By Sophia Hsu, Jessica lee, Chris Hansen
On a brief reprieve from the fall rain, this particular Saturday was bright, sunny and warm. It was a perfect day for a parade and a block party. October 2nd marked the 30th anniversary of the Korean Day Parade. Nearly 100 organizations and almost 2,000 people participated in the march from 38th Street to 27th Street. The Korean American Association of Greater New York, in conjunction with The Korea Times and several other groups including the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Overseas Koreans Foundation, the Korean Cultural Service New York, the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York, and the Busan Cultural Foundation helped create this year’s event.
The parade and block party theme this year was ‘A Taste of Seoul’ – a chance to give New Yorkers a view into South Korea’s capital city – its taste, culture, and sounds. As part of the parade, a dramatic display of peace envoys in full Korean traditional regalia representing Joseon Tongsinsa, goodwill missions sent from Korea to Japan between 1392 and 1590, and again between 1607 and 1811, marched in the parade. One hundred thirty-six re-enactors of these diplomatic and cultural delegations traveled from South Korea to New York to anchor the parade. The original missions led to nearly 200 years of peace between Japan and Korea. “Just as these delegations were sent to build friendly relations between Korea and Japan, so is the delegation coming to the U.S. to spread Korean goodwill and a message of peace to the U.S. and New Yorkers,” said Yonghwa Ha, president of KAAGNY. Several politicians including a representative from the mayor’s office delivered speeches about the strength of the Korean community. Other presenters included religious and community leaders.
With a Kids Corner, Korean TV’s singing contest, and foods provided by New York’s fine Korean establishments, the Korean Day festivities mixed the traditional with the modern, and drew a crowd of multi-ethnic New Yorkers. Young children, and those young at heart, waved Korean and American flags with enthusiasm showing their support for the organizations and their floats. A performance of Salmunori, a folk dance involving drums and gongs, rounded out the entertainment portion of the day. Games such as jump rope, je gi – a type of hacky sack, tu ho – tossing a stick/arrow into a bucket from a distance, and kong gi – Korean jacks, provided a variety of family-friendly activities.
The delicious aromas of the foods available at the block party truly excited the crowd. The enthusiastic onlookers floated from booth to booth in search of the next succulent morsel. Partygoers could find an assortment of delectable foods and drinks – even free samples! Chom Chom Restaurant sold seafood pajun – Korean pancakes, kim bap – Korean version of sushi, ramyun and more. Other local favorite restaurants like Kun Jip and Kang Suh gave away samples of kalbi – short ribs, mandoo – dumplings, fried rice, and packaged goods like sticky rice treats and cakes, walnut cookies, and pumpkin shikye – a sweet beverage made of rice. The most popular giveaway was KyoChin fried chicken’s raffling off free chicken combo meals. Around 6pm, the crowd transformed – all of the families went home while the young K-Town diners waited in line to be seated at their favorite restaurants. My eyes in the field, Jessica Lee, and her family went to their favorite establishment, Won Jo, for kalbi and spicy seafood soup. We’re definitely looking forward to next year’s parade and celebration!