Signs of a reprieve from the aggression and vigor demanded by busy city life in Seoul didn’t arrive until after midnight on Aug. 21. From ancient palaces to art galleries, the city’s high-profile cultural venues were “alive and kicking” right up until the clock struck 12 on August 21. This is something the Seoul Metropolitan Government is rather thankful for because it symbolized the success of the 3rd Seoul Cultural Night.
The event encouraged the public to enjoy the full cultural experience in the nation’s capital – through various concerts and exhibitions – for only 10,000 won.
The festive day, which ran from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., featured diverse programs and activities in major venues in five key cultural areas of Seoul: Seoul Plaza, Jeong-dong, Bukchon, Insa-dong, Daehakno, and Hongdae.
The Jung-gu Jeong-dong area, which fully illustrates Korea’s story of modernization, embraced the theme of “Exploring History.” The musical fountain flowing out along Jeong-dong Street, the Seoul History of Museum host to a jazz concert on its front lawn, and a traditional classical concert taking place in front of the Chinese exhibition grounds at Deoksu Palace were some of the signs of life. A fusion experience was also available to attendees, as they had the chance to meet and take photos with Nanta artists at the Nanta Theater.
Chongdong Theater offered a free back-stage tour and a fun try-out of the “janggu,” or the traditional Korean hour-glass drum, while the Chongdong First Church presented a pipe organ concert, open to the public.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Museum of Art held a free evening concert.
The Bukchon area showed off its historical sites dating back to the Joseon period (1392-1910), such as the laundry ground in Changdeok Palace and the Seokjeong well that had boasted carrying pure and crystal-clear water every two weeks. This majestic walk through an era of Korean history, teeming with stories of the past, was called “Romantic Exploration.”
Bukchon promises to enrapture visitors with its historical, traditional and cultural characteristics that feature a “hanok” village, as well as streets, museums and galleries displaying a mixture of the modern and the traditional. Master craftsmen, who are more than happy to share their work with the public, is another gift of the area.
Insa-dong mesmerizes visitors with the attraction of Korea’s traditional beauty. The line of galleries in this area had their doors wide open until midnight, attracting both young and old, as well as locals and international visitors alike to enjoy traditional handicrafts and directly witness intangible cultural assets. Daehakno, the street of youth and the arts, is always ready to entertain visitors with a wide array of exhibitions, plays and various forms of cultural experiences.
For the Seoul Cultural Night, this part of the city gave out special passes that allowed the public to enjoy the diversity of performances for just 10,000 won.
Novel exhibitions and programs were organized at the Maroni Park. Unique programs that could only be found at Daehakno were the talk of the day in this part of town. Visitors had the chance to enjoy drama plays and tours of the makeup room of the performing artists.
Hongdae, popular for its free spirit and its unique venues, abuzz with young people, sang with refreshing live music. The outdoor concert venues scattered about Hongdae helped to cool down the hot summer evening. No doubt, visitors to the area during the Seoul Cultural Night had a great time, with the wide range of exciting activities. Some of the choices were viewing works of young artists, visiting some of the wealth of boutique galleries, visiting the flea market and taking a look at recording studios.
Seoul Night eyed as the city’s prime tourist attraction
The 3rd Seoul Cultural Night wrapped up the annual event with success, as it effectively and efficiently used the city’s cultural infrastructure to provide a festive event that could be enjoyed by not only citizens and tourists but also the people at the cultural venues and the residents of each of the neighborhoods.
This year’s festival saw the voluntary participation of about 270 cultural venues, a significant increase from last year. The Seoul Metropolitan Government holds the annual event every August. It aims to develop the festival into a high-profile tourist attraction similar to Germany’s “Long Night of Museums” and France’s “Midnight Sun Film Festival.”