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Ideas / Album / Korean Festival
Korean Festival in Kingston

The pictures below were taken during the Korean Festival on Saturday 12th August 2006. This free annual event is organised by the Korean Residents Society. It takes place in Fairfield Recreation Ground in Kingston-upon-Thames (in south-west London). About 40,000 Koreans are living permanently in the UK (many of these live in this part of London, especially around New Malden), and there are also many Korean students temporarily in Britain. In 2006 this event took place soon before Korea Independence Day on 15 August (this celebrating the date that Korea regained its independence from Japan on 15 August 1945, at the end of the Second World War; it had been occupied since 1905). The Republic of Korea was formally created on 15 August 1948.


Among those taking part in the opening ceremony were the President of the Korean Residents Society, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, the Mayor of Kingston and the Mayor of Merton (the two London boroughs with the largest Korean communities). The British and South Korean flags were flown at the two sides of the stage.

The South Korean flag has a white background (representing peace), four symbols in the corners (representing various elements of nature), and a red and blue taeguk in the centre (known as taiji in Chinese) which is based on the Taoist idea of Eum Yang (known as Yin Yang in Chinese). The blue part (Eum, or Yin) represents negative forces in the universe, while the red part (Yang) represents positive forces which perfectly balance these.

A Korean rallying cry: raise both arms and call out "Mansay!"

The South Korean flag


The Korean War (1950-53) was fought between the United Nations forces (including soldiers from Britain and the US alongside those from the Republic of Korea), and the Communist forces (supported by China and the Soviet Union). This war led to the division of Korea into two parts: the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), separated by a 4km-wide Demilitarized Zone.

The British Korean Veterans Association brings together surviving members of the British army who fought in Korea. After the opening ceremony they marched around the park, led by a local band.

Veterans wear their medals

The former soldiers march around the park ...

... carrying the flags of the regiments which they served

The Korean War (history book)
Author: Max Hastings
Publisher: Pan
Date: Jan 2000
Britain, Southeast Asia and the Impact of the Korean War
Author: Nicholas Tarling
Publisher: Singapore University Press
Date: Aug 2005


Tae Kwon Do is a martial art developed in Korea over 2000 years ago. Tae means foot/kick, kwon means fist/punch, and do means art/way of life, so the name means "the art of fighting by hand and foot". During the festival there were several demonstations by teams based in London. The colour of the belt worn shows what level has been reached: white belts are for beginners, then yellow, green, blue, red, and black belts for the most experienced.

Practice includes carefully controlled fighting between two members

Breaking of boards ...

... by foot ...

... or by hand

Tae Kwon-do: White Belt to Yellow Belt
Author: Official Taekwondo Association of Great Britain
Publisher: A & C Black
Date: 1995
Tae Kwon-do: Green Belt to Red Belt
Author: Official Taekwondo Association of Great Britain
Publisher: A & C Black
Date: May 1997
Tae Kwon-do: The Black Belt Syllabus
Author: Official Taekwondo Association of Great Britain
Publisher: A & C Black
Date: May 1997


There was a demonstration of a traditional Korean wedding. A red dot is painted on the woman's cheeks is to keep away negative forces. The ceremony includes many bows and symbolic gestures. Note that these days most weddings in Korea are quite similar to Western ones, with variations based on the local traditions.

Each time the man bows, the woman bows twice

The married couple


A traditional form of Korean music is known as samulnori (samul means four instruments and nori means to play). Four musicians play percussion instruments. At times the music is slow, but at the end it is played very quickly.

Buchaechum is a traditional form of Korean dance involving beautiful costumes and the elegant and skillful use of fans.

P'ungmul: South Korean Drumming and Dance
Author: Nathan Hesselink
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Date: Jul 2006
Perspectives on Korean Dance
Author: Judy van Zile
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Date: Dec 2001


A raffle was organised: people bought numbered tickets and these were drawn at random to find winners. Prizes were donated by various Korean sponsoring companies. The top prizes were a TV and a return flight to Korea, but there were many other prizes too, including vouchers for meals in some of London's top Korean restaurants.

A raffle ticket is drawn

This lucky winner got a return ticket to Korea


Some young Korean groups entertained the crowd with modern dances inspired by hip hop.


There was a singing competition. About 10 entrants performed a wide range of styles of music.


Stalls were set up around the park. Some of these represented organisations (for example, the Korean national tourist office). Other stalls provided Korean food. Korean restaurants are becoming increasingly popular in the UK.

Kimchi is a spicy dish served with many Korean meals

One of the food stalls, run by a Korean restaurant

Korean Cooking (recipe book)
Author: Young Jin Song
Publisher: Aquamarine
Date: Jun 2006
South Korea (guidebook for tourists)
Author: Robert Nilsen
Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing
Date: Feb 2006


This event was organised by the Korean Residents Society:

Tae Kwon Do Association of Great Britain:
Time Out guide to Korean restaurants in London:

If you are in London and want to learn Korean, SOAS provides courses:
If you want to visit Korea as a tourist, see:

Berlitz Korean-English Dictionary
Publisher: Berlitz Guides
Date: May 2004
Mastering Korean: Level 1 (language study)
Author: B.Nam Park
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series
Date: Aug 2006

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Dano: Korea Sparkling Summer Festival in Trafalgar Square: Ideas/Album/Dano
Useful links for Koreans: Links/Korea
Introduction to this website in Korean: Introduction/Korean
Using Korean characters (Hangul) on a computer in the UK: Life/Computer/Oriental

Monthly guide to events in the UK: Ideas/Events
Photos from other UK festivals: Ideas/Album

Home page: Home

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