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Music for all come spring, summer, winter or fall

K-pop festival run by city gov’t to kick off in central Seoul Saturday
Sept 26,2019
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Seoul Drum Festival held this past May is one of the annual music festivals that the Seoul city government hosts to provide “music for free and for all,” according to the city government. The city government intends to host at least one music festival, free of charge, every season starting this year. [SEOUL METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT]
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Left: The Sherlocks, a British rock band, is one of the groups joining the Seoul Music Festival from overseas. Right: Song Yu-vin and Kim Kook-heon, a duo who performed together in Mnet’s audition show “Produce X 101,” will be performing at the Seoul Music Festival. [SEOUL METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT]
The city government of Seoul is hosting a K-pop music festival featuring boy bands, girl groups and fans from around the world in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul from Saturday to Oct. 6.

“The Seoul Music Festival is the first project by the city government to turn the capital city of South Korea into an international hub for music,” said Yoo Yeon-sik, head of the culture bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “The music presented at the festival will not only be limited to K-pop but will also include various genres so that people of all generations and nations will be able to find something to their taste.”

The week-long festival will feature rising stars and groups including NCT Dream, CIX, Rhythm Power, Ateez, Everglow and April.

Bands will be flying into Korea to join the festival, including British rock band The Sherlocks and Hungarian folk and punk band Bohemian Betyars.

All shows will be available for free, with most concerts taking place at Gwanghwamun Square in the evenings from Saturday to Oct. 6. Reservations for some special seating at the concerts, planned for up to 5,000 people, can be made at seoulmusicfestival.com



Who’s who

Concerts will be hosted at Gwanghwamun Square in the evenings of Saturday, Monday through Thursday and on Sunday.

The opening concert on Saturday, set to begin at 8 p.m., will feature artists including NCT Dream, CIX, Astro, Drunken Tiger, Kassy and Hoppipolla, the recent winner of JTBC’s music competition show, “SuperBand.”

The concert on Monday evening will be a collaboration between the Seoul Music Festival and the Zandari Festa, an annual music festival in the Hongik University area in western Seoul, and will feature indie bands and pop artists including Idiotape and CHS. CHS is known for experimenting with an unusual genre of so-called tropical psychedelic soul.

Bands and groups including girl groups CLC and Laboum will perform on Tuesday. That concert will be broadcast live to more than 20 countries, according to the city government. The show will begin at 6 p.m.

On Wednesday evening the square will host a hip-hop concert with artists including Dynamic Duo and rapper MC Gree. The stage will make way for students on Thursday with groups consisting of those studying music at Kyung Hee University, the Seoul Institute of the Arts and others throughout Seoul performing together.

The final show and closing ceremony on Sunday, set to start at 8 p.m., will feature artists including Ateez, Everglow, April and the duo of Song Yu-vin and Kim Kook-heon who performed together in Mnet’s audition show “Produce X 101.”


A cup of coffee served by a star

The festival will also provide opportunities for fans to interact with the stars on a more personal level.

“Your favorite star will be your barista of the day at the SMUF cafe, which will run from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the square throughout the week,” the city government said in its statement. “They will make your coffee and sing for you whatever songs of theirs you ask them to sing. Coffee will also be free for those who bring their own thermos.”

The cafe will be open from Sunday to Wednesday, on Oct. 5 and 6, according to the city government.

The boy bands and girl groups running the cafe are Dongkiz, Newkidd, Walwari, Nature, BerryGood and Limitless.

Fans who register in advance at the Seoul Music Festival website can also enjoy a few activities together at the square from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., on Sunday, Tuesday and on Oct. 5 and 6.

“The program will consist of small competitions where fans and stars can form groups to participate together,” the city government said.


Not a one-time event

Organized by the city government and the Sejong Center for the Preforming Arts for the first time this year, the Seoul Music Festival will be an annual event, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

“The overarching plan is to turn Seoul into a city where you have access to music 365 days a year,” Yoo said. “For this we adopted a plan called ‘Seoul, the Global Hub of Music’ which includes plans to provide music to anyone and everyone in the city to attract tourists through programs on music and to create jobs through international cooperation on music.”

Every year, the city intends to host at least one large-scale music festival per season, all of them for free.

Every spring, the city government will host Seoul Drum Festival, which was run for the first time this past May. Starting from summer next year, it will annually host a traditional Korean music festival in June and ballad and pop music festival by the Han River in August.

Each fall, in addition to the Seoul Music Festival, which will focus on a different genre of music every year, the city will also host an indie music festival.

And starting from 2021, the city government will be hosting a classical music concert every winter.

As part of the plan to turn Seoul into a global hub of music, the city government is also building infrastructure and facilities. It recently completed the renovation of Nodeul Island into a cultural complex, which has an indoor live music performance hall that can fit around 870 people standing and a 3,000-square-meter (32,292-square-foot) space that can fit up to 3,000 people for outdoor concerts.

The city is also building a K-pop concert hall called Seoul Arena, which will seat around 18,400 people, near Chang-dong Station in Dobong District, northern Seoul. The construction work will begin in 2020 with a plan to complete it by December 2023.

It also intends to build a 2,000-seat classical music hall in the city by 2024, the exact location of which has not yet been determined according to the city government, and a 1,500-seat live performance center in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul, by 2024.

“By June next year, we will also be hosting international conferences on music, including the Music Cities Convention, joined by experts from some 70 cities around the world,” the city government said. “We also hope to be able to host the World of Music, Arts and Dance in 2022.”

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]