On May 17, the City of Irvine held its 5th Annual Irvine Korean Cultural Festival at the Irvine Civic Center. Founded by current Irvine Mayor Dr. Steven Choi in 2010 as an Irvine Councilmember, the festival has played an increasing role as an ongoing cultural tradition within the Irvine Korean community and among other multi-ethnic communities in Orange County.
An estimated 8,000 people attended the 5th Annual Irvine Korean Cultural Festival. Local chefs hosted kimchi and kimbap-making demonstrations while residents participated in a talent show competition and a Korean Pop cover dance competition. Attendees also watched a replicated Korean Traditional Wedding Ceremony and 80’s Korean rock music performances. Among other events, attendees of the festival were also welcomed to participate in a Ssierum Korean Wrestling Competition, a traditional sporting event from Korea. Artist DK Soul, a Korean pop artist known for his musical work on YouTube, performed during the closing ceremony. Inside the Civic Center, the festival also featured an art exhibition of Korean culture, showcasing a variety of Korean art, including Korean paper craft and Ilho Calligraphy. An Irvine resident, Jill said, “My daughter loves learning about Korean culture, and she’s taking Korean language lessons, so she’s thrilled about this [festival]. I thought the entertainment was great; I love the energy, and I would definitely come back.”
The Irvine Korean Cultural Festival is a non-profit event funded by various local and international businesses. This year’s festival also received recognition from Kim Hyun-myung, the Consul General of the Republic of Korea. The festival aims to celebrate and raise awareness of traditional and modern Korean culture. Irvine Korean Cultural Festival committee members work with board members of the festival’s parent organization, the Orange County Korean Cultural Center (OCKCC). According to Jennifer Kim (Sr.), an Irvine Korean Cultural Festival committee member from University High School (UHS), the main goal of her committee and the OCKCC board is to raise funds through the festivals’ sponsors toward building a Korean Culture Center in Orange County. The proposed Cultural Center is planned to feature Korean adult language classes, film festivals, music and art competitions, health fairs and senior citizens computer classes. In general, there are also plans for other cultural and academic activities intended to benefit Orange County residents of different groups and ages with opportunities to build better understanding among diverse ethnic groups for a balanced community.
The festival also provided volunteer opportunities for UHS students and interested residents to assist with setting up and managing events during the festival. On the day before the festival, Mayor Choi personally trained volunteers who signed up to accompany and guide elected Irvine City Officials and corporate sponsors during the festival. UHS volunteer Kevin Qu (So.), said, “[Volunteering] was a really fun experience, and the festival was a lot of fun too; I got to see parts of the culture I have never seen before.”
Written by ANGELINE NG