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Summer fests to enthrall Gwangju, Daegu

‘Festival O! Gwangju’ and ‘Daegu International Musical Festival’ present local and international performances

Gwangju Metropolitan City and Daegu Metropolitan City are each holding a festival showcasing performances ranging from percussion acts and dance to plays and musicals this summer.

“Festival O! Gwangju,” hosted by Gwangju Metropolitan City and Gwangju Cultural Foundation, kicks off on June 2 for a 30-day run at Gwangju Bitgoeul Civil Cultural Center. It will introduce eight South Korean performances including five based in the city.

The biggest spotlight is on “Jasmine Gwangju,” the festival’s opening performance that sheds light on the pro-democracy uprising in the city in May 18, 1980. Led by a main character who is a dead man, the show employs everything from requiems and drama to exorcism and percussion to look back on the painful memories of the movement and also the recent Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia. The show is produced by Gwangju Cultural Foundation.

“The most important thing is to realize the spirit of May through this work. In the hope that there would be no more violence, suppression or exploitation, we created the show borrowing the form of a traditional exorcism from Jindo, South Jeolla Province,” said Sohn Jae-oh, the artistic director of the show, at a press conference on Monday. Cultural Heritage Administration and the Korean National Commission for UNESCO recently announced that documents of the pro-democracy movement will be listed on the Memory of the World Register.

“I was stunned watching the Jasmine Revolution on television. It was as if looking at a documentary film about our 1980s ― what was happening was exactly the same. I made all of the sounds to stimulate the viewers,” said Won Il, the music director.

The city of Edinburgh in the U.K. invited the performance to showcase at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from Aug. 13 to 19. The two cities agreed last year to exchange shows every year and to co-host a big-scale festival in Gwangju in 2015. After the Edinburgh show, “Jasmine Gwangju” will be staged in Seoul and as an open run in Gwangju next year. 
A scene from the musical “Turandot” at the “Daegu International Musical Festival.” (DIMF)
A scene from the musical “Turandot” at the “Daegu International Musical Festival.” (DIMF)

The three-week “Daegu International Musical Festival,” hosted by Daegu City, opened on Monday with the premier of the opera-turned-musical “Turandot.”

The festival will showcase 18 local and international musicals at many venues throughout the city, including Daegu Opera House.

Including “Turandot,” which was produced by the city and starred Daegu-based actors, the lineup of participating local musicals includes “Hansel and Gretel,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moby Dick.”

On the international front, U.S. musical “I Got Fired” will be staged from July 7 to 10 at Daegu Opera House and French musical “At Home” from July 2 to 3 at Bongsan Cultural Center.

For more information on “Festival O! Gwangju,” visit and for “Daegu International Musical Festival,” visit

By Park Min-young (
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Korea Herald daum