Learning out of class in Korea

One million liters of water, 1,200 chickens, 13,345 eggs, and 4,239 rolls of toilet paper. This is how much an average person consumes during his 78.5 years on Earth, according to "Lifetime Numbers Made by a Person," an infographics project by Yook Ho-joon.

Yook's work is part of a Sejong Center exhibition titled "BINGO - The Story of Life and Arts from Cuban Refrigerators," a rare opportunity to enjoy Cuban contemporary art as well as Korean artists' paintings and installations.

While the 15 Korean featured artists, including Yook, examine wasteful consumer behavior of people today, Cuban artists turn refrigerators, an essential part of life in the sweltering climate of Cuba, into curious and surprising artworks ― morphing the common house appliance into a car, a famous Cuban soda drink or a canvas, as in the case of Chinese-Cuban painter Flora Fong.

Fong turned a 50-year-old refrigerator into "Pez Cayo (Key Fish)," covering the appliance with illustrations of Cuban marine scenes including images of fish, a hook and fishing rod on the door.

The exhibition's theme could be seen as very serious and even didactic, but the show manages to entertain at the same time.

To help young visitors gain a deeper understanding of art and try their hands at creating their own, the exhibition is concurrently running a class for children called "Sweet Art Class."

Class starts with a short session on studying colors by describing their feelings using different shades. The children then create their own designs, which are later recreated on their own cup of ice cream with sprinkles and chocolate chips. The children are also given a tour of the exhibition by a curator who explains each work.

"My daughter keeps asking me about the stuff she learned today. She keeps asking, 'Do you know how much water a person uses or how many eggs a person eats during his lifetime?' I think she found this event very interesting," Lee Hyun-jae, the mother of a 7-year-old girl, told The Korea Herald.

While the children were soaking up art, mothers seemed happy to enjoy their free time chatting over coffee.

The exhibition runs until Sept. 1. Tickets are available at www.interpark.com or at the door. For more information, call 1544-1555.

The Sejong Center exhibition is but one of a long list of cultural events with special programs for children this summer. In fact, summer is often the only time that Korea's school kids can take time out of their punishing study schedules for cultural activities.

Hello Museum, a children's museum located within Seoul Arts Center's Hangaram Art Museum, is hosting "Art and Play 2013: Let's Play," an exhibition of 40 paintings, sculptures, installations, films and more. Here, children are allowed to do the things that children do ― touch the exhibits and move around some of the installations to create new works altogether.

The theme for this year's "Art and Play," which is celebrating its 10th year, is "Find my own game, find my path."

"We wished to provide children with a meaningful time, some time for self-examination," said Kim Soo-jung, Hello Museum's press officer. Children will study Yoon Jeong-won's installation "Smile Planet," a sculpture with a collection of dumped Barbie dolls and other toys. Then the kids will experience a flea market where they can exchange their own toys brought from home.

"We hope the children can think about the value of their belongings and learn to appreciate objects," Kim said. The program is available from July 26 to Aug. 25.

Children and adults can discover their cultural roots at SamcheongGak's "Premium Traditional Culture Experience," which offers visitors an opportunity to get a taste of Korean traditional culture in the traditional setting of a "hanok," or traditional Korean house. Several classes are available: tea ceremony, Janggu (double-headed drum) or danso (short bamboo flute), Bongsan mask-making, and kimchi-making.

Classical music doesn't have to be inaccessible. The Seoul Metropolitan Youth Orchestra is holding a two-day concert titled "Summer Classic" on Aug. 10 and 11 at the Sejong Center Grand Theater with a program geared toward young people.

In addition, musical "Babpeo," based on the true story of the bestseller "A Poet Making Rice, Scooping Love," is back at Sejong Center until Aug. 9. For more information, call (02) 399-1114.

Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center also presents a number of programs tailored for teenagers. "Summer Break Youth Concert" will take place on Aug. 9-10. Youth drama "The Other Place" will also be staged on Aug. 9-10. The KBS Symphony Orchestra will be performing "Summer Night Classic Concert" on Aug. 14, featuring well-known classics.

The city of Chuncheon puts on a festive hat for the annual Puppet Festival Chuncheon which takes place Aug. 9-15 this year. A number of children's programs such as children's flea market and craft classes where kids learn to make dolls will be offered. There is also a program that allows children to experience the process of producing a puppet show, from editing the script and making the puppets, to performing on stage.

Even hotels are joining in on offering kid-friendly programs. The Plaza Hotel offers "Summer Kids School," a special summer break package that runs every weekend through Aug. 31. Children try their hands at cooking as well as honing their golf swing and swimming. The program is targeted at children aged 7-13. Eric Kayser, a French chef from the French bakery, will teach the cooking class.

On July 28, professional golfers Yoon Chae-young and others from Hanwha Golf will give a special lesson. The package includes a one-night stay at the hotel for a family.

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