If you have a penchant for K-pop, are addicted to binge-watching the latest weepy K-drama, or are into anything else that starts with a K and ends with a noun, make sure you're in Trafalgar Square this weekend. The London South Korean Festival is happening on Sunday (9 August) and is, in our opinion, the most exciting K-fest in the UK.
The square will be divided into different zones (think of it as a cultural theme park), covering everything from calligraphy to animation and, of course, lashings of food from some of the capital's best eateries.
There are cooking demonstrations running throughout the day, with traditional fermented cabbage (kimchi) as the central theme. TV celebrity chef Judy Joo (Iron Chef UK, Korean Food Made Simple, Kitchen Inferno), leads a stellar line up of culinary talent, which includes the likes of a 'kimchi master' flown in specially for the event, plus the head chef from the much-feted Galvin at Windows.
Joo herself will also be demonstrating the versatility of kimchi, in fried rice and with her restaurant's own Kimchi Bloody Mary — the signature cocktail at her Soho restaurant JinJuu.
On the legendary superfood status of the country's most famous staple, Joo explains "It’s full of Lactobacillus, which is the good kind of bacteria for your guts, same as, for example, Yakult... it's excellent for your digestion, really good for your health."
But kimchi isn’t the only thing on the menu you should be making a beeline for, says Joo: "Korean food is very balanced, and good health comes from good balance. You have a table made up of a plethora of dishes and tons of vegetables… Korean food is really based on the ‘five’ — the five textures, the five flavours and the five colours, and a dish like bibimbap is so characteristic of that philosophy, it visually exemplifies that. Korea was ruled by the philosophers and not the warriors, so our food took on a holistic point of view, it’s fuel and nourishment for your body.”
If you're more fashion-lover than foodie, check out the some creations from upcoming UK-based talent at the festival, set alongside traditional South Korean dresses, known as hanboks — and the chance to get your perfectly manicured mitts on some clothing from Korean designers who have graced the catwalks of London Fashion Week, no less.
The evening is set to be a proper party, complete with a huge dose of K-pop, possibly the county’s most famous export, featuring the likes of female five-piece electro-pop girl group f(x), widely regarded as ‘the Korean Spice Girls’, psychedelic rock band Guckkasten and an epic hip hop dance battle between Jinjo Crew and UK’s own Soul Mavericks.
Our top tip: keep your eyes peeled for the 'PSY inspired 'Gangnam' flash mob dancers', who will no doubt be encouraging you to throw some shapes. We may or may not have been practising our dance moves in front of the mirror all week.
OK, yes. Yes we have.
The London South Korean Festival takes place 9 August 2015, 12pm-8pm, Trafalgar Square and is free entry.