All invited to raise a glass

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All invited to raise a glass

Three German beers head O'Kim's fest

O'Kim's Brauhaus at the COEX Convention Center in southern Seoul is stockpiling beer to celebrate Oktoberfest.

Beer lovers will have from 7 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 4 and 5 to guzzle unlimited quantities of brew and sample traditional German fare -- including six different varieties of smoked sausages, sirloin barbecue and brezeln (German pretzels) -- at O'Kim's Oktoberfest party.

The brauhaus will serve three kinds of German beers: Oktoberfest (a traditional beer specially brewed for the festival), Helles (a popular German lager) and Hefeweizen (a beer with fruity flavor).

O'Kim's is also sponsoring beer drinking and nail hammering contests, a dance party powered by a Bavarian-style rock band and raffles to win a night at the Westin Chosun Hotel and a meal at the Bizbaz pub, which is also located inside the COEX Convention Center.

The tickets cost 60,000 won. For reservations, call 02-6002-7007.


Oktoberfest means two things to Germans: Drink beer and dance for two weeks straight in Munich's Theresienwiesen -- a 42-hectare field covered with beer tents -- or do the same wherever they might be.

Here, in Seoul, the closest residents can get is the Seoul Hilton's "Lufthansa Oktoberfest: Bavarian Bounty at its Best." And it's a pretty good replica, even though it runs for two nights instead of a fortnight. The party starts at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28 in the hotel's convention center, which will be transformed into a huge tent, complete with wooden tables and benches.

There will be German Hofbraubaus and domestic OB Lager to guzzle. While the German suds may run out, the local foam will keep flowing until early morning. Revelers can enjoy a smorgasbord: brezeln (German pretzels), weisswurst (traditional Bavarian sausage that is dipped in sweet mustard), leberkaese (meatloaf), sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and schweinehaxe (pork hocks). There will be raffles for prizes provided by Lufthansa and BMW-Korea. And to create a festive atmosphere, the organizers are flying Guenther Friedmann and his band in from Germany to play Bavarian tunes.

Germany's Oktoberfest originated in 1810 when Bavaria's King Ludwig married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The wedding reception was such a success that it became an annual two-week, open-air festival beginning the second-to-last Saturday of September and ending the first Sunday of October. This year's Oktoberfest is Munich's 169th (a few years were missed due to civil strife).

Roughly 6 million people visit Munich during each Oktoberfest, consuming 5 million liters of beers, 600,000 broiled chickens and 400,000 sausages. The Wiesen, or the tent area, is covered by beer tents erected by Munich's breweries. The grounds have rides for children and all sorts of Bavarian baked treats.

In Seoul, this year's Oktoberfest is being organized by Sven Beissel, a native of Frankfurt, who admits to spending more than a little time soaking up Munich's Oktoberfest atmosphere.

True to tradition, the Seoul event will be launched with the tapping of a cask and the announcement, "O'zapfy is!" or "The draft is open!" by Hubertus von Morr, the German ambassador, and Timothy Soper, the general manager of the Seoul Hilton.

Some 3,200 people are expected to attend this year, substantially more than the 2,000 who celebrated in 1995 when the first event was held. Mr. Beissel says attendance is evenly split between Koreans and Westerners, with locals drinking about two liters and Westerners -- particularly Germans -- downing five to six liters apiece. True to tradition, many Bavarians sport their traditional trachten, leather trousers and wool socks or long cotton dresses. Both men and women wear felt hats with blue ribbons.

Mr. Beissel, the hotel's assistant food and beverage manager, who came from Germany two years ago, will be among those dressed in trachten. "Oktoberfest is a great social event," he said. "Everyone goes 'Hola, hola!,' drinks beer all night, and ends up dancing on the tables and hugging everyone in sight."

Regular "Theresienwiesen" seats are 89,000 won ($75) a person; VIP or "Maximillian" seats are 120,000 won, and children's tickets are 30,000 won each. For reservations or more info, call 02-317-3066.

by Inēs Cho

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