The Korea Herald


What to do in Gwangju: Cultural events on swimming championships’ sidelines

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : July 11, 2019 - 15:55

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Gwangju is considered the center of culture and tourism in the Jeolla region, the southwestern part of the Korean Peninsula.

While the so-called “City of Light” is illuminated July 12-28 for the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships, a number of cultural events have been scheduled to coincide with the sports event. Visitors will have plenty of chances to experience traditional music, dance, street performances, art and food.

The year-round Gwangju Fringe Festival is going on at May 18 Democracy Square and elsewhere in the city center, bringing culture into the streets -- dancing, fireworks, classical music, traditional Korean music, mime and puppetry. The summer season kicked off last Saturday and will continue until Aug. 17.

The opening of the Gwangju Fringe Festival (Gwangju City Hall) The opening of the Gwangju Fringe Festival (Gwangju City Hall)

As part of the festival, the Fringe Asia Mime Camp will be held July 27-28 in areas around the square, and will feature the work of mimes from across Asia.

To show its support for the FINA world championships, the Fringe Festival will “travel” across the city and hold some of its events in front of Nambu University -- one of the main championship venues -- starting at 5 p.m. on July 19.

Nambu University will also host cultural events of its own, including a swimming-dance competition. The preliminary rounds will take place July 18 and finals will happen July 20.

Under the slogan “Dive into Art,” the Gwangju Culture & Art Center will host the festival “Graje” -- Gwangju dialect for “of course!” -- which kicks off Saturday and continues until July 21. Visitors can enjoy theater performances and the nonverbal drumming performance “Nanta”; classical, jazz and traditional Korean music; and outdoor film screenings -- notably “Les Miserables” from 2012 and “Green Book” from 2018.

Those looking to rock on outdoors can visit the Gwangju Sound Park Festival on Saturday and Sunday to see 15 Korean musicians representing various genres. The festival will start at the Peak Musical Hall of the Gwangju Music Business Promotion Center and feature musicians like Dickpunks and The Rose.

On the second day, the festival will move to May 18 Democracy Square and host artists including Daybreak and YB. The event is free of charge.

Those looking for a taste of Korean traditional music, called gugak, can check out the free performances on offer every day from this Friday through next Friday at the Gwangju Gongyeon Maru performance hall. Tickets can be booked through the Gwangju Culture & Art Center homepage at (Korean).

A traditional Korean music performance at Gwangju Gongyeon Maru (Gwangju City Hall) A traditional Korean music performance at Gwangju Gongyeon Maru (Gwangju City Hall)

To give visitors a chance to experience Korean traditional art, the Gwangju Traditional Culture Center will extend its evening hours and run from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. from Friday through Aug. 18. Hands-on workshops are available Fridays and Sundays starting at 1 p.m., and involve making Korean traditional fans and paper lanterns or experiencing Korean traditional tea culture.

The Jeolla region, which surrounds Gwangju, was traditionally considered the granary of the peninsula and gave rise to a rich culinary culture. The Gwangju Museum of Art is holding the exhibition “Visual Delights” until Nov. 3, which features 100 works of art inspired by the local cuisine.

Chosun University, which will be hosting the high-diving competitions, will also have street art scattered across the campus from the high-diving venue to the college of art.

If alcohol is your idea of fun, 2019 Beer Fest Gwangju is being held at the Kim Dae-jung Convention Center from Thursday until July 20 and Aug. 9-18 during the FINA World Masters Championships.

The festival will feature food trucks, flea markets, photo zones, booths for sponsors Hite Jinro and Sunjin FS, DJing performances and -- of course -- 11 different types of beer.

By Yoon Min-sik (