Korean and American culture collided this Saturday as Columbia residents spent Halloween day at the 11th annual South Carolina Korean Festival at the Korean Community Presbyterian Church. Started to celebrate and promote Korean culture in Columbia as well as to benefit local charities like the Oliver Gospel Mission, Harvest Hope and Sistercare, among others, the Korean Festival included more than 20 dance performances, three food vendors offering a number of Korean dishes and multiple bouncy houses for kids to enjoy.
Despite the festival taking place on Halloween, hundreds of people chose to partake in Korean culture throughout the morning and afternoon. Tucked into a blocked-off part of the intersection of Marion and Richland Streets, the festival was crowded and full of energy. Members of all ages of Columbia’s Korean community dance to K-Pop music as well as traditional Korean music. Performers included children and adult groups from the Presbyterian Church, as well as students from Yim’s Tiger Tae Kwon Do Academy. Halloween also definitely played a part in the festivities, with a costume contest at the end of the day.
While there’s not yet an official count of attendees for this year’s Korean Festival, 2014’s Festival was the largest yet, with over 4,000 visitors — double the number of attendees in 2012. It’s not difficult to see why the festival has become so popular, with the amount of energy and work that goes into it. Despite the relatively small space allotted to the Korean Festival, virtually nothing was missing — booths included nail-and face-painting, and a number of games and free crafts were set up for children. Attendees could also pay for a ticket in a raffle.
While Columbia does have a number of cultural festivals, from the Main Street Latin Festival every August to the Istanbul Festival in April, the Korean Festival definitely stands out for its family-friendliness, showing that the Columbia area welcomes Korean culture and the Korean community is happy to share its culture with Columbia.