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Korean Festival in Honolulu returns with live performances, cultural displays and more

KoreanFestdancers.jpeg
Ross D. Hamamura
/
HPR
The Korean Festival was canceled for the past two years because of the pandemic. Pictured is a performance from the last festival in 2019.

The Halla Huhm Dance Studio has performed at the Korean Festival since the event started about 20 years ago. Lead instructor Mary Jo Freshley said she enjoyed seeing former students and community members in those early years.

“People took pride in being Korean. There were many more older folks around, of course, even older than I am,” she said. “We had more than one Korean studio at the time as well, so all of the local studios would take part. And it was really geared to culture and traditional things.”

The 87-year-old has been teaching Korean dance for nearly 50 years and has been dancing for 60. She’ll be taking about 15 dancers – from 6 to 70 years old – to the festival this year.

KoreanFestdrums.jpeg
Ross D. Hamamura
/
HPR
Korean Festival 2019

The Korean Festival will return Saturday at the Civic Center grounds in Downtown Honolulu. The cultural staple was canceled for the past two years because of the pandemic.

Organized by the Hawaiʻi Korean Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature about 10 food vendors and 15 performing groups. There will also be cultural displays, a kim chee eating contest and picture taking in traditional Korean attire. New this year is a K-pop dance contest.

Gina Kim Nakamura, president of the Korean chamber and a co-chair of the festival, has been involved with the event since the beginning. She said they are expecting thousands of people to attend throughout the day.

“We want to perpetuate the Korean culture, and I think this is a good way, a fun way to do it,” she said. “It’s very hard work because we all have regular jobs. So we’ve been working until late at night and weekends and all that. But it’s so rewarding. And once we see the event … it just really touches our heart. And oh my god, all that work was worthwhile.”

The free event will be held on Aug. 20 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Civic Center grounds. Free parking is available at the Civic Center’s municipal lot.

Jayna Omaye is the culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at jomaye@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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