(The Art Madang Theater Building)
It's the one aspect of Korean culture that needs to be promoted more: the Korean musicale performances and plays in Daehang-no.
While most tourists may not be able to understand the plays as they are in Korean, they may be able to enjoy the music and the dancing of the musicale even if these are in Korean.
And while the non-verbal performances in Seoul are already popular with international tourists bussed in to their shows non-stop, I, as a member of the K-Performance Supporters of the Korea Tourism Organization, am helping to promote the musicales, which most international tourists have yet to discover.
The Korean musicale Hwarang has been playing for a few years now. The musicale is a mixture of story of Shilla Dynasty trainee-soldiers, who are called Hwarang. The five male characters, Ki-Parang, Yu-o, Mun-no, Gwan-rang and Sa-daham, all tell their own story through dialogues, and very K-pop-ish song ang dance routines, which K-pop lovers out there would appreciate.
Here's the synopsis of the musicale, as provided by the Visit Korea website:
The Hwarang audition announcement is posted in Seorabol, the capital of the Shilla Dynasty, which has a thousand-year history.
The rebel Yu-o who wants to escape from his mother, the audacious and self-centered Ki-Parang, the Hwarang descendant Mun-no, who came down the mountain village with great dreams, the reluctant Gwan-rang, who was forced by his father to apply for Hwarang, and the innocent youth Sa-daham who thought the only purpose of his life is to protect Gwan-rang, all finally become a team after many twists and turns. However, there is no such thing as a peaceful day for this group given their different personalities, backgrounds and talents.
In order to break free from the strict rules and hard training routine, the group decides to make an escape plan. To make things worse, they reach a turning point where they have to decide whether to endure the competition or succumb to the conflicts and misunderstandings arising from the group.
Will they succeed in becoming a real 'Hwarang' and achieve they dream of becoming a superstar in Seorabeol?
(The cast and a lucky audience member.)
As the show has been playing for years now, it has created quite a following, especially among the young girls. But since the musicale is based on history and updated to the current music trend, it's for the whole family. When I watched last weekend, there were a couple of parents with their kids in the audience clapping at each lively song-and-dance number. In keeping with their tradition, the current cast also has very good voices, way much better than the K-pop boy band you'd see on TV.
The musicale holds 'events' every once in a while where lucky audience members are given prizes by the cast.
For directions to the theater, do refer to the photographs and directions on this previous Hwarang blog. Or to their Facebook page.