South Korea’s unusual marriage of ultra modern city living and reverence for millennia-long customs is the focus of an upcoming cultural celebration at the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City.
“Sesang-e Allida: A Celebration of Korean Traditions” on Nov. 18 and 19 coincides with the museum’s current exhibit “Heart and Seoul: Growing Up in Korea,” which provides young visitors with a glimpse into metropolitan life through the eyes of five South Korean children. (“Sesang-e Allida” is a phrase that can be interpreted as “celebrate,” says Maureen Mangan, a spokeswoman for the museum.) The hands-on, multimedia “Heart and Seoul” presentation was created by the Children’s Museum of Houston in partnership with South Korean tech giant Samsung.
The traveling exhibit, which runs through Jan. 7, is “really timely, and a wonderful celebration of South Korean culture,” says Aimee Terzulli, the L.I. Children’s Museum’s director of education and visitor experience.
Here are five activities families can anticipate ahead of the cultural festivities:
1 EXPLORE K-POP SUPERSTARDOM Get into the syncopated choreography and effervescent sounds of Korean pop music with “I Love Dance,” a K-pop group scheduled to perform at 2 p.m. Nov. 19. After the show, explore the exhibit’s Korea K-pop Stars Studio and take the stage to learn dance steps by following music videos. The Queens-based Korean Traditional Marching Band will perform dynamic percussion at 1 and 3 p.m. both days of the festival.
2 GO FOR THE GOLD Preceding the February 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, children will be able to create their own medals. “We’re using this as a jumping-off point and an introduction to where it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like,” Terzulli says of the upcoming Olympiad. Opportunities for friendly competition include playing jegichagi — a 2,000-year-old game similar to hacky sack played with a coin wrapped in paper — and learning the basics of taekwondo. Children also have a chance to play yutnori — a board game played by throwing sticks and moving tokens — in the exhibit’s apartment wing.
3 FEED YOUR APPETITE Korean fare, such as yakgwa (a deep-fried wheat honey cake typically served during the harvest festival known as Chuseok) as well as assorted Korean chips and Choco-Pie (think Korean moon-pies) will be served. Information about food and customs related to cuisine appear in restaurant, kitchen and house settings and give youngsters a chance to learn about table etiquette, Korean cuisine and the symbolism behind foods used to set a jesa, or memorial, table (for paying tribute to ancestors).
4 ART AND FASHION White tiger hats, symbolic of the courage and power embodied by the big cats that are held sacred in Korean culture, are among several fashion- forward activities planned. Children also can craft a formal Lunar New Year hanbok (a colorful and flowing garment typically worn during traditional festivals and celebrations) and festive fans with painted flowers for a dance known as buchaechum. Additional artistry by graffiti pop art duo Christian Carl and Nari Kim, painter YoAhn Han and videographer/ animator Lynn Kim, will be on show in the “Korea in the Artist’s Voice” exhibit in the KaleidoZone gallery.
5 SCHOOL DAYS Children can learn how to write their names in the Korean alphabet, known as Hangeul, in a brush-and-ink calligraphy session from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Nov. 19. They can further brush up their Korean hand writing at consoles in the exhibit’s classroom display, where videos offer a glimpse into a typical South Korean school day and highlight the intense focus placed on educational achievement. Elsewhere, a drag-and-drop board provides fast facts about major landmarks and cities; a neighboring smartphone station allows visitors to “text” their South Korean counterparts pre-generated questions about customs, culture, hobbies and more. Folk tales espousing traditional values are woven throughout the display as well.
WHAT “Sesang-e Allida: A Celebration of Korean Traditions,” held in conjunction with the “Heart and Seoul: Growing Up in Korea” exhibit, which is part of the Freeman Foundation’s Asian Culture Exhibit Series and administered by the Association of Children’s Museums
WHERE | WHEN 1-4 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19 (K-pop performance and calligraphy sessions on Nov. 19 only), at the Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City
PRICE Free with children’s museum admission of $13; $12 for those older than 65; free for children under 1 year; 516-224-5800, licm.org