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Chuseok offers some unorthodox attractions : Aquariums, theme parks and museums all provide something to do in Seoul

Sept 30,2017
“Muare Experience” by Voala and Duchamp Pilot, will be performed at the opening ceremony of the Seoul Street Arts Festival on Thursday and Friday. [SEOUL STREET ARTS FESTIVAL]
As the Chuseok holiday kicks off next week, there is a range of events available in Seoul for those that aren’t leaving the capital or are returning for part of the 10-day break after visiting family around the country.

Seoul Street Arts Festival

From Thursday to Sunday next week the street is the place to go, as street arts shows, fireworks, concerts and dancing take over the roads of central Seoul for the Seoul Street Arts Festival.

The Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture and the Seoul Metropolitan Government are working together to offer 48 events throughout the city center free of charge.

The opening and closing ceremonies promise to be particularly exciting. The opening nights on Thursday and Friday will feature “Muare Experience” from Voala and Duchamp Pilot, an aerial rock music show. On Thursday, Korean pop and rock singer Lee Seung-hwan, along with his band, will provide the music for the performance.

“Keyframes,” an art installation from French Groupe Laps, consists of a series of stick figures made out of light tubes. The installation will be in Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul, until Oct. 8. It will be lit every evening for three hours starting at 8 p.m. Look Look, a Laboratory Dance Project team, will hold street performances with unique costumes and objects while redefining the identity of “you” and “me.”

On the very last day of the festival, Sunday Oct. 8, there will be fireworks in the center of the city. “Su A Feu” by Spanish urban dance group Deabru Beltzak and “Transforming Seoul” by Hwarang Art Pyrotechnics and indie band Asian Chairshot will close the festival.


Everland in Gyeonggi is already kitted out for Halloween with spooky destinations and ghosts cropping up all over the theme park. Yet over Chuseok it will still take on a decidedly Korean vibe.

The amusement park has prepared minsoknori (traditional folk games), a barbecue and a red flower festival.

In Carnival Square, from today until Oct. 9, there will be several minsoknori games available for visitors. More than 10 games are prepared, including yut (a board game), tuho (a game where players try to throw sticks into a jar), jegichagi (a game where competitors try to kick each a sack while hopping) as well as tools for traditional punishments such as cudgels and leg-screws.

There will be a “Joseon-Sherlock” event, where characters from Korean folk tales like Heungbu, Nolbu, Shimbongsa, Ppaengdeok Eomeom and Hong Gil-dong make an appearance and compete with visitors in the quiz corner. There will be small gifts for those who participate. Photo sessions will be available as well.

Concerts from indie bands will be held three times a day on Monday, Oct. 2 and Monday, Oct. 9 on the Alpine Stage.

At Red and Grill barbecue festival, visitors can try different types of cuisine to get a break from the Korean traditional dishes that are consuming throughout the Chuseok holiday. There will be 26 types of barbecue from eight different countries served with wine and beer. The festival begins on Thursday. Approximately 50,000 portions were sold last year during the nine day festival.

There will be a variety of cooking shows held throughout the event.

After filling their stomachs, visitors can take a stroll at Four Seasons Garden, which is home to 30 different types of flower that bloom in Autumn, including cosmos, globe amaranths and capers.

Everland is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during Chuseok.

COEX Aquarium

Why not check out some marine animals during the Chuseok holidays. Two Humboldt penguins, an endangered species, will be on display for visitors to COEX Aquarium in southern Seoul. The two brothers were born in July and will appear alongside their foster mother, a specialist at the aquarium, who will tell stories about the baby penguins growing up.

The aquarium’s otters will also take part in the festivities. The tiny otter sisters will eat a special Chuseok meal served on a gujeolpan, a platter with nine sections used to serve traditional dishes.

Chuseok is observed at the time of the full moon, so there is no more fitting marine animal to visit this holiday than the moon jellyfish. Koreans traditionally danced under the full moon during the holiday festivities. While the full moon may only appear once a month, the moon jellyfish is always full-moon shaped.

There will be a 20 percent discount for foreigners visiting the aquarium if they pull up the discount coupon image from social media or the website, www.coexaqua.com.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA)

If you haven’t visited the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art yet, this Chuseok is the perfect time to head over.

MMCA Gwacheon, MMCA Seoul and MMCA Deoksu Palace are all open for visitors with no entrance fee from today until Monday, Oct. 9, with the exception of MMCA Seoul, which will be closed on Wednesday.

Anyone visiting MMCA Gwacheon or Seoul will get a bookmark as a gift. Visitors that go a second time will get a jenga set, a block-tower board game.

At the MMCA Seoul there are several exhibitions both indoor and outdoor such as the “Young Architects Program” and “Papers and Concrete.” In Gwacheon the exhibitions “Layers and Spaces” and “5 Fun Ways To Enjoy Art Museums” will be held alongside others. Deoksu Palace has the “Deoksugung Project,” where artists have installed works in various parts of the palace.

Seoul Arts Center

Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul offers outdoor screenings, music concerts and exhibitions throughout the long Chuseok break.

For SAC on Screen, the screening event, the center will show three recordings of past performances - “Shim Chung” by Universal Ballet and “Die Zauberflote” and “Treasure Island” by the Seoul Arts Center.

The screenings will be held in Stairs Square from Thursday to Saturday at 7 p.m. This event first started in 2013 to share some of the best performances from the Seoul Arts Center with a wider audience.

Exhibitions will be open as well. Next Saturday and Sunday will be the last chance to see “Karim Rashid,” “Vogue Like a painting” and “Bitter Sweet” in Hangaram Art Museum. Another reason to visit SAC is that it will be free to visit “Qi Baishi,” a retrospective of the Chinese art master of the same name, from Tuesday to Thursday. The Moomins exhibition is also still on display.

From Saturday to Sunday, SAC will be offering the “Minje Sung Double Bass Recital,” several piano concerts, violin and clarinet performances as well.

National Folk Museum of Korea

To remind visitors of the values of the Korean traditional harvest festival, the National Folk Museum of Korea in central Seoul is holding some 33 events from Thursday to Sunday.

In “Hangawi Big Madang,” visitors can play traditional games, share songpyeon (a crescent moon-shaped rice cake traditionally consumed at Chuseok), make traditional handicrafts and enjoy Arirang performances.

There will be a range of traditional games and experiments provided on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In Ochondaek, an outdoor space, visitors can try preparing the table for the ancestral ceremony and wearing hanbok (traditional Korean dress).

Visitors can compete against each other at arm wrestling and try traditional games including yut and tuho. Children can also participate in a quiz game about Hangawi-related facts. Hangawi is another name for Chuseok.

Another highly recommended activity at the museum is making traditional handicrafts such as a hanji (traditional paper) box, cheongsachorong (traditional Korean lantern with red and blue silk shade) and folklore bags.

Music is also part of the Chuseok festival. On Thursday, there will be a Korean traditional dance, “Wolwori Cheongcheong,” mostly danced by women, and “Pyeongtaek Nongak,” a dance that is traditionally performed by farmers.

On Friday, there will be “Jeongseon Arirang” from Gangwon and the Turtle Play that was traditionally held to wish peace and prosperity to a village.

The next day, there will be a b-boying performance that interprets traditional dance style to modern song. Last but not least, on Sunday there will be a performance of Yeonhui Madang by the National Gugak Center.

In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to make badges of Soohorang and Bandabi, the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

There will also be the opportunity to craft animal shapes out of wood from trees grown in Pyeongchang. The museum will be closed on Wednesday.

BY HONG YOU-KYOUNG [hong.youkyoung@joongang.co.kr]