Korean Festival, community celebrate ‘cool’
BY KARA SPAK Staff Reporter August 9, 2013 5:08PM
New Year's Eve 2013 In Times Square
Updated: August 9, 2013 5:46PM
The Chicago Korean Festival will be taking over the Northwest Side this weekend with food, music and a professional kimchi eating contest. Festival organizers moved the festival site to Northeastern Illinois University, 3600 West Bryn Mawr, a space four times bigger than the previous location, in anticipation of big crowds.
Now in its 18th year, the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Festivities include a popular singing contest where Koreans and non-Koreans compete with the Korean songbook to win a round-trip ticket to Seoul; performances by hip-hop artist J-Reyez and K-pop triple threat Lydia Paek; and the “Chowdown in Korea Town” kimchi eating contest featuring Korean-born professional eater Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas.
Korea is cooler than ever in Chicago. Here’s why:
The legacy of the Korean musical sensation and his YouTube hit “Gangnam Style” cannot be denied. In December 2012 “Gangnam Style” notched its billionth hit on YouTube. For many Americans, it was their first introduction to K-Pop, or Korean Pop, the infectious Korean dance music that rose to popularity in the 1990s.
2) Korean tacos
The bulgogi taco phenomenon started in Los Angeles with a chef who sold his Korean-Mexican hybrid out of a food truck. Chicago chefs created their own combinations at Del Seoul, 2568 N. Clark; La Tacorea, 847 W. Belmont; and En Hakkore, 1840 N. Damen. Expect more traditional Korean fare at the Chicago festival, where a Groupon offering a discount on festival food tickets sold out with nearly 1,000 purchased.
3) King Spa and Sauna
This massive Korean spa at 809 Civic Center in Niles introduced many local non-Koreans to Jjimjilbang, Korean bathhouses that are open 24 hours. There are gender-separated hot and cold tubs, and communal areas featuring different heated rooms (like a salt room, base rock room and fire sudatorium), places to sleep and to watch movies, and a food court. Children are welcome. The price is right at $25 for adult basic admission.
4) Michelle Obama makes kimchi
The First Lady apparently is using the harvest from the White House garden to make the Korean specialty kimchi, which is fermented vegetables served as a side dish. She recently tweeted a kimchi recipe using Napa cabbage from her garden.
5) Korean War
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Local Korean leader Jin Lee, a member of the suburban Maine Township High School District 207 board, will be showcasing his personal collection of war artifacts at the Chicago Korean Festival.
For a complete list of Chicago Korean Festival activities, visit chicago