Under a theme of “Passion,” the concert served as an entertaining event to wind up 2009 and look forward to the challenges of the New Year. The featured performers included soprano Kim In-hye, tenor Kim Kyung-yeo, and bass Lee Yeon-seong. As for Kim In-hye, she appears in such a large number of performances that she has come to be known as the “most active classical singer in Korea,” although even this designation might not fully describe her wide-ranging activities, like also teaching at Seoul National University.
Kim Kyung-yeo is a talented stage performer who graduated summa cum laude from the State Conservatory of Music “Ottorino Respighi,” Latina, Italy. Known as a lyric spinto tenor, a rarely found voice in Korea, he displays his operatic talent through diverse performances. While earning awards at various competitions since his days at the Moscow P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Lee Yeon-seong has been called a “stormy bass” by the music circles in Russia. The three singers, all notable performers in their own right, joined forces to the exquisite accompaniment of the prominent pianist Han Ji-eun, a graduate of the College of Music, Seoul National University.
The concert opened with Lee Yeon-seong’s rendition of “Love Beyond Age,” an aria of Prince Gremin, from “Eugene Onegin.” This was followed by Kim Kyung-yeo, who sang “I Have Never Seen a Woman,” an aria of Des Grieux from “Manon Lescaut,” and Kim In-hye’s presentation of “The Morning.” Indeed, the passion of these performers seemed enough to melt away the winter cold.
The classical performers also sang popular Korean songs, such as “Snow,” “Wonder If My Beloved Is Coming?” and “River in My Heart,” in addition to a medley of Italian and Russian favorites. The dynamic performance was highlighted with an animated presentation of “You, Betrayer!” from “Ernani,” an opera about love, betrayal, and jealousy. In this way, the audience was able to store away the events of the past 12 months, while anticipating the opportunities of the new year and upcoming decade.