No Special Guests at L.A. Korean Festival


The 44th L.A. Korean Festival ended on Oct. 15 without a big issue. However, the event lacked real value, despite its glitz and glamour.

The preparation was shaky, to begin with. The Korean Festival Foundation program director changed twice as the event was being prepared, while the chairman was ousted, followed by additions of two executives. It is not clear whether the event itself could be considered a success when the preparation process for it was so bizarre. However, the visitors at the event as well as the participating businesses seem to have a different outlook.

The perfect example was the opening ceremony on Oct. 12. Providing seats for special guests just under the stage and combining the ceremony with performances were fresh approaches, but the event was not running as smoothly as expected. Among those who gave speeches at the ceremony, only one—a representative from the LAPD—was truly a member of the mainstream community.

“Does it make any sense that the largest Korean-American event in L.A. can only invite a police chief who is not even a director at his department?” one Korean-American said.

In essence, the consensus was that the Korean Festival this year simply was not up to its standards considering how the U.S. is a country in which state and federal governors attend even the smallest festivals in tiny towns.
Critics also added that the quality of invited celebrities from South Korea is dropping by the year.

“The cost of the booth goes up every year, but we don’t even receive the most basic service from the hosts,” said one businessman at the event, who added that there are logistical issues with art exhibitions, shuttle services, restroom locations and custodians.

A festival is supposed to be a time of value and joy. The L.A. Korean Festival needs to serve its purpose by raising the reputation of the Korean-American community. The foundation needs to show that it is making an effort to make an improvement.

The phrase on the foundation website, which describes itself as “a nonprofit created to develop the exchange of Korean culture, arts, and economy,” should not be read with shame. It must not be content by simply “working hard.” It needs to aim to be praised for doing quality work. At its current state, the L.A. Korean Festival has no future.

By Byongil kim