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More performance venues sprouting up south of Han River

Posted February. 27, 2001 13:07,   


The center for the performing arts in Seoul is gradually shifting to Kangnam, south of the Han River, from its former home in the Kangbuk area, north of the river.

In recent years, large-scale artistic performances are increasingly being held at the Seoul Arts Center in the Kangnam area, and performance halls equipped with state-of-the-art facilities have opened one after another in the region.

Hyundai Motors` Art Hall, with a capacity of 800, opened in Yangjae-dong on Feb. 16 and the Korea Electric Power Corporation`s 1,000-seat Arts Full Center is slated to open in Seocho-dong in April.

These two halls form a sort of ``culture belt`` along with existing facilities like the Korea Arts Center, with five separate stages, and the 1,103-seat LG Art Center, which opened in March last year in Yoksam-dong. Other than the Korea Arts Center, all are medium-sized facilities for performances put on by large companies.

In contrast, there has been little change in the facilities in the Kangbuk area. Most of the big halls and theaters north of the river were built before 1990. They include the main hall of the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in Sejong-ro, which has 3,852 seats, the 1,522-seat Haeorum Theater in the National Theater complex in Changchung-dong, 866-seat Hoam Art Hall in Sunhwa-dong and 710-seat Grand Theater of Korean Culture and Arts Foundation in Tongsung-dong.

Experts attribute the growth of theatres south of the Han River to the fact that the Kangnam district is heavily populated by people in the middle and upper classes, who tend to make up the audiences for high-priced cultural events.

Performance troupes say the ongoing recession makes it essential for them cater to as large an audience as possible. The fact that there is still room for construction in the area also made it a suitable home for performing arts centers.

Kim Gab-Sik gskim@donga.com