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News article

Flavour of Korean culture brought to York

Published: 19 July 2021

  •   Featured
  •   Events
  •    Students
Korean musician playing traditional instrument

Cholong Sung from The Shilla Ensemble playing a Gayakeum, a Korean traditional string instrument

York St John University hosted a day of special events celebrating Korean culture on Saturday 17 July 2021.

The Yor-K festival shared both ancient and modern aspects of K-culture - from traditional music, dance and calligraphy to K-pop which is now hugely popular across the world.

Held annually in the UK since 2018, the Korea Day festival provides local and international communities with the opportunity to enjoy Korean culture and art. Yor-K festival 2021, hosted by York St John University and in partnership with the Korean Cultural Centre UK, the City of Chuncheon and the Korea Tourism Organization London, brought a flavour of Korea to York for the day. South Korea was one of several guest nations invited to the 2021 G7 summit in Cornwall, strengthening its connection to the UK. The Yor-K festival was funded as a post-G7 summit event.

During the day, visitors were treated to a unique collection of outdoor, family-friendly Korean cultural activities in the historic Quad at York St John University. These included a Korean traditional costume (‘Hanbok’) show, Korean traditional games, crafts, calligraphy and a selection of Korean food to try.

York Theatre Royal set the stage to host the Yor-K: Korean Music Night, offering an eclectic showcase of traditional and contemporary Korean music and dance. The evening featured dynamic performances from the Shilla Ensemble and the String Trio, Korean traditional music reinterpreted on Western instruments and the first UK performance of ‘Strawberry Soda’ from the Korean Cultural Centre’s K-Pop lyric writing competition. First year York St John student Amber Summersgill penned the winning lyrics, and the song was performed by U8Kandy, a group formed of York St John students. K-pop is a global phenomenon thanks to its distinctive blend of addictive melodies, slick choreography and production.

York St John University teaches a lively series of language courses, where Korean is one of two East Asian languages on offer. Students can study abroad and take part in exchange programmes, developing their cultural capital with a global, multilingual experience. Accessible to students from all backgrounds, Korean language courses at the University are increasingly popular and provide opportunities to develop life skills and career prospects.

Dr Yeji Han, Lecturer in Korean & Linguistics at York St John University said:

“The Yor-K festival gave visitors the chance to experience first-hand both new and old elements of Korean culture. We were delighted to be part of this exciting programme of events, especially since interest and demand for places on our Korean language course at York St John has grown rapidly over the past few years.”

Professor Karen Bryan, Vice Chancellor of York St John University added:

“It was a pleasure to partner with the Korean Cultural Centre UK for Korea Day and welcome the Centre’s Director, Dr Jungwoo Lee, to our university. Sharing the fascinating aspects of Korean culture, alongside showcasing the talent of our students and staff across our School of Education, Language and Psychology and School of the Arts, made the day a very special occasion in our cultural calendar.”

Pictured: Cholong Sung from The Shilla Ensemble playing a Gayakeum, a Korean traditional string instrument (pic credit: John Saunders)

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