Tag Archives: culture

BIPAF 2014 (Busan International Performing Arts Festival)

My friend entered his play “Treasured Love”  into  this year’s BIPAF’s 10 minute play competition. He recruited 4 volunteers from Pohang, including me, and we started preparing mid April. We lost one along the way so he became writer-director-actor. What a guy!

I didn’t realise how big the festival was. It ran from 2-11 May and the 10 minute play competition was the only one open to amateurs like us.  I’m pretty sure that we were the only foreigners out of 25 plays in the running.

It became clear on rehearsal day that our play was slightly different to the rest. The main Korean themes were suicide, bullying and handicapped issues. Real tear-jerkers- no language required! Our play was about vampires… A combo of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Only Lovers Left Alive”.  Needless to say, we gave our best but it was never going to cut it. At least we got some laughs from the audience…

I  learned a lot about what to expect and prep for next time.

Firstly, the theme has to have substance. Koreans like heavy themes, they spell drama with a capital D. The ten minute play should feature both laughter and tears (real ones, preferably shed by a male). There’s got to be Love and a Broken Heart somewhere in the mix. Plus Redemption if you have time…

Secondly, you need a soundtrack. At least one song but more is better.

Thirdly, lighting. Don’t think that having the lights on all the time will win you any points. It won’t.

Fourthly, timing. If the competition is called “Ten minute Plays” then you’d better finish right at 09:59 or 10:00. Seven and a half minutes? Forget you!

Lastly, script. Keep the English to a minimum, keep it basic, speak slowly. If you can, don’t use any language, concentrate on miming and dancing instead. Everyone loves a bit of synchronised dancing, especially if it’s a group of boys popping on the stage.

If I lived in Busan I would definitely have gone to the other shows. I admire  Korea’s approach to making arts and culture accessible to everyone by making tickets affordable.

I hope that next year will see more foreign plays in the running, since there is talent in Pohang, Daegu and Busan. Maybe one day a foreign play can even win. Now wouldn’t that be something!



Pohang Orchestra

Tonight I watched Pohang’s local orchestra perform at the Pohang Culture and Arts Center near POSCO Bridge and the baseball stadium. Mendelssohn, Mozart and Dvorak all featured in tonight’s performance.

What makes attending this classical music event so special? Well, for starters, it’s 2,000 won per ticket! Show me anywhere else in the world where you can regularly access good quality music for less than a quid!

Tonight’s performance was conducted by Byeong-Uk Lee (Lee Byung-wook), who usually heads up the Korean Symphony Orchestra and featured Ju-Won Kim (Kim Juwon) on flute during Mozart’s “Concerto for Flute and Orchestra No.1 in G Major, K313. It’s hard for me to find information on these musicians using google but I’m sure that if you naver them you’ll find a trove of information. Most of my info seems to indicate that they’re usually based up in Seoul but both of them have connections with Germany.

Great performance, really enjoyed Dvorak’s “From the New World Opus 95”.

Two things I’ll mention about the overall experience.

1) There are loads of kids. They run around and they whisper and make telescopes out of programmes. Cute and slightly annoying.

2) It’s hot in the auditorium – the musicians were sweating on stage. Don’t sit in the lower section – definitely aim for higher up where the air is cooler. You’ll also have a better view of the orchestra if you sit in the elevated section.

Booking tickets: My co-teacher was kind enough to book the tickets online for me but you can probably buy them at the venue too.

The next performance is on June 19th and will feature works by Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky.

Getting there: Take the 200 from Shiwae Bus Terminal or a taxi to 포항문화에술회관대공연장 (790-722 경북 포항시 남구 시청로 1(포항시청 14층 포항시시설관리공단).

Sidenote: There are also free monthly concerts held on Saturdays at 17:00 – 육거리 포항 아트홀. The last one was 17th May.