I had the pleasure this week, to attend the 40th Anniversary party for KOCIS (Korean Culture and Information Service). It was held in the ballroom at The Westin Chosun in Seoul and was a beautiful venue for such a momentous occasion. There were only 2 other bloggers from The Korea Blog there with me in a room full of very important looking people, so I felt really honoured to be part of the celebration.
There was a photo exhibition just as you entered the room. The exhibit was called The Dreams of KOCIS at the Age of 40. Inside, the room was set up with a centre stage and podium, cat walk, and a slew of round tables set for dinner and looking pristine. To get things started off inside there was an opening video showing KOCIS over the years. For the small group of foreigners in attendance there were live translation headsets which was a great touch. Countless times in Korea, for obvious reasons, so much gets past me, but not this evening. I got to take part and understand everything that went on throughout the evening.
The Masters of the Ceremonies were introduced and shortly there after came an awards ceremony for those people who have made a difference at KOCIS. There were speeches, and congratulations and many thanks given out. This went on for a long time, leaving people excited to move on to the next part of the evening.
The first of the entertainment segment was a modern dance number that was a little left field for my liking but still interesting. Really minimalist music and weird bodily contortions by the 3 men and one female dancer. It was a really nice juxtaposition to the candy coated K-Pop group F/X that was up next. This is my second time seeing Korea’s super hot ‘it’ bands playing live and even though it’s superficially entertaining to so sit and watch, I do NOT understand the national obsession there is with K-Pop.
Next on the agenda was a fashion show. ‘Hanbok- Clothing of the Wind’ was the theme of the clothes showed by top Korean designer Lee Young-hee. It started out with very ornate and traditional hanbok fashions and then progressed to really modern and unique designs. I later found out this designer is quite controversial in Korea because she takes such liberties as changing the original style of hanbok, but in her defense she does such an incredible job at it. Hanbok is slowly losing its popularity in Korea. The younger generations find less and less opportunity to don such fashions. Yet Lee Young-hee, with her designs is combining the old look with something a little more fashionable and making it appealing to the modern Korean woman. Actually, I would be more than happy to wear some of the pieces I saw on the catwalk. Here is a selection of both the classic hanbok style and some modern twists of it.
After many different things to feast our eyes on, it was finally time to indulge our taste buds. There was a special meal put together for the event , it was called ‘Hansik with Stories’. Hansik 한 식 means a tradional Korean meal, usually composed of rice, soup, meat or fish and a vast array of side dishes, called banchan 반찬. The meal was prepared by a Korean traditional food specialist, Yoon Sook-ja. As the meal was being brought out, she took us through each of the dishes served and all the different ingredients, colours, symbols and tastes.
The first course was a plate of 3 tiny king crab rolls with citrus dressing. It was shortly followed by a pumpkin soups, one of my favorites in Korea. The main dish was grilled beef ‘Neoboano’ and a vegetable pancake. The beef was cooked rare and it was melt in your mouth delicious. The side dishes were kimchi, japchae, bulgogi, fruit kimchi, and a mixture of candied nuts. After this was steamed rice and a mussel and seaweed soup.
After dinner was a specially brewed Korean sweet tea, with a dish of fruits and deokk (rice cakes). In typical Korean style, the meal was served, consumed and cleared in record timing and the guests quickly dispersed. My blogging companions and I headed to Myeongdong and battled the holiday rush for coffees. It was a nice way to end a nice evening. Thanks KOCIS for including me in the celebrations!