Visit by Korean Board on Books for Young People members to the reading festival in Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) are honouring their counterparts, the Korean Board on Books for Young People (KBBY) as Guest of Honour at the 14th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, to strengthen cultural bonds and build communication bridges with cultures around the world.

The UAEBBY’s ‘Guest of Honour’ initiative was launched in 2015 to cultivate new relationships with different International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) chapters, allowing local talent to learn from the experience of international counterparts, and encouraging reading among UAE’s diverse communities.

In partnership with the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea, UAEBBY organised a series of storytelling, arts and crafts, and calligraphy workshops for the Guest of Honour at the Korean Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

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Marwa Al Aqroubi

Commenting on the Guest of Honour Participation, Marwa Al Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY, said: “By hosting our Korean counterparts here at the region’s largest cultural festival for children and youth, we aim to foster cultural exchange between international chapters to enable children and youth explore commonalities between cultures, and well-known folk tales, which promotes reading and increasing cultural exchange between countries of the world.”

She added: “Our ‘Guest of Honour’ programme for SCRF 2023 has also achieved tremendous success in introducing the festival’s visitors as well as the emirate’s cultural institutions to prominent authors, critics, artists from Korea as well as to their distinguished literary works. The initiative is a qualitative part of Sharjah and the UAE’s overarching efforts in raising knowledgeable and culturally informed generations capable of creating change and advancing children’s literature at the global level”.

Moon Byung-jun

Moon Byung-jun, Consul General of the Republic of Korea in Dubai and Northern Emirates, said: “The celebration of Korean authors on the prestigious SCRF platform as part of the UAEBBY’s Guest of Honour programme signals a new milestone of development in Sharjah’s and Korea’s long standing friendship and collaboration in cultural and other sectors.”

Diverse programme

UAEBBY organised a series of storytelling sessions and engaging crafts and calligraphy workshops at its pavilion to showcase the richness and diversity of South Korean culture to SCRF’s visitors, particularly children and youth.

As part of its visit to the emirate, KBBY has held a series of meetings with Sharjah’s leading cultural entities, including the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), Kalimat Group Publishing, Knowledge without Borders (KwB), Kalimat Foundation, Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), and the House of Wisdom (HoW) to explore partnership opportunities and cultural exchange to advance the children’s and young adult (YA) literature sector, as well as look into designing innovative solutions to overcome challenges in the sector, locally and regionally.

Concurrently, the meetings provided unique opportunities to participating Sharjah entities to gain a comprehensive overview of the Korean landscape in the children’s and YA literature sector, latest developments and meet prominent Korean authors.

The Korean delegation to SCRF 2023 features prominent literary figures Lim Jeong Jin, a writer and professor with a three-decade-long career; Kim Inae Sujung, a critic and writer recognised for her critiques and translations of over 400 titles; Kim Namjung, an editor, publisher, and founder of Hankwon Publishing; and Kim Se-hyun, a oriental painter, known for his captivating and emotion-evoking works depicting scenes from nature.