“Dajeong”: Kim Jong-hak’s solo exhibition at Gallery Hyundai unveils his paintings as well as heartwarming letters he wrote to his daughter when he was working away from home at Seorak Mountain. The exhibition also features Kim’s collection of antiques, which will help visitors understand his artistic philosophy and characteristics. It offers a chance for the viewers to get to know about the veteran artist born in North Korea in 1937 with his 20 drawings and some 40 hand-written letters with small drawings in the background. A compilation of letters has been published as a book. The exhibition runs through May 27 at Gallery Hyundai and Doogaheon Gallery in Jongno-gu. For more information, call (02) 2287-3591 or visit www.galleryhyundai.com
“A Man Standing in Front of the Mirror” by Kim Jong-hak (Gallery Hyundai)
“Nine Dwarves”: Kukje Gallery presents a solo exhibition of Paul McCarthy, a U.S. multimedia artist who garnered critical attention for his stunningly diverse variety of materials and a radically experimental approach to art. This exhibition is comprised of nine sculptures and one aluminum sculpture, including pieces from the artist’s famous White Snow series which reveal his social satire and wry sense of humor. The exhibition runs through May 12 at Kukje Gallery in Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 735-8449 or visit www.kukjegallery.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.
“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 150 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.
“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.
“Yeoncheon Jeongok-ri Paleolithic Festival”: Yeoncheon, where relics of the Paleolithic era are still preserved, is holding its annual Paleolithic festival. Children can learn about Paleolithic cultures and lifestyles here, and foreign visitors can discover Korea’s prehistoric cultures. Visitors will be able to participate in activities inside the prehistoric site such as throwing javelin, archery and spending a night in a tent inside the historic place. The festival will also feature concerts by boy band FT Island and girl group Davichi. Visitors will also get to discover agriculture products from Yeoncheon and try dishes made with them. The festival runs from May 4 to 8 in the prehistoric site of Jeonngok-ri in Yeoncheon. For more information, visit festival.goosukgi.org.
“Boseong Green Tea Festival”: Boseong, a major tea production area, will hold the 38th Boseong Green Tea Festival from May 16 to 20. Themed as the “the best gift God has ever given,” the annual festival features a variety of events from cooking competition using green tea leaves, tea etiquette lessons to green tea leaf picking, tea making and tea tasting. In addition to the tea-related events, the festival will also feature a singing contest on May 16 and the national broadcaster KBS’s long-running National Singing Contest the next day. It will also feature a mass wedding ceremony for multicultural couples in Korea. For more information, visit dahyang.boseong.go.kr
“Chuncheon International Mime Festival”: Organized by a group of people devoted to promoting mime, the mime festival invites more than 900 artists under the theme “In the beginning there was a body,” focusing on the human body. Selected as the best cultural festival by the Culture Ministry for five consecutive years from 2007, the festival features mime and dance performances by groups of artists for a week from May 20 to 27. The festival will open a week-long journey with water gun fight in which the public is invited to participate. Those who are dressed in bathing suit, raincoat at the water gun fight scene will be presented with special gifts, the festival organizers said. For more information, visit www.mimefestival.com.
Visitors to the Chuncheon International Mime Festival cheer during a performance. (Chuncheon International Mime Festival)
“Wicked”: Popular Broadway musical “Wicked” is being performed in Korea for the first time. The musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” which is a parallel novel of the classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It tells the story of two witches in the Land of Oz -- green-skinned Elphaba and beautiful Glinda. The upcoming show is an Australian production, with actresses Jemma Rix and Suzie Mathers taking the leading roles. The show is also a part of the Australian team’s first Asian tour, which kicked off in Singapore in December. The show runs May 31-June 30 at Blue Square in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 160,000 won. For tickets and information, call 1577-3363.
A scene from musical “Wicked” (SEOL&COMPANY)
“On an Azure Day”: Director Go Seon-woong’s award-sweeping play about the 1980 Gwangju democratization movement is back for a second run -- just in time for the 32nd anniversary of the historical event on May 18. The show premiered last year and won the grand prize and best play at last year’s National Theater Awards. It tells a story of middle-aged Buddhist monk Yeosan, who participated in the uprising and was brutally tortured by the authorities upon his arrest. At the time, he testified against some of his closest friends, including the younger brother of his then-girlfriend, to escape the torture and beatings. After being released from jail, Yeosan could not forgive himself, and suffered a mental breakdown. The show runs until May 20 at Namsan Arts Center’s drama center in Yejang-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 15,000 won to 25,000 won. For more information, call (02) 758-2150 or visit http://www.nsartscenter.or.kr.
“Catch Me If You Can”: “Catch Me If You Can,” a successful 2002 U.S. comedy-drama movie is being staged as a musical in Seoul. The plot is based on the real-life story of Frank Abagnale Jr., one of the most famous impostors of the modern times. The movie’s Broadway musical adaptation was made in 2011, and its Seoul run features some of the most celebrated Korean musical stars as well as K-pop idols. Musical and TV actor Um Ki-joon shares his role as Abagnale with singer Kim Jeong-hoon, popular boy band Super Junior member Kyuhyun and SHINee member Key. Girls’ Generation member Sunny and singer Dana share the role of Abagnale’s love interest, Brenda. The musical runs at Blue Square’s Samsung Card Hall in Seoul until June 10. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, call (02) 764-7857-9 or visit www.catchmeifyoucan.co.kr.
“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
“Journey to Dance 2012”: The Korean Arts Centre hosts “Journey to Dance 2012,” a dance festival in which 21 South Korean companies are participating. Kicked off on April 7, the festival runs for 20 weeks. Participating companies include Korea Flamenco Company which will showcase “Noche de Flamenco” and SuperB Dance Theatre with “Empty Room.” The performance runs through Aug. 19 at Theater Sungkyun in Myeongryun-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 747-5035 or visit cafe.naver.com/sktheater/106.
“Lee Cheol-jin’s Tuesday Buddhist Dance”: Theater Sungkyun, a theater dedicated to Korean traditional arts, is holding Lee Cheol-jin’s Buddhist dance performance. Lee dances solo for 40 minutes to the dynamic choreography of the Korean traditional dance. It is held as an open run at Theater Sungkyun in Myeongryun-dong, central Seoul, every Tuesday at 7 p.m. Admission is 20,000 won. For more information, call (02) 747-5035 or visit cafe.naver.com/sktheater/106.
“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.
A scene from “The Lady of the Camellias” (Credia)
“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.
"Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields": The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, an internationally renowned English chamber orchestra based in London, will perform on May 27 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul. The orchestra, led by artistic director Joshua Bell, will collaborate with Korean pianist Son Yeol-eum, who won won second prize in piano at the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow last year. Son and the orchestra will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 160,000 won. For more information, call (02) 599-5743.
Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields (Vincerothe)
“Chung Kyung-wha’s recital of Bach’s sonatas and partitas”: Violinist Chung Kyung-wha will play J.S. Bach’s sonatas and partitas at her four recitals to be held all at Myeongdong Cathedral in central Seoul. She will play Bach’s works on solo violin on May 15, 22, 31 and June 4. For the first two parts of the recital series, she will play Bach Sonata for Solo Violin No.1 in G Minor, Partita for Solo Violin No.1 in B Minor and Sonata for Solo Violin No.2 in A Minor. Tickets are 70,000 won and 100,000 won. Only 400 seats are available for each recital. For more information, call (02) 518-7343 or visit www.cmikorea.co.kr.
“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.
“Korea Opera Festival”: The country’s five leading opera companies will hold a month-long festival in May at the Seoul Arts Center. From May 11 to 13, New Seoul Opera Company will stage Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” followed by Nuova Opera’s “The Tale of Hoffmann,” a French opera by Jacques Offenbach, from May 18-20. Grand Opera plans to stage Puccini’s “Tosca,” featuring opera singers from La Scala, a world-renowned opera house in Milan. Seoul Opera Company will perform Verdi’s “La Traviata” from June 1-3 while the Korea National Opera will wrap up the festival with its own creations. Tickets for the Korea Opera Festival range from 10,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 586-5285.
“Naturally 7 Concert”: American a cappella group Naturally 7 will perform here for the first time on May 11 and 12 at Seongnam Art Center in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province. The group gained popularity around the world when their song “Feel It” was posted on You Tube. The seven-member group is also famous for its distinctive “vocal play” style. At the concert, each member of the group will sing in a diverse array of musical genres including R&B and produce every possible sound, including guitar, scratching, drums and harmonica, using only their voices. Tickets are from 22,000 won to 77,000 won. For more information, call (031) 783-8000.
Naturally 7 (Seongnam Art Center)
“Lee So-ra Concert -- Fifth Spring”: Korean singer Lee So-ra performs for a month-long run at Sogong University’s Mary Hall in Seoul starting on May 4. The concerts, to be held every Thursday through Sunday, except for the first and last week of the month, run through May 28. The singer, who has been holding concerts every spring since 2007, will sing songs from her new album to be released after the concert. Tickets are 77,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.
“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).” They hold concerts at 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.
“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