Youth have a great cultural exchange in Korea  


After a year of preparation, Asian Media Access’ executive director Ange Hwang led a 14-member delegation to Korea and China for cultural exchange opportunities from December 14-31.  Asian Media Access’s Youth Cultural Ambassador Team included 11 young Northside members and performers: MaiYoua Her, Jason Lee, Aeola Lu, Saysetha Philaphandeth, Keng Thao, Nancy Thor, Alexis Vang, Lucy Vang, Nooshilon Vang, Karen Yang and PaTher Yang. The youth made many new connections and got warm welcomes from Korea and the Chinese schools. It was a great start to look forward to many cultural and educational exchanges in the coming years!

The delegation’s first stop was Seoul, Korea. The youth performed open street dances at Hongdae and Myeongdong, two of the busiest shopping districts known for their urban arts, indie music culture and entertainment. They brought a fresh American youth culture to entertain more than 300 Koreans, and many were asked for photos and autographs.

After the street performances, the youth toured the Hongik University, and had a chance to speak to Professor Chris Choi to learn more about the Korean education system.

The following day, the youth visited the One Million Dance Studio to learn Kpop dances from some of the best choreographers in the industry, and participated in the Seventeen Fan Club meet-and-greet. At night the delegation enjoyed traditional Korean BBQ at a very traditional place — full of grill smoke, meat sizzling on hot plates and people chit-chatting. While waiting for the meat to cook they enjoyed many Korean side dishes like kimchi. And the youth learned how to wrap veggies with grilled meat – a balanced and healthy way of eating meat.

On the last day in Korea the delegation spent time at the Namsam Park’s North Seoul Tower – a must-see Seoul landmark that overlooks the city. The youth walked the memorable 1000+ up-hill stairs around the park that marks the old Palace Stone Wall, and they were particularly attracted to the Roof Terrace for the view it offered. It is also known as a place for lovebirds to declare their unfaltering love. Several years ago, a Korean TV program’s main characters visited the terrace and attached two padlocks to the fence as a symbol of their love. Since that moment, tens of thousands of “love locks” can be found hanging around the terrace fences. Without exception, our youth also left their own traces at the Love Lock Fence.

After Namsam Park we visited the Ihwa Mural Village. In terms of “street art,” many of the beautiful stenciled images were situated along narrow city lanes and steps to create impressive views. Many formerly underserved neighborhoods are now getting makeovers in the form of vibrant murals and art installations.

The delegation also experienced Korean Street Arts through performances. They especially appreciated the Korean way of engaging such youthful expressions, and how Korean artists respect such expressions by carefully selecting their images to support the public enjoyment.

With such appreciation, and full of Korean cultural souvenirs, the youth delegation then headed to China. And there, a very different experience awaited them.

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