Posted by: rbbadger | September 25, 2011

Saturdays at Four

Back when I lived in the Seoul area, I often attended the Saturday afternoon concerts at the National Gugak Center (국립국악원), formerly known as the National Center for the Traditional Korean Performing Arts.  The National Gugak Center specializes in traditional Korean music and dance.  Each Saturday at four in the afternoon, they perform a concert of traditional music and dance for the very reasonable cost of 8,000 won. 

They have been seeking to expand.  To that end, they have founded two more centers, one in Namwon, North Jeolla Province and the other in Busan.  Like in Seoul, they both give Saturday afternoon concerts.  Unlike in Seoul, the director of the center gives commentary (in Korean) on the pieces of music that will be performed. 

The Busan facility is very impressive.  They have the latest technology.  Also, there are platforms which can slide in and out.  I’ve never seen a symphony-orchestra sized ensemble slide horizontally across the stage before. 

I really would like to recommend to any foreigners here, especially resident foreigners to pay the Busan National Gugak Center a visit.  Getting there is fairly straightford.  After taking the number 2 subway to Seomyeon Station, take exit 13 and take bus 83-1 to the Busan National Gugak Center bus stop.  If you show your alien residence card, you get a 20% discount. 

Like all buildings of a certain size, there are hideous modernistic sculptures around.  However, not all the statues are hideous.  The second photo is inspired by the very famous Korean instrument, the gayageum.  The gayageum is a zither-like instrument with a very lovely sound.  The third statue shows a folk dancer, specifically a folk dancer who is dancing in the type of music and dance associated with farmers.  The dancers wear a hat with a ribbon attached to the top.  By moving their heads, they are able to twirl the ribbon in various directions.  The ribbon differs in lengths from medium to very long.



  1. A concert every Saturday? Is it always a symphony orchestra? That’s wonderful!

    • I should explain a bit about this. They do have a resident orchestra, but the orchestra does not always perform. The orchestra plays in a symphonic style, but they use only traditional Korean instruments or traditional instruments adapted to symphonic use. You see a similar thing in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore with Chinese orchestras.

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