South Korean Festivals

For visitors interested in art and culture Korea is hosting a feast of art exhibitions, festivals and special events around the country this Autumn.  From a major exhibition of paintings from the Louvre Museum in Paris to Biennale being held in two of Korea’s largest cities, Busan and Gwangju, Korea will be the place to be for art lovers.  Major festivals and events such as the 2006 Geumsan World Ginseng Expo and the Wonju International Tattoo along with several major Korean cultural festivals make a trip to Korea this Autumn a feast of arts and culture.
Mask Dance
 

For a dose of French art in Korea the exhibition from the Louvre Museum is the first of its kind in Korea and will be held at the new National Museum of Korea which has been recognized as one of the top six museums in the world.  The exhibition will display various genres of masterpieces including the paintings owned by French kings and donated by aristocrats as well as great artists of the time. The exhibition is on display at the National Museum of Korea from 24 October, 2006 to 18 March, 2006.

Busan is Korea’s second largest city and seaport.  The Busan Biennale being held from 16 September, 2006 to 25 November, 2006 is a grand-scale art exhibition consisting of a Contemporary Art Exhibition, a Sea Art Exhibition and a Busan Sculpture Project which has been held every two years since 2000.  In 2004 1.3 million people visited the Biennale and in 2006 approximately 280 art pieces from about forty countries are being exhibited.  The unique Sea Art Exhibition is held along the waterfront of Haeundae Beach with approximately 120 works exhibited under the theme of ‘Art in Life’. 
 
Busan is the place to be for film lovers as well.  The 11th Busan International Film Festival will be held from 12 October to 20 October, 2006 and is a high profile film festival in Asia competing with other major film festivals around the world.  The festival offers a look at the prospects of Asian films and their trends.  In recent years, Korean films have gained worldwide recognition enjoyed by Korean film-fanatics from Sydney to London.
 
The city of Gwangju in the south-west of Korea hosts the 6th Gwangju Biennale from 8 September to 11 November, 2006.  The Gwangju Biennale was founded in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Korea’s Independence, and to celebrate the Year of Art in Korea.  This international art exhibition is now held every two years to look back on Korea’s art culture and to understand the future direction in art.  More than 1.6 million art lovers visited the Biennale in 2004.  A two to three day stay is required in Gwangju to see something of the exhibition highlights.  All throughout the Biennale various promotional events are held including live jazz concerts, dancing and so on.  The theme for this year’s Biennale is ‘Fever Variations’ – as the theme title implies will show fast growing interest in Asian art culture, Asia’s new cities and culture trends.

Gwangju also plays host to the most representative of traditional Korean cultural festivals – the Gwangju Kimchi Festival in October where visitors can get their hands into making Korea’s national dish.  Gwangju has a highly-developed cuisine culture and has long been called the home of Korean food due to its variety of foods with delicious and rich tastes. Gwangju has been hosting the Gwangju Kimchi Festival every October to promote the excellent quality of Korean traditional kimchi to the world.  Kimchi can now be bought in Korean and Asian grocery stores all over the world.  Named as one of the five healthiest foods in the world last April by American Health Magazine, the world is now learning of it’s nutritional value.

Kimchi Festival
 

Korea is known for the best quality ginseng in the world and the ginseng centre of Geumsan will host the 2006 World Ginseng Expo from 22 September to 15 Ocotber, 2006.  The city will use the expo to publicise the remarkable medicinal effects of Korean ginseng.  The outstanding efficacy of Korean ginseng was referred to in several ancient Chinese medical books.  Eight organizations from fifteen countries will participate in the international symposium under the theme of ‘Ginseng, Root of Life’.
As the Expo will coincide with Chuseok, Korea’s Thanksgiving holiday, the organizers have arranged special celebration events like traditional Korean music and dance performances.  Domestic and foreign visitors will be able to join in playing Korean traditional games and hands on experiences of picking ginseng, cooking ginseng and making ginseng wine. 

The Wonju International Military Tattoo, the largest military music festival in Asia is held every autumn.  The festival is full of splendid international tattoo bands, brass bands together with a diverse fringe festival.  This year visitors can see an integrated band performance of each country.  Military music bands from 13 countries including Korea, US, Russia, Taiwan, France, Singapore, New Zealand and Spain will participate.
The festival’s performance will be held one per day from 11 October to 16 October, 2006 in the Wonju Tattoo Plaza, Wonju City.

One of Korea’s most popular traditional cultural festivals is the Andong Mask Dance Festival held in the ancient village of Andong from 29 September to 8 October, 2006.  Visitors can enjoy the most typical Mask Dances of Korea. Visitors can immerse themselves in Korean culture at Andong village by staying in a Korean traditional house (Hanok), visiting the Hahoe Mask Museum and visiting Jirye Art Village, a traditional Korean arts village.  During the ten day festival diverse performances will be held every day to entertain visitors form Korea and overseas.  The Andong Food Festival held at the same time allows an opportunity to enjoy delicious local foods.  Andong steamed chicken (Jjimtaek) is a specialty and Andong is famous for traditional Korean liquors (Soju).