Experience the Rich Culture of Korea on December 4

AAFSW in coordination with Korean Embassy cordially invites you to start the holiday season with a lovely program that will transport us to the beautiful country of Korea with its rich history and traditions. The program will take place on Tuesday, December 4th at 10:30 a.m. in the Burns Auditorium, at the George Marshall Center of the U.S Department of State in Washington, DC.

The Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea, is a nation deeply rooted in its culture and history, yet at the same time is stepping into the future by embracing technological advancement, the global community, and democratic values. As Korea’s many traditional forms of art are preserved for the benefit of future generations, new creative industries are emerging and expanding, often with fan bases worldwide.

Korea’s 5000-year history includes many significant national challenges, from ancient invasions to 35 years of foreign occupation by Imperial Japan in the early 20th century and the tragic brutality of the Korean War, the legacy of which still divides the Korean peninsula today. Following the country’s post-war recovery, social turmoil erupted during the transition to democratic governance in the 1980s, which has since become a fundamental aspect of Korean society through an elected National Assembly body and presidency. Despite these historical hardships, the Korean people have maintained their unique cultural identity, language, artistic traditions, drive to succeed, and much more, all of which help define a contemporary sense of “Korean.”

A key part of the Republic of Korea’s modern history is its bedrock alliance with the United States: a brotherhood forged in fire as American and Korean soldiers fought side by side in the Korean War. Once a recipient of significant foreign aid in the difficult years following the war, Korea is now an international aid donor, benefactor of the developing world sharing its own experience and know-how, and a contributor to international military peacekeeping efforts. Korea’s alliance with the United States has grown far beyond its military roots, with significant people-to-people ties across all levels of society, regular educational exchange, and about two million Americans of Korean heritage today.

Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, is itself an important part of Korea’s cultural heritage and the most popular attraction among overseas visitors to Korea. Although it is now one of the very largest modern metropolises in the world, its downtown area is enclosed by historic walls that were originally built over 600 years ago and contains a number of valuable historical heritage sites including Royal Palaces, fortress gates, and old residential districts.

Korea’s traditional culture is both deep and vast, with more than 120 intangible cultural heritage properties such as performances and crafts recognized by the government for preservation, along with nearly 300 national treasures and monuments, not to mention a multitude of common traditional cultural elements that still play an important, if somewhat less prominent than in the past, role in life in Korea today. In seeking a few of the most iconic traditions, one might look to clothing (hanbok), the phonetic Korean alphabet (hangeul), music (gugak), pottery and ceramics (dojagi), cuisine (hansik), residential architecture (hanok), or carved masks (tal).

At the other end of the cultural spectrum is the phenomenal global rise of Korean popular culture such as contemporary music, films, and television shows, collectively known as Hallyu or the Korean Wave. At first popular domestically and then gradually worldwide since the 1990s, each of these genres are driven by enterprising private companies and have evolved into billion-dollar creative industries. Popular culture is also an increasingly important aspects of Korea’s public diplomacy abroad as more and more fans learn about the country through their personal interests. Some of the hottest newly emerging areas of Hallyu include Korean beauty products, fashion, animation, and software development.

This wonderful event will conclude with the presentation of traditional Korean music and dance. The fee of $15 per person goes to defray the costs of the musicians and refreshments for this program.

Please RSVP by November 30 to office@aafsw.org or 730-820-5420 to register. Please provide us with your driver’s license or passport number and date of birth to submit to the office of security at the State Department. Please send your information and a $15 per person check made out to AAFSW to AAFSW Reservations, 4001 Ninth Street North, Suite 214, Arlington, VA 22203.

Sheila Switzer
AAFSW Program Chair