* This post is written by Joanna Darnley, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.
In light of the upcoming Olympics, the Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) in London has put together a fantastic program to promote Korean culture over the summer. All Eyes On Korea is a ’100 day summer festival’ that will last from June through to September this year.
As the 100-day countdown to the Olympics began, today I attended the official press launch at the KCC which featured an introduction to the festival and a taster of what is to come in June by Paul Wadey, PR Officer at the KCC. We were told that the festival was inspired by the five colours of Korea, each representing North, East, South, West and Centre. It is hoped that the festival will provide the perfect opportunity to continue the spread of the Hallyu wave and showcase all things Korean – from K-pop to K-classic, Korean fashion to Korean food, Korean art to Korean literature and much, much more.
In a previous blog post, I mentioned some of the risks faced by focusing Korean cultural promotion too much on K-pop and how this left Korea at risk of losing out on other groups of people who would potentially be interested in different aspects of Korean culture. Well, with a jam-packed program such as this – there is no risk of anyone being left out.
In the presentation, we were given some rather interesting statistics. For example, non-Korean visitors make up 81.4% of the total and of all the visitors, 35% have visited more than 4 times. 70.5% of visitors were between 18-39 but in addition, around 10% were over 60 – demonstrating the centre’s ability to appeal to all ages.
Continuing to demonstrate this appeal are the events that will be forming the schedule for this summer’s 100 day festival.
On the Korean art front, Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa will be presenting an outdoor installation at the Southbank Centre which will be there throughout the summer. In addition, this summer the Hayward Gallery will become a temporary summer school; “Wide Open School” is an intriguing experiment into ‘what would happen if a school’s curriculum was driven by the imagination of artists’. The school will run from mid-June to mid-July and will feature Korean artist Lee Bul. From mid-July, the KCC will run it’s own exhibition entitled “Korean Funerary Figures: Companions for the journey to the other world” which will feature 19th and 20th century Kokdu used to decorate funeral biers.
The main Korean literary event of the summer will see ‘Poetry Parnassus’ taking place at the Southbank Centre. Poets from each competing Olympic nation have been invited to participate in the UK’s largest ever poetry festival and will present the works of Korean poet, Kim Hyesoon.
From literature to performing arts, the KCC is covering it all. On the 23rd of July, Be-being’s korean music mask project, “Yi-myun-gong-jak”, will be performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. This concert of traditional Korean music will include performances of original compositions as well as reinterpretations of traditional Korean mask plays and is definitely something not to be missed!
Another Korean musical extravaganza hitting the London stage on the 28th of July is “Walkabout”, presented by GongMyoung, a Korean quartet who perform traditional Korean music with a contemporary music. In a single performance, the audience will hear the sounds of up to 30 different instruments. Having performed all over the world, their arrival is the UK is long overdue so again, definitely worth watching!
For a full schedule of the other musical events taking place – stay tuned to the KCC website!
‘All Eyes on Korea’ will conclude with Korea’s stage at the Mayor’s Thames Festival on the 8th and the 9th of September later this year. The stage will feature a full programme of events, performances and workshops for all the family.
It sounds truly fantastic (and I only wish I was in the country for it!!!)
At the conclusion of the presentation, I went outside and happened to bump into some friends of mine….
As part of the launch, LOKO’s Caroline and Deanna led a number of students from the K-pop Academy and other numerous volunteers on a flashmob tour of London all morning. After the press launch, I joined the crew on the very brightly decorated ‘All Eyes On Korea’ bus to continue the flash mob tour…
We were joined on the bus by some Korean news film crews !
However, due to a timely downpour, our tour was cut short and we had to head back to the KCC early!
On our return, we all sat down to watch a concert DVD and then, before we knew it, it was time to prepare for 태국기 (TaeGukGi), the fourth Korean night hosted by the KCC….(T.B.C)
*For those interested in getting more involved with the KCC-hosted events over the course of the summer, you’re in luck as they’re currently looking for supporters to help with and attend the events so don’t hesitate to get in touch – here’s some more information below!