Koreatown made an appearance at Binghamton University this past Tuesday, bringing a celebration of Korean culture with food, games and performances.
Organized by the Korean-American Student Association (KASA), the annual Korean Banquet took place in the Mandela Room of the University Union. The event space included a light and sound station and catered Korean food for attendees — who were instructed to wear formal attire and bring friends. Many on-campus Asian-interest organizations were represented, including the Chinese American Student Union (CASU), the Philippine-American League (PAL), the BU Japanese Association (BUJA), the Nu Alpha Phi fraternity and the Sigma Omicron Pi sorority.
The event was designed to mimic an authentic Koreatown neighborhood — an ethnic enclave in a major metropolitan area. Jeffrey Lee, vice-president of KASA and a junior majoring in accounting, described the inspiration and history behind the banquet, as well as the foods served.
“Korean Banquet is an annual cultural event that aims to promote Korean culture to its members and the University community by educating others through Korean performances,” Lee wrote in an email. “Additionally, our banquet spreads Korean culture through well-known, culturally-based foods like tteokbokki, japchae, bulgogi, kimchi and more.”
On its B-Engaged page, KASA describes itself as a “cultural organization that is built on the foundation of maintaining and fostering different aspects of Korean-American tradition and identity.”
Lee further expressed his vision for KASA and his views on the larger cultural organization scene.
“The [BU] campus is a second home for many students, and is a place where the student body should freely exchange ideas and share parts of their culture,” Lee wrote. “Regardless of one’s religion or ethnicity, KASA strives to walk in solidarity with the knowledge that we can all celebrate Korean culture.”
The event began with a dedication to the victims of the recent crowd crush that took place in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea this past Halloween weekend. The dedication was followed by performances by Allusion, a dance group and Sul Poong, a Korean percussion group. Other groups that performed were Flow, a group that used light-up props to create a show in the dark, the Tae Kwon Do club and Hera, a dance group inspired by hip-hop and K-pop.
Kim Nguyen, a sophomore majoring in economics who attended the event, shared her thoughts on the banquet’s performances.
“A true representation of a night in K-Town,” Nguyen wrote. “The performers were all incredibly talented and captivating.”
In addition to the event’s stage shows, interactive games were also included. During one of the night’s activities, called “Pepero,” attendees took bites off the opposite ends of a Korean biscuit, with the objective of leaving as little of the biscuit remaining as possible. Another event was the scavenger hunt, where participants raced to find items or people from the audience, with the slowest person eliminated after each round. A few of their tasks included finding a set of keys, someone else’s sock, KASA E-Board members and a person named Emily, Vivian or Tiffany.
Wilson Huang, a sophomore majoring in computer science, expressed support for the event, noting the effects such events can have regarding on-campus cultural representation.
“I think it’s really important for all ethnic groups to be proud of their identity, especially in college,” Huang said. “It can be easy for people to lose sight of their family’s past when they’re focusing on their future. It’s a really good thing that groups on campus celebrate Asian identity and collaborate with each other to do that.”