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SEOUL - Czech activities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War

(This article expired 03.07.2014.)

A series of events is to be organized by Embassy of the Czech Republic and Czech Centre Seoul in cooperation with Seoul Museum of History, Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch and Korean Film Archives to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a signing of armistice agreement on July 27, 1953. As former Czechoslovakia and her successor state, the Czech Republic, were involved in keeping the peace on Korean Peninsula for decades as member state of Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission and also Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission, five Czech events are to be organized in the Republic of Korea: an exhibition of photographs of the 1950s Korea made by Czech photographers, publication of the photographic book showing the 1950s Korea (South and North) as seen by Czech photographers, two presentations about the history of Czech(oslovak) military contacts with Korea before and after the Korean War and an art exhibition.

Photographic exhibition "South and North of the DMZ" is to be held at Czech Centre Seoul (http://seoul.czechcentres.cz) from July 3 to September 10, 2013

Journalist Alex Švamberk will present the story of the first Czechoslovak contingents in Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission between 1953-56 in his talk for Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch (www.raskb.com) at Somerset Palace (www.somersetpalace.co.kr) on July 16, 2013 at 19:30 hrs.

History of military contacts and ties between the Czechs and the Koreans which started already in 1871 will be a topic of presentation of Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Seoul Jaroslav Olša, jr. at Czech Centre Seoul (http://seoul.czechcentres.cz) on July 24, 2013 at 18:30 hrs.

Launch of a book of photographs of Czech and Slovak NNSC members published by Seoul Museum of History (www.museum.seoul.kr) is to be launched by Hon. Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic and its authors Jaroslav Olša, jr and Alex Švamberk at Seoul Museum of History on July 26, 2013 (tbc)

Art exhibition showing the Czechoslovak art posters for North Korean films produced during the times of communism in Czechoslovakia and posters for South Korean films made after the fall of the communist regime are at show at Korean Film Archive (www.koreafilm.org) until September 1, 2013


Exhibition "South and North of the DMZ"- July 3 - September 10, 2013 at Czech Centre Seoul

With some 500 Czechs and Slovaks serving in Czechoslovak Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission contingents in the first five years after the signing of the armistice agreement in 1953, it is not surprising, that many of them brought with them their own cameras. We can only guess how many Czechs and Slovaks who went through NNSC in the 1950s were photographing, but it was probably quite a number of them. And there were other lucky coincidences: some of the members of Czechoslovak NNSC were skilled photoamateurs, and they not only brought with them high quality German-made cameras, but they were also able to obtain high quality Kodak films. Combination of the best contemporary German-made lenses, best US films and good Czech photographic skills made the surviving pieces – even after six decades – not only an interesting document of the times past, but also a thrilling photos.

The exhibition curated and selected by Jaroslav Olša, jr., Ambassador of the Czech Republic, show some 50 photos from both Koreas made between 1953-56. The photos were selected from more than 4,000 shots by 21 different photographers. It covers a wide range of topics as well as places, from DMZ to Incheon, Busan, Gangneung, but also Kaesong, Pyongyang, Manpo, Chongjin and Sinuiju. These were never presented before, and were only unearthed thanks to a project financed by Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008-10.

More at http://seoul.czechcentres.cz/cs/en/program/event-details/to-the-north-and-south-of-the-demilitarized-zone/

Book „Korean Peninsula after the Armistice. South and North as seen by the Czechoslovak members of Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (1953-56)“ (preliminary title) which consists of selection of 250+ never published images made by NNSC members. Bilingual book (Korean-English) also has introductory texts by Alex Švamberk (about the history of the first three Czechoslovak contingents to NNSC), Gabriel Jonsson (on the history of NNSC) and Jaroslav Olša, jr. (on history of Czechoslovak-North Korean Relations from the World War II to the end of the Korean War).

Book is to be published later this month by Seoul Museum of History (www.museum.seoul.kr)

Presentation "South and North of the DMZ: 1950s Korea in images by early Czechoslovak members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission" by Czech journalist and historian Alex Švamberk - July 16, 2013 at Somerset Palace

The presentation will describe the fate and experiences of the first contingents of Czechs and Slovaks who served in NNSC in between 1953-56 and travelled widely both to South and North Korea. It will be mainly based on presenting the rare photographs from both South and North Korea they made and showing the unedited film footage. These unique photographs of Korea were sadly forgotten just as was Czechoslovak involvement with North Korea in the 1950s. The Communist Regime in Czechoslovakia classified the operations as a state secret and the images were never published. Usually they were seen only by a handful of family members and close friends; they remained effectively lost for much of the last half of the twentieth century. Only in 2008/09 were they unearthed through a project initiated and financed by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite the intervening years, it managed to save more than 4000 black-&-white and colour photographs and slides, as well as diaries, documents and other memorabilia collected from 21 former NNSC members and support staff and even 8mm films.

More athttp://www.raskb.com/content/north-and-south-dmz-1950s-korea-images-early-czechoslovak-members-neutral-nations

Presentation "History of Military Contacts and Ties between the Czechs and Koreans from 1871 to today" by Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr.

The talk will present rarely known history of military interactions between the Czechs and Koreans which started as early as in 1871, when at least two Czechs were on board of US ships attacking Ganghwa Island. And one of these Czechs, William F. Lukes, even excelled and earned the highest US military decoration Medal of Honor for his action. Another more important moments were connected with deliveries of arms to Korean independence fighters by soldiers of Czechoslovak Legion who were based in and around Vladivostok in 1918-20. Significant part of a talk will be devoted to Czechoslovak membership in Neutral Nations Supervisory Commision and Neutral Nations Repatriation Commision which started in 1953, and there will be presented also some information on Czechoslovak-North Korean cooperation during the times of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

More at http://seoul.czechcentres.cz/cs/en/program/event-details/history-of-military-contacts-and-ties-between-the-/




Art exhibition Czech-Korean Film Encountres on Art Movie Posters is held at Korean Film Archive until September 1, 2013


A retrospective exhibition of Czech and Czechoslovak film posters made for North Korean films in the 1950s-1980s during the times of the communist rule in Czechoslovakia and also South Korean movies made after the fall of the communist regime

More at http://seoul.czechcentres.cz/cs/en/program/event-details/korean-film-poster-art-in-the-czechoslovak/