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41st L.A. Korean Festival attracts 400,000 to food, entertainment, culture

September 22, 2014
Crowds at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival's marketplace. (The Korea Times)

Crowds at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival’s marketplace. (The Korea Times)

By Tae Hong

Hundreds of regional specialties from Korea and food vendors attracted bustling crowds to the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival’s marketplace through the four-day event.

About 400,000 enjoyed the 280 booths and performances set up at Seoul International Park and Olympic Boulevard during the event, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

For every pickled, dried and fermented import was a Korean street food staple in the likes of spicy rice cakes, udon and fried goodness.

For returning vendors like Kim Ji-young, 24, who offered salted goods, seaweed and anchovies from South Chungcheong Province, the festival proved to be a useful promotional tool.

Kim said he hopes to see products like his, which may be foreign to some Korean Americans and Americans alike, become mainstream through these events.

Radio Seoul's Youth Talent Show on Saturday was held inside Seoul International Park. (The Korea Times)

Radio Seoul’s Youth Talent Show on Saturday was held inside Seoul International Park. (The Korea Times)

The marketplace was also home to a stage, where several contests — K-pop Cover Dance Festival, Radio Seoul’s Youth Talent Show, Hidden X Trot Super Concert — took place throughout the festival. Attendees saw popular Korean musicians like “popera” star Lim Hyung-joo perform, as well as winning performances by 1.5- and second-generation Korean Americans.

Where there’s food involved, there are people — the marketplace saw a diverse crowd looking for good eats, many of them drawn by an existing affinity for Korean pop culture.

Evelyn Zhu, 19, is an exchange student from Taiwan attending Cal State Long Beach.

Zhu and her friend, Maggie Cheng, 20, came out to the festival through an introduction by their Korean friend. Zhu is a big K-pop and K-drama fan, especially of popular artists like TVXQ, EXO and IU.

“[Korean] music style is very international,” Zhu said.

Others, like Marc Girsky, a 48-year-old resident of downtown Los Angeles, came out to enjoy the atmosphere.

Girsky and his wife, Kim Hae-jung, 40, took a recent trip to Seoul. They said the festival’s marketplace was reminiscent of the loud, crowded markets there.

Kim said the festival, as well the region, reminds her of home when she visits. Her husband agreed.

“It’s the sovereign nation of Koreatown,” Girsky said.

Food vendors at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival marketplace serve customers. (The Korea Times)

Food vendors at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival marketplace serve customers. (Tae Hong/The Korea Times)

Marc Girsky, left, and his wife, Kim Hae-jung, enjoy food from vendors at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival on Saturday. (Brian Han/The Korea Times)

Marc Girsky, left, and his wife, Kim Hae-jung, enjoy food from vendors at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival on Saturday. (Brian Han/The Korea Times)

Food vendors crowded the marketplace at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival. (Tae Hong/The Korea Times)

Food vendors crowded the marketplace at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival. (Tae Hong/The Korea Times)

Vendors at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival marketplace offered K-pop goods throughout the four-day event. (Tae Hong/The Korea Times)

Vendors at the 41st Los Angeles Korean Festival marketplace offered K-pop goods throughout the four-day event. (Tae Hong/The Korea Times)

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