Ancient, ornately carved palaces in the midst of a megalopolis, the spirituality of delicate green Koryo celadon, an archaic traditional music as pungent (and delicious) as kimchi – once experienced, never forgotten. Add to these the city of Kyongju, called the ‘museum without walls’, the many reminders of a long history of suffering under Japanese oppression and the uninterrupted excellence of its poetry and visual arts, and one begins to feel Korea's special quality. The country is prosperous; education in all fields, including the arts, is given high priority. Contemporary life is vibrant and intense; the people possess a seemingly boundless capacity for hard work as well as for celebration, festivity, ceremony and mourning – and for music-making. Hardly surprising, then, that the compositional scene in the Republic of South Korea is booming, to say the least.