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Performing arts scene put on hold again

Workers disinfect the Baek Seonghui & Jang Minho Theater in central Seoul before the National Theater Company of Korea performs “Young-ji.” (NTCK)
Workers disinfect the Baek Seonghui & Jang Minho Theater in central Seoul before the National Theater Company of Korea performs “Young-ji.” (NTCK)

Just as they thought it was safe to reopen, theaters in Korea will continue to remain in hiatus as the South Korean government has brought back stricter social distancing norms.

After several new infection clusters of the novel coronavirus cropped up in the Seoul metropolitan area, the government ordered all state-funded cultural facilities in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province to shut down.

Following the order, four performing arts centers -- National Gugak Center, National Theater of Korea, Jeongdong Theater and Myeongdong Theater -- will be closed, along with seven publicly supported troupes. After the government switched to “everyday distancing” earlier in May, the national troupes confirmed new schedules, signaling a return to the stage. However, they have been put on hold for now.

The National Dance Company of Korea’s performance “Ceremony” June 5-7 has been canceled.

The Korean National Ballet’s “Giselle” performance slated for June 10-14 has also been canceled, though more than 98 percent of the seats had been sold.

The National Theater Company of Korea had been performing its child-friendly show “Young-ji” since May 21, but all shows after May 27 were canceled. However, some performances will be livestreamed on YouTube without actual audiences, allowing more than 30,000 children at 360 elementary schools across the nation to watch the show.

The Korean Symphony Orchestra has canceled its June 3 show. The orchestra was to go onstage after a four-month break for the first time after its chamber music performance in February.

The government order is also affecting private performing art shows.

Musical “Mozart!” has postponed its opening date to June 16, canceling six shows from June 11-14. Though the show is produced by private show management agency EMK Musical Company, it is held at the Sejong Center of Performing Arts, a public theater venue managed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, making it compulsory to follow social distancing measures.

The state-funded cultural facilities will remain closed until June 14 for at least two weeks. After tight monitoring on the new coronavirus spread, the reopening date will be confirmed.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)
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