Report on the 1st Edition of the NORIFEST Festival of Asian Culture (2024)

For three days, participants in the NORIFEST Festival of Asian Culture were able to experience the culture of East Asia. It was organised by the Academic Culture Centre ALTERNATOR.


The festival began with an official welcome to the guests by the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Education Quality, dr hab. Arnold Kłonczyński, prof. UG. This was followed by a short introduction by Jagoda Reszko and a lecture by Agnieszka Grzegowska preceding the screening of the film 'Spirited Away: In the Land of Gods'. The film introduced the audience to the atmosphere of the festival.

Upon entering the auditorium, the audience could taste the delicacy of nori leaves and received paper lanterns - prepared by the organisers on the occasion of Buddha's birthday celebrations, which began that day in South Korea.

Second day of the festival

The second day of the festival began with two events - a Chinese language workshop for beginners and a walk in the spirit of shinrin-yoku practice. During the language workshop, participants not only got to know basic phrases, but also learned a little about Chinese culture, the origin and evolution of the Chinese script, and the history of calligraphy. Meanwhile, during a walk led by dr Agata Rudnik and Emilia Ożgo (UG Psychological Support Centre), participants were able to immerse themselves in the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or so-called forest bathing.

Immediately after the workshop, the hall in front of assembly hall 1.43 was crowded. NORI participants were looked after there by UG Sinology students, members of the UG Sinology Circle and the UG Confucius Institute. Many attractions awaited them: a tea ceremony, calligraphy, cut-outs, mahjong, go, and a Chinese dragon walking around the Faculty grounds.

The adventure with China did not end there. Thanks to the involvement of the Academic Centre for Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners at the UG, participants were able to listen to very interesting presentations by Polish Studies students from the University of Harbin - about their everyday life in China, education, customs and what unites and differentiates us.

After the presentations, it was time for a change of topic and a lecture by dr Marta Tymińska on Asian comics. Participants listened not only to popular manga, but also Korean webtoons, comics from Singapore, Malaysia, China, and India!

From the lecture, we moved on to a demonstration of Taekkyeon, a Korean martial art on the UNESCO intangible heritage list. As an introduction, we saw a short tai-chi demonstration, and then members of the Polish Taekkyeon Association and the Korean Cultural Centre in Gdańsk showed the participants the basic movements of Taekkyeon and invited them to play together.

We stayed in the Korean atmosphere until the end of the day. Zuza Litwinko gave a presentation on the music of the Korean Peninsula. From traditional forms, i.e. pansori or gugak, we moved on to the history of k-pop in a nutshell.

This was followed by an author meeting with Małgorzata Sidz around her book 'Wise Mothers, Good Wives. Women in South Korea', hosted by Krystyna Weiher-Sitkiewicz. In this way, we were able to get to know Korea as seen from a female perspective, through the eyes of female protagonists of different ages and from different backgrounds.

After the meeting, there was a magical atmosphere in the auditorium. And it was all thanks to the Word Hunters, a duo who took us on a journey along the Silk Road and stimulated our imagination. The power of storytelling transported participants to distant lands.

We ended the second day of the festival with a lecture by Kamil Sulak-Kozłowski and a screening of the film ‘Ghost’. The action-packed thriller was the perfect end to an eventful day.

It is worth mentioning that on Saturday we were also accompanied by students of Japanese Studies UG and Eastern Studies UG. Thanks to them, we were able to learn how to play kendama, hanafuda, write our names in Japanese and Korean, fold origami and try our hand at drawing cute characters. Also with us were Anastasiia Vvedenska with her Asian graphics and posters and the Zero Fear tattoo studio.

Third day of the festival

We started the last day of the festival with a lecture by dr Katarzyna Pastuszak on 'Japanese theatre routes'. We were able to get to know Japanese theatre better and also hear about artistic and theatrical cooperation between Poland and Japan.

Then it was time for some learning. Thanks to the MATSURI language school, the participants learnt the basics of Japanese and Korean, their intricacies and received a lot of valuable advice from the presenters for their future travels in Japan and South Korea.

On Sunday, we were again able to move to China. UG Sinology students were at their stand, again teaching calligraphy, the rules of go and mahjong and its various variations. Participants were also able to demonstrate their artistic skills and paint Korean tal masks, which were provided for NORI by the Korean Cultural Centre in Warsaw.

After the mental effort, there was an opportunity for physical exercise. A tai-chi workshop, which was open to everyone, was led by Ignacy Hadala.

From tai-chi exercises, we moved to Japan with Yaki Kingu. Yumiko-san and Daniel-san told us when, how and where to travel to Japan. Their valuable advice will certainly come in handy for future travels. There was also food - throughout the weekend Yaki Kingu served us authentic Japanese delicacies from their mobile kitchen.

Cinema, including Asian cinema, is close to our hearts. So the next item on the agenda was a panel discussion around contemporary East Asian cinema. Paweł Herman, Agata Włodarczyk and Marcin Zwolan discussed what attracts us to Asian cinema, what distinguishes it from other cinematographies and why it is becoming increasingly popular. Staying on topic, after a short lecture by Paweł Herman, the screening of the film ‘The Wild Goose Lake’ began.

For the unofficial end of the festival, we moved to the Index Clubhouse. This was the venue for an exciting pub quiz on knowledge of East Asia, including the knowledge gained during the festival. After two overtimes, we selected the winners and musically (and with a dance step) ended the first edition of NORIFEST.


We estimate that around 300 people took part in the event - including high school students, university students, junior and senior citizens. We would like to thank all attendees for their active participation in the festival and their great commitment!

The first edition of NORIFEST would not have taken place if it had not been for the trust placed in the festival organisers, for which they are very grateful.

We hope that this year's edition is only the beginning and that we will meet again at future NORIFEST editions!

The festival was realised on the initiative of UG students pursuing an internship programme as part of the activities of the UG Love Blondes DKF and the UG Academic Culture Centre ALTERNATOR.



Programme coordination and production of the festival: Agnieszka Grzegowska, Jagoda Reszko, Paweł Herman, Zuzanna Litwinko

Project coordinator: Tomasz Pupacz

Social media: Agnieszka Grzegowska, Zuzanna Litwinko, Jagoda Reszko

Hosting author meetings and discussions: Krystyna Weiher-Sitkiewicz, Paweł Herman

Volunteers: Anna Kocjan, Kamil Sulak-Kozłowski, Dominik Raciński, Karo Pyc, Julia Kuster, Karolina Żuk, Antek Majewski, Ariel Grala, Krzysztof Żochowski, Ania Podżorska, Julita Szuster, Adria Kołodziejczak, Piotr Gragowski, Michał Wenta,

Photo report: Zuzanna Litwinko

Video reportage: Janusz Wojtkowski

Technical support: Wiesław Cyganik

Graphic design: Julia Litwinko

Executive producer: Academic Cultural Centre ALTERNATOR

Honorary patronage: Rector of the University of Gdańsk, prof. dr hab. Piotr Stepnowski, Mayor of the City of Gdańsk Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, Centre of Korean Culture in Warsaw

Organisers: University of Gdańsk, UG Academic Cultural Centre 'Alternator', UG Film Discussion Club 'Miłość Blondynki'.

Partners: Centre for East Asian Studies UG, Institute of Russian and Eastern Studies UG, Confucius Institute UG, Academic Centre of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners UG, Department of East Asian Culture and Languages UG, Psychological Support Centre UG, Sinology Circle UG, Koło Naukowe Japonistyczne UG, European Martial Arts Association, Kwiaty Orientu Publishing House, Yumeka Publishing House, Prószyński Media Publishing House, University of Gdańsk Publishing House, Łowcy Słów, MATSURI - Szkoła Języków Orientalnych, Yaki Kingu, Index Klubokawiarnia, Mangowe. pl Gdynia, Książą i Kawą.

The project was realised as part of the statutory activities of the Academic Cultural Centre ALTERNATOR.

The festival took place on May 10-12 at the Faculty of Languages UG.

Agnieszka Grzegowska; photo: Zuzanna Litwinko