Almaty hosted the 7th Korean Folk Festival, which today, without exaggeration, is called a unique celebration of historical significance. The organizers had a lot of unrest. On the eve of the festival, a lot of preparatory work was carried out both with representatives of South Korea and with northerners. The festival took place, bringing together bright representatives of the culture and art of the Korean Peninsula under its wing. The most important achievement was the meeting in Almaty itself, which left a lot of hope, as they say, for the future, a dialogue took place that broke the long-term silence in the field of science and art.
A real holiday took place, a promising meeting of fellow brothers and sisters who live in different parts of the world, with different ideologies and mentalities, representing a single culture that is equally valued and developed by Koreans from all countries of the world, regardless of where they live. Thus, the festival has become the beginning of closer cooperation between organizations of the entire Korean Peninsula and Kazakhstan, which associate their activities with science, culture and, of course, with sports, the development of which everyone is equally interested in.
It has become a good tradition to hold this bright festival full of rhythms and colors in the final days of spring. The organizers of this holiday were the Central Asian office of the Consultative Council for the Peaceful and Democratic Unification of Korea, the Association of Koreans of Kazakhstan, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The purpose of the event is the same – to introduce Korean culture to those who are still not much familiar with it. But, above all, the festival is recognized to bring under its wing those who are fans of Korean culture, who experience aesthetic pleasure from the sound of songs in Korean, from the melodies of the sounding gayageum,, who hear wind energy, turmoil of rain, flashes in the rhythms of samulnori lightning brought by the wind and other natural phenomena, which Koreans inapplicably associate related to art and life with . This time the festival has become more popular both in terms of the age of the participants and speakers, and the geographical location of the places of residence of both. This was evident even from the creative works exhibited on the square in front of the Palace of Students. All kinds of crafts, handmade jewelry from Koreans of Kazakhstan, cosmetics and teas from South Korea famous for their miraculous properties, landscape paintings with embroidery from North Korea. Everyone represented Korean dishes. There were even master classes on how to make Korean dishes. A lot was told during said classes, like on what occasions should certain dishes be served and etc. So people could not only be educated about Korean cuisine, but also learn enough so they could cook them at home themselves.
But for guests from Korea, of course, this was not of interest. After all, they came to Kazakhstan. Therefore, in order for them to have an idea of what kind of people met “foreigners” in the harsh 1937s and what land became the homeland for their fellow tribesmen, a yurt was installed on the square to welcome guests, and in a concert dedicated to the culture of the Korean people, songs were played in different languages. The program also included other performances that give an idea of the Kazakh culture. However, the focus was still on the performances of amateur art groups of Kazakhstan from the Korean diaspora. The holiday was opened by, perhaps, the oldest and most numerous singing group of Koreans under the direction of Vladimir Ilyich Shin – the Rodina folk choir. One after another: the groups of the Bidulgi ensembles, the Bidangil and Raduga choirs, the Saran folk instrument ensemble, the Namson Korean dance studio, and the show of the Insam group entered the impromptu stage. The colorful costumes, the majestic melody of “Arirang”, did not leave anyone indifferent. The children’s choir “Druzhba” and a flash mob prepared by the Kapshagai Korean ethnocultural center delighted the guests with the immediacy of the performance. Many in the square could not contain their emotions – they sang along and danced with the children.
The pride of Koreans living in Kazakhstan today is that in a multinational country, thanks to the wise policy of the state and personally Elbasy, Koreans continue to develop their culture, and all conditions have been created for this. There is the State Republican Academic Korean Theater in Kazakhstan, there is a republican Korean newspaper, there are centers of culture that are of interest to Kazakhstan, which also work for the development of a multinational country. In all areas, Koreans are making progress. In sports, too. For example, the other day the taekwondo team led by Svetlana Kan, the only owner of the 7th dan in taekwondo WTF (World Taekwon-do Federation, South Korean school of taekwondo) in Central Asia among men and women and the 5th dan in taekwondo ITF, returned from the prestigious tournament, winning the second place. Svetlana herself became the absolute champion of Asia. Athletes came to the celebration with their demonstration program. Here, under the guidance of their captain, the guys demonstrated the accuracy of strikes, the refinement of the technique of movements. No one could remain indifferent to the bright and dynamic performance of Olympic-level athletes. Unbelievable: with the movement of the hands the boards were broken, purposeful jumps up fascinated by their inevitable hit on the target. A beautiful sport born in Korea! It is doubly beautiful due to the fact that the philosophy of sports relatively quickly captivated the youth of Kazakhstan, became clear to them and on some level even personal.
In the course of other performances and communication of the presenter with the audience, it turned out that there are also many talents among those who came to the festival. Contests for the best song, poetry, and the most incendiary dance on the stage were immediately held. Adults and children boldly came out with their performances and received prizes from the organizers, and the audience enjoyed the performance. Here, at the festival, 20 best schoolchildren and students representing all regions of Kazakhstan were awarded scholarships and certificates for studying in South Korea from the Koreain Kum Foundation. Competitions are held annually, and every year our excellent students, who have perfectly mastered the Korean language, go to study in Korea. Moreover, they are welcome there. They are provided with all conditions for further studies.
– Live with a dream in your soul! – the chairman of the Korean Kum Foundation, Lee Jon Woon, admonished the young people. – Wish you all great success and good luck!
After lunch, the holiday gradually moved to the hall of the Palace of Students of KazNU. In the foyer there was an exhibition of eminent artists that Kazakhstan is proud of, whose works have repeatedly been shown in South Korea – these are the artists: Victor Moon, Georgy Lee and Svetlana Tsoi. Who knows, maybe after the current festival, northerners will also be interested in their work. Perhaps the exhibition might even take place there too.
The concert in the hall was opened by the President of the Association of Koreans of Kazakhstan Sergey Ogay.
– Today we have a lot of guests, delegations of our compatriots from both South and North Koreawho arrived in Kazakhstan at the same time. This is the first time an event of this magnitude has been held,” he stressed in his speech. – This is a unique event, very joyful and exciting. It is a great honor for the Association of Koreans of Kazakhstan to hold such a festival, because we are of the same blood, we are Koreans. Let’s enjoy today’s concert, where all these artists will perform together on the same stage and thank them for that!
The guests who spoke before the concert noted the peculiarity of the mentality of the Kazakh Koreans, who, far from their historical homeland, preserved the customs and traditions of their people, having enriched themselves with the culture of the Kazakhs, adopting from them the hospitality characteristic of this nation. In addition, the Koreans have become native and respected in Kazakhstan, and this causes pride and admiration among fellow Koreans. After the kind and sincere words of the guests, those who rightfully belong to the stage took the stage – professional artists of the State Academic Korean Theater of Musical Comedy. The audience especially were waiting for the guests to take the stage. North Korea was represented by a trio of soloists – Don Sol Hyang, Kim Sol Ah and Lee Ding Joo; thee South, to the delight of the youth, by the K-Pop group BNF, which not only performed on stage. There seemed to be little room for them. Right after they finished singing their first song, the guys went to the audience and started giving them flowers.
After the concert, the guys took pictures with fans of modern music, answered their questions, and signed autographs. In a word, they were open to communication and clearly enjoyed it.
It should be noted that the trio of North Korean singers simply captivated our audience. I especially liked Katyusha. When they were done, the audience were cheering passionately. And when the girls sang together with the Premium group, the audience applauded the singers of North Korea and gave a long ovation.
We, the journalists from Kore Ilbo, are pleased to realize that the song “Whistling” was also sung at the concert. It was once written by our colleague Joe Gi Chen, who worked when the newspaper was published in Kyzyl-Orda and was called “Lenin Kichi”. This was told to us by our longtime friend, a well-known writer and poet of South Korea, who devoted years of literary activity in Kazakhstan, Kim Byung Hak, who told us that the poems of our legendary colleague Joe Gi Chen are still alive today. Moreover, northerners have long considered him their poet. But this does not prevent us from calling him one of the brightest faces who represented our newspaper back in the day.And the fact from the biography of the poet Jo Gi Chen once again confirms how deep our roots run, how the destinies of people are interconnected, and how it is possible to unite people through people, literature, art, and so on.
Traditionally, the concert ended with the song “Arirang”, which has become an anthem for the Koreans. But to be honest, I didn’t really want to let go of that wonderful feeling that I experienced while watching the show, I just wanted for it to last longer and perhaps hear something more from North Koreans.
The festival ended with lottery tickets, someone was lucky enough to win a refrigerator, someone a TV, someone a new generation mobile phone or a set of crystal dishes … But all those present received one very important gift for the soul – a free ticket to a unique concertl. Of course, there will be many more concerts and meetings at different levels, since more than seven million Koreans living in almost all corners of the world need to communicate, the human community today does not tolerate alienation and emptiness. But what happened today in this hall will remain in history as the first step towards communication, towards the exchange of beauty, which makes the soul purer and the heart richer. So perhaps it’s time to break down borders and build bridges. In any case, at the festival held on May 19 in Almaty, a lot was done for this.