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Thailand, the Awakening Treasure Trove of Contemporary Art

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Thailand, the Awakening Treasure Trove of Contemporary Art By _ JeongEun-gyeong, CEO of EK Art Gallery Among the 10 ASEAN countries, Thailand is the country with the greatest potential in contemporary art. Though it is yet to hold international art fairs, highly sophisticated art worksare exhibited by Bangkok’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), art centers, and galleries. The cityis also home to many active artists, but they find it difficult to hold exhibitions due to the limited number of venues. A significant body of Thai art distinctly embraces the themes of mythology and religion. Since around 95% of the population follows the Buddhist faith, its influence is naturally embedded into paintings. However, younger artists tend to veer away from mythological and religious inspirations, which represents a rapid generational change in the Thai art world. Perhaps it is because Thais are more open to foreigners and foreign culture, or it could be an effort to internationalize their art. Nonetheless, their exhibition spaces and exhibits are becoming very modern and international in form. A biennale is also held in Bangkok once every two years. The most recent Bangkok Art Biennale took place from October 29, 2020, to January 31, 2021, show casing a variety of exhibits displayed in galleries, public spaces, and landmarks in Bangkok’s city center. The city also hosts an art book fair every year at the Bangkok Citycity Gallery, where booths with Thai designers and small publishers meet consumers. At the Bangkok Art Book Fair, art books, photo books, posters, and souvenirs produced by designers are sold at reasonable prices and are very popular with visitors.    

Supernatural Beings in ASEAN Folklore

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Supernatural Beings in ASEAN Folklore By _Kim Si-eun, CEO of ASEAN Lab Last year, villagers on the island of Java, Indonesia, made global headlinesas they took turns dressing up as pocong, a ghost in their folklore, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As superstitious belief has it, the novel corona virus will be unable to affect villages protected by these ghosts. Pocongare similar to mummies in appearance. According to legends, the strings used to firmly tie the deceased’s shroud must be loosened, as otherwise, the soul cannot leave the body and walks about in the middle of the night, asking to be released. Other ghosts include kuntilanak, the spirit of a woman who died during childbirth, and wewegombel, a vengeful spirit of an old woman who kidnaps children. Kuntilanak some what resembles the cheonyeogwisin in Korea, who are vengeful ghosts of women who died as virgins and are thus jealous of pregnant women and obsessed with children. To thwart off kuntilanak, Indonesians carry a sharp object around. The superstition is also didactic in nature, instructing people to care deeply about the health and safety of pregnant mothers and their babies.In Thailand, where folk beliefs were widespread long before the introduction of Buddhism, the former has a significant influence on the latter. To this day, many people believe in a host of supernatural beings, which in turn flourished into a rich history of horror films. Pop,a ghost who appears in the 2012 movie Mekong Hotelby acclaimed film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is one of the most commonly believed myths by Thais. These ghosts look bloody and gory as they feed on people’s guts. Often said to be seen near the Mekong River, popare commonly believed to exist in everyday life. Nang nak, another ghost in Thai lore, is the spirit of Lady Nak of PhraKhanong, who died during childbirth, along with her baby, and waits for her husband to return from war. There are temples in PhraKhanongDistrict, Bangkok, that honor the spirit of nangnak. The 2013moviePee Mak, produced by Banjong Pisanthanakun, director of the 2021 Thai-Korean film The Medium, is also based on the story of nangnak. It became Thailand’s highest-grossing film of all time. Thais’strong belief in folklore is further evidenced by many more spirits, including nangtani, a female spirit that haunts wild banana trees;krahang, a goblin-like male spirit that flies around with a big pestle between his legs; and krasue, a spirit of a woman with her internal organs hanging down from the neck, who is often said to occupy the same area ask rahang.      

ASEAN Traveling to Resume This Summer

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ASEAN Traveling to Resume This Summer By_Kim Da-yeong (CEO of Hitchhickr, author of The Future of Travel) The ASEAN region boasts famous tourist destinations, such as Da Nang and Kota Kinabalu, that have long been loved by Korean travelers. While they have a great travel infrastructure and beautiful sceneries, for your next summer holidays, I would like to recommend you three destinations in the ASEAN region that may not be on your radar yet. The first is Penang Island, part of the State of Penang located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia. In the past, the island served as trading hub for the East and the West, and from the late 18th century, it was controlled by the British. Today, it is a beloved tourist destination due to its scenic resorts and historical attractions. Penang Island has gained particular fame as a paradise of street food. In an episode on tvN’s show, Street Food Fighter, popular Korean chef Baek Jong-won introduced a shaved ice dessert called cendol and sour noodles with fish known as assamlaksa, both popular street foods in Penang. Apart from its culinary delights, Penang Island also impresses with stunning sceneries, allowing you take perfect summery photos against the backdrop of artistic murals or the famous glow of the beach at Batu Ferringhi. Compared to luxurious destinations such as Langkawi, the accommodations are relatively affordable. You can choose to experience one of Penang’s heritage hotels, which are restored remnants of colonial architecture. There are no direct flights from Korea to Penang, but the domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, takes only an hour. The second destination I would like to recommend is the city of Luang Prabang, located in the north of Lao PDR. The city may be small—less than 60,000 people live here—but it is one of the best-known ancient cities in the ASEAN region and inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1995. As you revel in the city’s lush nature, stroll through its Buddhist temples, and explore its small but excellent night market, it may feel as though time is slowing down. Since Luang Prabang has many small resorts that are inexpensive and well-kept, you can enjoy both relaxation and urban exploration. When visiting Lao PDR, you should try khaojeepâté, a popular street food. Similar to Vietnam’s bánh mì, khaojeepâtérepresents a blend of local and French colonial food culture, combin in baguette, fresh pickles, eggs, and pork liver pâté. Khaosoi, hand sliced rice noodles in a clear soup broth topped with minced pork and tomato sauce, is another dish you must try, and if you are an early riser, you should not miss the rich milk tea and chicken porridge sold in the early mornings at traditional markets. Luang Prabang can be reached in 45 minutes with a domestic flight from the capital, Vientiane, or in two hours when flying in from Bangkok, Thailand.

With the COVID-19 pandemic abating, borders are opening up in the ASEAN region, a beloved travel destination of Koreans.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic abating, borders are opening up in the ASEAN region, a beloved travel destination of Koreans. By _Kim Da-yeong(CEO of Hitchhickr, author of The Future of Travel) With the COVID-19 pandemic abating, borders are opening up in the ASEAN region, a beloved travel destination of Koreans. While some countries still require complicated entry processes, compared to how long it has been difficult to enter them, it is a significant change that ASEAN countries are officially allowing entry for tourism purposes again. If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can now enter Lao PDR, the Philippines, Singapore, and VietNam with out having to quarantine or take additional tests. In Cambodia and Indonesia, tourist visas are required. In Thailand, domestic and foreign travelers must obtain a “Thailand Pass”containing their health information at the time of entry, but the country is considering to scrap this system. As a result, ASEAN resorts are becoming popular again as holiday destinations this summer. With ASEAN countries rebooting their tourism industries, airlines are resuming routes to their most popular destinations. The routes that have recovered the fastest are the ones to Da Nang, Viet Nam, a favorite of Korean travelers. Since May, Jeju Air, T'Way Air, Air Seoul, and Jin Air have all resumed operations on routes from Incheon, Daegu, and Busan to Da Nang. In addition, flights from Incheon Airport to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, NhaTrang in Viet Nam, and Bangkok in Thailand are quickly joining the trend. VietJet, a Vietnamese low-cost carrier, is also reported to reopen nine routes departing from Incheon, including its Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City routes. It is expected that the number of operations will soon be restored to pre-pandemic levels. Airfares are slightly higher compared to before the pandemic, but in the second half of 2022, the supply of air routes is expected to increase and allow prices to settle at a more affordable level. The contents of all articles may differ from the editorial direction of the ASEAN Culture House Monthly.

Philippine’s Rise in the Asian Art Market

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Philippine’s Rise in the Asian Art Market By_ JeongEun-gyeong, CEO of EK Art Gallery   After 333 years (1565–1898) under Spanish rule, art in the Philippines was heavily influenced by Spanish oil painting techniques in form and Catholicism in theme. During the American colonization (1898–1946), the country was also affected by US capitalism. In the past, the Philippines used to be the richest country in Asia. But due to casualties in the Pacific War (1941–1945), the rise of strong anti-US sentiment following the country’sindependence, politicians’corruption, and the resulting extreme gap between the rich and poor, the Philippine economy deteriorated and hasyet to fully recover. Meanwhile, this experience of political and social instability and economic inequality has inspired the nation’s contemporary artists. They began expressing themselves in depictions that chronicle or protest against the absurdities they face as individuals in Philippine society. The country boasts many art schools and internationally renowned artists, but the art market is still limited in size. To foster the commercial growth of the market, galleries have taken the initiative to organize international art fairs and arrange collaborative exhibitions between local art museums and overseas art institutions. Two particularly prestigious international art fairs are held every year in Metro Manila, the seat of the country’s government. In February, Art Fair Philippines is held at the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati, and in October, Manil ART is held at the SMX Aura Convention Center on Bonifacio High Street in Taguig. Although they are smaller in size compared to the Korea International Art Fair(KIAF) and Art Busan in South Korea, the sales are quite impressive, and a couple of Korean galleries have also been joining the events. Major participating art museums include the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Manila, the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and the PintôArt Museum in Antipolo, east of Manila.    

ASEAN’s Dream for the World Cup

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ASEAN’s Dream for the World Cup By_ Lee Hyuk, 4th Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre     In the 2022 FIFA rankings, South Korea is ranked 29th, Japan 23rd, and China 77th. Of the 10 ASEAN countries, only VietNam (96th) is ranked within the top 100, and Thailand, traditionally the strongest of the ASEAN nations, is currently No. 111. However, it is worth noting that VietNam bested Thailand to advance to the final qualifier in the Asian region. The success is in no small part thanks to Park Hang-seo. In 2017, when I was serving as Korean ambassador to Viet Nam, Park became the head coach of the Vietnamese national team. Under his leadership, the team achieved impressive results, such as winning the ASEAN Cup, which turned Park into a hero in VietNam. When VietNam bested Thailand and reached the final regional qualifier in Asia, the Thai team was helmed by Nishino Akira, a former player and head coach of the Japanese national team. Therefore, matches between Coach Park’s VietNam side and Coach Nishino’s Thailand team somewhat resembled a match between Korea and Japan, making the fact that VietNam, rather than Thailand, advanced to the next round all the more meaningful. The “hallyu”of football, sparked by Coach Park, is creating a big splash in ASEAN. In his footsteps, Shin Tae-yong is currently leading the Indonesian team and Kim Pan-gon is heading the Malaysian side. It goes without saying that Son Heung-min has long been a superstar of the football-loving ASEAN people. His popularity helped trigger the fervor for learning Korean-style football.   The day will surely come when ASEAN countries’football teams qualify for the World Cup. With their passion for football, the players’desire for new achievements, and ground breaking programs training excellent players, I am sure that before long, ASEAN countries will excel, and the seeds for that future are sown all over the ASEAN region by Korean coaches.  

Indonesia, the First Beneficiary of Western Art

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Indonesia, the First Beneficiary of Western Art By _ JeongEun-gyeong, CEO of EK Art Gallery     Painters from Europe introduced oil painting techniques in Indonesia early on during the country’s 360-year Dutch colonial rule. To date, the center of European art education in the country is Bandung, which serves as the hub for international modern art. Bandung is located on a plateau located two hours from Jakarta and has a relatively cool climate. It is home to the Indonesian School of Art, national and public art museums, and artists’ workshops. Along with Bandung, the integral art cities in Indonesia are Jakarta and Bali. Another great art city is Yogyakarta, which hosts Indonesia’s Biennial Art Jog. Bandung’s art is international, whereas local and folk art are centered in Bali, with Jakarta falling somewhere in between. Contemporary art is mostly produced in Bandung and Yogyakarta, and consumed in Jakarta. Bali is an art city in its own right, with infrastructure for both art consumption and production. Jakarta, the capital, has a concentration of big galleries and organizes large-scale art fairs. Art Jakarta, previously known as Bazaar Art Jakarta, is Indonesia’s leading art fair. It has been held in Jakarta every August since 2009. Art Jakarta is centered around local art and domestic artists. On the other hand, Art Stage Jakarta, a latecomer among the fairs, is a more international event. Art Stage Jakarta began in August 2016. With a larger scale than Art Bazaar, it captivated the eyes of demanding collectors by featuring highly prestigious galleries from abroad. Indonesia frequently has art exchanges with neighboring Singapore. A large group of well-funded Singaporean galleries has exclusive contracts with Indonesian artists for their global business. Indonesian contemporary art is not yet well known in Korea, but I look forward to more exchanges between the two countries.    

Singapore's rise in the Asian art market

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Singapore's rise in the Asian art market By_ JeongEun-gyeong, CEO of EK Art Gallery     A flight between Singapore and Korea takes about six hours. It is relatively far compared to Hong Kong, which can be reached in about three and a half hours. Compared to the number of Korean galleries participating in satellite fairs such as Art Basel held in Hong Kong, few join the art fairs in Singapore. With the situation in the art market taking a downturn in Hong Kong due to political instability, Seoul and Singapore are being considered potential art cities to replace Hong Kong. Meanwhile, following the stagnation of Art Stage Singapore since 2019, the Singapore Spring and Autumn Editions of the Affordable Art Fair, an international, contemporary art fairheld in different cities around the world, are attracting more attention from local collectors. The number of Korean galleries participating in Affordable Art Fair Singapore is increasing every year, and the sales are also growing significantly. EK Art Gallery has also participated in the Affordable Art Fair Singapore for several years, show casing amazing art by leading Korean artists to local collectors. Singaporean galleries also visit Korea to introduce their own artists and contemporary art. If you are interested in Singaporean art, visit the Singaporean gallery booths at the Korean International Art Fair (KIAF), held every October at COEX in Seoul, and at Art Busan, held every May at BEXCO in Busan. You can enjoy many artworks within a short period. In addition to art fairs, art exchanges between Korea and Singapore are taking place through artist residence programs and exhibitions at art galleries. - Following the last issue -    

The Growth of Online Platforms in ASEAN countries

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The Growth of Online Platforms in ASEAN countries By _Na Seung-gwon, Senior Researcher, Global Strategy Team, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy     The recent boom in online platforms is not only happening in the e-commerce sector, the representative application of the format, but across the goods and services industries, including tourism and accommodations, content, finance, education, and medical care. Out of these, e-commerce, the sharing economy, and OTT services are particularly notable fields for ASEAN countries in terms of market size and the vitalization of their domestic platforms. The e-commerce industry accounts for 68% of ASEAN’s total online market, and major local platforms such as Shopee, Lazada, and Tokopedia are leading the market. Shopee is currently the No. 1 e-commerce platform in most ASEAN countries except Indonesia, and Lazada also ranks at second or third place in most. Meanwhile, Tokopedia is the No. 1 e-commerce platform in Indonesia, the largest market in ASEAN, and is currently focusing on expanding its influence in other ASEAN countries. Recently, the company was rebranded as GoTo Group following a merger with Gojek, another massive online platform in the country. It is expected to develop into a regional giant encompassing the transportation and logistics sectors.   In the sharing economy sector, ride sharing platforms such as Grab and Gojek are market leaders in ASEAN. Best know through companies like Uber, the ride sharing sector is one of the most prominent areas of the global sharing economy. Since the emergence of Grab in ASEAN, the ride sharing market is considered the field that leads the growth of online platforms in the region. Building upon their success in the ride sharing sector, these platforms are expanding their service areas to various other industries, such as food delivery, electronic payment, and daily services. Grab is particularly drawing attention as the exemplary online platform in ASEAN by establishing a de facto monopoly in the market with the acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asian business in 2018. On the other hand, OTT service represent a rapidly growing field worldwide due to changes in content consumption trends and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. With low maturity levels in domestic content consumption, local platforms such as iFlix and Hooq have performed poorly and are facing difficulties such as suspension of services or acquisition by overseas companies. Netflix has emerged as the No. 1 platform in ASEAN, and major Chinese platforms such as iQiyi and Tencent are also entering the ASEAN market in earnest, reflecting an increased domestic and international interest in the ASEAN OTT market.    

The Next Level of K-POP: Talented and Charming ASEAN Artists to Succeed the Korean Wave

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The Next Level of K-POP: Talented and Charming ASEAN Artists to Succeed the Korean Wave By_Kim Si-eun, CEO of ASEAN Lab     Today, I would like to introduce Malaysian and Vietnamese singers recommended by Doo Jinsoo of Hoondoo TV, a YouTube channel that introduces and covers ASEAN singers. Malaysian music features distinctively local elements. Siti Nurhaliza is one of the most popular singers in Malaysia, and according to Spotify, she was the most frequently streamed domestic singer in 2020 and 2021. The popularity of K-pop in Malaysia is evident in the songs covered by domestic singers. For instance, Sarah Suhairi covers Black Pink songs and show her adorable performance. You can look up her busking video of Jenny’s “Solo,” which she recorded in Busan. Another renowned artist is Aina Abdul, the winner of the first season of the Malaysian version of The Masked Singer. She sang a Korean version of her song “Sepi” and covered Davichi’s “This Love.” Abdulhasa natural Korean pronunciation, enabling her to aptly deliver the emotions of the original song. Hoondoo TV covered the songs of these artists, and if you are interested in finding out more about Malaysian singers, check out their channel. As for Vietnamese singers, they also incorporate a lot of Korean elements into their music and music videos. Artists like Soobin and SơnTùng M-TP showcase their outstanding talent with stage performances that resemble Korean boy bands. With the advancement of ASEAN countries and Korea-ASEAN relations, it will not be long before the brilliant musicians in the region achieve worldwide fame. I hope that one day, just as ASEAN people love K-pop, ASEAN artists will more frequently collaborate with Korean singers and become popular in Korea as well. - Following the last issue -

ASEAN has recorded an average annual economic growth rate of over 5% for the past 10 years.

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ASEAN has recorded an average annual economic growth rate of over 5% for the past 10 years. By _Na Seung-gwon, Senior Researcher, Global Strategy Team, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy     While the global economy is entering a low-growth phase of 2-3%, ASEAN has recorded an average annual economic growth rate of over 5% for the past 10 years. As the region is attracting the world’s attention as an emerging market, its online platform sector is showing a particularly rapid growth, thanks to the expansion of ASEAN countries’internet and mobile infrastructure and the high proportion of young people active in online activities. According to the “e-Conomy SEA 2021,”report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company the internet economies of the six major Southeast Asian countries have grown from $99billion in 2019 to $174 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33%. They are expected to maintain a growth rate of 20% until 2025. Indonesia is the largest market in the ASEAN region, accounting for 40% of the total market size of the six countries. The size of the Indonesian internet market is $70 billion as of 2021, and the CAGR for the past two years has reached 32.3%. As of 2021, Thailand is ranked second at $30 billion in market size, but that of Viet Nam is expected to expand rapidly from $21 billion in 2021 to $57 billion in 2025, which would see the country emerge as the second biggest market after Indonesia. The contents of all articles may differ from the editorial direction of the ASEAN Culture House Monthly.  


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