SEOUL, Jul. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — The ranks of the missionaries of Korean culture are growing increasingly diverse in delightfully unexpected ways.
In Chicago, a social gathering of Koreaphiles called the Chicago Korean Language Meetup Group was started by one Daniel Richardson, who became the founding member upon his return from his travels in Korea. Now headed by organizer Sherri Ter Molen, the group’s page on meetup.com currently shows 1,847 registered members who “meet up” to partake, share, and discuss all things Korean. The majority of the members are non-Koreans.
When planning their get-togethers, the organizers contact the Korean consulate for information on local events. Thanks to their efforts and their extensive involvement in the community, local news outlets point out that Chicago Korean Language Meet Up Group is a major factor in increasing participation for Korea-themed events.
For those interested, the group also offers Korean lessons for the educationally inclined and holds movie nights at cinemas screening Korean films or at private venues.
Even the Korean drinking culture is embodied in group dinners at Korean restaurants. As it is in Korean custom, when drinking soju, shots are filled in order and the younger members hold out their shot glasses with both hands.
The group is free to join, but members pay out of their own pocket for all activities. Organizers accept contributions and run an online gift shop (http://www.cafepress.com/giftsofkorea) that sells a variety of Korea-themed paraphernalia.
Moren, who also has a Korean name (Kim Min Hwa), said she became interested in Korea after her aunt adopted a Korean child. In 1995, she set off for Korea as an English teacher and she was hooked by the unique and perplexing foods and culture she encountered.
Besides being the chief organizer of the Chicago group, Moren is also working on her Ph.D. dissertation. Appropriately, it will be a study on non-Korean fans of “Hallyu” and a deep dive analysis of their spending patterns on Korean cultural products.
In her own words, Moren has been a staunch proponent of Korean culture for a long time. She said, “Being able to share my love of Korea with other like-minded people is something that makes me very happy and continues to push me forward.”
by Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)