Osmo Vanska: Korea is just like Finland

Osmo Vanska: Korea is just like Finland


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2019

From the Minnesota maestro’s first interview with Young-Jin Hur on becoming chief of the Seoul Philharmonic:

‘I already spent two weeks this season with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. I read a book some months ago [about Korea]… it was fiction, but based on events before and during the Second World War. I learned so many things about the Koreans, the Japanese, and the Chinese, and I thought exactly the same thing, that Korea and Finland have some similarities. Let’s say, Sweden is like Finland’s big brother, and we don’t like big brothers, because big brothers always tell us what to do (both laugh). And when you are a little brother, you want to show that you are as good as the big brother, or even better. I felt the same thing about Korea when I read that book, and I have been since thinking about [Korea’s] history. There are similarities between the two countries…’


Read on here.

Korean sauna

Finnish sauna


  • Nick2 says:

    I suggest the comparison in the photo captions is not entirely correct. The first is most likely a Korean bath house where lengthy soaking in hot spring water is sought, similar to those in Japan and Taiwan. It is not a dry sauna as in FInland.

    • fflambeau says:

      Where did the “dry sauna” of Finland come from? Probably Sweden.

      Whee did the “soaking in hot spring water” come from? Likely Japan.

      Osmo is right. There are “similarities”.

      • Robert von Bahr says:

        No, the real sauna (where one burns wood, not electrical) actually has been exported TO Sweden, not the other way round. And it is anything but “dry”. One throws water on the hot stones (löyly in Finnish) which drowns you in a cloud of humidity. One spanks oneself with birch branches (with leaves), which creates a soap-like fluid on the body, restoring bad skin. It is one of the holy rites for any Finn, and rightly so. I have one such sauna myself, and the weekly bath is the highpoint of the week, especially so, if one immerses oneself in icewater immediately upon leaving the hot chamber. Heaven on Earth!

  • Anders says:

    There are some similarities: Finland was ruled by Sweden or Russia, Korea by China or Japan. They both have developed a very healthy school system. They produce excellent soloists. After the second world war, both countries rose up from poverty to become wealthy through hard work. Finland has the sauna, Korea has the kimchi to keep you warm….

  • fflambeau says:

    “There are similarities between the two” and the headline’s outrageous, “Korea is just like Finland” are two different things.