Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Founder and Patron of the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), inaugurated the third edition of the ‘Folktales Reimagined’ project in Seoul, South Korea, being held as a part of the Sharjah Guest of Honour programme at the Seoul International Book Fair 2023.
The Korean chapter of the project is the result of a close collaboration between UAEBBY, the Korean Board on Books for Young People (KBBY), and the National Library for Children and Young Adults (NLCY) - a specialised branch library of the National Library of Korea in Seoul.
Part of this creative project is a 10-part exhibition that features the artistic retelling of centuries-old stories from the UAE’s and South Korea’s folkloric heritages by 5 artists each from Emirati and Korean who have interacted with and visually reinterpreted folk tales from each other’s nations to present their own unique vision of them.
The inauguration of the exhibition at NLCY was attended by Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, CEO of SBA, Marwa Al-Aqroubi, President of UAEBBY; Dr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Chairman of the Sharjah Institute for Heritage; Ali Al Marri, Director-General of Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi Centre; Rashid Al Kous, Executive Director of the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA); Lee Hai Young, President of the King Sejong Institute; Yi Chong Yul, Director-General for Region-based Culture Policy Ministry of culture, Sports and Tourism; Park Juok, Director General of the National Library for Children and Young Adults; Sharjah cultural entities representatives, Sharjah delegation and the illustrators participating in the book fair.
After successful creative collaborations with Italy and Mexico, and two well-received exhibitions in these countries, Folktales Reimagined continues to promote cultural expression and the exchange of creative ideas between the UAE and the world with this South Korea iteration.
Marwa Al Aqroubi noted:
“The UAEBBY’s ‘FolkTales Reimagined’ project, which has found a permanent place amongst our various cross-cultural initiatives since it came into being as part of the Sharjah World Book Capital (SBWC) programme, has witnessed a beautiful collaboration with South Korea’s National Library for Children and Young Adults (NLCY). Five artists each from the UAE and South Korea dove deep into each other's folkloric traditions to reimagine deeply loved characters and narratives to create visual journeys where two folk tale traditions merged to create fresh new fuel for young imaginations”.
“Through this creative project, which is essentially a conversation between cultures and a blend of ideas and expressions, we continue our goals by honouring heritage while promoting cross-cultural dialogue and exchange of ideas”,
she further added.
Youn Chohye’s pick, The Gazelle Boy, celebrates the strength of sibling bonds highlighting the challenges faced by vulnerable children, their unwavering determination, and the kindness of strangers in times of need; while The Waq Waq Island retold by Mun Jeongin drives home the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions.
Cho Yeong’s pick Al Rajoul Al Booma (The Owl Man) is a touching desert tale about Shamsa, whose longing to be with her husband, Mattar, clashes with her brothers' insistence that she give birth in their ancestral home.
The story of Baeer Bela Ras (A Headless Camel) is a testament to the significance of camels in Emirati culture and history, masterfully reinterpreted by Kim Sinae; and finally, Jo Suna retells Khonfor Zonfor, a story with universal themes of marriage, jealousy and liberation.
The diverse culture of Korea took on a new look and colour with the vivid imagination of Emirati illustrators. Alia Al Shamsi vividly captured the fascinating story of The Fairy & the Woodcutter, in which the worlds of humans and fairies collide only to reveal that it is love and affection that drives both.
The story of The Pheasant's Unforgettable Debt that revolves around important themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the interconnectedness of actions, was reimagined under the expert eyes and hands of Arwa AlSalami who translates culture into art to inspire others.
Hungboo and Nolboo, a captivating tale of two brothers who take two very different paths to glory and face the kind of consequences that tells the reader the importance of honest actions, has been captured by talented local artist Aliyah AlAwadhi.
Reem AlMazrouei has vividly illustrated the essence of Kongji and Patji, a tale of overcoming hardships with resilience while Sharjah-born Nasir Nasrallah vividly detailed the story of The Snail Bride, which showcases the power of kindness, the rewards of honesty, and the transformation that can occur when true love is recognised and celebrated.
The Folktales Reimagined project has successfully transcended generations and cultures for the retelling of centuries-old stories by young Emirati artists who have collaborated with their peers in Italy, Mexico, and now, South Korea, to visually reimagine popular characters from each other’s folkloric heritages.
The UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) is the local branch in the United Arab Emirates of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). The UAEBBY was officially established in 2010 to serve as a driving force for the promotion of a reading culture among children and young adults in the UAE. The UAEBBY has developed a wide range of programmes and initiatives to help publishers, authors and illustrators hone their skills, share expertise and contribute to enriching Arabic children’s literature, while providing the required training courses for children’s books professionals and promoting cross-cultural understanding through children’s literature.
News Source: Emirates News Agency