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[Well-curated weekend] Korea’s coasts, DMZ, Busan featured in shows

An installation view of “The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales” at Barkat Contemporary in Seoul (Barakat Contemporary)
An installation view of “The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales” at Barkat Contemporary in Seoul (Barakat Contemporary)

American artist Mark Dion -- who doubles as an amateur ecologist, archaeologist and naturalist -- showcased his first solo exhibition in South Korea at Barakat Contemporary in central Seoul after going through thorough on-site research in South Korea’s western and southern coastlines.

Dion’s solo exhibition “The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales” includes his new large-scale installations “Cabinet of Marine Debris” and “Sea Life of South Korea” which explores how collections of discarded objects and debris can acquire an elevated status as something precious when they become separated from our lives.

For “Cabinet of Marine Debris,” Dion collected marine plastics from the southern and western shores of Korea and collaborated with private environmental organizations and public institutions in Korea. Another installation work “Sea Life of South Korea” recreates the laboratory of an anonymous marine biologist presenting a world with fragmented, exotic, and sometimes ethnographically hybrid objects that have been used for different purposes in different times and spaces.

The exhibition also features Dion’s monumental works that capture his interest in nature and its cultural reproduction. The works include large-scale drawings and sculptures such as “Blood Coral (2019).”

Dion has explored the ways in which museums shape the ideologies and interpretations of history, knowledge, and the natural world since the 1980s. Understanding nature as the most elaborate space to produce power and ideology, the artist has argued that the museum is where human curiosity and aspiration for nature can be confirmed most conspicuously.

Barkat Contemporary runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. The exhibition runs through Nov. 7.



Musical ‘Wonder Ticket’

An installation view of “The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales” at Barkat Contemporary in Seoul (Barakat Contemporary)
An installation view of “The Sea Life of South Korea and Other Curious Tales” at Barkat Contemporary in Seoul (Barakat Contemporary)

Musical “Wonder Ticket,” produced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization, will go onstage this weekend at the Woori Art Hall at Olympic Park in eastern Seoul, transporting the audience to the DMZ.

Telling the story of an abandoned steam locomotive that sits in the Imjingak area of the DMZ, the musical sends a message of hope for unification and peace on the Korean Peninsula. The train used to run along the Korean Peninsula but the service stopped, following the separation after the Korean War.

The story evolves around an old gentleman who travels back in time to meet his past love. The god of wind and the gentleman’s granddaughter join him on the journey.

The musical uses a supersized 36-meter-wide LED screen, projection mapping, and real-time 3D engine and tracking sensors for augmented reality visual effects.

It features rock star Yoon Do-hyun, Yoo Hwe-seung, Lee Hwang-eui, Lee Seo-young and more. Empty seats will be left between audience members who did not come together.

The musical was initially set to run for 10 days at the Pyeonghwa-Nuri Park in the Imjingak area, in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, near the DMZ, but the government’s social distancing measure led to the change in venue.

The 90-minute musical runs at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.



Romance film ‘Cinema Street’ 

A scene from “Cinema Street” filmed in Busan and directed by Kim Min-geun (Cinesopa)
A scene from “Cinema Street” filmed in Busan and directed by Kim Min-geun (Cinesopa)

Korean independent romance movie “Cinema Street” directed by Kim Min-geun takes audiences to enjoy beautiful scenery in the southern port city of Busan.

In the film, Sun-hwa (played by Han Sun-hwa) introduces different locations in Busan, including Songdo Beach, Mount Geumnyeon and Minrak lighthouse, like a tour guide.

However, she is not a guide. Sun-hwa is a location manager, responsible for finding and securing locations to be used in movies. She is passionate about her work and is confident that she knows all the best places for filming in Busan as it is the city she grew up in.

“I thought that location manager is an attractive occupation that finds all of those great spots, so I selected it as the main character’s occupation,“ the director said.

Kim added that it was special for him to create a film in Busan as it is the city that he is currently living and working in.

On top of amazing scenery, the movie also features a down-to-earth romance story of Sun-hwa and her ex-boyfriend Do-young (played by Lee Wan). The couple broke up a few years ago after Do-young decides to leave Busan to become a movie director in Seoul. Sun-hwa insists that she will not move to Seoul because of his boyfriend’s career. For Do-young’s new movie, which includes scenes in Busan, he has to work with Sun-hwa. As they work together, their memories from different locations in Busan come back to them.

Audiences can also feel like they are actually traveling to Busan due to the actors’ natural accents. Han grew up in Busan and Lee grew up in Ulsan, a city neighboring Busan where people use a similar accent.

“Busan is my hometown do it was special for me to be part of this film,” Han said.

“It is the first time I am performing with a Busan accent,” Lee said. “But I also was born and raised in Ulsan so I didn’t need to have a separate lesson for Busan accent. I could naturally have a conversation in Busan accent with Han Sun-hwa.”

Released on Sept. 16, the movie is now in local theaters.



Violin recital ‘Das Leben’

When things get tough, nothing quite soothes the soul as does an old, familiar tune from childhood. And in these troubled times, we often turn to such music for comfort.

Violinist Edwin E.S. Kim, a professor at Hanyang University College of Music in Seoul, and his wife Melanie Chae released an album, “Das Leben” under the Universal label earlier this month that takes listeners on a journey through life, from childhood to adulthood.

Dedicated to his mother who passed away last year, the album is a selection of pieces that hold Kim’s memories of childhood and youth and the emotions associated with them.

The album begins with Dvorak’s “Romantic Pieces,” which Kim recalls as his mother’s favorite piece and which the two of them listened to together when he was a child. The popular “Salut d’amor” by Elgar needs no introduction while Dvorak’s Four Romantic Pieces, Op. 75 elicits the warm, tender feelings of love.

Marking the release of his latest album, violinist Kim is holding a recital with a program of music from the album at the IBK Chamber Hall, Seoul Arts Center at 7:30 p.m., Friday.

By Culture Desk
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