Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)

The Korean Children Association --called "Hanuru" (sky) in the Korean language-- from Ikuno (Osaka), the district with the largest Korean population in Japan, meets regularly at Seiwa's Social Center.
The Hanuru association organizes ethnic education and recreation programs for children of all ages up to the time they finish primary school.
Similar to the other organizations, the Hanuru association looks also after the children's homework and organizes games for them, but specializes in teaching the Korean language and in programs concerning Korean songs, ethnic culture and traditional arts.
The participants of these programs are not only Korean children, but also Japanese that agree with the orientation of such programs. The results are that, not only Korean children are given opportunities to learn their ethnic culture, but Japanese children also have a place to learn about a different culture.
At present, there are 30 children, of all ages. Two full-time staff persons with about 15 volunteers take care of the activities. The numbers of people involved change accordingly with the programs that consist in summer camps and picnics during the holidays, or just normal daily activities. The exchange programs with children of other districts also provide an occasion for wider chances of meeting with people of a different culture.
The Hanuru association plays also the role of alleviating the shocks caused by the differences in language and culture during the growth period of the children that move from Kindergarten and Nursery School to Primary. This is especially true for the new comers, the "omoni" (mothers), from Korea that came to Japan as wives of the Korean husbands living here.

This is how one of the "omoni" explains it. "They teach me here words that I didn't know and that helps me a lot. I don't feel lonely. My children also learn how to greet in my Hangul language and to get accustomed to Korean habits, and that makes me feel happy". Thus, the young Korean mothers can easily communicate with their children and they like to see them acquiring gradually the culture and customs of their country of origin that they are unable to transmit because of language handicap.
The daily programs and seasonal events of the children's association train the children to confront their own identities and prepare them for future volunteer activities so that they could be able to conduct ethnic education programs. This is already true of former graduates who help as leaders in the programs. That is why the actual programs have future effects.
One of the seasonal programs takes place during the Christmas Feasts, when the children play "samurunori" (peasant's play), and not a religious play with Christmas songs. On the day of Christmas, instead of the "Jingle Bells" music, one can hear the "changgo" drums sound resounding throughout the Korean town. (Cooperation of the Hanuru Children's Association)
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Closure of Ikuno's Ethnic Cultural Festival
The Ethnic Festival of Ikuno came finally to an end, after 20 years of existence. As the local edition of the Asahi Newspaper also reported the day before the event, the reasons for closing the festival are connected to the actual situation Koreans in Japan face, as well as an increase of similar cultural festivals nowadays.
On the other hand, at the closing ceremony, Mr. Ham Choongnam, Chairman of the executive committee, explained that whenever a group of sympathizers gets together, the festival could again be organized. Thus, the end would produce a new revival.

25th Anniversary of the Omoni Hakkyo
The written records of the history of the Omoni Hakkyo will be published in January 2003 to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Please, make the orders to Seiwa Social Center (Tel. 06-6718-1750).
Price: 680Yen per copy (post costs included).
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