Old and new inevitably meet during Chuseok, when Koreans, from cosmopolitan Seoulites to village grandparents, gather with their families and honor ancestors. For those of you in Seoul, we’ve selected an extra-long list of things both old and new to explore over the long holiday weekend. Happy Hangawi!
A traditional Chuseok | September 10–13
If you’re looking for a traditional Chuseok experience and you don’t have a Korean family to go home with for the holiday, these cultural centers have opened their doors. Enjoy performances, folk games and food samplings.
Koudlam concert | Friday September 9, 5 pm
An outdoor electronic music concert by French symphonic composer Koudlam, whose name means “knife stab” in French slang. Koudlam’s style has been described by the New York Times as “otherworldly electronic beats, pulled from classical music to tribal, creating a psychedelic something from the future, maybe even space.” His music accompanies artist Cyprien Gaillard’s “Desniasky Raion,” a dystopian operatic film in three parts, currently featured at the museum. Bonus: MOCA is offering free admission to all exhibits over Chuseok weekend!
Outdoor stage at the National Museum of Contemporary Art entrance (free shuttle bus from Seoul Grand Park station exit 2 every 20 minutes), free admission.
The Creators Project | Wednesday September 7–10
The Creators Project is a global network dedicated to a celebration of creativity, culture and technology. What does this mean? They not only look for really great, innovative ideas, they also gather people and resources together to make more of that happen. This week, they’re curating an event series in Seoul highlighting the talents of artists, designers and thinkers from Korea and abroad. See their website for more info about film screenings, live & DJed music, art installations, workshops and panels. Go to see new ideas; leave inspired to create something of your own.
All events at Platoon in Nonhyeon-dong. Free admission with online RSVP.
International Typography Biennale | Through September 14
Korea has a long history with the printed word: the world’s first metal moveable type was invented in Korea in the early 13th century and Hangul, the world’s only “invented” alphabet, was created in the mid-15th century. This year, it hosts a biennial featuring renowned typography and book cover artists from across East Asia. These designers are unabashed about bending, layering, twisting and changing the way you see the printed word.
Calligraphy Art Museum at Seoul Arts Center is 10 min. by foot from Nambu Bus Terminal (metro line 3, exit 5.) Open 11 am to 7 pm, tickets are 5,000 won. More at typojanchi.org.
Yonhap International Press Photo Awards Exhibit | Through September 30
Yonhap News Agency partnered with the UN to hold an international photo competition in search of photos taken in the last two years that contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. The resulting showcase features around 100 riveting images telling stories of both tragedy and hope. Not for the faint of heart.
Old Seoul Station Museum (Cultural Station 284), Seoul Station exit 2. Free admission. yippa.net.
Exhibit: Return of Oegyujanggak Uigwe | Through September 18
In 1866, the reclusive Joseon dynasty successfully rebuffed a French invasion, but suffered the loss of a royal library, which was pillaged by departing French troops. It was not until early 2011 that the 297 stolen books, the Oegyujanggak Uigwe (외규장각 의궤), were returned to Korea, where they are now on display at the National Museum. This exhibit displays both the books, which detail Joseon court ceremonies in prose and paintings, as well as the historical context of the invasion.
National Museum of Korea, Ichon station (exit 2). Free admission.
Bonus: After the weekend ends…
Seoul Drum Festival Special Performance No. 1 | Wednesday September 14, 7–10 pm
The Seoul Drum Festival kicks off its special performances with a show by traditional Korean samul nori drumming group “Gwangaeto.” If you haven’t seen samul nori yet, it’s an energetic and loud performance that will likely get you clapping along.
Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, M Theater, Gwanghwamun Station (exit 1). Free admission.