A week before Chuseok, one of Korea's most celebrated holidays, the Asian Art Museum hosted its 7th Annual Korea Day event. From art-making to live performances, family-friendly activities were scheduled in the early afternoon from 11am-4pm.
Korea Day started off with a book reading of "Juna's Jar," the story of a girl and her adventures with an empty kimchi jar. Children, parents and senior citizens alike listened as author Jane Bahk read. With the assistance of her young daughter, they held and flipped the pages together.
Afterwards Bahk revealed the history of how the book came to be. The original plot was conceived when she didn't have family yet. The idea was stored away for many years. Meanwhile she traveled the world. The first draft was dug up and rewritten when Bahk's first daughter had to experience moving away from her best friend. The revised draft had an added layer of depth and got its heart as Bahk made it more relate-able to her daughter and other children experiencing similar situations.
Illustrator Felicia Hoshino displayed original drawings and shared her creative process as well. She drew much visual inspiration from her own life experiences. Her daughter had posed for her as Hoshino immortalized her into pages of "Juna's Jar."
Costume historian Dr. Minjee Kim unveiled interesting facts about hanbok. Did you notice how in Western culture, men fold the flap of their jacket from left to right and women from right to left? In Korea, China and Japan, the flap of their traditional costumes are from left to right for both genders. Upon an insightful presentation, Dr. Kim demonstrated how men and women wear hanbok. The audience had the opportunity to see royal costumes.
For those interested in getting crafty, the North Court was filled with artsy fartsy activities. Children and adults sat around tables creating fabric buttons and mixed media zines.
Artist Youngmin Lee showed attendees bojagi, the Korean art of wrapping cloth. Everyone was welcome to watch and contribute to the community bojagi project.
Halfway through Korea Day, KABAM (Julie Moon and Tim Kim) and electronic musician John Casey rocked their set of music inspired by "The Sun and the Moon." Four panels painted by muralist Dave Kim rotated one by one as the performance progressed.
Korea Day ended with a party in the mouth: Hansik Demonstration and Tasting. Cookbook author Sun-Young Chang hosted in Korean, showing the audience how to make various dishes prepared for Chuseok. Her daughter translated, adding her own flavor to the presentation.
An assortment of dishes were laid out on a wooden table, teasing the audience as they walked into the room. Space was limited, so if you decide to attend next year's hansik tasting, be sure to sign up when you get to the event.
The audience was given a sampling plate of bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), songpyeon (half-moon rice cakes), baesuk (pear drink), and a kebab of beef and mushroom. Hands down, the baesuk and bindaetteok were fireworks! So delicious. Too delicious. Chang must make a restaurant. Otherwise I'll have to kidnap her. ㅋㅋㅋ (Korean LOL).
Not just because we were given free food, but because the food was so (times infinity) tasty, the Hansik Demo was the highlight of the event. I may have been sick with a cold and my mother had wanted to rest at home while watching her football game (no, seriously. She's a big sports fan!). We both agreed that Korea Day was time well spent.
The K-POP Lounge needs some development though. It felt more like a daycare center with kids sitting on the floor as a toddler teetered across the carpet mat. Nonetheless if I happen to be in NorCal next autumn, count me in for another Korea Day at the Asian Art Musem!