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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Annandale losing popular KORUS Festival

The 2010 Korus Festival
Organizers of the annual KORUS Festival held in September in the Kmart parking lot are unhappy that the event won’t be happening in cental Annandale this year.

Kmart doesn’t want the festival any more because it hurts business, says Mike Kim of the Korean American Association of the Washington Metropolitan Area and the main organizer of the festival.

KORUS brings thousands of people to Annandale, most of them Korean-Americans from across the D.C. region, for music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, food, and vendors. The three-day festival has been held in the Kmart parking lot since 2006.

Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross cited concerns about noise and traffic, but Kim says there were very few complaints, noting it’s a very well-behaved crowd.

In fact, a representative of the Mason District Police Station agrees there were very problems with KORUS, and that KORUS and the annual Spring Carnival, which is also held in the Kmart parking lot, had about the same number of complaints. This year’s carnival opens this Friday and runs through May 22.

Gross says KORUS can’t be compared to the carnival or the annual fall parade in Annandale because those events are for the local community, while most of the people who come to KORUS are not from Annandale.

But it’s also a huge asset and showcase for Annandale, and many local residents come, too. “It’s for everybody, not just Koreans,” Kim says. And unlike the carnival, there is no admission charge.

Gross says she would like the festival to remain in Annandale but says the stage is “humungous,” so that makes it hard to find a suitable location. She says alternative sites in Annandale, such as Ossian Hall Park or Mason District Park, where it was held in 2003, aren’t big enough. “The question is capacity,” she says. “Nothing is large enough.” Kim estimates the attendance at last year’s event was 70,000.

Gross says it would impossible to relocate the festival to the Little River Shopping Center (with the Safeway), because every merchant in the center would have to agree to have it there.

Steven Choi, president of the Korean American Association believes Gross and Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova are “not welcoming.” If they wanted to help, he says, they could make it happen.

In response to Kmart’s complaints about losing customers that weekend, Kim says, “we’re willing to compensate them” to make up for their losses.

“It’s just so frustrating,” he adds. “Annandale is the center of the Korean-American community of the entire region, so KORUS belongs here. It’s a tradition.”

12 comments:

  1. I think K-Mart needs to explain why the KORUS festival hurts business and the Spring Carnival does not? This certainly makes it seem that Annandale has something against outsiders. As a Korean American and a newcomer to Fairfax County, this is very troubling.

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  2. My son loves to go to this event every year and looks forward to it. I hope Kmart and Fairfax County will reconsider and allow this festival to be held again in Kmark parking lot.

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  3. As an Annandale resident and a non Korean, I have enjoyed going to this event every year for the past three years. I have even started inviting family and friends from outside Annandale. I think this is a big loss for the community. K-mart can certainly give up one weekend to such a large event.

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  4. Hey, I was late.
    Your comment was very appreciated and well balanced from the view of annandale community.
    I hope that many of related decision making people to listen to your idea and reconsider the importance of the event. Let's make it happen.
    Sincerely,

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  5. I think there is a word missing in this paragraph -- perhaps "there were very FEW problems"?

    ===
    In fact, a representative of the Mason District Police Station agrees there were very problems with KORUS, and that KORUS and the annual Spring Carnival, which is also held in the Kmart parking lot, had about the same number of complaints.
    ===

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  6. Hey, if the Korean American Assn is willing to compensate KMART for lost business that weekend that seems pretty fair, but to say Gross and Bulova are not welcoming is not true. Cut a deal between KMART and the Assn and politicians will (and should) stay out of it.

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  7. Nabee Yi said...

    I understand that K-Mart granted permission to a company to have a presence at the spring carnival, but have denied permission for the KORUS festival.

    The Korean community is extremely upset that unlike previous years, they are not permitted to hold their festival at the site.

    The KORUS is the biggest annual event in the Korean community providing an opportunity for joyful family gathering. In fact, the KORUS festival not only celebrates Korean arts and culture, but it also celebrates "Han Ga Whee(한가위)which is the Korean Thanksgiving Day.

    As a community member, I urge the decision makers not interrupt our annual traditional celebration.

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  8. Honestly I see this really disappointing not only for the Korean community but the Asian community overall. It's reminding me of the ongoing growth of prejudice here in Fairfax County. It may not be reported by media but it does exist. Just a thought.

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  9. I am sorry, but they have a YEAR to make profits but they are complaining about one small weekend. :( I mean, if Kmart wants to lose a bunch of the people that watch Kfest (Which is QUITE a lot) then that’s their choice. I’ll live if they take the carnival away, but the Festival? Now that’s just crossing line.

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  10. The owner of the Annandale K-Mart is Korean, according to a Washington Post article from 2005. To suggest that KOUS is being kicked out due to racism is therefore ridiculous. Apparently, the Korean association that runs KORUS was unable to negotiate with the Korean owner that owns K-Mart.

    -------
    In July (2005), the downtown's largest shopping center -- which houses the Kmart on John Marr Drive -- was purchased for about $9 million by a U.S.-Korean partnership led by Gaithersburg lawyer Brian Kim.

    "I think Annandale is going to be one of those Koreatowns like in Los Angeles or New York, whether the chamber of commerce likes it or not," Kim said.

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  11. taintedmemory4/16/12, 4:48 PM

    i hope it doesnt move too far. i loved going to it every year, and i moved away to fairfax from annandale but i still make time to go to it.

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  12. Everyone should remember that Sears owns K-Mart...So do not blame K-Mart blame the top people

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