Having lived in Korea for a little over three years now, something that I really enjoy is going to see a live performance. Whether it be a concert, musical, or play, it is just a very fun experience. If you live near Seoul, there are a plethora of venues which hold a wide variety of events. And if language is your barrier to understanding please know that there are international options as well as Korean. Big name foreign acts such as Coldplay, Maroon 5, Damien Rice, and plays such as Sister Act, and Billy Elliot have also made their way to Korea within the last couple of years. They are really fun to go to! So, today I will tell you about my own experiences, where to get tickets, and things you need to know to prepare for going to one of these entertaining events during your time teaching in Korea.
Total in Korea I have been to four official performances. My favorite was seeing Coldplay in concert at the old Olympic Stadium (pictured above). The concert was absolutely something I will never forget. It was such a fun time to see them, along with seeing how many Koreans shared in my enthusiasm for the band. This made me feel more connected to Korea in general. Actually, after the concert I have seen at least four or five people on separate occasions wearing their tour t-shirt that they were selling at that show.
The other three performances were all musicals, and they were all in Korean. Being that I don’t speak Korean very fluently, I have always thought it would be best to see a musical as it would be more interesting overall, and not knowing exactly what words were being said wouldn't affect my experience too much. My first musical was called Phantom, which is based on the Phantom of the Opera. I saw it at the Blue Square near Itaewan. While I was expecting the original Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtrack, I was happily surprised to see that everything had been revamped with entirely different songs, and slight modifications to the actual story as well.
The second musical I saw was called Hero. This was a historical and culturally significant play. It was about An Jeun-Geun, the Korean man who shot and assassinated the First Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi. I definitely would recommend reading An Jeun-Geun’s wikipedia page. He is very important to many Koreans. He is seen as someone important for Korean independence. And also, it is just a very interesting and unique story.
The third musical I saw was actually this Christmas! I saw a musical called Meet Me At GwanghwaMun. The musical is about a man who is in his last minute of life. During this time, in his subconscious he is visited by the angel of death, who comes in the form of a woman who sings and dances. She teaches the man, who had essentially ignored his wife only thinking of his first love, that he should have spent more time on his wife. Then the man dies and the story is over. It was a very fun but then really sad musical! I would recommend seeing this one.
How to Get Tickets
The place where I have always bought my tickets from is called Interpark. This website shows everything that is happening right now as far as performances and even sports matches. The good thing about this site is that it allows the use of credit and check cards from other countries. I have yet to figure out how to use my Korean card, which is because I have a Mac that doesn’t comply with Korean bank security, but luckily I can easily purchase tickets with the other cards. Also, the site is entirely in English! Simply find what you want to go to and click purchase tickets, then click the dates that you want, then look for which seats you want.
For some events, like the Coldplay concert, the seats will fill up as you are looking for them. In that instance of emergency, good luck and pick quickly. I was only able to get tickets for that because they later opened up an entirely new section. But for the most part, the tickets will be easy to purchase. For musicals and plays in general, I have found that the tickets way in the back are actually pretty good. The ticket prices range from around $40 for the way back to $140 for the best seats. I personally do not find the value in purchasing closer seats as it is easy to see things from the seats further back.
How to Prepare
Before leaving for the performance, here is what you need to know and what you need to bring with you. You need to arrive around 30 minutes before the show starts. However sometimes arriving early would be better. This depends though on what you are going to and how many people there are going to be. For example, there are a lot of concerts where you simply pick a square in which to stand. In this instance if you are last, you will be standing at the back. But also it would not be fun to be late to something for which you are paying big bucks!
The other thing is you need to be able to find the venue for your event. It is very easy to get lost. Luckily, Google maps has gotten much better in Korea, and I’m sure that using it on your phone you can figure out how to get there and the exact location. The venues are everywhere in Seoul, so there isn’t one specific place to go. Make sure to check out the top of your ticket page on the interpark website, as it tells where to go.
Last, you need to bring your credit card, your ID, and your confirmation number. From my experience, you never virtually got a ticket, it was only by showing your confirmation number or ID. You don’t have to print out the confirmation number, but rather you can simply have it on your phone. Depending on what venue it is, they might just sort people by their family names, and then they will ask what your name is and hand you the ticket. The Coldplay concert did this as well as the last musical I saw. They sorted me into the aisle labeled Foreigner and handed me my ticket after simply saying my name.
Well, I think that is everything! I hope this blog as been helpful for when you want to see a play or a concert during your time teaching in Korea.
Neil Frazer has been teaching with Chungdahm for a little over two years. He comes from a small town in Wisconsin, named Spooner and graduated from Olivet Nazarene University with a Bachelor's of Social Work. After traveling to Korea in college he quickly fell in love the culture, food, and quality of life that Korea has to offer and immediately knew he wanted to come back. He looks forward to sharing his experiences of living in Korea and working at the Pyeongchon branch, near Seoul.