Who doesn’t like a party? I know I do! I remember the best parties I went to back in my youth were at friends’ houses. We used to sit around singing songs, playing games, and making crafts. Each year, artist from around the globe descend on Seoul for a huge party that takes over the grounds of Seoul Plaza, Cheonggyecheon, Gwanghwamun, and Yeouido Hangang Park. The name of this festivity is the HiSeoul Festival and it has something for everyone!
The 2011 HiSeoul festival kicked off May 5th (Children’s Day) and runs through the 10th at each of the venues. While events do take place in downtown Seoul, the main attraction and most fun can probably be had while walking the grounds of Yeouido Hangnag Park. Not only do the “big name” attractions play out here, but also the park atmosphere makes it more suitable for entire families.
During our day at the festival, we happen to enter the “Nonverbal” performance tent for two performances. The first was billed as a Laser and Magic show. While there were lasers used in the opening trick, that was about it. However, the magician, Min Hyoung Kim put on an amazing show with great takes on classic slide of hand routines. Probably my favorite trick was a special set-up he used with cards and a video camera. I won’t spoil the ending, but will say that it was amazing!
The second performance in the tent was the Kidz Concert. This was a musical storytelling session where musicians played classical music accompanying the dramatic slide show of a bee challenging a bear to keep his stash of honey. The overall theme of this year’s HiSeoul was nonverbal performance. Rather than understanding the Korean that was spoken in this session, the story was wonderfully illustrated and played so that anyone could understand what was taking place, regardless of his or her native language.
One of my favorite exhibitions of the day came from the Czech Republic: The Wooden Circus. The performance itself was in English and French, but that didn’t stop any of the Korean children from having the time of their lives as master puppeteers made their creations dance, swing, or gallop over the stage. The performers were so good at what they did, one forgot that the wooden creatures on the stage were not real.
The biggest and best draw of the festival is Rainbow Drops. The show’s main group is from Spain and performs under the name La Fura dels Baus. The show is visually stunning, incorporating local performers and citizens in a massive combination of dance, music, and high-wire high jinks. This is the one performance that everyone stays for and everyone remembers. Some 30 Koreans are hoisted into the air and splashed with color, and then as an amazing rock version of “Arirang” is played, fireworks are launched behind them.
What a way to end the festival day!
For more information, check the festival’s website: http://english.hiseoulfest.org