Performing in the Rose Garden, PennSori sang a capella to songs fusing American pop music with K-Pop (Korean pop music), such as in one number that combined Rihanna’s “Disturbia” with Brown-Eyed Girl’s “Abracadabra.”
KLASS, a Korean hip-hop group, featured original pieces written by its members, with the occasional covers of contemporary Korean hip-hop. Joon Yup Park, a senior in the College studying Mathematical Economics and the current President of KLASS, writes lyrics that are personal to him, and workshops them weekly with fellow members. “Korean rap is a different taste,” remarks James An, a fifth year senior studying Management and Religious Studies, and the founder of KLASS. An founded KLASS because he felt that such a distinct community did not exist at Penn. “Rap’s been a big part of my life — I just want this joy with others.”
PennDure, an undergraduate music group that plays traditional nong-ak with drums, shared the same scenic venue of the Azalea Meadow with KLASS. Nong-ak stems from rural Korean villages. Farmers played drums to ease the routine of labor in the fields, as well as celebrate harvest time. PennDure president, Seunghun Lee, and marketing chair, Sin Tae Kim, both came from South Korea to study at Penn, but it was at Penn that they found their inspiration and desire to get closer to their heritage through nong-ak. While most young Koreans, notes Lee, are more interested in K-Pop and other contemporary music, there are also young Koreans at home and abroad that continue learning nong-ak beyond elementary school. The blue, yellow, and red colors on the members’ costumes respectively represent sea, land, and humans, and they symbolize humans as the connecting entity between land and sky.
A diverse range of Penn community members took advantage of this opportunity to learn more about Korean heritage within this breathtaking context — quite literally — right in their very own backyards. “It’s refreshing to get off campus,” remarked Ashley Leung, a senior in the College studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE). “It doesn’t feel like you’re in Philadelphia anymore.”
View the full photo gallery on Flickr>