Festival of Korean culture ‘in motion’ returns to UAE

Korea Festival 2017 celebrates performance, language, food and sports

Women and Nature: Korea-UAE Art Exhibition. Art work by the artist Kim Duck-yong
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Korean culture takes centre stage across the UAE over the next month, with performances and events as part of the Korea Festival 2017 taking place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain.

Korea Festival 2017 is co-hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the UAE and the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development of the UAE and features music, dance, theatre, food and more, with “K-Culture in Motion” as this year’s theme.

The festival officially opens at 7pm on Wednesday October 25 with a performance of Darkness Poomba at Abu Dhabi National Theatre.

Darkness Poomba. Courtesy Modern Table
Darkness Poomba. Courtesy Modern Table

The show, directed by Kim Jae-Duk and performed by the Modern Table company, is a modern dance performance that ­reinterprets the traditional Korean art of Poomba. It will feature a modern live band of guitar, bass and drums, alongside traditional Korean Pansori singers, and promises to break down the traditional barriers between performers and audience as the dancers mingle with the crowd and blur the lines between viewer and actor. The show has recently staged successful performances in Moscow, London and Akita, in Japan.

Abu Dhabi's National ­Theatre will host a number of the ­festival's key events, including the children's musical ­Treasure Hunter (Monday ­November 6, 6pm), the "non-verbal musical" Nanta (Friday November 17, 6pm – performances also in Dubai and Al Ain) and the hologram show Lights in Harmony (Wednesday October 25, 7pm).

Nanta. Courtesy PMC Production
Nanta. Courtesy PMC Production

Treasure Hunter is a musical designed to display the cultures of a variety of Asian countries, including those in the Middle East, using animal characters and song and dance to send a positive message to children, and also serves to introduce the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Nanta promises high-tempo percussive comedy and was the first Asian musical to debut on Broadway when it opened at New York's New Victory Theatre in September 2013. Lee Jae Woo's Lights in Harmony, meanwhile, promises to embody the harmony of the relationship between the Korea and the UAE through the medium of light and dance. A second children's musical, Tale of Rabbit, adapts a traditional Korean folk tale and takes place at Abu Dhabi Theatre, next to Heritage Village, at 10am on Thursday November 23 and 5pm on Friday Nov 24.

The festival's spokeswoman, Eunjee Kim, explains that the festival, which has taken place since 2013, is aimed at sharing cultures between the UAE and its South East Asian distant neighbour: "Korea is quite far away so not many people know very much about it. We're trying to bring some of the culture over here and change that," she explains.

Kim also reveals that, despite Korea's far-flung location, a small number of Emirati students are studying the Korean language, and 12 of them will be pitted against each other in one of the festival's more unusual strands – a Korean speech competition at the National Theatre, on October 25 from 4-6pm.

The festival also encompasses the 2nd UAE-Korea Friendship Taekwando championships, taking place at Sharjah Youth Centre on Saturday October 21, a Korean food festival at Dubai’s Westin Al Habtoor City from October 24-25, and Kimchi Masterclass at Abu Dhabi’s Korean Cultural Centre on November 15, and the National Theatre on November 17.

All events are free.

For full listings, visit www.­uae.korean-culture.org


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