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Posted on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 : 8:45 a.m.

UN Day, International Hetalia Day and a Korean folk music performance

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Did you catch the Hikone kids when they were here a few weeks ago? Their hurly-burly energy as they poured into Sweetwaters Café that Sunday afternoon was invigorating. Any language barrier between the middle schoolers was crossed when one Ann Arbor girl dragged a skinny, sullen, ginger-haired boy over to the Japanese group and pointed, “Boyfriend.” “AH!!! BOYFRIENDO!” Screams, gasps, half a dozen camera flashes. The international interests of middle schoolers.

Speaking of which, Saturday is United Nations Day, the birthday of the United Nations, which was founded at the end of World War II on Oct. 24, 1945. It is usually observed around the world by serious meetings, discussions, and exhibits on the goals and achievements of the United Nations.

Area teens, however, will be marking the occasion by celebrating International Hetalia Day, cosplaying as their favorite characters from the popular manga and anime series, Hetalia: Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya, which depicts historic events of the World War II era as satiric social and romantic interactions between comic characters who are personifications of the countries of the world. From

Now people would find it odd: a community under the name "Axis Powers: Hetalia" coming together on this day. Personally, most see Hetalia as a fun story of "Our Wonderful World" more than a satirical comic about the personification of nations. The series has brought an interest in international relations and culture of those from around the world. These people want to enjoy themselves under the belief that countries can become wonderful friends while having picnics and fun activities. So far, meetings in eleven countries in five continents are being organized and more meetings in different cities are being planned.

So if you see a bunch of teenagers around town this weekend dressed like World War II Axis Powers, DON'T WORRY.

For the rest of us, there will be a wonderful Korean Traditional Folk Music Performance featuring incredible (you should see their CVs!) visiting Korean artists on Sunday evening, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m., at Greenhills School Auditorium (850 Greenhills Drive, Ann Arbor, 48105). The concert will feature traditional Korean music and dance including jungak music, sanjo instrumental, salpuri shaman dance, daegeum flute, piri bamboo oboe, sori and minyo music, changgo hourglass drum dance, and more. The concert is a fundraiser for the Ann Arbor Korean School, a local language and culture school which teaches local children to read and write Korean. The concert is sponsored by the Overseas Korean Foundation, the Korean Society of Ann Arbor, and local businesses.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village and a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at


Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Fri, Oct 23, 2009 : 11:43 p.m.

This just in from the organizers of the Korean Traditional Folk Music Performance--Tickets are $20.00 per adult (remember, it's a fundraiser) and all the children that come with the adult are free.