Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

By Adam Riley 16.08.2015

MusiCube has already done a review of Gonne Choi's Glastonbury Festival performances earlier in the year, an interview with rock band Thirdstone at Liverpool Sound City, as well as looking closely at SMTOWN's K-Pop girl group, f(x) more recently, as they made their London debut showcase. Now it is time to continue riding the Korean wave and go a bit more in-depth into what else was on offer at the London Korean Festival that took place in Trafalgar Square on a gloriously warm Sunday, 9th August. MusiCube's Adam Riley was in attendance on behalf of sister radio show, K-Pop Korner, to watch the main stage performers, as well as check out the numerous stalls dotted around the perimeter.
Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)
The London Korean Festival, an event put on by the Korean Cultural Centre UK, Korean Creative Content Agency, and Korea Tourism Organisation, with support from the Mayor of London, was one of those strange beasts - a special, seemingly one-off showcase of all things Korean; something that never seems to happen over here in the UK. Sure, Hyper Japan is a bi-annual revelation of everything Japan-centric, but nothing has really been done for the Korean side. How would it work? Where would it be held? Would it be a success and possibly return again in the future?
Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

The sight of 35,000 people filling Trafalgar Square cheering every act that performed on the main stage, whether traditional or modern, with the aroma of kimchi and Korean BBQ in the air, will live long in the memory. Korea is one of Asia's most enthralling and trendy destinations right now and that was reflected at the London Korean Festival 2015, an event which will surely be back next year.
- Ramy Salameh, PR Manager at Korea Tourism Organisation London.

Hyper Japan has previously been held at Earls Court, yet this year moved to the larger venue of the O2 Arena in London because of its increasing popularity, but the organisers of this particular spectacle were attempting to cram as much of South Korea as possible into the 'confines' of the - admittedly bigger than expected, looking back now - prestigious Trafalgar Square. Clearly confidence was high that fitting everything into close quarters was the best approach, almost turning it into the Christmas markets that are so popular in my hometown of Manchester.

What this meant was everyone that had arrived supremely early to get a good spot to see the K-Pop female quartet (formerly a quintet until a few days prior, when Sulli left to pursue her acting career) that is SMTOWN's f(x), had no choice other than to sit and struggle all day without moving, or take it in turns to leave members of their party whilst they wandered around to stretch their legs and 'see the sights,' and what sights they were indeed.

Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

It was amazing to see such a turn out from non-Koreans to the event, proving that the Korean wave is getting bigger!
- Sam Hammington, star of Korean reality show, "Real Men."

There was a wide variety of food stalls dotted around the side of the main stage area, showing off the culinary delights produced by local Korean stores, most of which are located in the New Malden area of London, a place referred to by most as 'Little Korea' (similar to Chinatown in Manchester). People were clamouring around with delight, and perhaps even with a tiny bit too much gusto, since things became chaotic at times, especially as one stall was handing out free snack samples. However, it was amazing to see the immensely popular reaction from the masses. Intrigue in 'new' cultures obviously had gotten the better of the British public and they wanted more, more, more.
Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

Food was not the only aspect that caught people's attention, though, as the opportunity to don the traditional Korean Hanbok clothing and be snapped in front of a landscape setting was too tempting for most, with queues going all around the tent and waiting times of around 45 minutes to get the chance to merely play dress-up. It is not surprising that so many wanted a piece of the action, however, since the outfits that were being dished out looked so spectacular and elegant, transforming regular visitors into glorious visions of beauty.
Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

The festival was packed with people all day and it was amazing to see how people were engaging in all different sorts of events. It was a brilliant opportunity for Hyundai to take part in the festival, representing one of the most successful brands in Korea.
- Diane Joung, Marketing and PR Support Assistant at Hyundai Motor UK.

Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

Some old school games were there for people to take part in, although the only one spied whilst on a mission to grab some scenic imagery of the day was not the most exciting of pasttimes - throwing arrows into a structure with various holes. Miss? Go over and pick up the arrows to try again... Further along the row of stalls, there were chances to see some of the technology LG currently has on its roster (TVs, phones, fridges, and more), stop by Hyundai's gazebo to see their sporty vehicular offering, look at various videogames, animation treats, more fashion works from expert designers, and, of course, view some K-Pop delights, as well as try out some K-Craft - painting and making little dolls. It was a cavalcade of delights, with something for all demographics.
Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

Hyatt Hotels of Korea was delighted to have been part of London's first ever South Korean Cultural Festival, showcasing our five Hyatt hotels to thousands of people. Thank you for inviting us!
- Sophie King, Global Sales Co-ordinator at Hyatt Hotels.

If all those Korean goodies were leaving a sensation of wanting to visit South Korea, well, even that was covered as Hyatt was on hand to give advice about the best places to stay. All bases were indeed covered, and it has to be hoped this is the first step towards more similar events, with the London Korean Festival becoming an annual thing, and perhaps stretching to other key areas of the UK, such as Manchester!
It is my great pleasure to be able to introduce a variety of Korean culture to British public, and I hope the festival contributed to a better understanding and friendship between the UK and Korea.
- Kab Soo Kim, Director of the Korean Cultural Centre UK.

Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

As a Korean correspondent in London, it was awesome to see such a huge crowd enjoying both K-Pop and Korean culture. I hope that this kind of event will become more of a frequent occurrence to let the world understand and enjoy Korean culture better!
- Jihwan Jung, KBS London Bureau Chief / Correspondent.

Image for Event Review | London Korean Festival 2015 (MusiCube)

With stage shows from dancers of various styles (including B-Boy specialists, Jinjo Crew, a flash mob featuring members of last year's KBS K-Pop Festival London winners FUSI8N, plus this year's dance winners at the same event, SO Project), folk playing old time-honoured instruments, catwalk fashion shows, and the duo of rock group 'Guckkasten' and pop band 'f(x),' the day flew by, and could have easily been spread across both the Saturday and Sunday, rather than filling just one day alone.

Some people may have only considered attending for the sole purpose of seeing some K-Pop idols and grabbing a few videos of the stars, but the way everything was cleverly laid out and scheduled meant that visitors were automatically drawn towards the other attractions, be it food, technology, fashion, games, or some of the other cultural elements in general shown throughout the day. The reaction? Throngs of people truly overwhelmed by the wonderful treats available. Given how Hyper Japan has been growing considerably in scale over the past few years, it is now time for the Koreans to get a piece of the action. More of the same next year, please!

Be sure to check out a whole host of videos and photos from the day over at the K-Pop Korner Facebook page, and do not forget to tune in to K-Pop Korner on 19th August for the Q&A sessions with Guckkasten and f(x), as well as a great selection of both bands' music.

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