WashU KSA and WashU KISS put on annual showcase

| Staff Writer

(Isabella Diaz-Mira | Student Life)

Friday morning, on the sunny walk to class, a new structure had been added to the South 40: an outdoor stage. This stage was used later that day for the Spirit of Korea (SOK) showcase, April 12. This collaboration between WashU Korean Students Association (KSA) and WashU Korean International Student Society (KISS) is their largest event of the year — a completely outdoor celebration of Korean culture. Promoted by a beautifully painted mural on the underpass, this year’s Spirit of Korea was a huge success. Onlookers were packed around the outdoor stage on the South 40.

SOK began at around 5 p.m., kicking off the night with Korean food and activities. The food served included kimbap, japchae, and bulgogi, which audience members enjoyed while partaking in the activities set up near the stage. After an hour of buffet indulgences, the show began. 

The production included both traditional and modern performances that ranged from purely vocal acts to percussion performances to K-pop dances. In particular, K-pop dance performances were the most popular and numerous of the varying types of acts in the SOK showcase. With over 100 students performing in 19 different acts, the entire showcase lasted about 2 ½ hours, and audience members loved every minute of it. 

SOK differs from other affinity group showcases largely because of the location and nature of the show. For one, the show takes place right on the South 40 and is free to all students. The stage was set up directly outside Ursa’s Fireside, across from the Clocktower. The casual, open-air setting lends itself to a welcoming and accessible atmosphere, inviting avid fans, South 40 residents, and passersby alike to watch the spectacle. The outdoor environment also allows the vibrant music of the show to echo through the entire South 40 during the show. The evening light of the sunset casts a golden glow on the performance. Spectators crowded around the outdoor stage, some sitting near the front and others standing around the back for a better view. 

SOK opened with a performance from the KISS band, followed by two dance performances, Taekwondo, a singing performance, and Samulnori (Korean drums). The KISS band featured R&B music performed by two guitarists, a drummer, and rotating vocalists. Following these performances were a series of K-pop dances preceding performances by Standing Drums and an executive board dance with SOK’s coordinators. 

The dances — a highlight of the show — made up the majority of the performances. With extremely well-synchronized movements and complicated choreography, SOK’s dance performances were mesmerizing to watch. Each song was met with cheers and screams from the crowd, who either recognized the song or were supporting their friends on stage. An element of the showcase that added to its appeal was the coordination of the costumes; each dancer’s outfit was unique, although they all matched to each other and the theme of the song. The level of detail in the choreography was impressive, and the numerous routines were balanced by the addition of the other acts in the showcase. Some crowd favorites were “Helicopter” by CLC, “Standing Drums,” and “7th Sense” by NCT U. In “Helicopter,” the performers’ costumes were formal and completely white with gold accents, while in “7th Sense,” the costumes included masks that the performers removed in the middle of the dance. “Standing Drums” not only boasted great music but was an entire synchronized routine.      

Overall, with an eager crowd packed into the area between Ursa’s and the Clocktower, SOK continued to draw viewers as it has in the past. As a celebrated tradition, the annual showcase will continue to grow and thrive over the coming years. The organizers’ attention to detail as well as the characteristic outdoor ambiance facilitated the delight of the crowd and passersby in the South 40. The countless hours the performers and organizers put into setting up the showcase paid off with another successful year.

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