Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Taste of Korea... in Kenya?

What better way to spend a weeknight than enjoying a free Korea Festival in Nairobi? The festival was organized by the Korean Embassy in Nairobi and the Korea Foundation and made for a really fun date night.

South Korea has a larger presence in Kenya than we would have expected. You can major in Korea Studies at the University of Nairobi, and the program is pretty popular if the number of Kenyan students at the festival was any guide. We even met a few students who had studied abroad in Korea or had trips planned. (The photo below is of us hanging out with some Canadian diplomats and Kenyan students of Korean.)

So how was the event? It was delightful! We started with drinks and Korean bites. Yes, I had authentic kimbap that tasted just like what I would eat back home!

Then, we enjoyed a fantastic performance by DASRUM, an all-female traditional Korean music ensemble. The crowd couldn't get enough of the song, dance, and instruments - proving that traditional music isn't dead. (You can listen to a sample of their sound here.) They also wore hanbok - beautiful traditional Korean dress.

They played a range of traditional instruments, including gayageum (string instrument), haegeum (two-stringed instrument), ajaeng (another string instrument), daegeum (large bamboo flute), piri (tiny reed flute), taepyeongso (trumpet-like), janggu (hourglass-shaped drum), and kkwaenggwari (looks like a little gong, sounds more like a cymbal).

They were also joined at certain points by a male Korean traditional dancer and by a Kenyan musician. The dancer (pictured above) was wearing a hat with a long ribbon attached to it, a performance called sangmo dolligi. The crowd went wild when the Kenyan and Korean musicians jammed together. It was quite the show, and I hope it's not our last in Nairobi!

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