By Iris Yim
According to the Census 2020, the Asian population in the US has grown 38.6% from 2010 to 2020. North Carolina is one of the states with the fastest growth rate in the Asian population (68.4%). One sign of the vibrant and growing Asian population in the state is Asian cultural festivals popping up in metropolitan areas such as Raleigh and Charlotte. My daughter and I attended the KoreaFest 2022 in Raleigh this past weekend. The event consisted of a number of singing and dance contests, taekwondo contest, food, merchandise and a music festival on the second day. The dance class by choreographer Sea Ni from Korea and the random Kpop dance party were also a lot of fun.
But as someone who has been in multicultural marketing for a long time, what drew my attention is two panel discussions about the intersection of Korean pop culture and other cultures and identity and also the diversity of the talents who performed in the contests and the music festival on stage. Panelists Jamon Maple and PreShus Lee shared their journey to Kpop as non-Korean. Panelists Dan Matthews and HeeSun Lee (both are Korean adoptees and rappers) shared their struggles with identity and how they found hip hop as an outlet. It is quite unusual to find this kind of stimulating discussion on serious topics at a cultural festival. And we definitely need more of it to increase mutual understanding. I have to say the event truly lives up to its tagline “celebrating unity through Korean culture.” The diverse talents on stage is a proof of that spirit and a snapshot of a younger generation that embraces diversity, different cultures and therefore unity.
If you happen to live in the area, I would highly recommend the event: https://www.nckoreafest.com/
Here is a highlights video of the event: https://youtu.be/SQwM_Swh-VI
You can also check out the artists in the highlights video here.