Festival honored country Korea displays culture and traditions

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela Modern face painter practices on a dummy at the festival, but Korean traditional masks are another option.

This year at the Festival Internacional de las Artes 2012, which ends Sunday, the country of honor was Korea. This allowed for a special closed off section in the festival assigned solely to this country. There was food, dance, music, art, crafts, literature, and workshops for those interested in a Korean experience.

The Korean space is located behind the Museo de Arte Costarricense. There is a giant, colorful sign that reads in Spanish COREA. Through the gates and to the right is a table with festival assistants who can register visitors for workshops.

Behind the signup table is a huge, white tent with custom Korean ceremonial dresses, known as hanbok, hanging from the wall. The tent is split with hanji paper art inside.

Young Le, wore a long, light yellow robe with a black top hat. Both the robe and the top hat are made out of a type of silk. He said he modeled a robe that is reserved for only high -ranking politicians. Young added that every color and design for a robe depended on the person’s social status, job, and gender. He said that men and women do not wear the same robes. And children also wear a different hanbok.

A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela Festival visitor tries her hand writing in hanjul.

And from the looks of the people in charge of the workshops, it seems as though men don’t run hanji lectures. Only women were in that space. Hanji is a form of paper that is frequently used in Korea. It’s not just for art, but there are also clothing items made out of the fabric-like paper. Ties, scarves, plates, wallets, fans and umbrellas are just to name a few items made from hanji, which comes from a native tree bark. According to Korean wisdom, the paper can last about 1,000 years.

The tent had lamps, masks and sculptures made out of hanji.

The Korean food stand is run by members of an association for Korean women in Costa Rica. They prepared and cooked the Korean traditional meals.

There was the better known Korean specialty of bugogi, which is red meat cooked with onions and red pepper. It was put on a skewer. Then there were mandu and japche. Mandu is pork and vegetables mixed together like a stir-fry. And japche is a pasta made out of sweet potato and vegetables.

Hajin Lee, a member of the women’s association, said the difference in Korean food compared to other food is that it’s harder to get the ingredients to get that special taste like in her motherland.

The organization bought about 285 kilograms of meat, which include chicken, beef, shrimp and pork, and more than 45 kilograms of vegetables. She said it has been a great experience to introduce people to her Korean gastronomy. So far there have been no complaints to the food, only compliments, she said smiling.

Another large white tent has a spot for participants to make their own Korean ink art. This is known as hangul, also the name for the Korean alphabet. There are stamped pieces of wood where a person takes a special piece of cloth and places it on top of the wood. Then take a sponge over the cloth that has already been dipped in ink. After a few seconds the cloth begins to absorb the ink and the stamp of the design from the etched wood appears.

This station shared their space with a quick two-minute lecture on how to write a personal name in hangul.

Inside that tent was a lecture on how to paint in the sagunja Korean style. Also inside the tent was a workshop on buchae, the art of making a fan. Hanji also is used here.

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