Around 550 University of Michigan students and Ann Arbor residents filled Mendelssohn Theatre Saturday night for the Korean Student Association’s annual Culture Show, an exhibition of Korean culture with performances from singing to martial arts. This year’s theme for the show was “Find Your Seoulmate."
Culture Show Co-Chair Ciara Timban, a Public Health junior, said the show was a long time in the making.
“We’ve been working on this since probably the summer,” Timban said. “This is one of our biggest events of the year.”
University student groups relating to Korean cultural practices performed at the Culture Show under the umbrella organization KSA. KSA’s primary objective with the show was to display Korean values and practices to an audience who may not be familiar with them.
“(What) I want people to take away is a sense of representation and recognition, being able to recognize people who are also passionate about Korean culture if they themselves are Korean-American or Asian-American,” Timban said. “I love just being able to see a little bit of the representation of diversity that exists on campus. I feel like a lot of the time, people forget that there are a lot of diverse, different cultures and even within Korean cultures, a lot of diversity between modern Korean culture and more traditional things too.”
This year’s more romantic theme made for a very witty cold open from emcees LSA freshman Eric Her and Business freshman June Hong. The show began with the South Korean national anthem and the performances followed, each exhibiting Korean culture through a different medium.
Pharmacy senior Angela Chen, an audience member, enjoyed the diversity of performance.
“I’m personally not involved in anything cultural on campus, so it’s cool to see what other people are doing with their time,” Chen said.
The first performance was by Sinaboro, a traditional Asian drumming group at the University. One of the percussionists, LSA junior Kariana Alvarado, said the group was eager to have an audience for their work.
“This is the first performance for our whole group,” Alvarado said. “We train and teach the pieces the fall semester and then everyone gets to perform for the first time in the KSA Culture Show. This is our debut as a full ensemble. This is our first stage and we try to pump it up like, ‘Alright, guys. We’re going to do well.’ That’s why we like to do the KSA show.”
Traditional performances were juxtaposed against more modern acts such as K-pop dancing, rapping and a parody of popular Korean drama “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim,” recorded and performed by KSA members that was played in-between live acts. The University Taekwondo Club’s performance incorporated both old and new with historical martial arts techniques and modern music.
Founded in 1964, the University’s Taekwondo Club is the oldest in the country, according to the emcees. Hong told the audience “these guys are the OGs,” before they took the stage. This was the club’s third year performing at the Culture Show, and LSA senior Anna Cheong, a black belt in taekwondo, said she enjoys the publicity the performances have brought to the organization.
“I would say that we’ve been able to promote our club a lot more and also be more proactive in the Korean community because before that we were a little bit separated,” Cheong said. “It’s really cool.”
Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Sarah Jin, a member of KSA’s Culture Show committee, believes at the end of the day, Culture Show is about bringing people together over learning and celebrating Korean heritage.
“It’s just basically just representing our culture and the Korean community,” Jin said. “We try to get a lot of people to come, even non-Koreans, to really spread the idea and cultural things.”