International feast for all the senses“Our bazaar is an opportunity for many Koreans to experience different kinds of international culture without having to leave the country,” said Cheryl Shuttle, chairperson of the Seoul International Women’s Association.
Yesterday the nonprofit organization and the diplomatic community in Seoul held its annual charity event, dubbed, “50 countries. 5 senses,” at the COEX Convention Center in southern Seoul.
According to Ms. Shuttle, 50 countries and 20 charity groups participated in the event, which was sponsored by prominent private enterprises such as Turkish Airlines, SC First Bank, Asiana Airlines, COEX and Amway.
“There will be different foods and goods from various countries for anyone to see and enjoy, and if they really like the goods they can purchase them,” Ms. Shuttle told the JoongAng Daily last week. Ms. Shuttle said that even the event’s poster emphasizes integration and global experience. “As you can see, the poster has the shape of a bibimbap, where everything is mixed,” Ms. Shuttle said. Bibimbap is a type of Korean cuisine in which a bowl of rice, vegetables and meat are mixed to create a unique taste. The poster includes a Russian doll, the American flag, some cheese, an African sculpture and some wine in a bowl.
All of the earnings from the event will be given to different charity groups, Ms. Shuttle said, adding, “There is no specific organization that will receive charity.” The SIWA welfare committee will handout the money collected from the event to worthy applicants.
Ms. Shuttle said last year the bazaar collected 245 million won ($263,000). This year she hoped to raise that figure to 400 million won.
For 2006, one of the biggest improvements for the charity market was the decision to hold it on a Sunday.
“Previously, we had it on Tuesday,” said Ms. Shuttle. “The reason we decided to hold the event on a weekend is to attract working people and Koreans.” She said the event was held at COEX because it is a hub of weekend activities in Seoul.
Another change made this year was to focus more on offering family events and performances with a playground set up by Gymboree and gifts handed out from the children’s play area. The purpose was to offer visitors a relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy the weekend at the bazaar with their families. “We organized the event so it would not be just about shopping, which it was in the past,” Ms. Shuttle said. “The emphasis is also on communities meeting each other.”
Eighteen performances by volunteers were presented, including sameulnori (Korean drumming), traditional Korean folk dancing, belly dancing, traditional Russian dancing, a German and Korean drum band and fusion dance.
The Uzbek and Ghanaian embassies also participated in the performances.
In addition, the different foreign booths displayed a more extensive range of goods than had been shown in previous years.
“Every year the goods on display are different, as foreign embassies in Seoul try to get their authentic national goods,” Ms. Shuttle said.
“I’m Canadian and this year we are showing natural honey from Canada,” Ms. Shuttle said. Some other countries brought chocolates and fine cheeses that are hard to find in Seoul.
“One could say the bazaar is an international day, where many people can enjoy a global experience,” she said. “Such an event would not have happened without the cooperation of many organizations and the diplomatic community.”
by Lee Ho-jeong