The 70th anniversary of Korean liberation celebrated across the US

August 17, 2015
Los Angeles Korean American community leaders stand on stage at the liberation day festival held inside Seoul International Park Saturday. (Choi Kyung-geun/Korea Times)

Los Angeles Korean American community leaders stand on stage at the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation day festival held inside Seoul International Park Saturday. (Choi Kyung-geun/Korea Times)

The Taegeuki flew high in Korean American communities across the United States this weekend as celebrations for the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation drew out thousands to dozens of events.

In Los Angeles, the weekend kicked off at Walt Disney Concert Hall Friday, where I Maestri — a renowned South Korean voice orchestra — filled seats.

Saturday was marked by a ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall, where City Councilman David Ryu and City Council President Herb Wesson recognized the importance of the anniversary. The day also saw the ringing Korean Bell of Friendship in San Pedro and a festival at Seoul International Park in Koreatown.

The three-day festival, themed “A Taegeuki wave from Los Angeles to Dokdo,” was a collaborative effort by local Korean American organizations.

“Living overseas, I didn’t have a chance to educate my children about liberation day, so this was a great opportunity to help them draw the flag and learn history,” said Kim Ji-yeon, 42, who came out to the festival with her two children.

Chicago's Wrigley Square saw a celebration for Korean liberation day Saturday. (Korea Times)

Chicago’s Wrigley Square saw a celebration for Korean liberation day Saturday. (Korea Times)

The Chicago community witnessed a pungmul showcase at Wrigley Square, where dancers of GPI (a South Korean pungmul group) dressed red, white, blue and yellow carried drums in front of a crowd alongside other traditional dancers from China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.

“This performance was important because we celebrated liberation day and world peace with one mind, regardless of race,” said Kim Byung-seok, GPI head. “We’re planning on another liberation day event for next year with groups around the world.”

In San Francisco, the 23rd Korean Day Cultural Festival brought together tradition, Taekwondo and K-pop to welcome liberation day at Union Square.

Organized by the local Korean American Association, the festival drew local leaders and residents alike to eat Korean food, visit promotional booths and watch performers Astral and K-pop World Festival winners SoNE1 and XTRIM on stage.

In nearby cities, community members also came together, from events inside the Silicon Valley Korean American Federation, the Sacramento Korean American Community Association and the Korean American Community Organization of Monterey County.

“We cannot forget the sacrifices made by our ancestors for the love of our country. As overseas Koreans, we need to draw inspiration from their spirit and help Korean development,” said Park Sang-oon, president of the Sacramento association.

San Francisco's Korean American community hosted its 23rd Korean Day Cultural Festival at Union Square Saturday. (Korea Times)

San Francisco’s Korean American community hosted its 23rd Korean Day Cultural Festival at Union Square Saturday. (Korea Times)

On the East Coast, New Yorkers welcomed the anniversary with an event co-organized by the Consulate General, the local branch of the National Unification Advisory Council and the local liberation council.

About 300 people — including Congresswoman Grace meng, Assemblymen Ron Kim and Edward Braunstein, City Councilman Peter Koo and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky — came together for the festivities.

A few states down, the Washington, D.C., community took a hold of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Saturday for cultural performances, congratulatory messages — among them from South Korean President Park Geun-hye — and fireworks.

“Korea has walked a great journey during the last 70 years,” Park wrote, in a message delivered by Ambassador Ahn Ho-young. “Let us not despair in celebrating liberation for only half of Korea and go forward in taking a leap to the next step.”

Elsewhere in D.C., “One Dream One Korea,” sung by South Korean vocalists Yangpa and Na Yoon-kwon, rang across the Lincoln Memorial.

The song, which supports Korean reunification, was a part of the festival held in front of the memorial that saw the singers also perform their own hit songs and covers, as well as showcases by local samulnori and traditional voice teams and by I Love Dance, a New York institution that teaches K-pop dancing.

“I hope Korean reunification becomes an issue touched upon in both the U.S. and South Korean presidential elections through this event,” said Ryu Jae-poong, one of the event organizers.

Korea was put under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

South Korean voice orchestra I Maestri performed Friday inside Walt Disney Hall in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Korean independence. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

South Korean voice orchestra I Maestri performed Friday inside Walt Disney Hall in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Korean independence. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

Festival goers at Seoul International Park made a Korean flag from handprints Saturday. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

Festival goers at Seoul International Park made a Korean flag from handprints Saturday. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

The Washington D.C. Korean American community came together in celebration of liberation day Saturday inside George Mason University's Center for the Arts. (Korea Times)

The Washington D.C. Korean American community came together in celebration of liberation day Saturday inside George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. (Korea Times)

Singers Yangpa and Na Yoon-kwon performed in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Saturday in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation. (Korea Times)

Singers Yangpa and Na Yoon-kwon performed in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Saturday in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation. (Korea Times)

The Korean American Association of Greater New York hosted a liberation day event Saturday. (Korea Times)

The Korean American Association of Greater New York hosted a liberation day event Saturday. (Korea Times)

Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, center left, stands with City Council President Herb Wesson at a ceremony for the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation Saturday at City Hall. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu, center left, stands with City Council President Herb Wesson at a ceremony for the 70th anniversary of Korean liberation Saturday at City Hall. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

 

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