SEOUL, July 2 (Xinhua) -- South Korea, which was deeply influenced by Chinese culture and tradition in history, is pining for a new touch on the pulse of Chinese mainstream culture and digging into different aspects of the rapidly emerging neighbor.
Shortly before Korean TV series "You Who Came From the Stars" got popular in China, Chinese TV productions like "Steps in Danger," "Palace," "King of Lanling" were also rallied around by numerous big fans in South Korea.
The books of Yu Hua, Mo Yan, Su Tong and other contemporary Chinese writers frequently appear on Korean publishers' list and are sold in most bookstores there. The Korean edition of the novel "Chronicle of a Blood Merchant" by Yu Hua was even recommended as one of the 100 must-read books by South Korea's Joongang Daily.
In the mean time, many South Korean people are eager to get a bite of the Chinese culture that is both new and a deja-vu to them. Since the China Cultural Center debuted in Seoul in 2004, people thronged to register in the classes of calligraphy, Tai Chi, the Chinese language and lately the classic Dunhuang Dance. The country is home to 17 Confucius Institutes.
People-to-people exchanges have been flourishing with about 200 visits of cultural groups to each other's country each year, covering Beijing Opera, acrobatics, symphony orchestra, musicals, ballet, drawing exhibits, and national treasure exhibits.
According to China's Ministry of Education, of the 290,000 registered overseas students in China in 2011, South Korean students accounted for 21 percent, making up the largest portion.
"Although China and the Republic of Korea set up diplomatic ties just 22 years ago, cultural exchanges have been enjoying a robust momentum with remarkable fruits, huge potentials and wide prospects," said Chinese Cultural Counselor to South Korea Shi Ruilin.
China and South Korea signed a pact on cultural cooperation in 1994 which helped bilateral cultural exchanges enter a stage of healthy and orderly development.
After South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited China in 2013, the two sides set up a joint committee for cultural exchanges. Under the exchange programs, humanities scholars from the two countries will be invited to conduct one-year joint research on literature and history. Teenagers from the two nations will be invited to sit together for forums and other activities focused on bilateral relations as well as subjects regarding the Northeast Asian region.
A series of seminars on China's foreign policy, politics, economy, diplomacy and culture have been held recently at the Gwanghwamun performance center in downtown Seoul.
The seminars, held by the Sungkyunkwan Institute of Chinese Studies since May, have attracted a great number of audience, including students, scholars, company employees and retirees.
"People in South Korea mostly acquire information about China through the Internet, but such information is sometimes mistaken and full of prejudice," said Lee Heeok, director of the Sungkyunkwan Institute.
"So we decided to hold seminars on China regularly in order to help people here have a better understanding about China," he added.
The institute, founded by Lee in 2012, has developed into the largest research institute on sinology in South Korea. The center, which has 14 resident research fellows, carries out long-term, systematic and comprehensive research on China, opening a window to Chinese culture for people in South Korea.
"China is a good neighbor and important partner of South Korea, and a significant factor South Korea has to consider while designing its future strategy," Lee said, adding that his institute is striving to serve as the "bridgehead" to the country's research on China.
Not long ago, the Sungkyunkwan Institute published a China Handbook that introduces Chinese politics, society, culture to South Korean readers.
They also translated Chinese President Xi Jinping's remarks on deepening reforms into Korean.
For Xi's upcoming visit to South Korea slated for Thursday and Friday, Lee was full of expectations.
He said the concept of "amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness" put forward by President Xi with regard to relations between Asian countries is highly relevant to South Korea-China cooperation. The concept, he said, should not only become the guidelines for Asia but also for the world.