Destination: Itaewon Global Village Festival (2012)
Having visited the Itaewon Global Village Festival on both Friday (October 12th) and Sunday (October 14th), there are a couple things that need to be said. First, Itaewon is already as international a place as Korea has to offer. Perhaps two dozen nationalities – and their food / drink – are represented on a daily basis, without the need for a festival. That said, the festival seemed to be a way for the locals to take in said multi-culturalism in a environment where they’re surrounded by other Koreans.
Apparently, Heineken, chili cheese fries, and nachos are Korean food…. Who would’ve thought? The festival had Korean food and music on either end of the block, with most of the international elements sandwiched between them.
This might have been one of the only times where the streets were far more crowded than the sidewalks. The crowd, about 80%-90% Korean, spent its time meandering down the street or eating at one of the tents along the way.
In the middle area, each country had precisely one (and sometimes two) tents; this ‘global village’ was rather Korean-centric, to say the least – quite a few Korean foods got a tent of its own. You may also notice the chairs and tents – which were only around for the Korean tents. Why the organizers had little seating beyond the Korean tents was beyond me.
One of the few non-Korean performances of the evening – going during the early afternoon or the evening would’ve shown you a Korean performance in place of this Thai dancing.
We stayed for long enough to get a bite to eat, walk through the block between Itaewon and Noksapyeong station, and escape with our sanity intact. The crowds made the street quite difficult to walk. Despite the apparent lack of support for the non-Korean booths, however, these were where the longest lines that could be found – especially for the Turkish kebabs and a few other things easily consumed while walking.
I’m quite disappointed in this event, however. This was a chance for the powers that be to highlight the diversity that exists in the area – a diversity that has existed for decades. Instead, it was more like some thin slices of foreign culture between thick slices of Korean culture. The only non-Korean booths with an appreciable presence – a row of booths courtesy of the Japanese tourism authorities – was one of the easiest places to walk through. To make a festival more culturally diverse, highlight THAT, instead of mixing it in with all the local elements one can find without trying…
For more information about the festival (and presumably its future incarnations), visit itaewonfest.org.
- Revisited: Oedo (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)
- Destination: Woori Bank Museum (central Seoul)
- Revisited: Bank of Korea Museum (downtown Seoul)
- Destination: the Cheonggyecheon Museum and the historically questionable shacks (Seoul)
- Destination: Goseong Dinosaur Museum (Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do)
- Coming to Korea: grocery shopping
- Destination: Okpo Great Victory Commemorative Park (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)
- Destination: Geoje Shipbuilding Marine Museum (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)
- Destination: National Tax Museum (downtown Seoul)
- Destination: Munmyo Confucian Shrine and Seonggyungwan Academy (northeast Seoul)