Korean Cultural Festival heading to Irvine

If you haven't yet heard about the Korean wave, get ready to be submerged.

The annual Irvine Korean Cultural Festival, a free arts and food bonanza, returns for the third year Jan. 14 at the Irvine Civic Center.

"There is a big wave nowadays about to hit the U.S., but it has been very popular already with Korean soap operas, Korean pop music and Korean food," said Irvine Councilman Steven Choi. "People have a lot of interest of what this Korean wave is all about."

Korean barbecue vendors, pop and traditional musicians, fan and drum dancers and other artists will converge at the Civic Center.

Up to 4,000 people are expected to attend, said Amy Choo, the festival's president.

"Over the past several years, the Korean community has grown in Irvine, and we saw this as a chance to let Korean and non-Korean descendants learn about and experience Korean culture and traditions," Choo said.

The festival is an opportunity to learn about Korean customs first-hand, an increasingly important experience for second- or third-generation Korean Americans and non-Koreans because the culture is largely left out of most schools' curriculum, Choo said.

The one-day event coincides with the state's Korean American Day, Jan. 13. The event will also pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16, with a performance by the African Methodist Episcopal Church choir.

Each year, the festival highlights another culture as part of the entertainment lineup.

Last year, Pacific Hawaiian dancers performed alongside traditional Korean dancers, Choo said.

"We don't want anyone to come and feel that we are exclusive," Choo said. "We want to open the door to anyone in Irvine or Orange County to come experience and learn about Korean tradition and culture. We have to do this exchange to get to know each other better."

The event will also feature a tae kwon do demonstration, child and adult talent competition, Korean brush painting exhibit, an Korean auto exhibit and others, according to the lineup at irvinekoreanfestival.com.


Twitter: @speters01

Information: irvinekoreanfestival.com

If You Go

What: The third Annual Irvine Korean Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 14

Where: Irvine Civic Center lawn, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine

Cost: free

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