Second-generation Korean Americans preserve tradition of Korea’s fan dance in New Jersey

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, New Jersey — At the Woorigarak Korean Cultural Art Center, in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, a group of Second-generation Korean Americans preserves the beauty of Korea’s culture through dance.

Wearing the traditional and brightly colored hanboks, the Korean traditional dress, a group of dancers performs the Buchaechum, a traditional form of Korean dance also called a fan dance.

“The Korean fan dance is very bright, graceful, and one of a kind. It tells a story and describes everything in nature,” said Eunjoo Kang, Director of the Woorigarak Korean Cultural Art Center.

The dance, which features elegant movements, is performed with vibrant fans adorned with feathers and which the dancers use to represent shaped images of birds, butterflies, and waves.

Related: Our America: Asian Voices tell the stories of Asian and Pacific Islander groups in America

For dancers like Jessica Han, executing this traditional dance form elevates her confidence and instills a great sense of pride in her Korean roots.

“I’m very proud of what I do. As a minority, we’ve been put down a lot and we face a lot of racism. But this is a way in which I could bring part of Korea here to the U.S.,” said Han.

For Kang, who choreographs and directs the cultural arts center, educating the next generation of Korean Americans and maintaining Korea’s dance traditions alive through generations is more than just a duty.

“I think it is my destiny to teach children and show them our Korean traditions and culture. While I have kept all of the traditional dance moves in the choreography, I try to mix traditional and modern sounds that all of my students can enjoy,” said Kang.

Through the Woorigarak Korean Cultural Art Center, Kang hopes to continue educating the next generation while also showcasing the beauty of Korea to people of other cultures.

“America is known as the land of opportunity and this dance has definitely given me the opportunity to show who I am without being afraid,” said Han.


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Angelia S. Rico

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