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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Annual Milwaukee Korea Day Celebration

The annual Milwaukee Korea Day Celebration was held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Oct. 6.
Photo by Shannyn Donohue
K-Pop performances occurred at the Korea Day celebrations.

The 10th annual Milwaukee Korea Day Celebration was held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Oct. 6. Hosted by the Korean American Faculty and Staff Association at UWM and the Korean American Association of Milwaukee, the event began with a cultural program performance followed by a Symphony Orchestra concert.

“The event has been running for 10 years, but for a couple years the Korea Day at UWM was just run by students in the Korean Language Program. As those students graduated the faculty noticed the program was not as known, so the faculty group took over in 2014 which is how we started the current celebration we have today,” Kyoung Ae Cho, president of the Korean American Faculty and Staff Association at UWM, said.

Cho said that despite this event starting primarily as a UWM program, it has grown to become a more community-based event with different local organizations joining. 

“We are still doing this event as a program, but I also know there is a lot of Korean community and interest in Korean culture. In 2016, the Korean Association and Community became more involved in our program, so it is not just a UWM program anymore. It is not just for Korean people, it is for people in Milwaukee to learn more about Korean culture,” Cho said. 

Cho said planning for the celebration starts right after the previous one — in hopes that they will have enough funding to do it. 

“Once we finish, we know what we have to do next year. We always hope we are able to do it for the next year, since we are a self-funded program,” Cho said. “We always have wishful and hopeful thinking for the future, but we also have to gamble.”

Starting at 4:30 p.m., students, friends and family gathered at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts where performances of K-Pop songs and TaeKwonDo skills were shown and traditional Korean food was served. 

“Professors start working with students who are in the Korean Language Program, and a lot of those students want to share their experiences by creating their own dances and singing,” Cho said. “We also like to invite nearby organizations, like taekwondo, and have anyone ranging from children to adults performing to showcase themselves.”  

Cho said she hopes cultural performances, like these, allow people to learn about different cultures and communities in the area. 

“I want everyone to be aware of different cultures and communities in Milwaukee,” Cho said. “I also just want people to know that we are all the same with our own differences, and learning different songs, music, dances inspires a lot of younger people. Life is short, but we can also enjoy it.” 

At 7:30 p.m., guests were invited to the ticketed portion of the celebration to see the UWM Symphony Orchestra performance. 

Jun Kim, UWM Symphony Orchestra music director, said he wanted to use his background in music to be able to add a new musical aspect within the Korea Day celebration. 

“I’ve been a conductor at UWM for about 11 years now, and as a Korean-American myself I thought as a musician and conductor I could also contribute to Korea Day with a performance and concert. So since 2014, we have been including concerts as a part of Korea Day,” Kim said. 

Kim said when they have concerts as a part of Korea Day, they bring in professional musicians to perform with the orchestra. This year they brought guest violinist Julian Rhee, Milwaukee native and 2022 silver medalist at the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis. 

“[The special guests] are so willing and happy to be part of this celebration, and the students have a meaningful experience while they study at UWM. To me as a music educator I am very happy and proud of the Milwaukee Korean festival that we can bring these high-calabar musicians because when they come they not only just perform, but also they give master classes,” Kim said. 

Kim said he hopes that music is a way for people to enjoy this celebration of Korean culture even more. 

“I want people to come and learn about our culture and Korea and experience music too. For the evening performance, I want people to come and hear the high-calabar concerto soloist to hear and be inspired,” Kim said. “I hope people enjoyed the music, but also learned about our culture and the celebration this day provides.”

This story was written by Sophie Goldstein. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Sophie Goldstein
Sophie Goldstein, Executive Arts & Entertainment Editor
Sophie Goldstein is a junior from Glenview, Illinois studying journalism and is the Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Marquette Wire for the second year in a row. Prior to this position, she served as the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Indiana Daily Student at Indiana University. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys spending time with friends, watching reality television and playing with her dog. She is excited to begin her journey at the Wire, while exploring the stories everyone has to share at Marquette.
Shannyn Donohue
Shannyn Donohue, General Manager of Marquette University Radio
Shannyn Donohue is a senior from Nashville, Tennessee studying Advertising at Marquette and Graphic Design at MIAD. She is the MUR General Manager for the 2024-2025 school year. Previously, she served as the Technical Director of Marquette Radio for the 2023-2024 school year. She also hosts the radio show "Tetris Sounds" as a DJ.

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