***image1***Korea is known as “the land of the morning calm” because of the calming atmosphere of the countryside. This month’s celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage offers the opportunity to highlight the country and rich culture of Korea.
According to legend, Korea is as ancient as China. Legend has it that Tan-Gun, the son of heaven, and a she-bear founded the kingdom of Chosun (or spelled Joseon) in the year 2333 B.C. Some of the history of Korea includes the Shilla dynasty (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.), which unified all of Korea by defeating Paekche in 660 A.D., and defeating Koguryo in 688 A.D. The period before the unification is known as the “three kingdoms era”.
One of the many different traditional dances in Korea is called “pun-chae chum” (fan dance) performed by female dancers. Another form of traditional entertainment is called, “pahn-so-ri” (musical epic storytelling).
Among the most celebrated holidays in Korea is “Chu-sok” (Korean Thanksgiving). More than 30 million people, nearly half of the total population, travel to their hometown and visit loved ones during this holiday. Many people prepare taro soup, beef, fish and three different colored vegetables, and the day cannot be celebrated properly without “song-pyon” or pine-flavored rice cakes. Families visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects. They also pray for good health and prosperity.
Korea has a wide variety of foods, from seafood and meat to vegetarian dishes. Some of the favorites are kimbab and Man-doo (Korean dumplings). During the meal one can’t forget the kimchee. The available variety depends on the season; the most common is bechu kimchee (Chinese cabbage) during the spring and stuffed cucumber kimchee in the summer. Another favorite, Bulgogi, is known as “Korean BBQ,” marinated beef or chicken cooked over an open grill. Traditionally, Bulgogi is served with freshly cut lettuce and rice.
The transportation systems in Korea are very extensive. “Buses go almost any place at a very inexpensive cost. Major cities also have a very cheap subway system and taxis all over, which make it easy to get around,” said Jin-hee Park, a resident in Seous, South Korea.
“Korea is known worldwide for its vast and inexpensive shopping,” said Tech. Sgt. Joanne Bass, APAH co-chairman. Stores and markets throughout Korea sell clothing, mink blankets, handbags, jade and amethyst stones, and a variety of other products, many made specifically for the individual consumer.
“Hopefully knowing a little more about the language, history, traditional dances, types of food and the transportation system, has inspired a visit to experience the wonderful culture of Korea firsthand,” said Technical Sergeant Bass.
On behalf of the Korean family of the APAH committee, I’d like to say in “Han-gul” (the Korean language)…. “Kamsahamnida Jo-en Shi-gon-ul Chagi-ship-shio”! (Thank you and have a nice day!)
NOTE: More articles on different Asian Pacific cultures and events will follow throughout May. The Asian Pacific American Heritage Dinner Banquet starts at 6 p.m. May 21 at Armstrong’s Community Club in Vogelweh.