Rewarding IKAA Gathering 2013 Puts Korean Adoptees in Touch with Their Roots
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With a week-long program of events, the triennial International Korean Adoptee Associations (IKAA) Gathering had plenty to offer its 720 attendees. Forming the base of operations for their 2013 event was the five-star business hotel, the Lotte Seoul Hotel. Running from July 29-August 4th, IKAA participants were given many opportunities to get in touch with the culture of their ancestors, as well as the chance to meet other Korean adoptees from around the world. Highlights of the week included a sponsored soccer match, citywide scavenger hunt, and cooking competition.

Established in 2004, IKAA (www.ikaa.org) is a network of international Korean adoptee associations that promotes the sharing of information and resources between regional chapters, along with the strengthening of cross-cultural relations, and the improving of post-adoption services worldwide. IKAA gatherings are held every 3 years, the last taking place in 2010, also at the Lotte Hotel Seoul.

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The Adoptee World Cup, as the soccer match was titled, was held on August 1 and sponsored by Yonsei University. Introduced during IKAA Gathering 2007, the popular tournament encourages friendly competition between the various global IKAA chapters. A total of six teams played against each other at the Yonsei University Athletic Ground; however it was the Korean side of locally-residing adoptees who would ultimately take the ‘cup’.

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A competition of a very different kind awaited IKAA participants on August 2nd, in the form of ‘The Amazing Race: Adoptees Loose in Seoul’ scavenger hunt. Modeled after the popular US variety show of the same name, the event saw teams work to complete 7 missions, taking them all across Seoul, for a prize. Missions included eating giant ice-creams in Myeongdong, singing Korean folks songs at Deoksugung royal palace, and convincing random strangers to recreate PSY’s signature dance moves on the streets of Gangnam.

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The action returned to the Lotte for the ‘Great Korean Cook-off’, an Iron Chef-style battle between two teams of IKAA participants selected via an online competition to help two master chefs put their own spin on tteok galbi, a popular traditional Korean grilled beef dish. Organized by the Korean Food Foundation, the action-packed event was later covered by national television broadcaster YTN.

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Other scheduled activities taking place at the Lotte during IKAA Gathering 2013 included presentations on Seoul, a documentary and film program, and The Third International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies. There was also a poker tournament on July 30th held at the Sheraton Walker Hill Casino.

IKAA 2013 was assisted in part by the Seoul Tourism Organization, which provided financial assistance for the event, as well as its ¡®multi-cube¡¯ digital display promotion service at Incheon International Airport, the latter much to the delight of IKAA attendees. This is the second IKAA gathering for which STO has been a major sponsor, the last being IKAA Gathering 2007.

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