By Kim Tae-jong
A group of foreign residents who meet to watch and discuss local movies for entertainment and as a way of learning about Korean culture are also using their biweekly gatherings to help charities in Korea.
Titled "Charity Movie Coffee Mornings", the event invites foreigners living in Seoul and screens a local movie to give them a chance to learn about Korean culture shown in the films every other Thursday from 9:30 a.m. Their entrance fee is donated to South Korean charity organizations.
"After we watch a movie, we discuss what we think about it and try to learn and discover Korean culture and the lives portrayed in it", said Anne Pelissier, marketing director of the Europe-Korea Foundation (EKF), which hosts the session. "Although the meeting is open to everyone, we are especially focusing on bringing together women with children who live in Seoul since there are not many chances for them to enjoy cultural events here".
As the event is part of the EKF's activities to support charity organization in Korea, they plan to expand the size of the movie session with more participants and various other events in the future, Pelissier added.
Currently around ten people with various nationalities from European countries to Australia and Canada, have attended the session since its first gathering in December sponsored by Seoul Selection, a shop for local cultural products.
"Although I can watch Korean films with English subtitles when I buy a DVD", said Renate Wagner from Germany who attended the meeting on Jan. 20 when the movie "Samaritan Girl (Samaria
)" by Kim Ki-duk
was shown, "I find this meeting enjoyable since I can meet people of various nationalities and talk about the films we see".
Wagner said she likes Korean movies that deal with unique Korean traditions and themes, but sometimes she thinks that there are too many violent scenes and sexual images in recent local movies which are not appropriate to the development of their story.
Having lived in Seoul for about nine years, Wagner has taken a great interest in Korean culture, and has recently sought to understand the Korean pop phenomenon through watching episodes of "Winter Sonata
(Kyoul Yonga)", a mega hit local soap drama series, which has contributed in creating "Hallyu", or the Korean Wave, in Asian countries.
"I first found the series childish but now I think it is really something special that all the women might dream about since it is so romantic given that there is so much violence and brutality and other obscenities surrounding us", Wagner explained.
Most participants in the session seem to think that the meeting can be also a good place to exchange experiences and opinions they have while living in Korea
"It is interesting to see how Korean directors see problems which they want to show people", said Gisela Brinkmann from Germany. "And because we don't have enough chances to communicate with others here in Korea, I think this is a good opportunity to exchange their ideas and opinions".
To know the reality of Korean society, experience and look deep inside it, they also hope to talk to Koreans in the session about movies they see and Korean culture as well, Brinkmann added.
The next session of "Charity Movie Coffee Mornings" is schedule on Feb. 3 from 9.30 a.m. to noon with the nostalgic melodrama "My Mother, the Mermaid
(Ino Kongju)". The venue Seoul Club is located near the Shilla Hotel in Changchung-dong, Seoul. For more information, call 011-748-1972 or visit www.geocities.com/ekfprogram