Koreans can be proud of their rich and varied history, which stretches back more than two millennia. Although more recent times have been fraught with conflict, the people of the Korean Peninsula still have a way of life that is both unique and universal.
This Saturday, Koreans living in Delaware will share some of those customs in the 2013 Korean Festival at the Dover Korean Baptist Church, Dover.
“It's a festival aimed at sharing Korean traditions and cultures,” said Alex Yoon, son of Grand Master Seok H. Yoon, of Yoon's Martial Arts.
And since it is hosted by the Korean Baptist Church, the festival also is aimed a raising money for church missionary work in Korea and in other countries, Yoon said.
Visitors will be treated to a popular form of Korean dance, the buchaechum, or fan dance. Dating from the Joseon Dynasty, which began in 1392 and lasted for more than 500 years, the dance features women in bright pink dresses and similarly-colored fans. The movements simulate nature, recalling waves in the ocean and blooming flowers and trees.
The colorful costume is a coat and skirt with long, flowing sleeves, called a dangui. The fans, which the dancers use to simulate ocean movements or wind blowing, usually are decorated with images evoking flowers.
The festival includes a traditional performance called the samul-nori, percussion music played on four ancient instruments, two different-sized gongs, barrel-shaped drum and a drum shaped like an hourglass. The literal translation of “samul” is “four objects,” while “nori” means “play.”
In addition, students from Yoons' school in Dover will provide a tae-kwando demonstration with students from the school in Lewes, as well as an exhibition of gumdo, or Korean sword fighting.
And if watching all of the activity gives visitors hunger pangs, the church will serve up marinated beef, or bulgogi, with either white or fried rice and a helping of kimchi, the national dish of Korea, made of spicy fermented cabbage, radishes or cucumbers.
Other dishes include chicken teriyaki, egg rolls and the Korean hoddeok, a pancake sometimes filled with honey, brown sugar, peanuts and cinnamon.
Cost of food selections range between $5 and $8 each.
Other events include a tug-of-war, a raffle for a bicycle and gift card, and a demonstration of jegichagi, a Korean children's game similar to hacky-sack.
The festival is bound to evoke many memories, particularly for the many military veterans in Dover who have been stationed in Korea, the elder Yoon said.
“A lot of the veterans liked Korea and they liked Korean food, so they miss Korea,” Yoon said. “Maybe this way they can have again some of those fond memories of Korea.”
There also are more than 1,000 Korean nationals living in Dover, many of who attend the Dover Korean Baptist Church.
Page 2 of 2 - “That's why we're trying to put this together,” Yoon said. “We've had it before, but it was smaller. We're really trying to have a big festival.”