At Folklorama’s Korean Pavilion we are greeted at the door by four friendly Korean volunteers. This welcoming vibe would be present throughout our visit to this pavilion in River Heights.
The cultural information at the pavilion is adequate, with displays reminiscent of science fair style – fact sheets on display boards and a few samples on the table. They have enough to fill a small room.
What I like about their cultural room is they have volunteer staff available to answer questions and provide further explanations about the displays, so you are not left on your own to just read the information.
For example, one gentleman explains the Celadon glazed porcelain of the Goryeo Dynasty from 918 – 1392 predated the Chinese Ming Dynasty collections.
I am able to try my hand at calligraphy, writing my name in Korean script. The Korean alphabet (Hangul) is organized into blocks – each block consists of at least two of the letters. Each letter has at least one of the consonants and one vowel.
Youngok Kang-Bohr shows me how she prepares the ink – a mixture of ash (like charcoal), glue, water and “some other ingredients”. She rubs the ink with a black stone until the ink is at the right consistency. Then, using a paint brush held straight up, she puts the ink to paper. My sloppy attempt shows me it would take quite a bit of practice to be as neat as Youngok!
I love the entertainment at the Korean Pavilion. The costumes for all the dances are gorgeous, with vibrant colours and satiny material. The dancers are a talented group, with not one misstep.
The four ladies who demonstrate the Okomu, or Five Drum Dance, are completely in sync the entire performance – and it’s a lengthy session. They tell me they only had 3 months to practice! Most impressive.
Taekwondo is the national sport of Korea. It was introduced to the Olympics only as recently as 1988, the year Seoul hosted the Games.
The demonstration is impressive. One young man has to jump up and perform a split kick, using his feet to break a board that is almost 10 feet in the air.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to try the food, but from the menu it seems like they have a wide selection. It looks good and smells delicious. I try a tasty sweet bun that’s available for sale at the pavilion from the 88 Bakery on Pembina that sells Korean baked goods.
On the way out I am curious as to whether the pavilion represents the north or south of Korea, so I ask one of the volunteers. She answers the pavilion represents the culture of all the people of Korea.
The history of Korea is quite fascinating, yet heart-breaking. There’s been various wars and takeovers, from the Japanese occupation to the most recent division between north and south after World War II. The north is known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a socialist republic) and the south the Republic of Korea (based on a western style of government).
The Korean Pavilion is located at J.B. Mitchell School, 1720 John Brebeuf Pl. (Located off Lanark between Grant & Corydon). Make sure you get there well before the show starts; at the 6:45 show Tuesday night all seats were filled and a few had to stand.