A colorful, festive gathering that features dance, culture, art, music, food — and it’s free! (well, you have to pay for the food) The Hawaii Korean Festival this weekend has something for everyone and every budget.

The Korean Festival is an annual event put on by the Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce to “share, promote, and raise awareness of the Korean culture in the community.” Proceeds from the festival benefit the local community, including college scholarships.

The fun begins with Sunset on the Beach Friday evening in Waikiki. Local dance and musical groups will perform before the showing of a Korean movie. On Saturday, the action moves to Kapiolani Park and Bandstand — on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, easy walking distance from Hawaii hotels and on bus and trolley routes.

I’m all good with the Korean dances, taekwondo demonstrations, cooking demonstrations and cultural displays. But I have to say I’m not too sure about the kimchee eating contest. Kimchee is a Korean fermented dish made of vegetables — I’ve only tasted the cabbage version. There is a Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul that has documented 187 varieties of kimchee. Different types of kimchee are made in the north and south, as well as by season. I have no idea what type of kimchee I tasted but it was pretty spicy. The idea of eating massive amounts of such a spicy dish makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it.

It looks like a great celebration, though, and I love the many different cultures that coexist in Hawaii. The photo is from Korean folk dancers in the Saturday Kailua Parade. The parade announcer didn’t have prepared notes for them, so he shouted out “who are you?” Then, “Oh, Korean folk dancers.” Like it was no big deal — every small town parade might have Korean folk dancers show up to take part. I love these islands!


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