The Korea Herald


Arts fest Big Day South makes Gwangju foray

By Korea Herald

Published : April 6, 2016 - 18:45

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 Annual audiovisual festival Big Day South is gearing up for its first show in Gwangju this month, with a collection of music, visual and performing arts.

Run by art magazine Angle, the festival seeks to bring together expat and Korean artists in the south of the country.

Angle founder and Big Day South organizer Philip Brett said that holding the festival’s third outing in Gwangju was a chance to broaden out.

“The previous two were in Daegu and Ulsan, so they are quite close together. So I thought if we are going to Busan we (would) still (be) in the same corner of the country. But as well, in Gwangju, there is so much happening over there,” he said, pointing out that Angle’s presence is not as strong in Gwangju as it is in the southeast of the country.

“Part of the excitement of making it in Gwangju is that it is a completely new challenge,” Brett said.

“If we had gone to Busan, we know more than enough people there to pull off a large-scale event, but with Gwangju we have never made a big show there. And for a large part, not a lot of people know about us, apart from the people we have already interviewed.”

57 performs at Big Day South in Ulsan in 2015 (Joochan Kim) 57 performs at Big Day South in Ulsan in 2015 (Joochan Kim)

The festival is split across two venues, with bands playing in one venue, Club Nevermind, and visual art, spoken word, dance and other performance arts will be staged at nearby Barim.

This year’s band lineup includes Gwangju band Betty Ass, Barbie Dolls and trip-hop group My Name Is Red.

And the festival could be a chance to see acts that are on their way up. Since performing at last year’s festival, Jeonju band 57 won first place at KT&G Band Discovery. It is currently preparing for a U.K. tour. Yamagata Tweakster was the headline act at a festival in Daegu and held a European tour last summer.

Both acts will be performing at Nevermind.

The art stage at Barim earlier in the day will include live painting by local artist Jen Lee, spoken word by Gabrielle Zilla and a performance by Gwangju Community Theater, with Kwon Tree, winner of best folk song at the Korean Music Awards for the second year in a row, wrapping up the performances at the venue. 

People draw portraits of each other on plexiglass at Big Day South in Ulsan in 2015. (Joochan Kim) People draw portraits of each other on plexiglass at Big Day South in Ulsan in 2015. (Joochan Kim)
Many of the performers are based in and around Gwangju. Brett said the venues felt like the perfect match for Big Day South, and he hopes the local audience will respond well.

“It’s a little difficult to predict because there’s so many new performers ... and (for) people watching, it will be their first Angle event,” he said, pointing out that most people who went to last year’s festival in the magazine’s home city of Ulsan would have already been familiar with the format.

“They knew the general atmosphere and the community that we get from the shows, so people really took to it. That’s part of what made it a success. This year it’s going to be quite interesting to see how the performers interact with each other.”

And that interaction, Brett said, is an important part of what he considers a successful event.

“At every Angle event we are always looking for a collaborative event,” he said. “It really creates energy between the audience and the performer. I’m really hoping that will be the case.”

“Most of the reports that I have heard and the events that I have experienced in Gwangju have been pretty fantastic and I am hoping that they are not the exception.”

To help this along, audience members can join in a collaborative “exquisite corpse” -- a kind of joined up drawing in which each artist does not know what the other artists have drawn -- plexiglass portraits and other interactive activities.

Also at the festival, Gwangju Animal Care Humane Institute will be raising funds through a silent auction of donated art.

The festival runs on April 30 from 11 a.m. For more information, visit

By Paul Kerry (