“Muju Firefly Festival”: This environmentally friendly festival, now in its 16th year, features hands-on experience to learn about fireflies. Visitors can observe fireflies closely at its natural habitat as well as learn about them in depth at the Bandi Nara Museum. Other events include trout fishing and rafting in Namdaecheon stream. Visitors can also experience the local culture at the festival as it holds some of the region’s famous traditional performances and craftwork displays. Visitors who wish to observe fireflies in their habitat are recommended to make an online reservation in advance at www.firefly.or.kr. The admission fee for observation is 5,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for children. For more information, visit www.firefly.or.kr.
“Haeundae Sand Festival”: Haeundae beach holds a sand festival before it turns into one of the nation’s most crowded beaches in the summer. The annual festival has been held at Busan’s most famous beach since 2005 to promote understanding of how to protect the coast from erosion. The festival features an exhibition displaying sand sculptures by Korean and overseas artists as well as a variety of sports such as beach soccer and Korean wrestling. The four-day event also includes Children’s Sand Olympics featuring entertaining activities for children such as sports and sculpture events. The festival runs from June 1-4 at Haeundae Beach in Busan. For more information, visit sandfestival.haeundae.go.kr.
A sand sculpture on Haeundae beach (Haeundae district office)
“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.
“Journey to Dance 2012”: The Korean Arts Centre hosts “Journey to Dance 2012,” a dance festival in which 21 South Korean companies are participating. Kicking 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 Myeongnyun-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.
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.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (Vincero)
"I Musici": I Musici nicknamed “the legend of chamber music,” will travel to major cities in Korea starting with Seoul on June 15 at Seoul Arts Center, followed by Uijeongbu Art Center in Gyeonggi Province on June 16, Daegu Suseong Artpia on June 17 and Gyeongnam Culture and Art Center in South Gyeongsang Province on June 19. The orchestra also performs at Anyang Art Center on June 21 and at Sori Arts Center in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, on June 23. It will collaborate with Kim Se-hwang, guitarist for Korean rock group N.EX.T, in its performance of Bacalov’s Concerto Grosso for I Musici’s 60th Anniversary. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call (02) 6249-4500 or visit www.arcadiakorea.com.
"Le Concert Spirituel": Le Concert Spirituel, a French chamber orchestra known for its performance of Baroque music comes to Korea for the first time in June. The ensemble will perform at Daejeon Art Center on June 3 and at LG Arts Center in Seoul on June 5. In its performance titled “Splendor of the Cathedrals under Louis XIV: A musical voyage from Paris to Strasbourg,” the French orchestra will explore the sacred repertoires of three masters: M. Charpentier, P. Bouteiller and S. Brossard. The ensemble will collaborate with a 12 member all-male choir. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. Call (02) 2005-0114 or visit www.lgart.com for more information.
“Salon Concert Namsan”: A small concert for gugak or traditional Korean music is currently being held every Monday and Tuesday evening at Seoul Namsan Traditional Theater near Mount Nam, Seoul. It runs through July 31. Featuring the country’s famous gugak musicians, the concert takes 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.
"Seoul International Jazz Festival": Legendary jazz artists and pop stars including American soul rock band Earth, Wind & Fire, jazz guitarist George Benson, Al Di Meola, Ledisi and Eric Benet are to perform at the annual Seoul Jazz Festival that kicks off this weekend at the outdoor venues of Olympic Park in southern Seoul. Korean musicians are also to perform in the festival, including Korean hip-hop duo LEESSANG and vocal Jung-in; Korean Bossa Nova singer Na Hee-kyung; singer-song writer Cho Kyu-chan and Lim Ju-yeon. The artists are to perform on three different stages -- Jazz Forest, Spring Garden and Belle Bridge -- for two days. Performances open at 12:30 p.m. each day at different venues at the Olympic Park. A one-day pass is priced at 99,000 won while a two-day ticket costs 178,000 won. Call (02) 563-0595 or visit www.seouljazz.co.kr for more information.
Earth, Wind & Fire (Private Curve)
“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
“Marc Riboud Retrospective Photo Exhibition”: Seoul Arts Center presents the well-known works of French photographer Marc Riboud, who gained fame after his “Eiffel Tower Painter” was printed in Life magazine. The exhibition will feature the 89-year-old artist’s masterpieces reflecting the social dynamics in 1950s and ‘60s. Some of his major works are “Girl with a Flower,” one of the world’s most symbolic anti-war photographs taken during the Vietnam War protest in 1967, and “Eiffel Tower Painter,” which depicts a painter perched between metal structures of the tower posing like a dancer in 1953. The exhibition runs from May 26 to Aug. 5 at Hangaram Design Museum of the Seoul Arts Center in Seoul. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and it is closed on May 28, June 25 and July 30. The admission fee is 12,000 won for adults, 10,000 won for teenagers aged 13-18 and 8,000 won for children 712. Special discount will be offered for groups with 20 or more people. For more information, call (02) 532-4407 or visit www.marcriboud.co.kr.
“Love Fever”: The world’s renowned pop artist Romero Britto presents his love themed sculptures, paintings and Giclee prints, all brought from his Miami studio at Lotte Gallery till May 28 and Lotte Avenuel till July 1.
Eiffel Tower Painter, Paris, 1953 (Marc Riboud Photo Exhibition)
Praised as the pop art heir after Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, Britto has created his own style using vibrant colors, pop imagery and playful themes. The exhibition features the 2.5 meter long heart-shaped sculpture that is displayed on the first floor of Lotte Avenuel, Lotte Department Store’s prestigious section. Some 20 to 30 other works will go on public display at the inside of Lotte Gallery, located on the 12th floor of the department store. The exhibition runs through May 28 at Lotte Gallery and through July 1 at Lotte Avenuel. For more information, call (02) 726-4428.
“Secret Paradise”: Gana Art Gallery presents a solo exhibition of painter Sa Suk-won, who garnered attention for his nature oriented works with messages of life. The exhibition features waterfall paintings, an outcome of his two years travel to local mountains and about 100 waterfalls across the country. Based on the photos he took from different angles and positions, the waterfalls are uniquely illustrated with his iconic drawing technique using thick brushes for Oriental paintings. Braving the heavy rains during summer, Sa attempts to find the hidden beauty of waterfalls inspired by natural elements such as water, rock and animals. Described as “like the beauty the world has never known has arrived on the Earth” by the artist, his works offers audience a chance to see different angles of Korean nature through the artist’s eye. The exhibition runs through June 3 at Gana Art Center in Pyeongchang-dong, Seoul.For more information, visit ganaart.com, or call (02) 720-1020.
“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
“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.
“Gwanghwamun Younga.”: Composer Lee Young-hoon, known for working with ballad singer Lee Moon-sae for more than 20 years, will have his dream posthumously fulfilled in the upcoming re-run of the musical “Gwanghwamun Younga.” While battling cancer, Lee put in every effort to complete the synopsis for a musical about a sad love triangle and tell it though the jukebox musical based on his popular songs. He died in February 2008. Although the work initiated in 2004 was uncompleted at the time of his death, Lee’s friends and colleagues, including celebrities and big names in musicals, continued to work on the project. The show premiered in March last year at Sejong Center in central Seoul, and had its second run at LG Art Center in February. Both runs were extremely successful, thanks to Lee’s popular ballad numbers including “Bulgeun Noeul” (Red Sunset) and “Yetsarang” (Old Love). The musical features the story of three young souls who fall into a love triangle in Korea’s politically-turbulent 1980s. The show runs from May 13 to June 3 at Chungmu Art Hall in Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 130,000 won. For tickets and information, visit www.musicalyounga.com or call 1544-1555.
A scene from musical “Gwanghwamun Younga" (Musical Rang)
“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 in 2011 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.
“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 the 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.
“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 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 the role of 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.