“Spartacus”: Korean National Ballet presents the tragic tale of “Spartacus.” Packed with dynamic, manly choreography by Yuri Grigorovich, the ballet is expected to be a long-awaited changed of pace for ballet-goers who are tired of bubbly, romantic ballet. It will run from April 13-15 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181 or visit www.kballet.org.
“Seoul International Improvisation Dance Festival 2012”: More than 200 dancers from seven countries will dance their hearts out at the 2nd Seoul International Improvisation Dance Festival. Classes on improvised dance are available during the festival period as well. The festival runs through April 14 at Seoul Art Space of Mullet and Arko Small Theater in Hyehwa-dong, central Seoul. The Busan version of the festival will take place from April 14-17 at LIG Art Hall in Busan Metropolitan City. For more information, call (02) 3674-2210 or visit www.ipap.co.kr.
A previous performance of Yuko Kaseki, one of the dancers who will be performing at Seoul International Improvisation Dance Festival (HanPAC )
“The Lady of the Camellias”: Renowned South Korean ballerina Kang Su-jin, a principal dancer in Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet, and her dance company will showcase in Korea with “The Lady of the Camelias” from June 16-17 at Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul. The ballet, based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel, is choreographed by John Neumeier and features music by Chopin. Ticket sales opened on March 15. Tickets range in price from 50,000 won to 250,000 won. For more information, call 1577-5266 or visit www.clubbalcony.com.
“Miso”: Translated as “beautiful smile,” this musical offers a compact presentation of everything Korean culture first-timers could wish for. It blends ten different kinds of traditional dances, five traditional games and a wedding ritual into the storyline based on a well-known folktale, “The Tale of Chunhyang.” There are very few spoken lines throughout the performance, making it ideal for audiences of diverse nationalities. “Miso” is showing as an open run at Chongdong Theater in Jeong-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 751-1500 or visit www.koreamiso.com.
“Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival”: Visited by nearly 4 million every year, Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival is one of the most famous festivals in Seoul. This year the festival will run from April 13-17. Spring flowers including cherry blossoms, azaleas, forsythia and royal azaleas will be in full bloom during the festival period. Cars will have limited access to the roads around the National Assembly building during the festival period. Special LED lights installed throughout the streets will add to the mood of the festival. The festivities will take place along Yeouido-ro, behind the National Assembly building. For more information, visit www.visitkorea.or.kr.
A view of Yeouido in April (Korea Tourism Organization)
“Jeju Canola Flower Festival”: The festival invites visitors to a fantastic landscape dotted with yellow canola flowers in full bloom. It is one of the best-known festivals on Jeju Island, attracting a large number of visitors every year. A variety of events and programs are held during the festival period as well that showcase the unique spirit of Jeju Island. The festival runs from April 20 to 29 in the Gasi-ri region of Jeju Island. For more information, visit culture.jeju.go.kr.
“Cheongsando Slow Walk Festival”: Cheongsando Island, the slow city site in South Jeolla Province, holds its annual Slow Walk Festival in the month of April, featuring the main walk course along the Cheongsando slow road stretching more than 42 kilometers. Participants who collect over a certain number of stamps during their walk will receive a commemoration badge, and those who finish get a completion certificate. Programs such as seashell crafts, traditional fishing net building and local specialty sampling are also offered at the festival. The festival will run through April 30 at Cheongsando slow road in Wando-gun South Jeolla Province. For more information, visit www.slowcitywando.com.
“2012 Jisan Valley Rock Festival”: World-famous rock bands Radiohead and The Stone Roses will visit Korea in July to participate in the 2012 Jisan Valley Rock Festival. Radiohead have released eight full-length albums since their debut in 1993 and their hit “Creep.” The Stone Roses were a pioneering alternative rock group that rose to prominence in the late-1980s. The rock festival is scheduled to take place from July 27th through July 29th at Jisan Forest Resort in Icheon City, Gyeonggi Province from July 27-29. For more information, visit valleryrockfestival.mnet.com.
“Working with Nature”: What could have ended up in the trash or at best at a hardware store turns into art ― extremely delicate art, even ― when touched by Lee Jae-hyo’s fingertips. The South Korean artist is holding a retrospective exhibition at Sunkok Art Museum in central Seoul. The exhibits range from drawings he did while attending Hongik University to his latest installation works composed of sliced nails, stones and wood. The exhibition runs through May 27 at Sungkok Art Museum in central Seoul. Tickets range from 4,000 won to 5,000 won. The museum is closed on Monday. For more information, call (02) 737-7650 or visit www.sungkokmuseum.com.
“Design Finland”: Seoul Arts Center’s Hangaram Art Museum displays furniture and household products designed by Finland’s representative designers including Kaj Franck and popular brands like Iittala and Artek. There may seem to be nothing special to the designs, but something makes one feel they would make perfect additions to a boring room. Tableware designed by Franck and produced by Iittala are on display, set on a table in Finnish style. The exhibition runs through April 14. Tickets range from 8,000 won to 12,000 won. For details, visit www.sac.or.kr.
“WORD, IMAGE, DESIRE”: Michael Craig-Martin, known for his colorful iconic paintings, is holding a large-scale solo exhibition at Gallery Hyundai in Sagan-dong, central Seoul. The show introduces about 20 of his latest paintings, including the 3-meter-high, 1.2-meter-wide blue hammer made of steel, his first-ever installation work to be showcased here. Looking around the exhibits, one can see that more recent objects, such as mobile phones, were added to the list of mass-produced everyday items usually featured in his paintings, which the artist considers “the real representations of the world that we’ve created.” The exhibition runs through April 29. For more information, visit www.galleryhyundai.co.kr.
“Dansaekhwa: Korean Monochrome Painting”: Korea’s monochrome paintings from the 1970s to the present will be highlighted in what is the largest such exhibition here. It will introduce about 120 artworks by 17 early monochrome artists including several representative monochrome artists such as Kim Hwan-ki, Quac In-sik, Park Seo-bo and Lee U-fan and 14 late monochrome artists including Lee Kang-so and Moon Beom. The exhibition runs through May 13 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. For more information, call (02) 2188-6114 or visit www.moca.go.kr.
“From Point” by Lee U-fan (National Museum of Contemporary Art )
“Home within Home”: Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is showcasing 43 of Suh Do Ho’s representative home-themed installations, sculptures, drawings and videos at his solo exhibition. Home seems to be a never-ending source of inspiration for the artist who is still living a nomadic life, dividing time among Seoul, New York and London. The museum’s choice of Suh for the opening exhibition this year is not surprising as he has stood out in the past decade as one of the most internationally acclaimed and active South Korean artists. The exhibition runs through June 3. Tickets range from 7,000 won to 13,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2014-6900 or visit www.leeum.org.
“Song for Nobody”: Bae Young-whan’s solo exhibition at Plateau in Taepyeongro, central Seoul, looks back on the last 15 years of his artistic career. The artist, who represented Korea at the 2005 Venice Art Biennale, filled the 43-square-meter exhibition space with 26 works that share the same theme, but are very diverse in genre and materials. His chandelier work “Insomnia ― Song of Dionysos” which appeared in director Im Sang-soo’s 2008 movie “The Housemaid,” is on show. The exhibition runs through May 20. Tickets range from 1,000 won to 3,000 won. For more information, call 1577-7595 or visit www.plateau.or.kr.
“Mokran Unni”: Doosan Art Center is showcasing a play delving into the lives of North Korean defectors living in Seoul. Titled “Mokran Unni,” the play tells the fictional story of a young woman named Mok-ran, who used to be an elite musician in Pyongyang. Unlike what many South Koreans think, Mok-ran does not flee her home country because of poverty or famine. She misses her mother and North Korea terribly, and shows no admiration for affluent Seoulites. While the audience can’t find out what brought her to Seoul, a desperate Mok-ran tries everything she can to find a way to go back to her hometown. The show runs at Doosan Art Center in Seoul until April 7. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 30,000 won. For tickets and information, call (02) 708-5001 or 1544-1555.
“American Hwangap”: Korean-American playwright Lloyd Suh’s play “American Hwangap” is being performed in Seoul for the first time. The piece, which deals with a Korean immigrant family living in the U.S., was first premiered at Magic Theater in San Francisco in 2008, and was later staged in New York. The plot develops as its lead character Jeon Min-seok returns to his family -- whom he abandoned 15 years earlier -- in Texas. The uneasy family reunion coincides with Jeon’s hwangap, or 60th birthday. The piece will be performed in Korean for its Seoul run. Suh will be visiting Seoul for the opening of the show, and will meet with his Korean audience on March 31. The play runs March 30-April 22 at Guerilla Theater in Daehangno, Seoul. This is a Korean-language run and no English subtitles are available. Tickets range from 15,000 won to 30,000 won. For tickets and information, call (02) 763-1268 or visit www.doyoart.com.
A scene from the play “American Hwangap” (Guerilla Theater)
“Seopyeonje”: A musical adaptation of late author Lee Cheong-jun’s celebrated novel of the same title, “Seopeyeonje” is back for a second run in Seoul. The musical tells the poignant tale of “pansori” singers trying to make a living in the modern world performing their tradition vocal and percussion music. The show’s first run last year received highly acclaimed reviews, sweeping five prizes at the 2011 The Musical Awards. Popular pansori singer Lee Ja-ram and musical actress Cha Ji-yeon share the leading role of Song-hwa, while celebrated pop composer Yoon Il-sang is in charge of the music. The show runs until April 22 at Universal Art Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 90,000 won. For tickets and information, call (02) 1666-8662.
“Caffeine”: Small-scale homegrown musical “Caffeine” is back for its third run in Seoul. A typical K-romantic comedy, the show follows the rocky journey of Sejin, a barista in her 30s who has always been dumped by her past boyfriends. The story pivots around her encounter with handsome womanizer Kang Ji-min, and how the duo predictably fall in love with each other. The musical runs until April at the Culture Space NU in Daehangno, Seoul. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 50,000 won. For tickets and information, call (02) 1577-3363.
“Elisabeth”: After welcoming the local adaptations of Czech musical “Hamlet” and London’s West End musical “Zorro“ recently, Korea’s theater scene is seeing the arrival of another European show, this time about the real-life 19th-century legendary Austrian Empress Elisabeth (1837-1898). Starring former girl group FIN.K.L. member-turned-musical actress Ok Ju-hyun, actor Song Chang-ui and K-pop group JYJ member and rising musical star Kim Jun-su, the musical portrays the life and death of the beautiful yet unhappy empress constantly seduced by the spirit of death. “Elisabeth” runs at Blue Square Samsung Electronics Hall in Seoul from Feb. 9 to May 13. For tickets and information, call (02) 6391-6333 or visit www.musicalelisabeth.com
“Salon Concert Namsan”: A small concert for gugak or traditional Korean music will be held every Monday and Tuesday evening at Seoul Namsan Traditional Theater near Mount Nam, central Seoul, starting on April 9 to July 31. Featuring the country’s famous gugak musicians, the concert will take place in a hanok room, a part of the theater that fits only 20 audience members. The concert is a reenactment of Joseon’s pungnyu culture or the cultural events appreciated by Joseon’s high society. The audience will get the chance to talk to gugak musicians while drinking tea after the concert. Tickets are 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2261-0511~2 or visit sngad.sejongpac.or.kr.
Salon Concert Namsan (Sejong Center for the Performing Arts)
“Korea Foundation Spring Concert 2012”: The Korea Foundation and the Norwegian Embassy are co-hosting a spring concert at LG Arts Center on April 17. “Korea Foundation Spring Concert 2012: The Lyricism of Norway” will feature the husband-and-wife team of conductor and violinist Stephan Barratt-Due and violist Chung Soon-mi, as well as Korean pianist Chong Park. The program includes “Tarantella” by Franz Liszt as well as pieces by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, Max Bruch and composer Wolfgang Mozart. Others to be featured are Norwegian composers Arne Nordeheim and Johan Halvorsen, and 19th century Belgian composer Henry Vieuxtemps. Reservations can be made from noon on April 9 through 6 p.m. on April 12 at the foundation’s website, www.kf.or.kr. For more information, call (02) 2151-6520.
“Lorin Maazel & Philharmonia Orchestra”: Former music director of the New York Philharmonic Lorin Maazel returns to classical music lovers in Korea with Britain’s renowned Philharmonia Orchestra. The French maestro will lead the orchestra on April 7-8 at Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall, southern Seoul. Korean-American violinist Esther Yoo will collaborate with the orchestra to perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3 in G Major. The orchestra will perform two symphonies by Gustav Mahler. Philharmonia will perform Mahler’s Symphony No.5 in C sharp Minor on Apr. 7 and Symphony No.1 in D Major on Apr.8. Ticket price range from 70,000-250,000 won. For more information, call (02) 541-3183.
“The Borodin Quartet Recital”: The Borodin Quartet, one of the greatest string quartets founded in 1945 in the former Soviet Union, holds its first recital in Korea at Goyang Aramnuri’s Haydn Hall on May 4. The quartet is one of the world’s oldest string quartets. For over 67 years, the Borodin Quartet has built and maintained its reputation for performing Beethoven and Shostakovich. In this concert, the quartet will perform Beethoven’s “Grosse Fugue” Op. 133, Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 33-36 and Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 3 “QuartettSatz” in B flat. For more information, call 1577-7766. Tickets range from 20,000-70,000 won.
“I Hear Your Voice -- Delispice”: Korean modern rock group Delispice returns by holding a two-day concert at NH Art Hall in Seodaemun, central Seoul on April 21-22. The pop rockers released an album in Japan in February, testing their music in Asia’s largest music market. The band is giving concerts at a relatively small venue this time in Seoul because they wanted to get closer to the audience, according to its agency. Delispice will perform the hit songs “I Hear Your Voice,” “1231,” “Bombom” and “Who Killed the Bird.” The rock group also plans to release a new album soon. Tickets are 55,000 won. For more information, call 1599-2299.
“My ... Daehwa (Conversation)”: Insooni, a versatile Korean vocalist, turns to the world of classical music with renowned guitarist Denis Sungho Janssens performs a tango opera, “Maria de Buenos Aires,” by Piazzolla and a classic Bizet opera, “Habanera.” Her title songs like “Father,” “Dream of a Goose” and “Hypnosis” are rearranged for the performance, while Janssens is to play his solo pieces including “Korean Mountain,” his own composition in tribute to Korean film “Strokes of Fire (2001).” The two will give seven concerts in Korea starting March 30 at Pohang Art Center in Pohang, followed by Gwangju Art Center on April 20, Incheon Art Center on April 17 and at Daegu Art Center on May 1. The tour continues on May 2 at Ulsan Art Center, LG Arts Center in Seoul on May 30 and Busan Art Center on June 7. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 200,000 won. For more information, call (02) 749-8821.
“Lady Gaga’s The Born This Way Ball”: U.S. pop diva Lady Gaga kicks off her “The Born This Way Ball” world tour at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, one of the biggest sports and concert venues in Korea, on April 27. The concert will be “the first-ever pop electro opera” and is the first full-fledged concert in Seoul by Gaga. Lady Gaga chose Seoul because she likes her enthusiastic and passionate Korean fans and thinks that they will best interact with her shocking performance. The 25-year-old star will perform her latest album “Born This Way” and also music from “The Fame” and “The Fame Monster” albums. Tickets range from 55,000 won to 125,000 won. For ticket reservations, visit privia.hyundaicard.com or ticket.interpark.com.
Jo Sumi (Uijeongbu IMTF)
“Uijeongbu International Music Theater Festival”: The 11th Uijeongbu International Music Theater Festival kicks off at various theaters in the city on May 5-20, featuring soprano Jo Sumi and K-pop couple Tiger JK and Yoon Mi-rae. Jo will perform at Uijeongbu Arts Center on May 15, while the hip-hop duo plans to perform at the festival’s finale at the UAC’s outdoor theater on May 20. The festival opens with non-verbal theater production “PLECS” by a Spanish theater group Enfila’t at UAC on May 5 and ends with another Spanish production titled “Sing Sing Sing” by theater company Divinas. Other foreign productions include “Loop the Loop”by Australian theater company Onyx Production, and “Nuova Baberia Carloni” performed by Theatro Necessario from Italy. Renowned ballet choreographer Seo Mi-sook will introduce her own ballet production titled “Hymne a l’Amour” about French singer and cultural icon Edith Piaf on May 10-12 at UAC. For more information call (031) 828-5892 or visit www.umtf.or.kr