Students were enjoying Daedongje in 2018.
/Photography by Yoo Joon-sang
From the fall semester of 2022, Dongguk University will face a major inflection point. Non-face-to-face classes which were flexibly conducted will be converted to face-to-face classes regardless of the class type. Despite the expectations of many students, the festival has disappeared for two years after the autumn Festival in 2019. Will Dongguk University students be able to fully enjoy university festival and its culture, which are the highlights of university life in the fall semester? In this regard, the Dongguk post will examine the history of festivals and the vibrant festival culture experiences of seniors in the past.
Daedongje has its unique meaning, origin and history
The first word that comes to mind when many students think of campus romance is the festival. Students at the university festival, which is a large part of the university culture, prepare for additional events such as various performances and exhibitions. They also actively participate in various competitions. Universities across the country present festivals with their own characteristics or unique characters. Nevertheless, including our school, Korean universities hold festivals under the name of "Daedongje." What could be the reason?
Daedongje has a meaning of remembrance, along with the meaning of harmonizing together. There is a historical background of this meaning. The name Daedongje was first used in 1984 when Korea University named its festival, Daedongje. At that time, Korea University Festival held a joint memorial rite, in which Dongguk University and other universities participated to commemorate students who lost their lives in the process of protests for democratization and to promote the awareness of participation in living students. Since then, universities that participated in the memorial rite have held a festival under the name of Daedongje. The history of Dongguk University’s Daedongje is as follows. Daedongje first began in 1959 under the name of "Dongkukjejeon." As a Buddhist university, it was usually held in early to mid-May to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. Most of the events consisted of symposiums and lectures, and exhibitions that suit the characteristics of each club and department. In the 1980s, many political academic seminars, debates, and mock trials were held, and sometimes the festival was delayed due to frequent demonstrations. However, from the second half of the 1980s, as voices criticized the excessive left-wing political opinion of universities, universities began to gradually depoliticize. In 1985, the name of Dongkukjejeon was changed to another name. At the same time, the organization of the festival was moved to the student council from the university. Through the festival preparation committee, the keynote was put up with phrases such as "Under the Flag of the Liberation of the People and the Liberation of the People." Eventually, the festival format was formed as it is today. Since the mid-1990s, many folk and political colors have been lost in university festivals. The programs were also successful with interesting events such as cocktail shows and fortune-telling cafes, as well as entertainment events such as celebrity invitation performances and marketplaces. The main programs have been performed by popular singers and bars organized by departments and clubs.
In the case of our university, Daedongje is held at the Seoul Campus and Gyeongju Campus for a total of three days. The most recent Daedongje was before the Pandemic, "Fall in Dongguk," which was held in September 2019. On the first day, booths, food trucks, club introductions, talk concerts, lectures and meetings, and surprise events of the film festival and the student council were held. On the second day, students' participation booths, club performances, and celebrity performances were held. On the third day, various performances and club performances were also held.
The direction in which Daedongje should go is pointing to students
When asked what was the first thing that came to mind when thinking of college festivals, many students mentioned celebrities and alcohol. Even celebrities have become indispensable for most university festivals since the late 1990s. An article criticizing the situation in which celebrities are becoming the center of college festivals as well as the success of the festival can be seen: for example, such an article was written by reporter Baek Sun-ah on Dongguk University’s school news bulletin board 11 years ago. Of course, all parts of the college festival cannot be summarized as celebrities and alcohol. However, voices criticizing the university festival point out that the current Daedongje lacks its own diversified culture of the university. The problem is that it is difficult to find unique characteristics of universities in Daedongje, and it is becoming more commercialized and the same as popular culture. However, using the crisis caused by the pandemic as a stepping stone, some other universities in the spring semester of 2022 formed a different festival culture hosted by students. In the case of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a booth of world travel concepts provided a space for indirect experiences of each country’s culture. In contrast, Chung-Ang University prepared busking, flea markets, and film festivals where students can participate and enjoy themselves. As such, universities should further develop university festivals in the future through various attempts and participation.
Beyond the connection between students and students, the Daedongje, which is now planned and created by schools and students joined together as one, has emerged with the keywords of communication and departure. In addition, it has a significant meaning in that students who are tired of studying and repeating daily life can enjoy a sense of freedom. In September, when the heat of the hot summer is dampened, can we experience the true Daedongje, which students can enjoy as the main character as many wishes?
Woo Ji-yeon email@example.com
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