The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Jeong Jae-wal
Jeong Jae-wal:
Born in 1964, Jeong Jae-wal graduated from the English Literature Dept. of Korea University and then went on to complete the graduate course in Theater and Film at the same university. In 1990 he joined the Hankook Ilbo newspaper and in 1994 moved to the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, thus accruing 14 years of work experience as a journalist in the area of culture. Presently, he works at JoongAng Ilbo about twice a week writing his regular "Theater is Beautiful" column. In 2003 he was appointed General Manager of the LG Arts Center, where he heads the administrative and planning departments. Jeong is also a member of South Korea's theater critics association and writes extensively as a critic in the fields of theater and cultural policy and arts management.

LG Arts Center
LG Arts Center:
Opened in March of 2003 as an establishment of the LG Yonam Foundation, a non-profit organization of South Korea's LG Group. The theater has 1,104 seats on three levels. It is serving as the venue for outstanding overseas productions in a wide range of genre in theater, dance and music.

679, Yeoksam - 1 Dong
Phone: +82 (2) 2005-1500/0114
Fax: +82 (2) 2005-1414

Schedule of performances for 2005, the theater's fifth anniversary
ROSAS, Belgium "Bitches Brew/Tacoma Narrows"
Pat Metheny Group 2005 World Tour "The Way Up"
O.K.Theater, Kithuania "Romeo & Juliet"
Matthew Bourne's "Swan lake"
Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Band
Steve Reich "Drumming"
Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal 2005 New Production

LG Group:
One of South Korea's largest corporate groups, having developed under the parent company Lucky Chemical Industrial Co. the forerunner of LG Chem founded in 1947. Today the group consists of 44 companies and an international network of some 300 overseas subsidiaries in Japan and other countries.
An Overview
Presenter Interview
LG Art Center is an emerging theater in Seoul operated but a corporate philanthropic foundation and targeting a middle- to wealthy-class audience  
The LG Arts Center opened in the year 2000 amidst talk of corporations entering the world of performing arts, and now this theater enters its fifth year. Here is an interview with former newspaper journalist and present General Manager of the theater, Mr. Jeong Jae-wal, who talks about these five years of activities and directions for the future, as well as the present state of performing arts in South Korea.
(Interviewed by Noriko Kimura)

I used to meet you as Jeong Jae-wal the theater reporter for the cultural department of the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, so it now feels a little strange to receive your new calling card and talk to you as the manager of the LG Arts Center. How did you come to make the switch from newspaper journalist to theater administrator?
I took my present position at the LG Arts Center two years ago. Before that I was involved in the performing arts as a newspaper journalist, and it was at a time when I was beginning to see that my role in that capacity had just about reached an end when I got the offer to come to LG Arts Center. I had been thinking that I eventually wanted to be directly involved in the performing arts, rather than indirectly as an onlooker. And it happened that that opportunity occurred a little quicker than I, or the people around me had expected, but when it did I thought the timing was right. After finishing graduate school I entered the Hankook Ilbo newspaper and later moved to the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper and in all I was a journalist for 14 years. But, throughout that time what I guess you could call my real dream was to be involved in the performing arts scene in a way that would enable me to begin to build something that you might call my own type of Jeong Jae-wal performing arts in an inclusive way. From that standpoint, the LG Arts Center offer was a very attractive one for me. Still, I continue to go to JoongAng Ilbo about twice a week to write my column "Theater is Beautiful." And I can write freely now about cultural policy and the structure of the creative theater environment without being shackled by the bonds of the journalistic world as a newspaper writer! (laughs)

I would like to ask you about the LG Arts Center where you work now. This theater is under the management of one of South Korea's largest corporate groups, the LG Group. What was the LG Group's purpose in establishing the theater? It is not unusual for corporations to turn their attention to culture when their business is successful, it is happening often around the world, and in the case of the LG Group they chose theater.
The use of marketing strategies in areas other than a company's immediate field of business, like sports marketing and cultural marketing is on the increase in Korea like other places. In the case of the LG Arts Center it was on a different dimension from that kind of marketing strategy. The purpose was to return some of the company earnings to society by creating cultural infrastructure that promotes creativity in the arts and international exchange. The LG Group had already established its LG Yonam Foundation back in 1969 and began programs aimed at contributing to society. From the same kind of philosophy, the Hyundai Group has been put its efforts into the art field by operating a museum and the like, while the Kumho Group has gone into the field of music. But I think none of the other corporations had attempted to enter the theater field because, in reality, it is very difficult for a corporation to run a theater. A theater facility needs constant maintenance, also the staff needed to run a theater is rather large, and it is not an easy thing to tear down either! (laughs) And, once you have built a theater it is not easy to decide what you are going to do there either. In the case of the LG Arts Center, at the time it was built there were still few opportunities to view outstanding foreign theater in South Korea, so that was made one of the main purposes. This not only offered the Korean audiences the opportunity to see foreign plays but I think it also served as a big stimulus for Korean artists and companies. Also, thanks in part to its location in the Kangnam area of Seoul, it served to broaden the performing arts audience from its former base of almost solely college students and young people.

What kind of foundation is the LG Yonam Foundation?
Within the LG Group there is the LG Public Service Foundation, which includes the LG Yonam Foundation, LG Welfare Foundation, LG Evergreen Foundation, LG Yonam Education Foundation, and the LG Sangnam Press Foundation. In other words, the foundation functions are divided between culture, the arts, education, welfare, the environment and journalism. LG Arts Center is a part of the LG Yonam Foundation, which is run as a non-profit organization with a fund of 53 billion wan (approx. 5.3 billion yen). After its founding in 1969, it concentrated mainly on supporting educational activities. Then it opened a library in 1996 and the LG Arts Center in 2000 and now supporting culture and art activities has become one of its main roles. There are a number of this kind of culture foundations run by corporations in South Korea today and they vary in size. Among them I suppose the LG Group's is one of the larger ones.
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