Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hi Seoul Festival Fall 2010

This season's Hi Seoul Festival is "Non-Verbal Performance". Catching performances seemed to be a combination of luck and knowledge of the fact that you need tickets to view any of the major performances in Yeoido.

We headed first to Gwanghwamun, since that's walking distance (45 mins) from my house. When we arrived there were a million people crowded around one small stage in front of the Cheonggyechong. We didn't know what they were showing, but we knew we didn't want to stand around in the crowd waiting for it to start. We walked around Gwanghwamun some more. They had some other performance areas set up, but nothing seemed to be going on, so we jumped on the subway to Yeoido to see what was going on over there.

First thing we found was Seoul Art Space:
It wasn't too exciting, but maybe worth a 5 minute spin through...

We started wandering around looking for a performance to watch but we weren't really sure where to go or what we wanted to see. We were feeling a bit dissapointed until we accidentally walked into a performance space for Ko Jae Kyung's Mime Show. They were just setting up, so we got almost front row seats.

I can't think of a time when I've ever seen a live mime performance. It's usually one of those silly things you see in movies, but never in real life. This guy was great, by the way. We were fully entertained for the whole 30 minute performance.

After this performance finished, we saw people rushing to queue in front of a tent. We weren't sure what it was all about, but we figured it must be something worthwhile. I waited in line while the boyfriend investigated. Apparently, to see the big acts which are performed in the big tents, one must procure tickets beforehand. Tickets were all free, but given first come, first serve. At this moment, they were giving out tickets to a performance called ScrapArtsMusic, an act from Canada. While we were in line, we picked up tickets to a later performace called East Wind, Soul Beat.

First we headed over to the blue tent to watch the ScrapArtsMusic. We didn't realize the seating predicament before going and apparently we arrived too late to get good seats. We were forced to sit on the side where visibilty was kind of low. We basically watched the show from behind.

The set up of all the performance viewing areas is quite poorly designed. The stage was built very high, but all the seating is on lawn chairs on level ground. Therefore, when you're sitting close, you can't see because the stage is above your head, and if you're sitting far away, you can't see because there are too many heads in the way.

We stayed for most of this performance, but headed out a little early to make sure we got decent seats for the next performance, East Wind, Soul Beat. Here, the stage had better placement, but it was still hard to see over all the heads. Oh, if only I were one of those tall foreigners...

This show was only mildly entertaining, so we didn't feel so bad when we ducked out at 7:30 to make sure we got tickets for the free performance for Nanta at 9:00. We secured our tickets to the show and then headed for dinner because we were starving by this point (the food selection at the festival was not what we'd hoped).

After a dinner of Chinese food with mandu service-uh, we rushed to line up to get good seats for Nanta. While we didn't get the front, like we'd hoped, we got a kind of side view along an aisle where, once the show started, we (not so) discretely moved our chairs into the aisle in order to actually see the show. All in all we had a decent view, considering the fact that we paid nothing to get in.

As we left the performance and headed back to the train, I snapped this quick photo of the Han River at night. It's quite beautiful!

The Hi Seoul Festival is running until Sunday, October 10th, 2010. Be sure to catch some of the performances this week in Yeoido or Gwanghwamun, and check out the International Fireworks display on Saturday night form 7:30-9:00 pm too! You can view them over the Han River near Yeoido from either side.

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