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A Guide to South Korea’s Best Autumn Events in 2013

A Guide to South Korea’s Best Autumn Events in 2013

Picture of Thomas Storey
Updated: 9 February 2017
South Korea and its capital Seoul are home to some of the most exciting cultural events in Asia, with a range of unique homegrown festivals, as well as internationally renowned arts exhibitions and performance acts coming to the country every fall. These ten standout events are the best ways to enjoy the South Korean autumn, for both tourists and locals alike.

Jake and Dinos Chapman – The Sleep of Reason – SongEun ArtSpace

23 August – 7 December 2013

Jake and Dinos Chapman have a long established reputation as the bad boys of British art, with a record of controversy and provocation which stretches back to their beginnings in the YBA movement of the early 1990s. Despite this image they are now well established international icons. This is reflected in this blockbuster show in Seoul’s SongEun ArtSpace, The Sleep of Reason, which follows another show at White Cube Hong Kong earlier this year. They will be bringing their iconoclastic sculptures to the art mad Korean capital, where the unsettling and surreal creations of the brothers Chapman will be drawing the crowds all autumn.

SongEun ArtSpace Apgujeong-Ro 75 Gil 6, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, Korea, +82-2-3448-0100.

Chuseok – Korean Thanksgiving Day

18 – 20 September 2013

The Korean Harvest Festival is known as Chuseok and is celebrated over the course of three days every year around the Autumn Equinox. Like other harvest festivals around the world it is an occasion for family, feasting and festivities, and is celebrated through an observance of traditional rituals. Many Koreans will visit their ancestral homes and indulge in traditional foods such as Songpyeon and other festive treats. The festival is also celebrated with gusto in major South Korean cities, and there are a variety of events in Seoul every year, including traditional dance performances, folk games and musical and culinary festivities. Seoul’s palaces and museums often put on programs of family events during the Festival, which provide a cultural treat for tourists and locals alike.

Hi Seoul Festival 2013

2 – 6 October 2013

One of the world’s leading performing arts festivals, the Hi Seoul Festival draws an average of 1.5 million people with over 250 performances throughout the South Korean capital. The theme of this year’s festival will be ‘let’s play on the streets’, which according to the organizers will be expressed non-verbally in a spirit of international unity and communication. Aiding this international ethos will be 23 performing groups from countries around the world, who will join the 49 groups from South Korea. Alongside performing arts and theatre shows, there will be public arts workshops, parades, markets, traditional and cultural experiences and a range of shopping and eating on offer, which will showcase the city’s thriving culinary scene. Seoul has developed a reputation for its arts and culture scene, led by a young generation of creative talents, and this festival reflects the best that this scene has to offer.

Seoul Performing Arts Festival 2013

2 – 26 October 2013

The Seoul Performing Arts Festival brings together an incredible range of theatre, performing arts and multi-disciplinary works in the South Korean capital. The theme of the 2013 festival is Surrealism vs. Reality. This has been interpreted by the participating artists and theatre groups in a wide variety of ways, with each of them pushing the boundaries of their own medium to test the viewer’s understanding of reality and the surreal. The organisers of SPAF seek to explore new expressions of creativity and to encourage a new vocabulary of theatre through their focus on realism and the fantastical, and have invited innovative and experimental theatre groups and artistic collectives from around the world to take up their challenge.

Music | Seoul Drum Festival 2013

3 – 4 October 2013

The streets of Seoul will come alive with the sound of drums this October, as the Seoul Drum Festival comes to the city. This exciting musical celebration will see parades, performances and interactive events, all centered on the endless variety of percussion music. The festival will feature both traditional Korean drumming and sounds from around the world, with a wide range of overseas teams travelling to the South Korean capital to take part in the festivities. Over the course of its four-year history the Seoul Drum Festival has proven immensely popular with Seoul residents. 2013 looks to continue this trend.

Music | Daegu International Opera Festival

4 October – 2 November 2013

The Daegu International Opera Festival brings the best singers and performers to the city of Daegu every year in a wide-ranging celebration of the operatic arts. The festival began in 2003 as a means of promoting Opera throughout Korea and the wider Asia-Pacific region. It has grown exponentially since then and regularly attracts visitors from across the country. The Festival also prides itself on promoting the talents of lesser-known Korean singers, launching the careers of many talented stars over the years. The 2013 program features performances of Verdi’s La Forza Del Destino, Puccini’s Tosca and The Memory of Chunga Hill by local talent Kim Sungjae. The Daegu International Opera Festival has grown into the largest Opera Festival in Asia over the course of its short history, and this year promises to see that growth continue.

Zandari Festa 2013

11 – 13 October 2013

Hongdae is Seoul’s hippest district, a bustling maze of alleyways packed with bars, galleries and street markets immensely popular with revelers at all hours. The Zandari Festa seeks to highlight the best of this area, in terms of culture, cuisine, nightlife and artistic creativity. It focuses on youth, and independence, reflecting the general vibe of what some call Seoul’s Shoreditch after the East London district renowned for its hipsters and galleries. The Festival boasts an eclectic program of events, with special stages for artistic collaboration, debate and DIY art forms. This unique event in the Korean cultural calendar embodies the spirit of a new generation of artistic and independent South Koreans.

Fuerza Bruta Original Team in Korea

11 October – 31 December 2013

Fuerza Bruta is a sensational Argentinian theatre production which has spent the last few years bringing its incredible sound and light show to audiences around the world. It is finally making its way to Seoul. Produced by the innovative theatre company De La Guarda, Fuerza Bruta uses a range of acrobatics, light displays and theatrical experiences to create an immersive experience in which the audience becomes part of the performance. Following from the success of such visual spectacles as Cirque du Soleil, Fuerza Bruta promises a unique 360-degree theatrical experience.

2013 Seoul Lantern Festival

2 – 18 November 2013

In November of every year the neon lights of Seoul’s skyscrapers are enhanced by a staggeringly huge lantern display which stretches throughout the city. Over 30,000 lanterns are included in this visual spectacle, which celebrates the Korean capital’s history as the seat of the royal family, as well as the rich panorama of tradition and culture which is evident throughout the city. The lanterns, which can be as large as houses, brighten up the Cheonggyecheon district and are combined with a range of public displays and performances.

Design | Seoul Design Festival 2013

18 – 22 December 2013

South Korea has become renowned in recent years for its innovative design studios which, buoyed by a reputation for manufacturing and technical excellence, has become the envy of East Asia. The Seoul Design Festival furthers this reputation by promoting excellence in design through its annual displays of the best Korean and international creations from countries such as Italy, France, Germany and the UK. The Festival is both a platform for cultural exchange, and an opportunity for local practitioners to compare their wares with the best European designers. The Festival also recognizes the best Young Designer every year, and offers an insightful look into the ever-changing state of the Asian design scene.

By Thomas Storey