While the entertainment sector has been the mainstay of hallyu, the government has been keen on introducing a wider scope of the country’s culture to foreigners.
One recent effort is the “2013 Sensuous K-Heritage,” a program that introduces Korean culture and heritage through traditional arts performances and food, presented by the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation in partnership with Starbucks Coffee Korea.
The participants for the weekly events are selected by the Korean Culture and Information Service and the first session on July 16 included American participants currently teaching English in Korea.
Five performers from Myeongin Myeongmujeon perform a drum dance, ogomu, in the Traditional Arts Theater at the Korea House on July 16. (The Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)
The program consists of three main events: viewing traditional performances, making your own Korean snacks, and tasting a variety of food paired with drinks.
The arts performances on July 16 took place in the ornately decorated Traditional Arts Theater, where the audiences were wowed by lyrical harmonies and dynamic dances by the Myeongin Myeongmujeon performing arts troupe. The program included an exhilarating drum dance called ogomu, a five-instrument ensemble with a lead gayageum playing a version of “Arirang” and the energetic pungmulnori.
Feedback for the performances was overwhelmingly positive.
“The performances were fascinating and elegant, especially the pugmulnori at the end,” said George VanPelt, a teacher originally from Los Angeles.
After the show, participants were ushered to the Royal Cuisine Experience Hall on the fourth floor of the Chwiseongwan for a short cooking class. Wearing green Starbucks aprons, participants were taught to make the traditional snacks dasik and hwajeon.
“You have to put your spirit into it. Making good food takes time and effort,” said Korea House cooking instructor Lee Mee-kyung while demonstrating how to put dasik mix into the molds.
To make dasik, ingredients such as sesame seeds, pine flowers and roasted yellow beans are ground up, and mixed with starch and honey to form a paste that is pressed into a mold to form little circles stamped with an intricate design. At last Tuesday’s cooking class, hwajeon, a small pan-fried pancake made of glutinous rice flour, was flavored with finely powdered Starbucks coffee. Typically, hwajeon is lightly flavored with mugwort, cinnamon, omija fruit or gardenia seed.
Participants of the “2013 Sensuous K-Heritage” put dasik mixture into molds during a cooking program held in the Royal Cuisine Experience Hall at the Korea House in Seoul on July 16. (Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)
Asked what he thought of the mix of coffee and traditional Korean snacks, Adam VanStraten, from Wisconsin, said the mix was interesting but understandable because “coffee is a big part of the Korean lifestyle.”
“Introducing a country through food culture and letting people actually experience making the food with their own hands is a memorable way to teach people about Korea,” said An Tea-wook of the KCHF.
Joyce Park, public affairs team leader at Starbucks Coffee Korea, said that the company was working to promote its products while embracing Korean traditional culture at the same time.
“We want to show the harmony of old and new, East and West, with these events,” Park said, “Everyone looks like they are having fun, and we hope to plan more events in the future.”
“2013 Sensuous K-Heritage” takes place every Tuesday from July 16 to Aug. 20 at the Korea House, located near Chungmuro Station.
For more information about ongoing and future events, visit Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation’s website at www.chf.or.kr.
By Cha Yo-rim (email@example.com