One of the most famous and popular festivals in Korea is the World DJ Festival. It is held every May with numerous university student participants. The most attractive factor of the World DJ Festival is that everyone lets loose their stress and enjoys the moment. The Sangsang Gongjang is the host of this festival. Besides the World DJ Festival, Sangsang Gongjang has directed various festivals ranging from advertising independent music bands to the MT Festival. More than 1,000 people participate in the festivals and events held by Sangsang Gongjang annually.
Behind the accomplishments, there lies the efforts of Rhy Jae-hyun, the director of Sangsang Gongjang. Director Ryu expressed his thoughts to Hanyanginas to help them understand the reasons for the existence of Sangsang Gongjang and the role of Sangsang Gongjang.
The Director of Sangsang Gongjang
Q. What encouraged you to create Sangsang Gongjang? Please introduce the place.
A. When first founded, its name was 101 Tech. It was established in 1999. In December, 2001, we operated as 101 Tech plus Sangsang Gongjang. Then in 2003, we united the two names to, Sangsang Gongjang, and it was used ever since. Do you know what Sangsang Gongjang means? In Chinese characters, Sangsang means imagination, and Gongjang means artisan. So Gongjang does not mean factory. That makes the English name of Sangsang Gongjang "Idea Master."
Q. How was your campus life? Was it different from normal students?
A. No, not at all. Even though my work is related to creative thinking, my campus life was very quiet. I enjoyed sports and was a good student. Then it all changed when I was 26 years old. I found myself dancing hard and realized there was a whole different side of me. I decided not to hide such a talent I had.
Part of the Society
Q. What was the affect of Sangsang Gongjang in Korea?
A. The social affect of Sangsang Gongjang was very big. What I am saying is Sangsang Gongjang first tried to introduce independent music bands, DJ, and VJ cultures to government offices. Also, we have made many meaningful events such as Ageless Day which could cross over generation to generation. For example, the MT Festival was created to offer alternative ways of MT. I fulfilled the dreams I possessed since my university life.
Q. Please introduce some other festivals or events held by Sangsang Gongjang.
A. The Jandari Culture Bridge is a volunteering project for the local community. Another one is the Sangsang School. There are academies, group studies, and reporters in the school for students dreaming of designing culture. Also, we demonstrate many of the government projects. This year, Sangsang Gongjang started marketing Inyangri village in Yeong-deok for one year. We named this project the Rural Culture Management Team. The government keeps asking us to do governmental marketing projects. For example, there are five culturally poor islands along the west coast of Korea. We are also working on marketing the islands to become tourist sites.
Q. Sangsang Gongjang has played a major role of building independent music bands. Do you think Korean indie band culture is weak?
A. I think the independent music bands have overcome being underground. They are heading toward the mainstream, mainly due to their excellent live performances. However, it still remains a mania culture. Koreans do not yet all have the ability to understand indie culture. That is because that music is not presented by the media. If the public broadcasting stations deal with them, the problem will be solved.
Q. Out of various events held by Sangsang Gongjang, which one was your favorite?
A. Ageless Day and the World DJ Festival were my favorites. Especially, I think the purpose of Ageless Day, which is to get rid of the gap between the generations, has a very positive meaning. That is what this contemporary society needs. In the case of the World DJ Festival, I think they have given university students hopes and dreams.
Festival Culture in Korea
Q. Did you expected the World DJ Festival to gain so much popularity?
A. Of course I did. Some say the line-up of the festival is great. But, when people think about the line-up, it becomes a performance not a festival. All festivals need to have their own unique style. In the case of the World DJ Festival, if considering the line-up, it does not have a good line-up when compared to other festivals. I think the reason why many people come is because it is fun and variable. During the festival, I saw many people dressed up oddly. I guess that is the variability we have and the essence of the festival.
Q. While there are people who do not hesitate to express themselves, most university students try to fit in with what society requires. What do you think about such situations?
A. Honestly, I think we have a long way to go to feel easy showing ourselves. What is the special thing about people who gained success? The commonality among them is that they are the ones who pulled themselves out of the mainstream and presented the alternatives to the society. I think the essence is to have the courage to try and strive to create alternatives. The way I work or this office is quite an alternative, too.
Q. Then do you think Korean 20s lack in ability to build alternatives?
A. No, I do not think so. I think it is the problem of the Korean education system. What the society has been requiring from the people or university students has been one-way. While the society has practiced an education oppressing creativity, now the society wants to hear creativity and imagination from us. What an irony.
Also, why do professors give students assignments and not the other way around? Students are burdened by assignments, and have no time to enjoy their campus life. Professors must give great care to their students. But the reality is that they make no effort but only ask and ask from students. Moreover, when students fail to submit assignments, professors give minus or bad grades. Social life should not be judged by scores. When we overcome the standard the older generation has built, the university will be freer with more competitiveness.
Q. What are the next projects of Sangsang Gongjang?
A. There are many. We are planning to have the MT Festival in the countryside. This year? MT Festival has not turned out as we expected. Many of them just simply enjoyed it. We thought having the MT Festival in rural places will make a better one.
Also, I want people to anticipate the Rural Culture Manage Team. There is already Rural Volunteer Work. But our project is no longer just a volunteer work but also cultural volunteering work. We are trying to campaign for that issue. If people think about Rural Volunteer Work, they think it is related with actions of the 80s. But, I hope people take our project as pure voluntary work. Culture must remain as culture. We do not want to be captured by ideologies.
Q. What do you want to tell to Korean 20s?
A. I think Korean 20s think in a bisectional way. They think they can only do one thing because they have majored in one thing. I hope people in their 20s can get out of that bias and think more broadly. Also, they should get out of university as soon as possible and experience the essential skills to survive in the society. Sangsang Gongjang is trying to create those people.
In addition, I hope to give three pieces of advice for university students. First is to endure. I hope they become able to endure any situation. Second is to not think about the money. If they do not think about the money problem and endure for several years, it will be an irreplaceable asset for them. The last one is to not compare with someone else. Once we start to compare, that person can never become better than others. There is always someone who is better than me and they are many in number. Moreover, they would only lose their own style of life. These are the messages I would like to give them.