Martial arts, music explore facets of Korean culture in show

Miki Johnson

The Korean American Student Association celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the first Korean immigration into US territory with Saturday night’s third annual culture show.

In 1903 the initial wave of Koreans arrived in Hawaii to work on sugar plantations. Now, Korean-Americans play prominent roles in the United States, Pat Min, organizer and KASA external president, told the audience. He then read the names of several famous people, such as comedian Margaret Cho, who are of Korean descent. Cho appeared on campus last month.

“It shows how Koreans can improve in just 100 years to make an impact on society in America,” said Carol Kwon, KASA’s internal president.

This year’s event relied heavily on donations because the Student Activities Finance Board voted not to allocate Student Activities fund money for the show.

Kwon hopes the group will receive SAFB funding next year in order to bring prominent performers. She said she hoped the fact that this year’s show ran smoothly would persuade the board to fund the show next year.

“Every year we gain more experience,” said Kwon, a Weinberg sophomore. “But every year we want to improve.”

More than 150 Northwestern community members packed Ryan Family Auditorium to watch the show, titled “DHMK,” which stands for Dae Han Min Kook — the Korean word for Korea. The show was dedicated to Charles Kim, a Northwestern student of Korean descent who died in December.

DHMK showcased traditional Korean performances by students and community members including a martial-arts demonstration, a fan dance and a song on a Korean sting instrument.

The show also included hip-hop dance numbers and songs by a Korean student band in an attempt to incorporate contemporary Korean-American culture, Kwon said.

“We wanted to expose people to Korean culture and roots, Kwon said, “but also bring our own personality into the show.”

DHMK also focused on educating non-Koreans more than in past shows. Kwon said organizers added explanations about the martial-art and instrumental portions to make the show accessible to a larger audience.

Kwon said she would have liked to see more non-Asian audience members at the show and KASA will strive to diversify its attendance next year.

Also new to the show this year was a segment about poverty in North Korea. Through a slide show, students told the story of a North Korean family that fled to China and was forced to give away each of their four children because they couldn’t support them.