The Organizing Committee of the Gyeongju World Culture Expo operated promotional booths at the Tour Expo Daegu Gyeongbuk in April.
/ Courtesy of Organizing Committee of Gyeongju World Culture Expo
By Chung Ah-young, Lee Hyo-won
The 6th Gyeongju World Culture Expo will run from Aug. 12 to Oct. 10 in the old capital of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-935 A.D.) in North Gyeongsang Province.
This year’s event will feature the theme “The Story of a Millennium — Love, Light and Nature” to usher in a new millennium through various historic tales of Silla which created its flamboyant cultural heritages.
“We’re preparing to make the event the best ever held in all aspects such as content, size and facilities. We will reveal Korea’s culture and the province’s prowess to the world by hosting the high-quality event,” Kim Kwan-yong, governor of the province, said.
The event, to be held for 60 days at the Gyeongju World Culture Expo Park and other venues around the city, will take place in association with the 2011 Daegu World Championships in Athletics in order to draw more tourists to the region. The sports event will take place from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.
The expo, organized by Gyeongju City and the Organizing Committee of the Gyeongju World Culture Expo, will invite some 40 countries and consist of 100 programs in four categories — official events, performances, multimedia and exhibitions, along with other sideline programs.
In addition to opening and closing ceremonies, there will be thematic performances, an international dance festival, street performances, puppet theater, a b-boy and university students’ festival, and regional culture showcases.
The biggest characteristic of this year’s expo is the mix of state-of-the-art technology with Silla’s brilliant culture for the first time in the nation.
The multimedia section will present 3D film and a multimedia show featuring the Gyeongju Tower, the city’s landmark.
Exhibition corners will display animation characters, traditional puppets and fossils from around the world.
Other programs comprise four major events that will be held every 15 days during the expo — “A Special Day” on Aug. 11, “A Special Big Event” on Aug. 27, “Hangawi (Chuseok) Festival” on Sept. 12 and “Highlight Stage” on Sept. 26.
Sideline events include the World Dance Festival, which features troupes representing 16 countries from around the globe including Greece, Turkey, China and Japan.
Also not to be missed are opportunities to taste traditional foods from different countries and a folk costume fashion show.
Hungarian, Russian and Rumanian artists will reenact a European festival by offering outdoor performances and events. Passersby can enjoy mime, magic and acrobatic shows as well as meet painters sharing their artwork on the street.
Family audiences should also check out puppet shows by Czech, New Zealand and Thai participants, and an exhibition featuring dolls from around the world.
Another interesting opportunity is a corner that invites expo-goers to try on traditional Silla era costumes often seen in period dramas.
Other sideline events include engraving one’s name on a brick to build a 15-meter “dokkabi bridge.”
The expo has attracted some 8.5 million visitors since its inception in 1998. This year, organizers are expecting some 10 million will come to the event.
As the expo is nearing its opening slated for Aug. 12, the organizing committee is stepping up efforts to make the event a success.
The committee has set up large-sized promotion installations in popular areas and operated promotional booths at international events nationwide.
Early this month, the organizers promoted the expo at the World Taekwondo Championships which took place from May 1 to 6 in the city with delegates from more than 150 countries.
It plans to hold overseas promotional events in China to attract Chinese tourists by visiting Chinese governmental agencies to ask the cooperation for the expo.
In June, the committee will tour Japan, the United States and Hong Kong following its tour to the major cities in Japan in March. Foreigners living in Korea will also be encouraged to draw overseas tourists to the event.
Admission is 6,000 won for children aged 4 to 11; 8,000 won for students aged 12 to 17 and 12,000 won for adults.
Visitors can save up to 30 percent by buying tickets in advance. Those who make purchases before Aug. 7 will be entitled to a 20 percent discount and can receive an additional 15 percent off for groups of 20 or more.
Visitors should also hold onto their tickets to enjoy savings at nearby facilities during the course of the expo, including Gyeongju World, the Teddy Bear Museum, California Beach and hotels.
For more information visit cultureexpo.or.kr or call 1588-7890.
4 big draws at the 2011 Gyeongju World Culture Expo
Main performance — ‘Flying’
“Flying” is a nonverbal fusion martial art directed by Choi Chul-gi who worked on “Nanta” and “Jump.”
It is based on a story revolving around “hwarangdo,” or the code of chivalry during the Silla Kingdom, which symbolizes its spirit and manners.
The show portrays various incidents between a hwarang, or Silla knight, and a “dokkebi” (goblin), going beyond time and space in a mixture of acting, dance, martial arts, music, light and multimedia.
3D animation 'Byeongnucheon'
One of the expo’s signature projects is a specially commissioned film project.
Since 2000 four thematic films have been presented during the event to much acclaim. This year, audiences will be able to enjoy “Byeongnucheon” (The Bracelet of Blue Tears), a spectacular 3D animation.
The fantasy adventure began with the aim of spearheading Korea’s nascent stereoscopic film industry, and combines live action sequences featuring top actors and computer graphics.
The star-studded cast features Yun Soy, an actress known for films such as “Arahan” and “The Twins”; Kim Jung-hoon, a popular singer-actor who has appeared in TV soaps such as “Princess Hours” and is now active in Japan and China; and Ha Yoo-mi, a household name who won the Golden Acting Award last year at the MBC Drama Awards for her role in “My Wife Is a Superwoman 2.”
Ji-gwi (Kim), a lowly commoner, dies of despair over his unrequited love for the beautiful Queen Seondeok (Yun). He becomes a specter that appears in the form of flames, and the queen has no choice but to have him sealed off under a stone. But when the kingdom and the queen become endangered, Ji-gwi comes to the rescue. As a result he is able to save the Silla Kingdom and find true love.
The tale is inspired by a combination of local stories, including the reincarnation myth of King Munmu and the folktale of Ji-gwi.
The 20-minute film will be screened 16 times a day during the course of the expo.
Multimedia show at Gyeongju Tower
The highlight of the expo is an outdoor multimedia show that features the Gyeongju Tower as its centerpiece.
It features video, lighting effects, laser beams, fireworks and sound designs surrounding the 82-meter-high tower, a supersized replica of a nine-story wooden pagoda at Hwangnyong Temple.
The show is an upgraded version of the 2007 Moonlight Laser Show, and aims to offer a unique audiovisual spectacle that celebrates the origin of life, the vibrant culture and history of the Silla Kingdom — from its rise and war-torn fall and destruction, to hopes for a bright future. It culminates in a grand finale that makes the Gyeongju Tower disappear altogether, which is rendered through the application of 3D optical effects. It is the first time the technique is being showcased in Korea.
The 20-minute show will take place every day after sunset. On weekends, the show will be followed by a range of rock, metal, pop and jazz performances. The World Music Festival, running for an hour, will take place in front of the tower.
‘The Story of Millennium’ exhibition
A special exhibition invites visitors to learn about the Silla Kingdom’s history and culture at a glance.
The multimedia displays comprise of digital and analogue aspects that include interactive and hands-on sections.
The exhibition is designed to be viewed in a one-way sequence, beginning with a “prologue” that guides visitors into a starry, moonlit space. The journey continues through the history of the Three Kingdoms Period and the Silk Road, and concludes with an “epilogue” that captures visions for the future.