SEOUL: Student festivals

Student festivals are a large part of university culture in South Korea. It is a time when students are allowed to relax and encouraged to mingle. They represent their clubs through small shops and games and later in the night watch performances by both fellow students and professional entertainers.

The resulting festival that occurs can be roughly described as an interesting mix of bake sale, music festival, and night out drinking with your friends. 

During the day, booths and stands adorn the campus and give it the look of the world’s largest lemonade stand convention. However, this adorable layout belies a much more aggressive nature, as these students will pursue you with the fervor and clinginess of an ignored terrier. I was forced to make many unkept promises to return and purchase something later.

A large portion of classes that take place in the afternoon are canceled allowing the students to partake in the events all day. However, cancellation is up to the professor’s discretion and, unfortunately for me, my professor had decided that class that day was too important. I strained to hear my professor mumble about economics as the glass of the windows nearly shattered from the delighted shouts of my Korean colleagues as they threw water balloons at each other and purchased overpriced snack food. 

I had my own stand along with the other international students. We were asked to prepare food from our country and I chose to make Texas-style migas breakfast tacos (or at least as close as I could manage with access to Korean ingredients). It was fun and the tacos were fairly popular but the pace of the festival was a bit much for me. I spent much of the morning frantically frying eggs with expectant Koreans staring me down.

As a festival day wears on, the food and games stands slowly start to disappear and the style changes dramatically. The campus begins to funnel it’s activities onto the soccer field. There are more booths here but the focus has switched more toward light snack foods and large amounts of alcohol. 

The first night featured showcases from the students. The performances covered a large spectrum with some classical demonstrations on assorted musical instruments. As the night went on, the performances became more modern pieces involving students rapping or dancing to Korean pop music.

On the second night, there were performances by Korean singers and a rapper — I didn’t recognize them but I was told they were quite popular.