The complete guide to Korea Festival 2023 in Abu Dhabi

Events will take place at Umm Al Emarat Park and the Korean Culture Centre

K-pop boy band MustB will perform at Umm Al Emarat Park. Photo: Korean Cultural Centre
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The 11th Korea Festival is returning to Abu Dhabi.

The annual event, which began in 2013, aims to showcase South Korean culture to a wider audience. It will run from October 27 to 29.

This year’s two-day festival will be held at Umm Al Emarat Park with K-pop concerts as well as performances of traditional Korean instruments and songs.

There will also be a Korean Culture Experience zone that offers a glimpse into Korean tourism, K-beauty, hanbok (tradition clothing), traditional games and arts and crafts workshops. The theme of this year's event is Sustainable Culture: Flowing in the Future.

Meanwhile, the Korean Cultural Centre on Yas Island will host artworks from South Korean artists, fan meet and greets and the UAE Korean Speech Contest.

Here’s what to expect:

K-maestro at the National Gugak Centre

When: October 27 at 6pm, October 28 at 5pm

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the National Gugak Centre – which was in 2021 – a stage production of traditional music and crafts will be presented this month, along with Pansori and Sanjo performances. Most songs express traditional Korean literary works or folktales.

Pansori was designated as South Korea’s National Intangible Cultural Property No 5 to preserve its unique culture in 1964. In 2003, it was recognised as Unesco's Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity of Korea.

“I'm delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the K-Maestro project, thanks to the invitation from the Korean Cultural Centre. I believe that presenting Gayageum Sanjo and Pansori performances during the Korea Festival adds even more depth to this event,” says Seo Jeong-ho, a researcher in the performance centre of the National Gugak Centre.

“K-Maestro is a project that beautifully fuses traditional music, an intangible art form, with craft, a tangible art form, in sync with the elevated status of K-culture on the global stage.”

Mutt and Sinmeong: Elegance and the Divine Spirit

When: October 27 at 7.40pm

Namwon, a city in the southern part of South Korea, is well known for three traditional types of performances: Heungtaryeong, which portrays the melancholic aspects of life, love and separation with mournful lyrics; Taepyeongmu, which conveys a wish for peace; and Samulnori, the embodiment of village festivals where the entire community comes together.

The Namwon City Traditional Art Troupe will take to the stage with reinterpreted modern performances, aiming to convey the message of peace and prosperity.

“In the cultural hub of the Middle East, the UAE, we are truly grateful for the chance to showcase the city of Namwon in South Korea,” says Kim Byeong-chul, leader in the traditional music team in the culture and art department of Namwon City.

“We hope that the spirited and colourful traditional Korean music and dance performances, along with the enchanting hanbok attire experience, brings the citizens and tourists of Abu Dhabi who attend this event closer to Namwon city.”

K-pop band Dios performance

When: October 27 at 8.50pm

Newly formed boy band Dios will perform twice in Abu Dhabi at Umm Al Emarat Park as they make their UAE debut; once on their own and the second time as part of the Kite: K-pop in the Emirates concert.

The four-member band consists of Loki, Jay, Woojung and Hyun. They’ll perform their most recent single Whistle and also sing BTS covers while showing off their dance moves.

Sharing the Sound of Natural Garak K-Music, Soul

When: October 28 at 6pm

The Chungbuk Cultural Foundation will present a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional South Korean music. Korean traditional instruments such as gayageum (plucked 12-string instrument), taepyeongso (double-reed wind instrument), haegeum (string instrument), piri (double-reed instrument) and the mouth organ (Korean harmonica), along with Western instruments like the cello and piano, will be used in the performance.

Familiar Korean folk songs, such as Chunhyangga and Heungbuga, will be reinterpreted and performed in Western classical music and jazz styles.

On the K: Taekwon screening

When: October 28 at 7.30pm

The On the K: Taekwon screening merges K-pop and Taekwondo and will take place during the Kite: K-pop in the Emirates concert. The ancient martial art will be showcased alongside an accompaniment of K-pop songs performed live. The show first began in 2020 and has been running for three seasons.

Kite: K-pop in the Emirates concert

When: October 28 at 8pm

Kite: K-pop in the Emirates returns to Umm Al Emarat Park. K-pop groups MustB and Dios will be performing.

MustB formed in 2019 and released their debut single I Want U in the same year. The group consists of members Ihoo, Taegeon, Soohyun, Doha and Wooyeon.

Dios is a four-member K-pop band whose debut single Touch Me was released in 2021. This will be their second performance at the event.

Korean Culture Experience Zone

When: October 27 and 28, 4pm-10pm

In collaboration with the Korean Tourism Organisation, there will be workshops and information booths set up at the Korean Cultural Centre that include tourism, beauty, traditional crafts and food.

UAE Korean Speech Contest

When: October 29 at 4pm

Emiratis will compete once again in a contest to deliver a speech in Korean on the theme of a “challenging time you have faced and how you overcame it”. The event takes place at the Korean Cultural Centre.

Updated: October 23, 2023, 3:05 AM