Friday, April 27, 2012

French Stamps at Petite France

Mr. Han had a dream: to offer his fellow Koreans a taste of what inspired his love for France. This dream became the  Petite France project: an hour’s drive from Seoul, an urban area home to some 25 million residents, Mr. Han found a quiet location on the shore of Lake Gapyeong. Here he built something between a town and a museum: each house reflects French culture. Visitors can take a few days’ break here, staying in French-style houses furnished in the French manner with furniture imported directly from France. The distinctive architecture of Petite France has even proved a magnet for the film crew of Beethoven Virus, a hugely popular TV series in Korea.

Here, the Little Prince is the guest of honour. Mr. Han takes a keen interest in French literature and enjoys the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, in particular  The Little Prince. His favourite passage? The meeting with the fox, of course! In a country where over 350 different editions of  The Little Prince are to be found, not to mention the comic strip versions, those who are familiar with the Little Prince or even those who have only heard of him are delighted when they come to “Petite France” to find statues and wall paintings evoking the world of this magical character at every turn.

With the support of the Saint-Exupéry estate, Mr. Han was keen to combine French lifestyle with the message of a tale that is also a lesson for life. In Korea, Saint-Exupéry is seen as a kind of legend, a knight of the skies and also a philosophical and humanist touchstone.  Mr. Han is delighted to share his admiration with those he welcomes to his village. Visitors queue up to have their photos taken standing next to the statue of the Little Prince or his friend the fox. A permanent exhibition introduces them to the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the origins of “The Little Prince”, and a theatre show has been specially created for the youngest visitors. More than just a tourist attraction hoping to attract some 500,000 visitors annually, Petite France is a special place, offering not only the pleasure of living life French-style but also a chance to reflect on life in the company of a fairytale character.

The Republic of Namirara

Nami Island is an oasis for culture and leisure in peaceful harmony with humanity and nature. After a five-minute ferry ride, guests meet a forest of verdant trees holding up the sky and open grassy areas where ostriches, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, ducks and peacocks warmly welcome visitors in the midst of wild flowers. On Nami Island, artists from all over the world show-off their talents and share the sense of peace of mind the island creates. The island is the site of Nami Island International Children's Book Festival (NAMBOOK) and other cultural events take place every weekend, making Nami one of the main cultural and artistic tourist attractions in Korea. In 2006, the island declared its cultural independence and was reborn as Naminara Republic. They have their own national flag, anthem, currency, passport and phone cards, stamps, orthography and even a certification of citizenship. Nami is home to several galleries and is the site of the Song Museum, which also houses an outstanding collection of international ethnic musical instruments. There are indoor and outdoor stages, facilities for seminars and workshops in addition to a 46-room modern hotel and 10 cottages. 

Nami Island is dedicated to improving the mental and physical well being of children throughout the world. As such, they serve as the main sponsor of the Hans Christian Andersen Award and contribute generously to Unicef. Serving as the location for the internationally famous television series Winter Sonata has helped the island attract 2,000,000 Korean and foreign visitors every year. Naminara is unique in other ways, also. At night, all the lights are turned off on the island so that visitors can harmonize with nature under the light of the moon and stars. Most of wood and bottles generated by visitors to the island are recycled and re-used. Nami has a very open hiring and retirement policy so a diligent and honest person can work until they are 80 years old if they wish. On Nami Island all feel close to nature. Smiling people with peaceful hearts walk, Along the river where a song of love spreads. And become one, With lasting freedom, As poets, painters and musicians.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sierra Leone National Anthem on Stamps

Formerly a British colony, this west African nation adopted its national anthem, "High We Exalt Thee, Realm Of The Free", upon independence in 1961. The composer of the music, John Joseph Akar, was the first post independence Director of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) as well as the founder of the Sierra Leone national Dance Troupe, and the lyricist Clifford Nelson Fyle, was a professor at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone.

John Joseph Akar (1927–1975) was a Sierra Leone-an of Lebanese descent entertainer, writer, and diplomat. He served as Sierra Leone-an Ambassador to the United States. Today, he is probably best known for composing the music of the Sierra Leone's National Anthem.

Akar was born in the small town of Rotifunk, Moyamba District in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, to an ethnic Sherbro mother and to a Lebanese father. Akar attended the E.U.B. primary school in Rotifunk, and proceeded to Albert Academy secondary school in Freetown. After he completed his secondary education, he moved to the United States to study commercial radio and television. In 1960, Akar became the first non-Creole and the first Sherbro to be appointed Director of Broadcasting of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services (SLBS).

In 1963, Akar founded the National Danced Troop. He used the group to encourage Sierra Leone-ans to be proud of the cultural heritage. In 1964, Akar and the National Dance troop were invited to the United States to perform at New York world fair. They won the best performance of the fair, and was presented with plaque. In late 1964, they performed at the art festival in London. In 1965 they performed at the Negro Arts festival in Dakar, Senegal. In 1966, they went on a four months tour of Europe, including performances in Germany, Sweden and France.

Above, flag, coat of arms and title of the national anthem on postage stamp issued in 2011. Below is the map and score of the anthem.