Students party for Lunar New Year

By Julian Scharman

The Korean Students Association, with help from the Korean American Student Association, is hosting its annual Korean Lunar New Year Festival Sunday at Foellinger Auditorium.

“It’s a time when, as a Korean American living in the United States, you can appreciate your heritage, because New Years is a really big celebration for most, and it really brings out your culture,” said David Lee, junior in LAS and the master of ceremonies for this year’s celebration.

With a strong population of Korean and Korean American students at the University, the groups hope to offer a similar experience to that of home, said Sukwoo Jang, graduate student and the president of the Korean Student Association.

“At home, on this holiday, we basically participate in traditional bowing to the old people and get gifts, usually money, from them,” Jang said.

The festivities this year will be almost identical to that of last year’s with displays of traditional music and dance performed by amateur and professional groups from the local and greater Champaign-Urbana area. For the spectator’s additional viewing pleasure there will be both Chicago and Champaign based hip-hop groups performing, classical music performances and Kung Fu and Taekwondo demonstrations.

“There will be a professional, traditional dance group from Chicago performing at the beginning and the end, but there won’t be any traditional games or stuff like that, it’s basically going to be a gathering,” Lee said.

Although the celebration will include some traditional aspects, certain traditions cannot be replicated.

“At home, besides wearing traditional clothing, what’s really important is that the older people give us some good advice for the New Year,” said Naomy Kim, board member and graduate student in Education.

Along with the annual celebration, organizers are trying to increase knowledge about the Korean culture through events such as this one and others, said Lisa Kim, senior in LAS and event coordinator with the Korean American Student Association.

“We really aim toward raising Korean cultural understanding and awareness around campus, for individuals who are not really aware about it,” Lisa Kim said.

People of many nationalities and backgrounds attended last year’s celebration, Naomy Kim said.

“One of the performers in the talent show last year was an American student, and he sang a Korean song,” she said. “We expect the same this year.”

With additional support from the University and sponsorship, this year’s celebration is expected to top the last, which drew over 500 students and depended solely on guest sponsorship, Jang said.

“Last year we couldn’t get money because we applied late, but this year we applied early so our sponsorship has been accepted, but still needs to be confirmed, so we are hoping to get $1,800,” he said.

The official Korean New Year was on Jan. 29.

“This is a community event for everyone, but really the purpose of all this is to bring people together, which is basically the concept behind the Lunar New Year, and provides a time for people to get back to their ancestral roots,” Lisa Kim said.