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Title Korean Culture Introduced at ‘Folklorissimo’, Brussels´ World Folklore Festival
No 55 Inquiry 2105 Date 2017.09.20

From September 16 to 17, at the Grand Place in Brussels that attracts tourists from all over the world, a special event was held―Folklorissimo, an international folklore festival hosted by the City Hall of Brussels. In this year's festival where Korea was selected as a guest of honor, the Korean Cultural Center in Brussels actively introduced the Korean traditional culture in cooperation with the City Hall of Brussels, supported by the Korean Embassy to Belgium/ EU. Folklorissimo was first held in 2000 hosted by the City Hall of Brussels to commemorate the last century and preserve traditions. Since 2012, a guest of honor has been selected every year to introduce the country's traditional food, plays, costumes and everyday life. The festival kicks off in the third week of September every year, and is well known not only in Belgium but also in other countries. Therefore, many tourists visit Brussels during this period to participate in the festival. This year's Folklorissimo was enriched with performances of Korean traditional music, taekwondo and gangangsullae dance. In addition, there were various Korean culture experience programs at the Grand Place, such as wearing hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), calligraphy class, traditional kitchen experience, and the briefing session of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.


<Official poster of Folklorissimo>


The 2017 Folklorissimo opened by dressing the Manneken Pis (Peeing Boy) statue, a symbol of Brussels, in hanbok. After this opening ceremony, a bibimbap making and sharing event was held at the Grand Place. Major guests from Korea and Belgium made bibimbap by mixing rice and various ingredients with a large spatula, catching the eyes of the crowd. The bibimbap was offered to about 200 people at the square. Ambassador Kim Hyeong-jin of the Korean Embassy to Belgium/ EU, began his speech saying, "You must be hungry now." Then he went on to extending his gratitude to the officials of the city. "This event is very meaningful as it is held in Brussels, the heart of Europe, and I am very grateful to the City Hall of Brussels for supporting this event," he said. "I look forward that this event will boost the cultural exchanges between Korea and Belgium," he added. Many people stood in a long line to taste the bibimbap and the ceremony was safely completed with the help of the local police.


<The Manneken Pis in hanbok. / Photo source: Facebook page of Folklorissimo.>


<Major guests from the two countries are making bibimbap. / Photo courtesy of the correspondent>


<People who line up to taste bibimbap. / Photo courtesy of the correspondent>


Mieke Callebaut, the CEO of Guylian, the worldwide Belgian chocolate manufacturer, also attended the event as a major guest. "I first tasted bibimbap when I visited Korea in 2008. I know Korean barbecue is more famous, but since I do not like meat, I prefer bibimbap. I often visit Korea and I am very happy to have delicious Korean food every time I go there." Tasting the bibimbap, he told the correspondent how much he is fond of Korean food.

Maïté Dele Pedro (25), who majored in archeology at university and is going to travel to Korea next month, said "I like K-Pop and I am a fan of Super Junior and EXO. I like traveling and will visit Korea next month to learn more about the country. I have heard that there is an event related to Korea at the Grand Place. So I came here today, before visiting Korea." Maïté's friend Gwenaëlle Jancart (24) said, "I like Korean animated films and TV shows. It is my first time to directly experiencing Korean culture like this, and I find it very enthusiastic."

Priscilla Hippolyte (33) from Mauritius, who works in a Belgian bank, said, picking up brochures introducing the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. "Most of all, I am delighted to learn about the Pyeongchang Olympics at this event." Tamas Urhegyi (44), a traveler from Hungary, said, "There is little known about Korea in Hungary. I am excited to learn about the country at this festival and I am lucky to have an opportunity to taste Korean food."

David Thomas (26) from New Zealand said, "I have already tried bibimbap in New Zealand and I know it is good. I am very happy to taste it again in Belgium. Bibimbap is so delicious." Kim Hye-min (23), a Korean exchange student to a Belgian university, also looked impressed. "Korean culture feels new here in Belgium. I am proud that Korea hosts this wonderful event."


<The mascot of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is drawing attention from tourists./ Photo courtesy of the correspondent>


I once again felt, while talking with people from different parts of the world, that they are interested in Korea and many of them already know much about the country. Furthermore, I think it is more meaningful that this event not only introduced the Korean traditional culture, but also served as an opportunity to promote the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. I hope that the Olympics will introduce the Korean culture to the whole world.


※ Folklorissimo’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/folklorissimo/


* Ko So Young, Correspondent in Belgium