Festival at University of Pittsburgh Marks South Korea's Part in G- 20 Summit

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Korean dancers, foods and crafts were featured in a festival Sunday at the University of Pittsburgh to celebrate South Korea's role in this week's Group of 20 economic summit.

South Korea has been on center stage in recent years for its economic successes as well as tensions with North Korea, said David Kim, a member of the Korean Association of Greater Pittsburgh. He came from South Korea at age 2, but travels there often in his job with the Goldstein & Associates LLC law firm, which has an office in Seoul.

"It is certainly important. It brings attention to the role the Republic of Korea plays in the international economy," Kim said of the summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Pittsburgh.

The local Korean community has another reason to be excited.

"This may be the only time that the president travels to Pittsburgh," he said, referring to South Korean President Lee Myung- bak.

Several Asian countries represented at the summit are expected to push for a bigger say in how global financial institutions run, given their growing clout in the worldwide economy. South Korean leaders say they plan to ask advanced countries to provide more help to weaker ones struggling to emerge from the recession.

And South Korea is angling to host the next G-20 summit. Han Duk- soo, the country's ambassador to the United States, has said South Korea can bridge the gap between rich and poor countries, given that it transformed itself from a land devastated by war to a thriving economy.

Two Korean Embassy representatives were at yesterday's event at Pitt. The emphasis, however, was to teach the 500 to 700 visitors something about Korean culture and to put the association a little closer to its goal to raise $500,000 to open a Korean Heritage Room in Pitt's Cathedral of Learning.

The room is to open on Aug. 15, 2012, the 67th anniversary of the end of Japan's occupation of Korea during World War II, said Dr. Kwan Lee, an anesthesiologist at Ohio Valley General Hospital and leader of the committee planning the room.

Pitt has 26 Nationality Rooms, classrooms that reflect various countries' architecture and cultures, and eight more are planned.

Lee moved to the United States in 1970, and after completing his medical training, arrived in Pittsburgh in 1975.

"I would come here to Pitt, and there is no Korean room," he said. "I thought someone would initiate one, and I waited and waited."

The local Korean community, which numbers about 2,000, not including university students, has raised about $50,000 so far, and the Korean Foundation based in Seoul has promised $200,000 spread over three years, Lee said. …