Forum explores meaning of space and its impact on cultural communication
Relocation of presidential office to Yongsan was a great choice, says Guy Sorman
Published : Aug 25, 2022 - 18:58
Updated : Nov 1, 2022 - 09:48
Guy Sorman, a French-American scholar and culture critic, speaks at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Thursday. (CICI)
Physical space is as important as ever in the post-pandemic era contrary to suggestions that virtual space would largely eliminate physical space, according to experts.

A group of noted scholars and architects discussed the meaning of space and its impact on cultural communication in the pandemic era at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum on Thursday.

The 13th edition of the forum, organized by the Corea Image Communication Institute, was held at the Grand Hyatt Seoul in Yongsan-gu, central Seoul. The forum saw scholars and architects taking a closer look at the meaning of space and sharing their perspectives on its impact on cultural communication under the theme of “Space and Culture Communication.”

CICI President Choi Jung-hwa (fourth from right) and the participants of the 2022 Culture Communication Forum pose for a group photo at Grand Hyatt Seoul on Thursday. (CICI)

“Due to COVID-19, the concept of space has increased significantly, as we can see in the interest in remote work, rise in single-person households and digital transformation,” Choi Jung-hwa, president of the CICI, said in an opening address.

“Cultural communication does not necessarily take place in a closed space like a museum, because open spaces have now become a new stage for art exhibitions,” she added.

Joining the forum virtually, Guy Sorman, a French American scholar and culture critic, delivered a keynote speech on the urban identity of Seoul and South Korea.

“South Korea seems to look for the perfect logo and the next slogan to define Korea for the rest of the world,” Sorman said. “(But) this means nothing. The true civilization of Korea is conveyed by the city, its museums, parks, schools and people.”

Sorman said the recent relocation of the presidential office from Cheong Wa Dae to Yongsan was is a great choice because democratic presidential offices are usually located in the center of the city, like in Paris, London and Berlin.

“Part of the transformation that Seoul needs is not only architecture but also how to connect with history and symbolic implications of this building,” he added.

City hall building glowing in green (Seoul city government)

Sorman also mentioned some of the positive initiatives which have transformed Seoul City. He picked the Cheonggycheon restoration as a great example of restoring nature while also reconnecting the current to the past. “It reminds us that there was a stream, there was a city, and there was a very special landscape.”

Sorman also picked architect Yoo Kerl’s Seoul Metropolitan Government building for its uniqueness and significance.

“It’s totally different from what you see in other countries, and it connects with the Korean civilization and tradition,” he said, pointing out how the plastic wrapping reminds him of Korean fabric used in traditional clothes. “Also the transparency and openness connect to the symbol of democratization because the building is not for bureaucrats, but the visitors.”
Jean Louis Cohen (right on the screen), a French architectural historian, speaks at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Thursday. (CICI)

Meanwhile, Jean Louis Cohen, a French architecture historian and professor at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, shared his observations of the massive return of visitors to museums, festivals and concerts.

“When we had the pandemic, many predicted that offices will become obsolete, that theaters would close, that museums were gone, that exhibitions were passed,” Cohen said. “What we can observe now is rather different, and I want to insist on this -- what I would call ‘the return to space.’”

Cohen said he witnessed that thousands of people attend festivals in Avignon. The scholar noted that this unprecedented phenomenon reflects the urge of people to have a real relationship with cities and landscapes.

“Space provides a multi-sensory experience -- of color, of sound, of odors -- which cannot be matched by other means,” he said.

Yoo Hyun-joon, professor of architecture at Hongik University, speaks at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Thursday. (CICI)

Yoo Hyun-joon, professor of architecture at Hongik University, also highlighted the importance of offline space in the city.

“Anyone can upload their photos online and express themselves in their social media space. But this virtual space is edited and fragmented, which becomes a problem for social integration,” Yoo said.

“So ironically, offline spaces became more crucial because creating a common memory and emotion is something that can only be done in an actual space.”

David Pierre Jalicon, architect and chairman of the French-Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Katrina Sedgwick, director and CEO at Melbourne Arts Precinct Corp.; and Simon Lee, CEO of Flitto, a global crowdsourcing translation platform, also shared their insights and their expertise at the forum.

The hybrid forum featured live online presentations by global cultural leaders who participated remotely. Designhouse CEO Lee Young-hye, New Zealand Ambassador to Korea Philip Turner and Park Jin-woo, CEO of Tmonet, the Korean operator of the Theatre des Lumieres, participated as on-site panelists.

Launched in 2011, the CCF is an annual event that aims to promote cultural exchange and development.

By Hwang Dong-hee (