Seoul Friendship Festival and Other Events

Park, Jeonghun

Near city hall, there are many festivals or events held nearly every weekend. Right before the start of a new semester, I heard the news that they are holding a festival there, which was called “Seoul Friendship Festival”. Because the name was obscure to me, I decided to visit city hall and take a look at it.sitemgr_photo_6791

Seoul Friendship Festival (서울세계도시문화축제 in Korean) initially started in 1996. The city government wanted to celebrate “Seoul Citizen’s Day” and they decided to open a festival annually. There were some notable events in the timeline of the festival. In 2003, the city decided to host a joint festival with “Hi-Seoul”, which was a slogan of Seoul city. In 2004 they decided to enrich the festival by inviting members from their partner cities around the globe. Since then, the festival grew. Nowadays more than 68 embassies participate in the festival to celebrate. Unlike most festivals in Korea, it is held outdoors. The grass field in front of the city hall and the surrounding roads that lead to Gwanghwamun area are blocked and reserved for booths that represent different nations. According to their website, there are many programs full of various activities you can participate.

The best thing about the festival is the food you can eat. People who represent their nations sell food at the booth. For example, when you visit the booth representing Chile, you can taste their red and white wine selection. In addition, some people actually cooked and sold their traditional food. I tried a South American dish that unfortunately I do not remember the country it belongs to. It consists of steamed pork with potatoes mixed with onions, tomatoes with vinegar. The pork was very delicious unlike my expectation, however, the seasoning was too sour for my taste. So, I learned a lesson that you have to know what you are eating before buying. Unlike some drinks that were less popular due to its ‘foreigness’ like Chicha morada, which is a drink made out of a black corn in Peru, entrées roasted meat and baked chicken which the Indians sold was popular.

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Figure 1: The food I bought, unfortunately I do not know the name of.

Moreover, some embassies such as the embassy of Israel, prepared souvenirs that are offered free of charge. Even though, they are not economically significant in terms of their value (a collection of Post it notes and ballpoint pens), it was enough to attract satisfactory attention from the crowd.

Aside from Seoul Friendship Festival, there were food trucks around Cheonggyecheon which is a stream that crosses downtown Seoul. There were about 30 food trucks that sold various street foods such as fried seafood. However, not many people were interested in them; so was I. The food was overpriced, and the quality of the food was sometimes questionable. Moreover, some of the food they sold such as fried vegetables required beer as a complement. However, they did not serve beer, resulting in indifference among the population who bypassed them. For me, buying food at food trucks located at busy streets was a bit too much; eating while standing in front of a busy road was a no for me.

From my memory, food trucks are open every weekend so there is no need to in a hurry visiting them. However, Seoul Friendship Festival is held annually at September 1st to 2nd. If you arrived in Seoul, before the fall semester starts, it is worth a visit. For more information visit http://seoulfriendshipfestival.org/sff/2018/

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