On March 4, 2015, the International Affairs Society hosted a trip to the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, DC. Although it was made clear that this was not the official embassy of Korea, it was an informative visit nonetheless (and apparently the two were still affiliated). Upon arrival, we were greeted by our guide, Adam, who began the presentation by asking what we knew about Korea. Although at that point, my knowledge was limited to what I had learned in class, I still identified major companies like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai as being of economic significance in Korea. We were shown a brief video that promoted tourism in Korea, pointing out the phenomenal growth South Korea’s economy has experienced during the post-war period, as well as showing us a glimpse of the country’s landmarks. We were then schooled on the various highlights of Korean culture, going back as far as the Joseon Dynasty. We learned a few words such as ‘hanbok’ which refers to traditional Korean dress, as well as ‘hangul’ which refers to the Korean alphabet. We were also shown the various types of Korean cuisine we could expect to try. Adam was particularly entranced by Korean pop culture, so there was a lot of emphasis on what’s known as the ‘Korean wave,’ a mix of popular TV dramas and K-pop that has only recently taken the world by storm.
Additionally, we had the privilege of meeting two Korean interns currently studying in the United States, and were able to explore a room that was styled as one during the Joseon Dynasty might have been. Overall, it was an excellent introduction to the basics of Korean culture, and a great preliminary to our trip to Seoul.