Han Woo-Ri celebrates Korean culture

Bright colors, graceful dancers, video games and authentic Korean cuisine will mark this year’s third annual Han Woo-Ri Festival.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 21, and continuing through Sept. 23, the Korean sports and culture festival will take place at the Festival Village, near the Macy’s atrium inside The Commons at Federal Way.

The festival will bring together new and returning performers in a slightly different location. Han Woo-Ri will also coincide with the Korean harvest festival, Chusok.

In past years, the event was held outside in The Commons mall’s parking lot. But the construction at the front side of the mall as well as Saturday’s farmers market do not allow enough room in this location, Director of Economic Development Patrick Doherty said.

Rather than trying to crowd everyone into one place and set up activities under a large tent, festival organizers decided to move Han Woo-Ri indoors. The atmosphere may differ slightly from prior years, but the sights, sounds and attractions will still be present.

Traditional dancing, crafts, games, sports, music and food will be in abundance, and activities will take place throughout the weekend. Visitors will also have the opportunity to partake in traditional arts, such as calligraphy, tae kwon do

demonstrations, a dog show, a hairstyling show and a Korean Idol competition.

A video gaming station will be new to the festival this year and will offer gamers a chance to demonstrate their Xbox skills on large monitor displays, Doherty said.

Annually, the festival draws international and U.S. performers. Drumming troupe “Sin Moung” is traveling from Korea to perform at 6 p.m. Saturday. Traditional Korean dancing will be displayed by Los Angeles-based dance group “Ko Suhee” the same night.

Returning local acts will include a dance performance by Lynnwood-based Morning Star Korean Cultural Center. The cultural center’s performance is liked by many audience members because of the wide age range of the dancers, some as young as age 5, Doherty said.

Sunday’s acts will include a breakdancing competition and Korean Idol finalists. Audience members can expect the breakdancing competitors, known as B-Boys, to contort their bodies, spin on their heads and catch some air. The Korean breakdancing team “Newest” as well as Pacific Northwest teams will showcase their talents as part of the competition.

For Koreans, the festival offers a way to celebrate their heritage. Federal Way has a 17.5 percent Asian population, according to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau data. Doherty estimates that approximately 10 percent of the city’s population is Korean.

“We have this large and prominent Korean population and (prior to the Han Woo-Ri Festival) there wasn’t a large and prominent celebration in the Pacific Northwest,” Doherty said.

For non-Koreans, the festival provides an opportunity to learn about a population that continues to increase in Federal Way. Those who are not familiar with the Korean holiday Chusok can learn about it at the festival, Doherty said. The holiday is similar to the United States’ Thanksgiving in the sense that it celebrates the harvest season.

Information about the holiday will be provided to anyone who desires to learn more, Doherty said.

Han Woo-Ri is an opportunity to learn about the Korean culture and soak in the sights, Doherty said. Children, adults, Koreans, non-Koreans, families, individuals, Korean War veterans, performers and bystanders all attend.

People should not be intimidated by not knowing the Korean language or culture, Doherty said, as most of the art and performances transcend language.

“It’s not about understanding the words,” he said. “It’s about the experience.”

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

The Han Woo-Ri festival begins 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, with an opening night gala at the main stage in Festival Village. The cost to attend the gala is $50. Those in attendance can expect dinner, drinks and conversation.

“People come and dress up and hob nob,” Doherty said.

Visitors are invited to enjoy the Korean sport and culture festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23. All activities and competitions taking place at this time are open to the public.

Korean drumming troupe “Sin Moung” will also hold a performance for students at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Saghalie Middle School, 33914 19th Ave. S.W.

To learn more, visit or call (253) 835-6868.

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