The 45th Los Angeles Korean Festival aka “Jangtuh” has come to an end despite many controversies surrounding its new changes. To Korean Americans growing up and living in LA, Jangtuh is surely a significant annual event. Alongside a group of friends, teens visit Jangtuh every year to enjoy extraordinary Korean food, attend Kpop concerts, and to hang out in the heart of Korean culture. On the other hand, adults come to purchase the freshest products of the local markets from Korea and to watch the one and only parade featuring magnificent korean drumming.
The 2018 Korean Festival took place over 4 days from October 4th to 7th at Seoul International Park in the heart of Koreatown. The Korean festival is the iconic center of interaction and representation of Korean American heritage full of entertainment for all ages!
The history of the LA Korean Festival dates back to 1974. According to the festival foundation’s official website, it was founded by leaders of the early Korean American community with the purpose of keeping their Korean roots planted even after immigrating to the United States. For the past 45 years, this festival has been providing us with a cultural outlet to preserve and spread Korean culture.
This year’s theme of the festival was “All Together As One” proudly promoting multiculturalism as Los Angeles boasts vast cultural diversity. The Korean festival welcomes different culture communities to celebrate the Korean culture. The general ethnicity data for the festival demonstrates that only 48% of the entire attendees were Asian. The Hispanic population took up 22% while African Americans/Black, Caucasians/Whites, and all other ethnicities each took up 8%, 13%, and 9% of the entire attendee population.
Song Ji Baik, a sophomore at Fairfax High School, expressed contentment from witnessing the integration of different cultures. “Compared to the past years, I’ve seen more non-Koreans at Jangtuh. They performed Kpop dances, shared the food we love, and shopped Korea’s distinctive merchandises. I was so glad to see the diffusion of our very own culture to diverse ethnic communities.”
Sponsored and coordinated by The Korea Times, Jangtuh is teeming with sumptuous Korean food from traditional dishes to fusion dishes. The Korean festival also hosts a splendid Korean parade in celebration of the history and culture. Traditional Korean dances, immense floats, antique cars, marching bands, and a huge army of young Korean drummers add another fun element to the festival.
Lastly, when talking about Korean culture, one cannot leave out Kpop. So, naturally, the Korean festival held a concert hosting a famous R&B singer Dean and a DJ named KSHMR along with other Kpop contests this year. However, what was once a free event for the past years, this year’s concert was not complementary and with tickets ranging up to $562 for two nights of concert much controversy was raised.
Many attendees expressed disappointment from seeing the high fences blocking the concert view for those who didn’t pay. Jantuh is really to be a platform for cultural celebration for all, so the exclusivity of the concert left many feeling great disappointment. Also, compared to last year, many more booths were abandoned and left empty due to the festival foundation’s poor management. Many also claim that the prices for food and merchandise was overpriced in comparison to the past years.
Despite the many controversies, the 2018 Los Angeles Korean Festival came to a noteworthy end. It was another year of fun engagement in Korean culture. Hopefully, the LA Korean Festival can continue to pass down to our distant generations and teach them the true value that can be found in remembering and celebrating our Korean heritage.
Goeun Lee, Grade 10
Larchmont Charter School