On Aug. 8, the Korean Cultural Heritage Society will hold its annual festival at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium to celebrate Korean culture, arts, entertainment and food, and the multiculturalism of the Lower Mainland.
Mike Suk, the director and spokesperson for the Korean Cultural Heritage Society, says the 14-year-old festival began as an event for the Korean community to gather and celebrate their culture. But over the years, the festival has become a more inclusive event.
“It has evolved into a multicultural festival where we [the Korean community] have reached out to the First Nations community, Chinese community, Japanese community, Taiwanese community and all other ethnic communities in the Lower Mainland,” says Suk. “Before, we stayed in our own bubble, keeping to ourselves. The festival helps us to open up.”
Bringing communities together
Suk believes the festival’s multicultural spirit is important not only for the local Korean community but for all communities in the Lower Mainland.
“I think Koreans are very proud of this festival, of showcasing our history, heritage and culture,” he says. “This event allows our community and other communities to interact with each other.”
He points out that the festival’s location in Burnaby makes it easier for different ethnic communities within the Lower Mainland to attend, and this allows for multicultural interactions.
“Burnaby is a central location,” explains Suk. “We want to have as many people as possible, so we moved our location from Coquitlam to Burnaby a couple of years ago. Swangard Stadium is close to Vancouver, New Westminster, Surrey and Langley.”
According to Suk, the festival is also important for younger generations. He feels it encourages young people to be open to new cultures and different kinds of food and entertainment.
Korea and the world
This year, the festival’s theme is modern Korea and the Society hopes to ride the wave of Korean culture’s popularity in the West.
“Right now, Korea is at the forefront of culture, fashion, entertainment and food, and we want the cultural acts and events at the festival to reflect that,” says Suk, who notes that the performances will also reflect the dynamic culture of Korea.
Performances will include the Kukkiwon National Taekwondo demonstration team from Korea and a K-pop (or Korean pop) competition. In addition, the festival will feature a Jultagi performance that consists of acrobatic tightrope walking, singing and audience participation.
Performances from other cultures will include a Japanese Taiko drummer, Nigerian drumming and First Nations musical performances.
“It is going to be a fun and lively event,” says Suk, adding that the main stage performances are only one part of the festival. There will also be art exhibitions and activities for children.
As in previous years, Suk expects that Korean food will be the highlight of the festival.
“Koreans are known for their food,” he says. “We are going to have great barbecue and food that you do not always get to try at restaurants. We are going to make food a big part of the festival.”
For more information, please visit www.koreanculture.ca