Isle Koreans shareThe Korean-American community eagerly shared its heritage with others at the first Korean Festival held at Kapiolani Park yesterday.
culture at Kapiolani
Thousands attended the showcase
for food, music and arts
By Leila Fujimori
"Local people, they only know kim chee, but we want them to know how much beautiful culture we have," said William Lee, president of the Korean American Society of Hawaii.
Thousands attended the festival, a warm-up for the 2003 Centennial of Korean immigration to Hawaii next year.
Yong Suk Potts, owner of Dong Yang Inn, wanted to share a taste of her culture with Korean food. But she kept running out of kal bi (barbecued ribs), cooking more than 300 pounds of it. Workers made repeated trips to the restaurant for more.
"By 11:00, some booths ran out of food," said volunteer cook Joanne Miyoga.
Ki Un Lee, a 63-year-old former rice farmer, shared the sound of Korean culture on stage with the beat of a traditional hourglass drum, the changgu.
Painter Hwa Ja Park and members of the Korean Artists Association shared the ancient art of Korean kitemaking by helping youngsters make kites out of bamboo and paper. Kites were used to signal neighboring islands for military purposes during the war with Japan.
Park saw more than history in the rainbow-colored kites. Flying a kite symbolizes freedom and establishes a vision for a dream come true, she said.
"That's why we are here in America. We've combined our vision, our dream come true."
And some Korean Americans were eager to get in touch with their roots at the festival.
Walter Chur, 67, a second-generation Korean American, has been waiting for a Korean festival for years. "I like to see this more often, maybe once or twice a year at least," he said.
Chur, who took his first trip to Korea in 2000, regrets not learning the language while growing up and is making up for lost time by trying to pick it up from friends and associates.
Ida Nomura, 72, of Pearl City said she was curious to learn more about the Korean culture.
"We watch Korean shows, so we're interested in what they do," she said.
Others enjoyed the festival simply because they could meet up with old friends and share the occasion with family. Cha Cha Kawai videotaped the event. "It's the first time in 100 years they had a festival," she said. "It's an interesting memory for generations.
"I've seen the Korean community grow, and it's now recognized by the government," said Kawai, who came to Hawaii 35 years ago.
"This kind of recognition is something to celebrate. Hopefully it can continue to next generation."