ajunews Thursday,29 February 2024

Seoul attracts thousands of visitors through multicultural festival in iconic squares

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : June 17, 2023, 21:05 Updated : July 4, 2023, 23:54

[Courtesy of Hoang Phuong Ly]

SEOUL -- Two iconic squares in Seoul -- Gwanghwamun Square and Cheonggye Plaza -- were created into event spots where visitors could enjoy food from 42 countries and 16 music performances. Thousands of visitors from South Korea and abroad gathered on the first day of a multicultural festival that showcased various dance groups including the LA Rams Cheerleaders, an American football cheerleading squad.
Gwanghwaun Square located near various restaurants and museums is favored by Seoulites and tourists. Around the square, there are many tea houses and fancy restaurants that attract foreign tourists. It is only some 900 meters (0.5 miles) away from the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace from the Joseon dynasty that ruled the Korean peninsula from 1392 to 1897. About 60 meters away from the iconic square, Cheonggye Plaza is located. It is near Cheonggyecheon, a stream that flows through the heart of Seoul.
"We decided to join the event while passing by Cheonggyecheon. This is amazing," Shin Hoon-jeong, a 25-year-old university student expressed his joy on June 17. The young man was enjoying a Belgian beer called "St. Feuillien Triple" with his girlfriend at Cheonggye Plaza. A total of 16 Belgian beers were available at the Belgian booth along with waffles.  

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

"I also want to try Saudi Arabian dishes because I love something exotic," said Shin's girlfriend named Han Yoo-kyung. Visitors could try Arabic bread Hummus and Lamb Kabsa, an Arabic-style rice dish made with lamb, at the Saudi Arabian section. "I'm really proud of my country and I really want to represent it to other cultures," Ramziah Alhussain, a 15-year-old attending an international school in South Korea, confidently told reporters, adding that all menus were Halal-certified. Halal-certified products are considered to be safe and clean under Islamic standards.

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

Employees from the Embassy of Vietnam in Seoul were selling Vietnamese rice noodles and spring rolls. "We tried to show the best cuisines of Vietnam. I think Korean and international people would love them," Vietnamese Ambassador to South Korea Nguyen Vu Tung told Aju Business Daily.  

[Photograph by Hoang Phuong Ly]

Dance performances, which began at 3 p.m. in Gwanghwamun Square, captivated visitors. LA Rams Cheerleaders, an official cheerleading group for American football team "The Los Angeles Rams" presented outstanding dance skills. "It is such an honor to be here in Korea," Brendan Ryan, the group's member, said after finishing the performance. He added: "We were the first NFL team to ever accept male cheerleaders." After the American team's performance, groups from the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam showcased their traditional music.

LA Rams Cheerleaders greeting visitors [Photograph by Kim Joo-heon]

The festival titled Seoul Friendship Festival (SFF) is a two-day event attended by 68 embassies in South Korea. The event designed to bridge the gap between South Koreans and internationals is an annual festival that also has programs to promote different costumes and films.   

"Aligned with this year's theme, 'Embracing the World, Uniting as One,' I hope the SFF fosters cultural exchanges and deepens friendship between cities," Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon revealed the purpose of the SFF while making an opening remark. "The Seoul Metropolitan Government remains committed to expanding these exchanges and addressing urban challenges that cities face together through global cooperation, further establishing Seoul as a 'leading global city.'"

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