Saturday, June 2, 2012

Real taste of hallyu for Europeans

By Yun Suh-young Sixty-four members of the Korean Connection, the largest “hallyu” or Korean wave fan club in Europe, are in Korea for a two-week stay to get a hands-on experience of the culture here. The group came to Korea without any financial support from the government and paid for the trip out of their own pockets. After traveling to various tourist attractions, including the Yeosu Expo, on Wednesday they participated in an event at the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) to make and taste Korean food. “We prepared the Korean food-experiencing event especially for the fan club. We were told by the manager of the Paris branch of our organization that the club members would be coming so we invited them to the organization to try making Korean food,” said an official from the KTO. The hallyu fans participated in making gimbap (a seaweed and rice roll) and sliced ddeok (rice cake), and tasted traditional snacks while visiting the tourism office. The Korean Connection, organized in 2010 by Maxim Paquet, a French national, is an active Korean culture fan club which arranges various concerts, festivals and events related to Korea and Korean culture. The group basked in the spotlight last year by holding a flash mob in front of the Louvre Museum to request SM Entertainment add an extra Paris concert by its K-pop singers. It has a 50-member organizing committee and about 6,000 regular members. “This is my second time in Korea and I came to experience things and go to places that I couldn’t go the last time I came. I want to go to places like noraebang (karaoke), and jjimjilbang (dry sauna),” said Sanae Abed, a member of the Korean Connection, during a phone interview Friday. “I’ve also been longing to visit Busan and I finally went to Haeundae Beach there last week. I also tasted a lot of Korean food, visited royal palaces, and the N Tower on Mt. Nam. We’re going to see Music Bank (K-pop music TV show) this evening,” she said.She became interested in Korean culture through movies. “I saw the movies Old Boy and Mother, and Korean dramas like Full House. It was the Korean movies that first triggered my interest in Korean culture so from then on I started watching dramas. I then moved on to K-pop,” said Abed. “There are not many channels through which we can access Korean culture in France. Sometimes the movie theaters show Korean films but not so often. We can see dramas through the Internet, though. There are stores that sell K-pop CDs but these are few too,” she said. Those who actively sought to know more about Korea like Abed became members of Korean Connection. “I heard about the fan club on the Internet and got in touch with the president. I told him how interested I was in Korean culture so he asked me to join. Now I’m in charge of communication and organization of activities such as festivals and concerts,” she said. Hallyu seems to be spreading quickly, according to Abed. “Two years ago, there were not so many members and we didn’t hold many concerts but now we hold three concerts a year. The hallyu fever is all over Europe,” she said. Source:Korea Times

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