On 24 November, the first day of the festival, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid was the chief guest. South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-Keun also started his speech in Bangla by saying, “Shobai bhalo achen? (Are you all good?)” and everyone shouted is reply, overjoyed.

BD K-Family - the 1st Bangladeshi Kpop and Korean Culture Community also organised some K-pop performances including a dance performance on the most famous song “Dynamite” by BTS which made the audience more energized. It also didn’t take too much time for the visitors to create a crowd at the 'Korea corner' of the National Museum of Bangladesh on the 4th floor which was founded in 2004. There people could learn much about the Korean culture, sculptors, maps, ceramics, hanbok, a digital search corner, and many more things. The event started with the Oscar-winning film “Parasite”.

On 26 November, the festival ended with the movie “Mal-Mo-E: The Secret Mission”. This movie is about how Koreans fought with the Japanese in the 1940s for their language. Based on a true story, it showed how the “Korean Language Society” sacrificed their lives just to preserve Korean words which are slowly vanishing to make a dictionary. At that time schools and universities forbade speaking Korean and emphasized manual labour and loyalty to the Emperor. Public places adopted Japanese, too, and an edict to make films in Japanese soon followed. It also became a crime to teach history from non-approved texts and authorities burned over 200,000 Korean historical documents, essentially wiping out the historical memory of Korea.

Three 12 grader students from American International School Dhaka (AISD) were also present at the event. Before the movie started they introduced the movie by saying that we in Bangladesh will be able to relate with this film as we also fought with the Pakistanis in 1952 for our language, for our Bangla. This shows that they are also getting to know about Bangladesh’s history and culture just like we are getting to know theirs by this type of festival. Many of the audience didn’t know about this part of the history of Korea before watching this film. That’s why they all laughed, cried, felt empathy for those who died and for those who could not speak as they wanted in Korean in the 1940s. In many parts of the movie, the flower dandelion was pointed out. While many people thought it was a normal scene, the flower was actually indicating the symbol of growth, hope, and healing of the people in the film.

Ambassador Lee Jang-Keun came to the festival with his wife Mrs. Songlim on the last day right before “Mal-Mo-E” started. After the film ended he generously asked people if they actually understood the whole movie.

When asked that if he had expected such a huge crowd all these three days, he stated that, “The festival’s turnout was much more than we expected and more than in previous years.” All throughout the three days, there were more than thousands of visitors each and every day even though many students could not come because of their exams.

A parent who brought his children to the festival wrote in the embassy's Facebook page, “Very soon the entertainment world will be ruled by South Korea. I visited there with my only daughter and spent almost a full day. Thank you all.” Another person commented “Movie was so good. Thanks, Korean Embassy, for making a perfect day for us.”

Host Tashnuva Zahan, the founder of BD K-family, ended the 2021 Korean Film and Tourism Festival by thanking everyone for coming to the festival and enjoying it there. She also said they hoped to meet them soon at similar festivals.

If you missed this year’s “Korean Film and Tourism Festival” for exams or any reason, don’t be sad about that because the generous ambassador Lee Jang-Keun is going to hold this festival hopefully next year and in other cities such as Chattogram in the future too. Till then, keep loving Korean culture!

* Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka