“Hi Seoul Festival 2009,” celebrating its 7th anniversary this year, will be held from May 2-10 in Seoul, the capital of Korea. This year’s festival will take place at Seoul Plaza, the lawn-covered public square located in front of Seoul City Hall, and the Cheonggyecheon, a stream which runs through the heart of Seoul, as well as five royal palaces in this modern city with an ancient history.
Initiated in 2003 to sustain the festive mood of the previous year that swept the entire country during the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan, Hi Seoul Festival has since become Seoul’s most representative festival, adding various cultural elements to the festive atmosphere that has prompted eager participation from citizens and mesmerized international visitors. Last spring, 1.45 million people visited the festival, including 180,000 international visitors. This year’s festival highlights will include:
Spring of Seoul Blossoms in Hope
The main theme this year is “Spring of Seoul Blossoms in Hope,” symbolized by the fitting theme color of “hot pink” that means “love and hope.” Every aspect of the festival, from display booths to catalogues, will be decorated in a hot pink color.
The programs and performances are designed to tell the tales of Seoul by regional-based themes. This is intended to help citizens overcome the hardships of today by connecting and looking back to the hardships that were endured in the nation’s history and to engender community feelings of hope for the future.
Hot Pink Parade
The festival kicks off at Cheonggye Plaza on May 2 with a street parade. To communicate the connection between Seoul’s past, present, and future, the parade will incorporate traditional and futuristic-themed balloons that include the ancient masks of Seoul and 10 symbols of longevity to adorn the skies with a magnificent shade of hot pink.
Royal Palace of May, Palace of the Heaven
A giant, figurative art display entitled “Royal Palace of May, Palace of the Heaven” will be installed at Seoul Plaza, one of the main venues for the festival. Using textile strands in excess of 656 feet to connect Seoul Plaza and several nearby buildings, the art display will be shaped in the form of many dragons ascending and covering the skies.
Tales of Five Palaces
To illustrate the 600-year history of Seoul’s cultural icon, “Tales of Five Palaces” will be presented at the five royal palaces, where visitors can learn the history of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and experience the unique, traditional culture first hand. On May 3, the coronation ceremony of the Great King Sejong, the fourth king of Joseon who created Hangeul, or the Korean alphabet, will take place at the Gyeongbokgung Palace. At Deoksugung Palace, “Dreaming of Modern Civilization: King Gojong,” tells the turbulent history of the Imperial Korea. At Changgyeonggung Palace, visitors can experience the life of a royal through “A Day in the Royal Palace” program, and at Gyeonghuigung Palace one can enjoy the famed musical Daejanggeum, or “Jewel in the Korean Palace,” and learn about the heritage of Joseon cuisine.
Hi Seoul Festival is becoming increasingly international as more international visitors participate each year. It is becoming a representative festival of Asia that attracts travelers to the charm of Seoul and its unique culture.