Seoul brims with art, culture and fun

In Korea, the arrival of fall is signaled by many things: cooler, dryer, but still pleasantly warm weather, the national Chuseok holiday, a bountiful harvest, and hikers flocking to mountains to take in the fall foliage.

Marking the season, the nation's capital is hosting a variety of fall festivals, offering its citizens and visitors a chance to indulge in music, arts, food, culture or just fun.

In the performing arts scene, the buzz is all about the inaugural Korea Art Festival Autumn 2014 which opened Sunday at Marronnier Park in Daehangno, central Seoul, for a monthlong event from Sept. 20 to Oct. 19.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, it ties together four existing art festivals, to be held at different venues throughout the city, under one title.

One of them ― D. FESTA, the annual street performance festival taking place in the Daehangno theatre district ― just ended Wednesday, but there is still plenty to explore in the next few weeks.

SPAF

Inviting 25 local and international theatrical works from seven countries, the 14th Seoul Performing Arts Festival opens Thursday at Arko Theater and Daehangno Arts Theater, showcasing a variety of plays and dance performances until Oct. 19.

The opening play of the festival is thriller "The Yellow Wallpaper," staged by Berlin-based Schaubuehne Theater and directed by English playwright Katie Mitchell. The thought-provoking play depicts the role of women and their suppressed identity in society.

London-based Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter's latest full-length play "Sun" and Korean director Oh Tae-seok's "Why Did Shimcheong Throw Herself into the Sea Twice" are also on the festival's lineup.

For information and ticketing, visit www.spaf.or.kr.

SIDance

Seoul International Dance Festival opens Thursday at venues across Seoul, including Seoul Arts Center, Gangdong Arts Center and Sogang University Mary Hall, and runs until Oct. 18.

For the past 17 years, the festival has served as a means to bring international dance to Korean stages while introducing Korean dance to international audiences. This year, French director Compagnie Philippe Genty's "Forget Me Not" will open the festival with its mix of mime, puppetry illusion and dance.

"Dawn," the latest production by young Hungarian dance company Hodworks, presents four nude performers in a radical piece that focuses on the mechanical and animalistic character of the human body. For information and ticketing, visit www.sidance.org.

PAMS

"Performing Arts Market Seoul" is the last leg of the Korea Art Festival Autumn 2014, running from Oct. 7 to 11 at the National Theater of Korea in Jangchungdong, central Seoul.

Marking its 10th year, PAMS, under the theme of "A Window to Contemporary Performing Arts in Asia," selected China as the country of honour to promote Korea-China cultural ties and host a variety of forums and events together during the festival.

Through an array of events including a showcase of outstanding performing arts performances, networking events and academic forums and discussions, the festival invites visitors to take part in exchanging information between performing arts professionals in Korea and abroad. For more information about the festival, visit en.pams.or.kr.

Other festivals

Along with the art festivals, Seoul City is hosting its signatory annual street festival, the Hi Seoul Festival, from Oct.1-5 at popular tourist areas in the city, including Gwanghwamun, Cheonggyecheon and Seoul Plaza, all located in central Seoul.

"Butterfly! Has Returned," based on Korean folktale "Shimcheongjeon," will open the festival with six street performance teams to reflect on Seoul's modernization and discuss birth, pain and revival.

Nine foreign performance groups from six countries, including France, Japan, the US and Australia, will join the festival, where 268 street performances will be staged. For more information, visit www.hiseoulfest.org.

The first-ever Royal Culture Festival is currently under way at four royal palaces and other historic sites in Seoul, presenting the country's traditional heritage with modern twists. A plethora of art exhibitions, concerts and traditional cultural performances are taking place at a total of seven venues, including the main Gyeongbokgung Palace. Palaces are open until late at night during the festival which runs until Sept. 29. For details, visit www.royalculturefestival.org.

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