Korean heritage and culture celebrated at festival

By Julia Harold

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The beat of K-pop music filled the air as visitors admired culture and diversity at a recent Korean festival on campus.

The Student Activities Board, in a partnership with the Korean Student Association, hosted a Korean Heritage Festival in the Engineering Complex to celebrate culture and diversity Wednesday night.

Attendees were given a blank “passport” to travel around to various tables and collect stamps to earn a free T-shirt.

The variety of tables allowed visitors to soak in different elements of Korean culture, and a major emphasis was placed on Korean games.

At one station a KSA member demonstrated a game called Ttackgi, a game popular among children after the Korean War.

The game features two players who make a square out of two sheets of folded paper. One player would set a paper square on the table while the opponent attempts to flip it with their own.

Another table housed a traditional Korean game called “Tuho,” where participants were given three arrows to shoot into a basket.

“People tend to group Asian countries all together, and they’re definitely not the same culture,” said Lee Mengistu, a journalism junior and SAB’s director of multicultural affairs. “Different regions have different cultures, and I feel like we need to respect that and … educate each other about that.”

Next to the Tuho game was a display of brightly colored traditional clothing that are worn on special occasions.

Education Abroad set up an information booth and handed out pamphlets about UK’s Exchange Program with Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea.

Similarly to the Japanese art of origami, there was a table about Korean paper folding called Jong-i jeobgi.

KSA volunteers led groups in folding the paper to create different forms like swans and flowers.

The nearby courtyard featured two small trees with neon colored strips of paper hanging from their branches that swayed with the October breeze. The Wishing Tree is a secular practice in Korea where people can write down a wish, hang it on a tree and hope that their wish is granted.

The last stamp for the passport was the calligraphy station where students could have their names written in Korean to hang on their walls.

The calligraphy writers used black ink and a paint brush to execute each character.

Psychology senior Justice Boozer said his favorite part of the festival was the calligraphy because he liked the way his name looked and he learned a few words in Korean.

Yongshi Liu, a nutritional science graduate student, said she learned how to write Korean correctly.

“I was surprised how different Korea was from other East Asian countries,” said Jacob Crowell, an accounting sophomore. “Even small differences like the chopsticks they use.”

A poster explained how Koreans use medium-length chopsticks made of iron, which are different from the wooden chopsticks often seen in “Americanized” Asian restaurants. Other posters laid out facts about Korea’s government, economy, written language and flag.

Many attendees flocked to the food table to be served traditional Korean cuisine.

Crowell said the food is different from what he normally eats, but he really enjoyed it.

A trifold display listed the recipe for making Gun Bbang, a Korean pastry set up across from the food table.

Encouraging the acceptance of other cultures is a major component of multicultural campus events like the Korean Heritage Festival.

“I didn’t realize that we really had a Korean demographic on campus and it’s nice to see there is some kind of a form of appreciation for it,” Boozer said. “This is kind of an open and safe place to dive into that culture and actually get a taste of it.”

At the end of the night, many students were able to walk away with a free shirt, Korean food, and an appreciation for another culture.

“We’re just masking it under incentives like the T-shirts and food, but the point of this is to educate,” Mengistu said. “I feel like it’s a good way to expose people to a culture they wouldn’t see otherwise.”