At the first Koreatown Festival parade in 1974, “a lot of Koreans cried because it was the first time they saw a Korean flag being carried down the street in the United States,” said Gene Kim, founder of the Koreatown Assn. of Los Angeles and the festival.
Last year’s festival also touched an emotional chord in many Korean-Americans who had labored to make Los Angeles their home only to see their businesses destroyed during the riots just months before.
The theme of the 20th annual Koreatown Festival, which opened last week and continues through Sept. 19, is “Rebuild L.A. with the Spirit of Harmony and Cooperation.”
The parade, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday and will proceed along Olympic Boulevard in Koreatown, promises to be a model of ethnic diversity and harmony, with entries representing Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans among the 25 floats and 150 groups, bands and drill corps, Kim said.
But the festival is primarily a celebration of Korean and Korean-American culture. More than 40 events are planned at various locations throughout the week, ranging from exhibitions of traditional art and calligraphy to folk song contests and demonstrations of tae kwon do, a Korean martial art.
Many of the events will take place at Ardmore Park and Recreation Center, at the corner of San Marino Street and Irolo Avenue, including a food and arts and crafts fair and several art exhibitions, all beginning Thursday and continuing through Sept. 19.
Other events include a fashion show at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, a magic show on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Pio Pico Branch Library in Koreatown, and a laser video folk song contest on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Ardmore Park.
Most events are free. For a complete schedule of events, contact the Koreatown Assn. of Los Angeles at (213) 730-1495.