Long-awaited London Korean Cultural Centre nearly ready

Korean Cultural Centre exteriorWhen I walked past the new Korean Cultural Centre the day before yesterday the windows were still covered up, and, through the gaps in the covers, you could see the builders inside racing to finish before the grand opening day.

The Centre officially opens at the end of the month, at a ceremony to be attended by Vice Minister Park Yang-woo from the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, and Ambassador Dr Cho Yoon-je, in one of his last official duties before returning to Seoul in February. From the official press materials:

With generous support from the Korean Ministry of Culture & Tourism and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, the Korean Cultural Centre will showcase world-class examples of work from every cultural discipline from visual art to theatre, dance, performance and food.

Fusing the contemporary vibrancy and rich traditions of Korean culture, the programme will build on well established cultural links between Korea and the UK, offering a cutting-edge insight into trends in contemporary Korean culture – such as the dynamic emerging film scene, the recent influence of Korean music and television on the rest of Asia and the country’s innovations in new technology — as well as connections to Korea’s unique cultural heritage.

Located in Grand Buildings on the south-east (Charing Cross) side of Trafalgar Square, the Korean Cultural Centre has been designed in collaboration with artist Jeong Hwa Choi, internationally known for his project in the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2005.

In addition to its art gallery, lecture room, theatre and cultural lounge, the Centre will host a library and high-tech information centre (with support from major Korean companies including LG and Samsung), offering Korean language courses and specialist lectures by academics and experts.

Mr Choi Kyu-hak, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre says: “We hope that the Korean Cultural Centre will become a vital resource for those interested in engaging with Korea’s diverse and vibrant cultural scene, by offering outstanding events at our major new central London venue. We will continue our good relationships with organisations such as London International Mime Festival, the Liverpool Biennial and the Thames Festival to create dynamic and engaging events off-site throughout 2008.”

Good news indeed.

Choi Jeong-hwa's design for the KCC reception area

Choi Jeong-hwa. Asia House Cafe T project, 2006 (detail)Choi Jeong-hwa, one of Korea’s hippest artists, is also know for his interior design projects. He had a temporary design installed in Asia House’s Cafe T during the Through the Looking Glass exhibition last year (right), while way back in 1993, when Apkujong-dong had yet to become quite the destination venue it is now, Choi was in the vanguard in designing the Botticelli fashion boutique. The design for the lounge of the Cultural Centre is shown above. Note the circular coffee tables – familiar from the Asia House installation.

In a deal concluded on 12 November 2007, the Cultural Centre has taken out a 15 year lease on the ground floor and basement (units E and F) of Grand Buildings at the corner of Trafalgar Square. Map below.

Culture Centre map

More soon, on the high-profile art exhibition that will be the Centre’s first public event.


  • J Scott Burgeson’s Korea Bug for background on Choi’s early design projects
  • Louise for her detective work on the lease.


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