The Korea Herald

Written by Lee Na-eun

Iconic university festivals return after COVID-19 hiatus

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University festivals, or “daedongjae,” in Korea are one of a kind.
Watching a serene campus transform into a scene of festivities is truly a spectacle.
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The gradual decline of daily infections and the loosening of social distancing mandates have allowed the
revival of on-campus festivities since May.
Yet, with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures, the iconic daedongjae was halted for the past two years.
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(Photo: Ewha Womans University)
began in the mid-90s as a way to consolidate the student community and boost school spirit.

Since students back then felt a bigger sense of belonging to the school, the activities embodied their solidarity for a common cause.
Nowadays, the event is more about showing students a good time.

(Photo: Yonsei University)
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have become a quintessential part of each daedongjae. The ability to arrange the most star-studded lineup has become a representation of the school’s stature.

For instance, in 2018, top-tier
K-pop stars like Psy, Zico, Suzy and Sunmi rocked the stage
—a lineup that outshines many mainstream music festivals.
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The two most recognized out of all the Daedongjae festivals would have to be Korea University's Seoktap Daedongje and Yonsei Univeristy's Muak Daedongjae.
Their reputation is in part due to the continuing rivalry between the two universities.

As domestic universities with similar prestige, the rival schools strive to outdo each other every year.
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Seoktap was held in the last week of May 2022, while Yonsei held its first one after the pandemic in September.

Student bodies organize on-campus activities, and people are even allowed to drink on school grounds for the entire day.
The events on campus that help students expand their social circle can essentially be seen as a spirit-charged warmup for various sport matches between Yonsei and Korea later in the month.
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Korea Herald had a chance to visit Yonsei University’s festival this year titled "Return Y." It accentuates the world's gradual return to normalcy.

The campus was filled with food trucks, pubs, and a performance stage, making up for lost time during social distancing.
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An even bigger day awaits the students on Sept. 24, the day of the Akaraka Festival hosted by the school’s cheering unit Yonsei Spirit.

The entire school was drenched in blue (the school color), with people chanting the school’s spirit song, ready to spend the whole day united as one.
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Here are some footages from the festival.
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Student interviews about the festival...
“I find it quite interesting how a campus-centered event could grow into a
nationwide festival. The diversity of the people who came rivals many domestic tourist spots.” (Incoming class of May 2019)
“The student administration has been very active in spreading information and promoting the event this year, since they knew there would be a lot of people participating.

I saw many
foreign and exchange students
enjoying the night. I feel so lucky to be able to witness the resumption of this tradition.” (Class of 2021)
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