Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Good News and the Bad News: Seeing Cultural Events in Seoul

The good news: especially with this mayor, Oh Se Hoon, Seoul has been loaded with cultural events and festivalish thingys going on, like, all the time.

This was from Seoul Night Out, a few weekends ago, when they did cultural presentations after dark. . . which is cool to me, because I think cities are all prettier at night.

this performance was gobsmacking amazing. Really, truly fantastic.

The bad news:
As far as I know, there is no single place where one can find English information about all the happenings going on in Seoul. Maybe if you can read Korean, there's lotsa stuff, or if you check the arts page of the Korea Times on the right day (I'm pretty sure it's friday); however, as far as I know, there is no website that gives comprehensive events listings for Seoul in English, that is both navigable, and regularly updated, which means you have to check five or six different places, piecemeal, to find out about concerts, festivals, cultural events, demonstrations (as in pottery, or tea ceremonies, not as in "down with LMB").

Dear Seoul City Hall: Is it that hard to hire a bilingual person to run an up-to-date website, maybe linked to the HiSeoul tourism webpage, that includes ALL cultural events, concerts, performances, demonstrations, and festivals happening in Seoul? Wouldn't that make things easier for tourists than having each different organization's website only advertising the events they sponsor, and having lots of dead links saying things like "Please wait. English version coming soon." or blank pages, or updates from a season ago, and blocked transactions saying "Sorry, Firefox/Linux/Mac-using sucka: you need an ActiveX controller to see this page or navigate this flash-guide, even though huge swaths of the internet hate activex and refuse to use internet explorer" or "We're going to tell you about this festival, and all the films you could see, but you can't order tickets because you don't have a Korean ID number. Mwahahahahaaaa!"

It wouldn't be hard. Heck, pay for my Korean classes so that I can check the listings myself, and I'll do it for you. (If you can lure me away from my current job . . . good luck with that, though.)

My lovely readers: is there a website like this I can bookmark, that I just don't know about yet? If so, please tell me in the comments section, and I'll add it to my sidebar and send you gratuitous thanks.

If not: Hey Korea! You know how you say you want to become more attractive to tourists? Is that true, or is it just lip service? If you mean it, here's a good start! Give us some direction, so that our main "seeing cool shit" strategy isn't just "walk down toward City Hall, follow loud noises, cross your fingers praying its not a protest, and hope something cool happens."

This is what I saw tonight, but I mostly only found out about it by dumb luck.

Ah, Singin' In The Rain. My second favourite musical.

Oh, and by the way. . . Gene Kelly makes it look so effortless, if this doesn't put a smile on your face, I don't know what to say to you,

except that even when Usher, one of the very best dancers in the pop world today, decided to recreate this scene, buddy, you can see how much work he put into it. . . when Gene Kelly does it, it really seems like a fella might do exactly these steps off the top of his head, because he's so happy in love.

To compare: Usher. He does a good job, but it's a bit strained, because Gene Kelly's Just. That. Good.


Mama Nabi said...

Hell, if they create that job, maybe I'll move to Korea and take it. I am surprised that there isn't more effort to inform people... although, I get a feeling (just from a recent short trip there) that it's not just about the language - it felt like many things were word of mouth, as in that's the culture.

Ah. Usher rushes it, must the impatience of his age... it looks more effortless on Gene Kelly's part because he's taking his time whereas Usher is just a hair ahead of the beat.

Roboseyo said...

I'm not overly surprised that people aren't well informed -- there are a bunch of projects and pages that are half-started but trailed off, or one site for concert listings, and another site for plays, and another site for cultural demonstrations that's all in Korean, and the Friday Korea Times has some stuff, if I can find a copy of the KT. It sure would be nice to have a daily updated site that pulls it all together, though.

I just can't say enough about Gene Kelly. . . except, watch west side story.

Kelsey said...

Wow. That was truly incredible!


Anonymous said...

While I'm busy throwing YouTube links your way, have you come across this Volkswagen 'remix' from that part of "Singing in the Rain"?

kesumo said...

There should be a "Time Out Seoul" from the folks who publish "Time Out London" and "Time Out New York." I looked into it before moving over here and was surprised there wasn't a Seoul version of the "Time Out" brand. Seoul needs that or something like it.
I have a Korean friend who is in the music festival biz. I plan on asking him what's up with the lack of information for foreigners.