Korean cities gear up for multicultural festivals

PHOTO: The Korea Herald

Major cities across Korea will be hosting multicultural festivals this weekend, as annual events in Seoul, Busan and Gwangju coincide.

The festivals are an opportunity for foreign community groups to show off their food and culture, while residents can enjoy cultural performances, try new food for the first time and find out what the local support centres for foreign residents offer.

Busan

The Global Gathering will convene on Saturday as Busan's biggest multicultural festival, hosted by Busan Metropolitan City and Busan Foundation for Int'l Activities.

In its 10th year, the event has grown fivefold since it started with 28 booths. After an opening parade and ceremony, there will be stage performances by 30 community groups including international schools, dance troupes and musicians.

Alongside the performances, there will be booths for information food and cultural products.

On the more serious side there will be a Busan Town Meeting at which foreign residents can turn up and ask questions to the mayor and make suggestions and requests on how to improve life in the city.

Consultations will also be provided on immigration, medical, tax, legal and other issues.

The festival runs from 10 am to 5 pm at Songsanghyeong Square near Bujeon Station Exit 8. For a full schedule, visit www.bfia.or.kr.

Seoul

In Seoul, Itaewon will host the Itaewon Global Village Festival, which has been running for 10 years, on Saturday and Sunday.

The entire venue is closed to traffic for the festival, which stretches along the main street of Itaewon to Noksapyeong Station.

The festival will have over 100 booths for food, beer, and cultural experiences, as well as a DJ party on the main street. There will also be a street parade of over 1,000 people in costume and shows featuring traditional culture.

As well as the DJ, music will come from K-pop acts and local indie bands.

"The highlight would be the world food zone where people can taste all the different kinds of food at a cheap price," said Lee Dae-jin, chairman of the festival.

"Managers and cooks from restaurants in Itaewon run this world food zone to advertise their dishes."

A little way from the Itaewon Global Village Festival, another music event is running, independent rock gathering HBC fest, with most acts playing on Saturday.

A full schedule of the Global Village Festival is available via www.itaewon.or.kr.

Gwangju

The Gwangju International Community Day will be celebrated among the city's foreign residents on Sunday.

Hosted by the Gwangju International Center, the GIC Day is now in its 21st year, making it the oldest of the festivals.

"The motivation for holding the GIC Day is to make a place for exchanging culture and food between foreign residents and Koreans," said Han Lee-seul

"We hope that it helps to make one global society through mutual exchanges and communications with multinational people."

Last year, there were about 15 countries' food booths and 10 countries' experience booths from Indonesia, Vietnam, Ireland, and Mexico among others.

This year's festival will be about the same size as last year's, with 16 food booths, 10 culture booths showcasing traditional games and activities related to different countries.

A flea market and performances will also be held.

The festival is also making efforts to promote environmental awareness.

"Special souvenirs will be given to those who use public transport, recycle garbage and do not use disposable items," said Lee.

The festival runs 11 am to 5 pm at the Asia Culture Complex. See www.gic.or.kr for more information.

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