Korean Culture Night would have commemorated its 10th year anniversary had it not gotten axed because of COVID-19-related school closure


Wearing their performance outfits, some members of the Korean Culture Club practice with their buk drums March 2 after school on campus for Korean Culture Night. The March 21 event, which would have commemorated its 10th year, was canceled a week before because of the spread of the novel coronavirus. The thunderous sounds created by these instruments represent the South Korean nation, and the drummers’ performance would have been the first one after intermission. Image posted with permission from Esther Lee.

Lauren Jung, Guest Columnist

It was supposed to be an event to commemorate the 10th year of performances to show what the Korean culture — past and present — is all about.

Korean 1 and 2 teacher and Korean Culture Club [KCC] adviser Esther Lee had also invited such special guests as Fullerton Joint Union High School District superintendent Scott Scambray, former assemblywoman Young Kim and Fullerton mayor Jesus Silva to watch the March 21 Korean Culture Night [KCN] in the newly remodeled Performing Arts Center [PAC].

But with a week to go before the event, everything changed because of the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Scambray sent out emails March 13 notifying students and staff that all on- or off-campus events would be canceled or postponed and that students would not be allowed to return to the classroom until March 30; subsequent emails from the superintendent led to school closure for the rest of the semester and continuation with distance learning until May 28, the last day of the spring semester.

“I’m extremely disappointed because of the cancellation,” KCC president senior Ryan Cha said.  “We were really looking forward to putting on a good show, especially after all of our hard work.”

As many as an estimated 100 members of the club had planned to participate in KCN to showcase Korean traditions and modern culture through songs, dances, raps and other traditional performances. 

Buena Park High School’s KCC Dance Team was also supposed to perform the choreography to “Black Swan,” “Fake Love” and “Blood Sweat & Tears” — all popular tunes by the K-pop band, BTS. 

Last year’s KCN had to be held at the Buena Park High School PAC since the one at Sunny Hills was closed down for modernization. That’s how Buena Park High School’s KCC ended up being part of the SH show.

Despite losing the chance to celebrate a decade of KCN, Lee said her club members should focus on what they have learned from the many hours spent practicing for the performance.

“There are so many good memories behind the scenes, and [the students] change their character through the club and KCN,” she said. “This experience helps them grow, become confident and reach their dreams.”

The sudden change in plans was especially upsetting for the senior cabinet members because they had put extra work into making sure their last KCN would run smoothly.

“I was pretty bummed out because it was going to be my last performance [singing a solo song],” KCC co-vice president senior Grace Choi said. “There were so many things we prepared for, but our stress and efforts were put to waste.”

Lee said some of the board members were making efforts to create a mini magazine or a digital collection of all the memories KCC made to make up for the loss of the event, but they couldn’t because school got canceled, and nobody had the motivation to finish the project. 

Even with the cancellation of its event, the cabinet understands the importance of prioritizing safety during a worldwide pandemic.

“The other cabinet members and I had put a lot of time into perfecting everything, so we were very disappointed,” KCC co-vice president senior Lira Jeong said. “But [since] we don’t want to put anyone in danger of COVID-19, I think it was a safe option to cancel KCN.” 

Although she hasn’t figured out the details yet for next year, Lee said she hopes to do something special to celebrate KCN’s 10th year since technically 2020 would not count because of the cancellation.

“We are in a critical situation, and it’s so dangerous right now,” she said. “When we settle down, we might [celebrate], but for now health and security is first.”