▲ A game host calls up the next contestant in the Jeju Utd soccer competition, in which articipants had to try to kick a football through a hole not much bigger than the ball itself. Successful contestants were rewarded with tickets to a Jeju Utd game. Photo courtesy Student Union, Jeju National University
Like most university festivals in Korea, the Student Festival, better known as “Ara Daedongjae,” at Jeju National University was supposed to happen in the spring. However, due to the shocking tragedy of former Korean President Rho's death just days before the event was scheduled to take place, the university decided to postpone the festival until the fall. With the outbreak of swine flu worldwide, the festival was nearly cancelled again, but after the students pleaded, it was allowed to go ahead at the last minute. The entrance was stocked with volunteers armed with sanitizer and free masks, but despite the caution, many people attended and enjoyed the long fought for festival.
This year, the Student Festival was held Sept. 29 - 30. The cool temperatures and constant rain didn't dampen the spirits of the students or the performers. Everyone was full of energy and fun. Everyone seemed to appreciate finally having the festival. The event was designed and run by the students, for the students. Every faculty department and club offered a booth providing information on a variety of events and programs at Jeju National University and offered the opportunity to make new friends.
The main field of Jeju National University contained the stage, with a large video screen projecting the performances so the crowd could see. There were 20 tents set up around the perimeter, hosted by different departments, which offered soup, pajeon (spicy pancakes), makoli (rice wine) and covered places to sit and talk with friends.
Two freshman English education majors, Eem Yae-ji and Oh Jin-joo, were enjoying a snack at the English Education Department booth. They said they came out to the festival to meet new people since they just started school and didn't know anyone. "It's raining, but fun," they said. When asked why they came out in the rain, they both said emphatically: "Outsider!"
Outsider, a solo rap artist, was one of the main attractions at the festival. K-Pop groups, and other performers chosen by the student organizers, are usually the major reason people attend college and university festivals. This year, Outsider performed alongside Last 4 One, the award winning Korean B-boy group, and 4 Minutes, a very popular girl band. These special-guest stars appeared later in the evening, but in the entertainment started in the late afternoon with singers, rappers, dancers, and comedians, from the student body and the community.
Ho Hoon-cheol and Kang Dae-kun are brothers who performed songs together as part of the talent contest. They sang a Korean ballad called "Haru, Haru." Ho, a former student of Jeju National University had to stop attending school to complete his military service as a public servant in the Jeju courthouse. By day he works in the office, but at night he practices and performs songs and pursues his interest in horticulture. "It is nice to come here and sing at the festival," he said. "I can't wait to come back to school next year. The festival makes me feel like a student again."
The festival was full of fun things to see and do. There were food booths on every corner providing the standard Korean outdoor treats from waffles, to hotdogs, to ice cream. International options were also available. The Bangladeshi students served food from their native country including basmati rice and curried lamb. The Indian students were also cooking, selling naan, (Indian flat bread). The Korean students seemed to enjoy the unusual dishes.
There were also many vendors selling accessories and clothing, as well as student groups hosting free games with prizes. The Jeju Utd soccer challenge was by far the most popular, rewarding skill with rubber balls and match tickets.
The Jeju University student festival was an entertaining and enjoyable way to spend an evening. Look out for the next festival, as well as the Halla College festival, in the spring. University festivals offer a family-friendly event with lots of free things to do, a variety of snack options, and the finest in Korean pop music entertainment. If you have a chance to attend a festival, take it and experience Korean college culture.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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