|A scene from “The Nutcracker.” (Universal Ballet Company)|
“The Nutcracker by Nowon Leewonkook Ballet”: A 14-year-old ballerina is making her debut as Marie in Nowon Leewonkook Ballet’s upcoming run of “The Nutcracker.” Loosely based on French ballet choreographer Marius Petita’s version, Nowon Leewonkook Ballet offers a unique rendition of the world’s favorite Christmas ballet, directed by celebrated dancer and choreographer Lee Won-kook. Lee, who was with the Korea National Ballet and Universal Ballet Company for 20 years, founded his own troupe, Nowon Leewonkook Ballet, in 2004. In the upcoming run, teenage dancer Yoon Seo-woo will play Marie for the first time, while Lee will perform as her prince. Lee is also to give a brief lecture about ballet and its story. The show runs from Dec. 23 to 25 at Nowon Arts Center in northern Seoul. For more information, visit www.nowonart.kr or call (02) 951-3355.
“Cross Cut”: The Korea National Contemporary Dance Company is presenting “Cross Cut,” starring seven dancers of different genres, including celebrated ballerinas Kim Ji-young and Kim Joo-won. The piece also features Kim Woon-tae, who specializes in traditional Korean dance, contemporary dancers Lee Seon-tae and Lee Na-hyeon, and street dancers Ahn Ji-seok and Differ. Each dancer will talk about his or her dance and its connection to their personal life during the performance. “Cross Cut” runs from Dec. 8 to 15 at Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 30,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3472-1421.
“The Nutcracker”: Korea’s Universal Ballet Company is getting ready to treat its fans to its popular rendition of “The Nutcracker.” First performed by UBC in 1986, the show is based on 19th-century German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann’s version of the story and French ballet choreographer Marius Petipa’s dance. UBC has cast some 10 of its finest dancers, including principal dancers Hwang Hye-min and Eom Jae-yong. The show, which tells the story of a young girl’s favorite Christmas toy coming alive and whisking her away to a magical kingdom, is one of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet compositions, along with “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty.” The show runs from Dec. 20 to 31 at Universal Art Center in Neung-dong, eastern Seoul. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, visit www.uac.co.kr.
|A scene from “Mamma Mia!” (Seensee Company)|
“Mamma Mia!”: The global smash hit musical “Mamma Mia” is currently being performed in Seoul, starring a British cast. Based on ABBA songs including “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money” and “Thank You for the Music,” the musical offers a hilarious tale of a young bride-to-be’s search for her unknown father. The show premiered in the Korean language, starring an all-Korean cast, in 2004. The current run is the first time the musical is being performed in the English language and starring a British cast from London. “Mamma Mia!” runs from Nov. 26 to March 23 at Blue Square’s Samsung Electronics Hall in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.
“Space Chicken Opera”: Local troupe Dugonga is presenting “Space Chicken Opera,” a play that deals with vegetarianism in a humorous way. The piece is set in the future, where eating meat is prohibited in every country. Its plot develops as a spaceship arrives with boxes filled with chicken wings to sell. “Space Chicken Opera” runs from Dec. 17 to 29 at Daehangno Areumdaun Theater in Daehangno, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 822-5707.
“Music Show Wedding”: Popular musical producer Song Seung-hwan, whose 1997 nonverbal piece “Nanta” became a global hit, has returned with another foreigner-friendly work. Titled “Wedding,” Song’s latest musical is also nonverbal ― its actors and actresses sing, dance, act and play more than 20 musical instruments. The one-of-a-kind performance is specifically designed to draw foreign audiences. The show is a comical theatrical portrait of an ordinary Korean wedding, where the bride’s father isn’t particularly fond of his future son-in-law. Song follows the groom’s hilarious efforts to impress his father-in-law prior to the wedding ceremony, and mixes rhythmic music and dance. “Wedding” runs until Dec. 31 at Music Show Wedding Theater in Hongdae, Seoul. For tickets and information, call (02) 739-8288.
“Wicked”: After playing an unhappy Austrian empress (Elisabeth) and a mysterious, obsessive housekeeper (Rebecca), musical actress Oak Ju-hyun has now been cast to play the famous green-skinned witch in Broadway musical “Wicked.” The upcoming run, featuring an all-Korean cast, is the first Korean-language performance of the musical. The musical tells the story of two very different witches in the Land of Oz ― green-skinned, struggling and often-alienated Elphaba and beautiful and popular blonde Glinda. The show is a ravishing spectacle and fantasy, mixed with a touching account of the difficulties of youth, life-changing friendship and growing up. “Wicked” is on an open run at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil, Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.
“2013 Psy Concert All Night Stand”: Psy will be ringing in the holiday season by holding a special four-day solo concert series in December. The upcoming performances will mark his first concert in Korea in nearly eight months after his globally broadcast “Happening” show in April, where he attracted around 45,000 concert goers and more than 130,000 fans who tuned in online for the live feed. The rapper has been busy this year promoting the single “Gentleman,” which was also nominated for Video of the Year award at this year’s inaugural YouTube Music Awards. Psy’s special concert series will be held from Dec. 20 to 22 and on Christmas Eve at Seoul Olympic Park’s Gymnastics Stadium. Tickets can be purchased online, with prices ranging from 77,000 won to 165,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
|Dynamic Duo is to perform at the upcoming “Count Down Seoul 2014 @ Times Square” concert at the Times Square plaza in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul, on New Year’s Eve. (Amoeba Culture)|
“Count Down Seoul 2014 @ Times Square”: The Count Down Seoul 2014 is a New Year’s music festival that will feature a wide variety of local acts to usher in 2014. The event will include performances by Dynamic Duo, Jay Park, IDIOTAPE, Norazo, comedian and TV personality Park Myung-soo, Jung Jun-young and Rhythm Power. The five-hour long music festival leading up to Jan. 1 will be held on New Year’s Eve at the Times Square plaza in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul. Tickets to the event can be purchased online for 55,000 won or on-site for 66,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com
“Jeff Bernat”: Up-and-coming R&B singer-songwriter Jeff Bernat will be performing live in Seoul at the Uniqlo AX Hall on Jan. 11. The 23-year-old musician from Reno, Nevada, has gained much attention with his music on social networking portal sites, including having a large following on YouTube. Bernat made an official debut with his first album “The Gentleman Approach,” released in December 2011. On Dec. 5 of this year, the artist released his second full-length studio album, titled “Modern Renaissance.” Tickets to the event can be purchased online for 99,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com
“James Blake: Live in Seoul”: James Blake is young singer-songwriter and producer from London whose critically acclaimed eponymous debut album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2011. Blake released his second studio album, titled “Overgrown,” earlier this year and it went on to win the 2013 Mercury Prize, surprisingly beating out heavy favorites including the legendary David Bowie. The album was ranked at the top of the U.S. Dance/Electronic Albums Chart and No. 8 on the U.K. Albums Chart. Blake will be performing live in Seoul on Jan. 19 at the Uniqlo AX Hall. Tickets can be purchased online, with prices listed at 88,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com
|Ice sculptures are displayed at one of the venues for the Hwacheon Sancheonoe Festival, which opens on Jan. 4. (Yonhap News)|
“Hwacheon Sancheonoe Festival”: The festival invites visitors for mountain trout fishing at the scenic mountain town of Hwacheon in Gangwon Province. Known as the habitat of the mountain trout that live in cold, clean water, Hwacheon has drawn more than 1 million visitors in the past seven years to the popular winter festival, chosen as one of the “Seven Wonders of Winter” by CNN and one of the best festivals in Korea by the Culture Ministry. Visitors can fish for trout through a hole in the ice and take part in a variety of outdoor winter activities such as sledding, ice sculpting and ice soccer. The festival runs from Jan. 4-26 at various venues near the Hwacheon stream. For more information, visit www.narafestival.com
(English, Japanese and Chinese available) or call 1688-3005.
“Christmas in Busan Festival”: Gigantic Christmas trees and illuminations will light the streets of downtown Busan at night for about 40 days. About 90 trees have been installed along a 1.16-km section from the entrance of Gwangbokro to Chamseon Samgeori. The facades of large buildings are also decorated with Christmas trees. Various performances including music, plays, dance and magic shows will be held during the festival. The festival will run until Jan. 5 on Gwangbok-ro Street, Busan. For more information, call (051) 759-7144, or visit www.btcf.kr
“Bugok Hawaii Ice Sculpture Festival”: The Bugok Hawaii Resort, a popular hot spring resort in Bugok, South Gyeongsang Province, is holding its sixth ice sculpture festival from Dec. 22 to Feb. 2. The annual ice sculpture festival invites visitors to its popular hot spring bath and many ice sculptures. The festival also offers winter activities such as ice sledding and snowball fights. The resort has opened its sledding hill and ice-skating and sledding rink, along with a themed hot spring bath in the winter. For more information, call (055) 536-6331 or visit www.bugokhawaii.co.kr
(Available in English, Japanese and Chinese).
“Pyeongchang Trout Festival”: The annual trout fishing event will be held in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, known as one of the coldest regions with record snowfalls in Korea. The Pyeongchang Trout Festival invites visitors to trout ice fishing and a variety of activities from folk to snow sports such as riding four-wheel ATVs on the ice, snow rafting and sleigh trains. The festival will be held from Dec. 20 to Feb. 2, by Oedaecheon Stream, located in front of Jinbu Bus Terminal. For more information, visit festival700.or.kr (Korean only) or call (033) 336-4000.
“Boseong Green Tea Light Festival”: A festival of lights will take place at the famous tea plantation in Boseong, South Jeolla Province, from Dec. 13 to Feb. 2. The vast tea plantation will be decorated with thousands of colorful light bulbs. One of the highlights of the festival is the 120-meter-tall “Millennium Tree,” decorated with more than 100,000 lights, which made it into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2000. The lights will go on from 5:30 p.m. to midnight every day. Admission is free. An opening ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 in Yeongcheon-ri, followed by an event that will invite visitors to walk through a long light tunnel. For more information, call (061) 850-5211.
|“Geographical Change,” by Lee Sang-yeop (Festival of Photography in Museums)|
“Photography tells Korea”: A touring photo exhibition brings together images that reflect Korean society at four city museums in Daejeon, Changwon, Gwangju and Seoul until April 2014. Each exhibition features different images of Korea captured by professional photographers that shed light on the country’s society, people, history and cities. The first exhibition will continue through Feb. 26 at the Daejeon Museum of Art, followed by the exhibition at the Gyeongnam Art Museum from Jan. 16 to April 16, the Seoul Museum of Art from Jan. 28 to March and the Gwangju Art Museum from Feb. 4 to April 14. For more information, visit www.festivalofphotographyinmuseums.com
“A Great Mission of the Robots in the 20th Century”: Robot figures of cartoons popular in the 1950s to ’70s in Korea are on exhibit at Art Sonje Center until Dec. 29. The exhibition presents 130 robot characters, part of a Korean collector’s long-time collection of robots and old comic books. The robot characters were featured in popular robot animations aired during the period, including the 1972 Mazinger Z of the popular Japanese robot manga series and another 1957 Japanese robot character and Korean robot Taekwon V, introduced in 1976. The exhibition is held in the lounge of Art Sonje Center in Jongno, Seoul, until Dec. 29. For more information, call (02) 733-8945 or visit www.artsonge.org
“Dream Blossom”: Opera Gallery Seoul presents an exhibition by Korean and French artists currently in the spotlight for their portrayal of beautiful trees. The gallery’s fourth exhibition of the year showcases pine tree sculptures by Lee Gil-rae and imaginative, colorful paintings by Jean Francois Larrieu under the title “Dream Blossom” from Thursday to Dec. 31. Opera Gallery Seoul is located on Dosan Boulevard, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 3446-0070.
“Jesus and Deaf Lamb”: One of the most famous biblical scenes ― baby Jesus in the arms of Mary surrounded by Wise Men from the East ― doesn’t feature the usual Western biblical representation in the late artist Woonbo Kim Ki-chang’s Jesus paintings. At a thatched-roof house, home for commoners in the Joseon period (1392-1910), Jesus appears as a happy child in the arms of Mary, wearing a rainbow-striped jeogori ― the traditional Korean children’s jacket. The Eastern Wise Men worshipping the newborn are dressed in official robes of Joseon ministers. Such paintings interpreting Jesus in Korean culture are on view at Seoul Museum’s “Jesus and Deaf Lamb” exhibition that marks the centennial birthday of the artist Kim Ki-chang (1914-2001) at Seoul Museum in Buam-dong, Jongno, Seoul, until Jan. 19. For more information, call (02) 395-0100 or visit www.seoulmuseum.org
|The Vienna Boys’ Choir will hold a New Year’s Concert in Seoul. (Crediathe)|
“The Vienna Boys’ Choir New Year Concert”: The Vienna Boys’ Choir, known for their “heavenly voices,” will hold a New Year’s Concert at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall on Jan. 19, led by its first ever female conductor, Kim Bo-mi. Under the baton of the Korean conductor, the Mozart Team of the choir will present medieval church music, waltzes and folk songs from around the world as well as some songs from film soundtracks. This is the 17th time since 1978 that the boys’ choir, which has been around for 520 years, is visiting Korea. The choir will also perform at Guri Art Hall, Gyeonggi Province; Daegu Opera House; Gimhae Arts Center, South Gyeongsang Province; and Yeosu Yeul Maru, South Jeolla Province. For information and reservations go to www.clubbalcony.co.kr
“Sharing Love: Best Friends”: Internationally acclaimed harpist Kwak Jung will hold a Christmas concert titled “Sharing Love: Best Friends” with her group, the Harpi Dau Ensemble; an a capella group, The Soloists; and others at Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall on Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. They will perform Bach’s Cantata No.147, Piazzolla’s “Libertango,” Grandjany’s “O bien aime,” Whildhorn’s “The Gift,” Lynne Abbey-lee’s “Fum Fum Fum” and Pachelbel’s “Cannon,” among others. Soprano Park Sung-hee and musical actor Yang Jun-mo will join the ensemble on stage. Tickets range in price from 33,000 won to 77,000 won and can be purchased at ticket.interpark.com. For more information, call (02) 780-5058.
“Choral”: Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s all-time most popular repertoire, Beethoven’s “Choral,” will be staged on Dec. 27 to 28 at Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall. SPO Art Director Chung Myung-whun will take the baton. All seats are sold out but the SPO is opening the choir seats to those who want to enjoy the grandeur of the music. For more information, call (02) 3700-6334.
“2014 New Year’s Concert”: The famed Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra will hold a New Year Concert at the Seoul Arts Center concert hall on Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. Willy Byuhhira will direct the 36-year-old orchestra and perform “Overture Der Zigunerbaron”; the waltz “Kuenstlerleben”; “Vergnugungszug,” Polka-schnell, op. 281; and an excerpt from “Ritter Pazman” by Johann Strauss II, among others. Soprano Hong Hae-ran, the first Asian female winner of the 2011 Queen Elizabeth Grand Prize, will join the orchestra. Tickets are priced from 50,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information call (02) 599-5743.