This weekend I found myself in a crowd of 18,000 people with one thing in common: a love for Korean music. The 6th annual Korean Music Festival on May 17 at the Hollywood Bowl was a night filled with talented musicians and fireworks.
The first festival took place in 2003 as the centennial celebration of Korean American immigration to the United States. With booming popularity it sold out and the festival continues every year. Tickets are usually available towards the end of January and it is an insane battle for the best seats. Even though the performing artists are not officially announced until March, this does not stop crazed fans from forking over 200 dollars to see their favorite performers.
When the day finally came, my group of fellow festival-goers was so excited to go that we arrived three hours early. It was a hot day, so I was amazed to see so many people walking around the venue hours before it was scheduled to start. There was a diverse crowd of attendees, with fans from as far as Texas, Hawaii and Florida. I was also happy to see many non-Koreans like myself looking forward to the event.
When the announcements began, I turned to my friends and we exchanged a look of confusion. I wish I knew Korean. A group of girls next to us then asked, â€œCan any of you guys translate for us?â€ It felt great knowing that we werenâ€™t the only ones lost. It shows that people donâ€™t need to understand something to love it.
The night began with the Crenshaw Choir warming up the crowd with a mixture of English and Korean songs. For the adults and older generation, there was Joonghyun Shin, Baek Ho Choi, Hoon Hee Chung, Hyung Ju Yoon and Se Hwan Kim. These laid back songs got the adults clapping and whistling.
For the younger generation, there were upbeat performances by Chae Yeon, M, Ho Young Son, Hee Jun Moon, SG Wannabe, Fly to the Sky, Super Junior T, Girlâ€™s Generation, and the crowds favorite, Dong Bang Shin Ki. This huge, energetic group produced music and charisma that got kept the audience out of their seats, jumping and chanting on command.
The festival has sought to be a family experience where older and younger generations can come and enjoy a broad array of music keeping with this yearâ€™s theme of â€œOld and Young.â€ Itâ€™s an amazing sight to see middle age women and elderly men rock out as much as their children.
Weâ€™ve spent years watching videos of these groups and they seem so distant and unreal. As we were leaving the festival I kept yelling, â€œTheyâ€™re real, theyâ€™re not like unicorns; theyâ€™re real people!â€ There isnâ€™t a better way of learning about a different culture than through music.