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Did you know that there is an organization for all international women who live in Daegu? Maybe you have heard it mentioned. It's called DIWA - Daegu International Women's Association. Here is a short history.

 

DIWA started as an organization, then known as the Korean-American Women's Club, in 1973 when the wife of the then major of Daegu and the wife of the then 19th Expeditionary Support Command (ESC) Commanding General saw a need for a way to share the different cultures that came to Daegu. They envisioned an organization that would welcome women from any country that come to live in Daegu and enjoy cultural interchanges between them all. That is how DIWA came to be and for your information, there are two sister organizations, BIWA in Busan and SIWA in Seoul, all with the same goals in mind, bringing us all together!

 

DIWA held its first meeting on 20 September, 1973, and it only had 20 original members. In May 1991, the Korean-American Women's Club changed its name to DIWA and since then it has grown to over 160 members, Korean, American, Russian and more. Our very first president still comes to all of our lunches! DIWA is a not just a social and cultural organization that encourages friendship, support, networking, and cultural exchange between its members but it is also a charitable organization that supports several organizations here in Daegu such as orphanages and kitchens that provide food for the needy.

 

September of 2013, DIWA had its opening ceremony at the Suseong Hotel, near Suseong Lake. It is always great to see old friends after the summer break and meet the new members for this year. As always, opening remarks were made by our Korean president Ann and our American vice-president Michelle.

 

Our first luncheon took place shortly after the Korean holiday Chuseok, also known as Hangawi or, as we Americans say "Korean Thanksgiving", one of the two most celebrated traditional holidays together with the lunar New Year Day. Keeping in tradition with Chuseok, the Korean members of DIWA taught us how to make songpyeon - a small half-moon shaped rice cake. These cakes are stuffed with sweet fillings, such as sesame seeds and mung or red beans and are supposed to be steamed on a bed of pine needles. The name songpyeon stems from the use of pine needles ("song" in "songpyeon" means pine tree). We made some very interesting shapes and while the songpyeon was steaming, we enjoyed our lunch.

 

After lunch there was an opportunity to meet and greet our new members and we all voted on the table that made the best shaped songpyeon. Our table did not win but we all had a wonderful time learning how to make this traditional food - and we got to take some home to share with our families.

 

Before the luncheon ended, some of the ladies dressed up in Chuseokbim (Chuseok dress, also known as Hanbok). Bim means "to adorn oneself with new clothes for holidays or parties". Then we all joined hands and danced Ganggangsullae, a Korean circle dance. Traditionally this dance is done on the night that the full harvest moon appears on Chuseok and one sings a song. Us Americans were barely able to keep up with the chorus, but we did our best. There is a story that tells us this dance dates back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) when the Korean Army dressed young women of the village in military uniforms and had them circle the mountains to make it appear to the enemy that the Korean military was greater in number than it actually was. We were told that the Korean Army enjoyed many victories thanks in part to this scare tactic. How genius!

 

DIWA meets every fourth Thursday from September through May at 10:30 am at various luncheon venues around Daegu. They offer members a number of classes such as making flower arranging, Korean, English, knitting, and oil painting. DIWA organizes cultural trips and events in and around Deagu.

 

You will make get to see some of beautiful South Korea, eat at great local restaurants, and, best of all, make some friends for life with DIWA.

  • Yutongdanji-ro, Buk-gu, Daegu

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