|Cherry Blossom Season!
Where to go to take in the colors of spring
Early April is almost here, which means the cherry blossoms will soon be blooming. Blue skies, pink blossoms, romantic walks beneath a rain of flower petals…it’s one of the most beautiful times of the year.
Korea’s premier cherry blossom festival is the Jinhae Gunhangje Festival (April 1-10), held in the southeastern port of Jinhae, not far from Busan. In addition to lots and lots of cherry blossoms amid charming, historic surroundings, the festival also boasts military band performances, special markets and a rare opening to the public of the Republic of Korea Naval Academy.
Gyeongju’s Bomun Lake District is full of beautiful cherry blossoms that bloom in early April. There’s an annual cherry blossom festival, to be sure, but what sets Gyeongju’s cherry blossom season apart is its Cherry Marathon (April 9), with full, half, 10 KM and 5 KM runs along the cherry blossom-lined lake. See this link for more details.
In Seoul, there is, of course, the Yeongdeungpo Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (April 4-10), when, it seems, half of Seoul descends on the area around the National Assembly building to stroll beneath its beautiful cherry blossoms. For an extra visual treat, go at night, when the blossoms are lit up.
If you find yourself in the Bukchon/Samcheong-dong area, Samcheong Park and Jeongdok Public Library are also good places to take in the cherry blossoms.
PS: Here’s a list of other spring festivals around Korea, courtesy the KTO.
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FROM SEOUL MAGAZINE
AROUND THE WEB
A miscellany of high-quality hyperlinks from the week, courtesy of SEOUL editor-in-chief Robert Koehler
MATA HARI at the Moulin Rouge
The life of World War I spy and legendary femme fatal Mata Hari is brought to the musical stage by an exceptionally talented Korean and international staff that includes Tony Award-nominated director Jeff Calhoun, composer Frank Wildhorn, musical director Kim Nun Jung. K-pop singer-turned-musical star Ock Joo-hyun takes on the role of Mata Hari, the Dutch-born dancer who was executed in 1917 as a double agent working for the Germans. Set against a splendid stage of Paris’ Moulin Rouge, the passionate, beautiful music of Frank Wildhorn will be the highlight of the musical, which has been four years in the making.
VENUE: Blue Square
PERIOD: Mar. 29-Jun. 12
MORE INFO: T. 1544-1591 www.bluesquare.kr
ADMISSION: KRW 60,000-140,000
GETTING THERE: Hangangjin Station (Line 6), Exit 2 or 3
Discounted tickets for Swan Lake
If you’re an expat or tourist, and you haven’t seen Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” this is your chance. The Universal Ballet is offering expats and tourists (and Koreans accompanying said expats and tourists) 20% discounted tickets to its performance of “Swan Lake” at the Universal Arts Center (thu Apr. 3). In order to receive the discount, you should show your passport or alien registration card when you pick up your ticket. The original ticket prices are as follows: R: KRW 100,000, S: KRW 80,000, A: KRW 60,000, B: KRW 10,000.
MORE INFO: Call at 070-7124-1777 or email at email@example.com.
GETTING THERE: Exit 4 of Achasan Station (Line 5)
Coffee Expo Seoul 2016
Coffee Expo Seoul, one of the best coffee exhibitions in Korea, will be holding its biggest year on record this April 14 to 17. Doubling the size of last year’s show, which saw more than 33,000 visitors, Coffee Expo Seoul 2016 will be expanding to use both COEX’s halls A and B. The show will once again be co-organized by COEX and the Korea Coffee Association.
Brazil will be featured as the Coffee Expo Guest Country this year, repeating the success of last year’s program which hosted Colombia, one of the top coffee producers in the world. At the marketing stage, Colombian coffee experts educated Coffee Expo Seoul 2015 visitors about food pairings using six different Colombian coffee regions. Brazil will be featuring a number of cultural products related to the coffee industry at this year’s show.
VENUE: COEX Halls A and B
PERIOD: April 14-17
MORE INFO: coffeeexposeoul.com
GETTING THERE: Samseong Station (Line 2)
The Three Musketeers: The Musical
Alexandre Dumas’s novel debuted as a musical in Korea in 2009. Since them, it has been seen by 400,000 fans, enjoying commercial success in not only Korea, but also in Japan, where the Korean production was a major hit. In 2016, it returns to the stage with a new cast and a new energy, but with the same music by Bryan Adams and Michal David, including the theme song, “All For Love.” The lead character of d’Artagnan will be played by one of four different actors: Kai, Park Hyung-sik, CNU and Sandeul.
VENUE: D Cube Art Center
PERIOD: Apr. 1-26
MORE INFO: T. 02-2211-3000
ADMISSION: KRW 60,000-130,000
GETTING THERE: Sindorim Station (Line 1 or 2), Exit 1
Pen Varlen 1916~1990
Pen Varlen was a Russian-Korean artist and educator who was born in Primorsky, or the Maritime Province, Russia, studied art in Saint Petersburg, and spent most of his life in the city. His life and art penetrate not only the modern and contemporary history of Korea such as colonization, division of the nation, war, and ideological conflicts, but also that of Russia, the country which experienced the communist revolution, the Second World War, totalitarianism, the Cold War, Perestroika and Gladnost.
VENUE: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) Seoul
PERIOD: Thru May 8
MORE INFO: T. 02-2022-0600
ADMISSION: KRW 3,000
GETTING THERE: 15 minute walk from Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 1
In celebrating its 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and France, Seoul Museum of Art presents Urban Legends, putting forth the outcomes of the exchange program with Palais de Tokyo. Seven international artists selected by the two institutions, crossing over boundaries of gender, nationality and culture, will unfold creative initiatives filled with imaginations based on the urban experience from Seoul and Paris. Their insights from productively misreading the deviating interpretations and misunderstanding caused by limited conditions and environments such as the physical distance between the two cities, psychological and cultural differences, and language barrier create intriguing legends of their own.
VENUE: Seoul Museum of Art
PERIOD: Thru Jul. 24
MORE INFO: T. 02-2124-8800
GETTING THERE: City Hall Station (Lines 1 or 2), Exit 1
RAS-KB Excursion: The Imjin River: “The Korean War’s Thermopylae”
On 22nd April 1951, the greatest offensive of the Korean War was unleashed: A third of a million communist bayonets surged south. Their key breakthrough point was the Imjin River. Here, for three nights, a brigade fought an army. Then, in a death ride down an enfiladed valley, survivors fought free, but for one battalion, it was too late. The 1st Glosters – cut off and surrounded on an isolated hill – were wiped out in a tragedy that has passed from history into legend.
So immense was this struggle, it was later dubbed “The Armageddon North of Seoul.” The story of a band of outnumbered men, holding a key pass through the hills before being overwhelmed after a last stand, has been compared to Thermopylae, and US general and 8th Army commander James Van Fleet called the Glosters’ action, “The greatest example of unit bravery in modern warfare.”
RAS Council Member Andrew Salmon, author of the double award-winning “To the Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea, 1951″ will be your guide. He will brief you on both the tactical and strategic pictures, presenting maps, photographs and paintings, as he reveals what it was like to fight China’s awesome “human wave.”
VENUE: Paju, Gyeonggi-do
DATE: Apr. 9
COST: KRW 60,000 for members, KRW 72,000 for non-members
MORE INFO and GETTING THERE: See this link.
Visitors wearing colorful hanbok at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Photo by Robert Koehler of SEOUL