광복절 (Gwangbokjeol)

Today is Korea’s 60th birthday. It was on August 15, 1948, that the Republic of Korea (what we know as South Korea) was established. Three years earlier on August 15, 1945, the surrender of Japan to the Allied forces in World War II ended the 35-year colonization of Korea by the Japanese.

The years under Japanese rule had been hard ones for Koreans. They had been forced to take Japanese names, been forbidden to speak Korean, talk about Korean history, write in hangul, grown Rose of Sharon bushes (Korea’s national flower) and fly the Korean flag. The Japanese attempted to squelch Korean culture, but most families quietly kept the culture alive within their homes.

So, as you can imagine, liberation from the Japanese was cause for a huge celebration. Of course, liberation didn’t end up to be what the Koreans had hoped for. Instead of a united, independent country, Korea was divided in two at the 38th Parallel, forming North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and South Korea (the Republic of Korea). Sadly this division meant that some families were separated and have been unable to have regular, if any, contact with each other.

Still Koreans all over the world celebration Gwangbokjeol. Our local Korean community will celebrate tomorrow with a large gathering at one of our local parks. We’ll be there enjoying the wonderful food and culture events that are planned.

Here are some things you can do with your family today to commemorate Korean independence:

• Color a Korean flag (taegukki). A great coloring page can be found here.

• Make a Korean dish for dinner. Here are some great recipes. Bulgogi is especially yummy and easy to make. Denise’s Famous Bulgogi recipe is one lots of families use. If there’s not time to put it in the crockpot, you can cook it in a skillet or under the broiler.

• Learn to say some Korean words. This is a great site for learning some words and phrases.

And if you’d like to read more about Korea’s history, particularly during the Japanese occupation, here are few books that give you more insight. The first two are young adult chapter books, while the last two are adult fiction. The Year of Impossible Goodbyes is based on the author’s experiences and To Swim Across the World is based on the author’s parents’ experience.

When My Name Was Keiko by Linda Sue Park

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi

One Thousand Chestnut Trees by Mira Stout

To Swim Across the World by Frances Park and Ginger Park

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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

Favorite Korean Movies-TV Shows

Be Strong, Geum-Soon
Please Teach Me English
Spy Girl
Tae Gu Ki
2009 Lost Memories

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