Korea Opens New Arts Centers and Festivals in Fall
Founded in 2001, Seoul Performing Arts Festival (SPAF) is one of Korea’s biggest performing arts festivals and encompasses the works of both international and domestic contemporary works of drama, dance and interdisciplinary arts. It runs for one month, from mid-September to mid-October, at major venues throughout Seoul and is funded by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Arts Council Korea, the Seoul aMetropolitan Government and the Seoul Foundation for Arts & Culture.
SPAF is a festival that introduces cutting-edge, innovative and thought-provoking contemporary work. Over the past seven years, the event has presented more than 409 pieces (78 from overseas artists, 331 from domestic artists and auxiliary events). This year promises to be even better.
If clients are having trouble deciding which of the eight foreign performances to see, they can opt to see more than one. Visit http://spaf21.com/2008/english/
Alive Art Gallery Opens
What do Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Heaven and Earth,” and Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe” all have in common? Well they, together with several other famous portraits, will be featured in a new event where visitors will be able to have conversations with the respective artists mimicking through various screens at a new gallery soon to open in Seoul. This special art gallery, Alive Art Gallery Seoul Exhibition, opened just last March and is exclusive to Korea.
Many of the great works from western artists are displayed using various media art techniques, whereby the famous portraits are seen moving and even talking. Such technology essentially brings the portraits to life, creating a very personal interactive atmosphere inside the gallery. For example, while Michelangelo is drawing “The Last Judgment,” he stops for a moment and begins to explain his art. The Mona Lisa on the other hand, is animating, moving her hands and neck to greet visitors.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the official website. English, Japanese, and Chinese services are provided for foreign visitors. Multi-language audio equipment is now available. This exhibit will be on indefinitely. The museum is opened from 10 am-7 pm. For tickets, call +82-2-1588-4909 (English, Japanese, Chinese) for information, call +82-2-541-0310 (English, Japanese, Chinese)
Pixar’s 20th Anniversary Showcase will run through September 7 at Seoul Arts Center Hangaram Design Art Gallery this year. The event marks the 20th Anniversary of the studio and commemorate the work of those who produced Toy Story (1995), Monsters Inc. (2001), Ratatouille (2007). Throughout the exhibition, drawings, sculptures, and original paintings, characters, and story compositions developed by Pixar artists will be showcased to the public.
Zoetrope, which is specially produced for this exhibition, will display instructional animation theory to viewers and showcase, together with Artscape, a vast scale of video settings and short film screenings as well.
The exhibition will be a good opportunity to promote Pixar’s presence to not only those that are interested in animation but to newer audiences as well. The Seoul Arts Center is opened daily except the last Monday of the month; 11 am- 8 pm. Call +82-2-561-4963 (Korean, English); www.sac.or.kr/eng/visit/Trans.jsp (Korean, English)
Flea-ing in Seoul
The Seoul Folk Flea Market kicked off April 26th near the popular foreigner tourist attraction of Cheonggyecheon Stream. The event marks the unique occasion for many to immerse in Korean tradition and provides an atmosphere full of artistic sentiment together with a wide selection of cultural dishes to sample. The new flea market features over 900 booths selling traditional folk souvenirs, regional specialties, clothing, food, and miscellaneous goods for tourists to experience.
The Seoul Folk Flea Market replaces Dongdaemun Stadium’s old flea market and is now housed in a newly built 2-storey building along Cheonggyecheon Stream. Regional specialties, craftworks, pottery, and various traditional items are all located on the first floor, while the 2nd floor boasts interior merchandise, clothing, and simplified hanbok (traditional Korean clothing).
The Seoul Folk Flea Market is located a short 3-minute walk away from Sinseoldong Station and is remarkably close to the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Such close proximity makes this a must-see course for all foreigners to visit.
For more information, contact the Korean Tourism Organization; 800-868-7567; www.visitkorea.kr
Take Sanctuary in Korea’s Sparkling Past and Present
By Mark Laiosa
Clients seeking new adventures will find them in Korea. The Korea Sparkling campaign emphasizes the passion and warmth of the Korean people and its 5,000 years of culture that can be experienced at this year-round destination.
Korea, shaped like a stylized exclamation point, with Jeju Island being the dot, sits on the Pacific Rim, west of Japan. Since the 1953 truce and partition, South Korea has developed into one of the four economic Asian tigers, while North Korea languishes. Agents keen on promoting Korea, can offer their clients many ways of visiting, not the least of which is at a Temple.
Seeking Spiritual Enlightenment
Boomers seeking spiritual enlightenment can experience a half-day visit or several days at a temple. Over 40 Korean temples participate in the Temple Stay program. With a small donation of $12-20 per person, clients enter the life of a Buddhist temple.
Buddhism came from China in the 4th century AD and influenced the development of Korea’s traditional architecture, paintings, and bells. Approximately 25% of Koreans are Buddhists, yet it is a strong cultural influence. Zen or meditative Buddhism followed in the 8th century. As the kingdoms in Korea changed, Buddhism fell out of favor. Some kings banned temples from cities. Now your clients can visit temples with panoramas of mountains and seas, breath of fresh air, clear their minds, free of contemporary life’s distractions.
Visitors are asked to dress modestly, arrive on time, and bring personal amenities. Warm clothing for early morning rituals is strongly advised. Men and women sleep in separate halls. It’s lights out after 9:30 p.m. and guests are asked to limit their activities, a good idea since they will be up at 3:30 or 4 a.m. for morning chanting. Zen meditation follows, either sitting or walking on the temple grounds. Communal meals are eaten in silence.
Morning temple cleaning is followed by tours, walking meditation in the countryside, or speaking with monks. Beading is an intricate art that monks and guests can share. It is filled with symbolism, using wooden beads made from Korean trees. They are strung with amethyst, agate, amber, and pearl.
Rubbing is a personal activity. Traditional mulberry paper is placed over a carved pattern in the temple, moistened, and gently tapped with an ink-stained stick, transferring the pattern to the paper leaving clients with a unique souvenir of an ancient craftsman’s work. For about any of 43 participating temples, vist the web for Temple Stay Korea.
Buddhist festivals are held throughout the year, one of the most famous, the Lotus Lantern Festival, held in late spring at the Joygesa Temple in Seoul displays small hand-made lanterns to large dragons carried aloft by a large group. Some lanterns are so large they are displayed on car-towed floats in street processions. Traditional music and dances are performed in period hanbok costumes that bring history to a lively present.
Ghosts of Modern History
And part of that present is the De-Militarized Zone, or the DMZ, a 2.5 mile wide band crossing the peninsula around the 39th parallel, separating North from South Korea. Half-day tours bring clients to a civilian control area where names and passport numbers are recorded before traveling to Imjimgak Park and the Bridge of Freedom. After a brief visit, clients board a military bus with a guided tour of defenses. Tour guides enforce photography and video bans, lockers are provided for gear. To visit the Third Tunnel, a six-foot wide tunnel discovered when a defector told of its construction, clients will don helmets and ride a monorail. The walls of the tunnel were painted black hoping that international inspectors would see that coal was being mined. South Korea has found four tunnels leading from the north to the south.
From a lookout point, visitors peer into the clear-cut North Korean countryside, a measure to remove cover for those attempting an escape from the North. A small museum displays items found in the tunnels and the history of the multinational forces protecting South Korea. A short video highlights the history of the DMZ. Dorasan railroad station is the final stop the tour, a transit point that will be open for travel between the two countries.
Jeju Island’s New Unesco Status
Don’t forget about the dot of the exclamation point that Jeju Island represents. Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the volcanic Island of Jeju and her Lava tubes a “natural property of outstanding beauty, which bears testimony to the history of our plant,” making it Korea’s eighth World Heritage Site.
Korea’s dramatic seascapes, delicious oranges, seafood, and the opportunity for your clients to savor a temple stay make Korea sparkle. For information, contact the Korean Tourist Office, 800-TOUR-KOR(EA); www.tour2korea.com