▲ Second from the left, Director of HanMaEun General Hospital Lee Yoo Keun, Advisor to Olle Hong Myung Pyo, President of Jeju Technopark Han Young Seop, CEO of The Jeju Weekly Song Jung Hee, Jeju Free International City Director Kang Sung Whoa, Council Members of the Grand National Party Kang Chang Soo and Lee Sunhwa, NXC Director May Kay, Jeju Provincial Assembly Chairman Oh Young Hun, and Board of Education Member Lee Seok Moon. Photo by Darryl Coote
The opening ceremony for the nonprofit culture Café Nilmoridongdong on May 18 was an event of sophistication and art and was attended by some of Jeju's most influential people. The café, operated by NXC, the holding company of the Internet game company NEXON, was established for charity purposes and will donate all of its proceeds to support cultural organizations like The Jeju Weekly and Jeju Olle.
The ceremony began in front of the café with a poetry performance by Lee Cheol Sung accompanied by soft music strummed on a unique Mongolian instrument. The combination of poetry and music captivated the formally-dressed audience. The performance was followed by the tape-cutting ceremony officially announcing the opening of the café. Digni-taries simultaneously cut the tape to polite and appreciative applause.
This was the moment when two years of hard work by the staff of NXC finally paid off.
After the tape-cutting event, attendees were led inside the café, where the master of ceremonies and NXC Business Planning Director Kim Jong Hyun explained the design for the interior of the café. With its ceiling inspired by the island’s oreum (parasitic volcanic cones), its kitchen made to resemble a thatched roof home, and lights designed as taewak (an instrument Jeju women divers use to store crustaceans when working in the sea), the café is meant to project an image of a modern and artistic Jeju.
The guests were served dishes from Nilmoridongdong’s menu, which consists of re-imagined Jeju cuisine made entirely from native ingredients, dishes like hallabong citrus seomcho salad, basil pesto grilled vegetable pizza, quattro formaggi pizza with canola honey, Jeju black pork meat crumble tomato sauce, potato pescatore cream sauce pasta, ice cream with tiny brownies, and so on. One of the guests, Kim Myoung Su, the CEO of C-post, an event planning company, said that he loved the neat culinary art and its delicious taste.
Kim Jong Hyun, who was responsible for arranging the ceremony, said, “I’m delighted at the start of the café. Of course, I feel responsible, too.”
No doubt, preparing for this event was a formidable task.
Kim said, “It’s difficult to explain to people the uniqueness of the café’s opening ceremony because this kind of ceremony has never been done before, and most people don’t understand the point of our event at first. Also, we had to think sincerely about how to combine the concept of a culture café with a formal opening ceremony. To harmonize the two, we reduced unnecessary formal elements from the ceremony and added cultural performances.”
He added, “We hope there will be many ... active cultural events such as small concerts, performances and exhibits here in the space we made. Also, we would be so happy if the profits from this café were helpful to other cultural activities in Jeju, too.”
One of the guests was the founder of Jeju Olle, Suh Myung Sook, who said, “I am grateful for a company not only to make space for Jeju cultural development but also to spend part of its profits for supporting meaningful groups and activities in the community.”
“It is also wonderful that they developed a new style of food with Jeju ingredients,” she added. “That is welcome news especially for Olle trekkers who are eager to taste a variety of Jeju foods.”
The opening ceremony came to a close with one more outdoor poetry performance. The performances that opened and closed the ceremony on that day were by “Kkoc (flower),” Lee Cheol Sung’s visual theater company. The opening performance “A Wolf’s Clothes,” depicted a white collar worker’s sense of grief. The closing poem, “The Scent of Tea,” had the theme of frustration as a result of not being able to achieve one’s dream, but it also had an extra element with the character encouraging audience members to participate in the piece by metaphorically reclaiming the dreams that they had long ago left behind.
The director and performer Lee added, “Today, I was so pleased to give [a] performance here in the opening ceremony. The outdoor open stage was perfect compared to that of a closed theater. As for this kind of art event that can make art familiar, I look forward to working with Nilmoridongdong again.”
Nilmoridongdong will have an opening party this coming June.
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