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The Antelope

The Antelope

‘SPICY’ Festival connects Korean culture with campus

Jackson Steele eats a bowl of bulgogi, an East Asian dish. Photo by Ricardo Hernandez / Antelope Staff

The Korean Student Association at Kearney hosted their 13th annual Korean festival on Saturday. The event included K-pop performances, trivia, games, prizes, Korean food and other activities.

Jay Lee, faculty adviser for KSAK and lecturer in the English department, has directed the event for the past three years. 

“This is a great chance for us to bridge the gap between domestic and Korean students,” Lee said. “Mostly our Korean students are here on an exchange program for a semester or a year, so it’s very difficult to organize this type of event. Our exchange students are gladly volunteering for this event to showcase their home culture with their American peers.”

The Korean festival this year was called “SPICY” and it was free and open to the public. A meal featuring Korean barbecue beef, steamed rice and soboro bread was served prior to the performances and games of the evening. 

Lee said the event is meant to target Gen-Z Korean culture and UNK students.

“Instead of portraying a boxed, biased idea about traditional Korea I wanted my Korean students to showcase their current trends and culture in Korea with people their age in the United States,” Lee said. “To be honest, I think many people have a biased concept about diversity, because diversity is more than skin color so I wanted to include everyone’s diverse opinions and background into this event. I want everyone to be spicy and their authentic selves.”

Mirae Jo, a Korean exchange student, helped with the festival’s preparation with other students in KSAK.

“We are just wanting to share our culture and we just want to enjoy this great time together,” Jo said. “We’ve been preparing so hard for this, from rehearsing our dances with each other and planning the whole festival. My friends and I discussed at great lengths the songs we’d be performing to as well as the food we’d serve.”

Jisuk Jeong, a Korean exchange student and member of KSAK, explained the choices behind the festival’s program. 

“We wanted to provide a general idea of modern Korean culture, including food, K-pop, dancing and trendy performances,” Jeong said. “We wanted to show what Korean culture is like and give others a first-hand opportunity to try and experience a bit more on what this represents to us. We hope to make others know us a bit more deeply.”

Lee dubbed the Korean festival “SPICY” to tie into Gen-Z slang. 

“Nowadays, lots of younger Korean people have adapted the word spicy from English into their slang,” Lee said. “For Gen-Z Koreans, like the ones organizing tonight’s event, spicy means something hot, exciting and attractive. I want my students to be authentic and themselves, whenever, wherever or to whomever.” 

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