Hongdae Has Hip and Highbrow Sides

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Hongdae Has Hip and Highbrow Sides

The Hongdae district is located in the shadows of Hong-ik University and is regarded as one of the liveliest areas in the city - both in terms of entertainment and culture. The three educational objectives of Hong-ik University are independence, cooperation and creativity. Evidence that these ideas are put into practice abound in the district. In addition to ubiquitous cafes and small shops, the Hongdae area is alive with music venues, art galleries, restaurants, hair salons, art institutes, small interior design firms, picture frame shops and dance clubs. To get there, exit at Hong-ik subway station (line 2).

This week, the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition sees how Korea's youth is shaping the art scene in the area. Here is a sample of the cultural activities are on offer in Hongdae.

To immerse yourself in mixed media head to Ssamzie Space. To get there, face the university's front gate and go left. Then take the sixth road on the right. It incorporates a cafe, performance space, galleries and studios in a seven-story complex tucked away on a small street. Chun Ho-kyun of Ssamzie Co. Ltd. expanded Ssamzie Art Project into the current complex to house an assortment of artistic and cultural activities and studio programs. Ssamzie Space's goal is to be the "avant-garde mecca of the new millennium." In order to fulfill its ambitions, Ssamzie Space promotes a variety of media from music to films to performance art, and nurtures both amateur and professional artists. The first-floor cafe, known as the Event Club Sori ("sound"), is a cozy place to relax. The retro brown and black tones of the cafe form the backdrop for a large movie screen - for regular showings of independent films - and colorful, cool photos by Yun Suk-mu, part of a permanent collection called "inter_view."

Garage Gallery 101 is also on the first floor. Through Dec. 20, Ssamzie Space is exhibiting works by Kim Jong-ku on the theme, "How Can I Measure the Biggest One and Smallest One in the World?" Mr. Kim, a metal sculptor who studied in Britain and participated in Omi, a U.S. residency art program, used Garage Gallery 101 as a performance space. Wearing protective gear and breathing from an oxygen tank, Mr. Kim carved and ground metal blocks. Although the performance has ended, the remnants of his labor are still on display. The chamber brings to mind the hardships and solitude the artist faced while studying abroad.

The Media Theater Baram ("wind") and Project Gallery 201 are both on the second floor. The Media Theater features popular music, art performances, films and transmissions of live events through the Internet. Upcoming events include a performance by the rock group Huckleberry Finn on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are 7,000 won ($6). Modern rock is the theme for Sunday, with the performance starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are 8,000 won. The Dec. 22 concert is titled "Hardcore Night... Let's Die.." The performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are 8,000 won.

Project Gallery 201 features two videos by Mr. Kim, "North Wales the Sheep" and "Outdoor Painting." From a distance, the scenery in "Outdoor Painting" appears to be a sheep pasture. But upon closer inspection, it is apparent that the white shapes are actually plaster blocks. Mr. Kim used metal powder to draw landscape scenes on the plaster blocks. These landscapes are affected by the weather; rain and wind slowly shift the soluble metal powder shapes, making the art mutable as it is marked by the passage of time.

Main Gallery 301, on the third floor, showcases the bulk of Mr. Kim's work. Mr. Kim used to erect elongated statues made from solid metal, such as "Mountain Tree." Recently, he has been creating more "feminine," horizontal pictorial art using powdered gunmetal, such as "Mountain." The Main Gallery 301 also has a souvenir shop.

The fourth to sixth floors are studio spaces for young artists. The artists change annually.

The project's offices and archive are on the seventh floor. The archive features domestic and international art books, journals, catalogs and art videos.

Loop is another gallery in the area. Four graduates of the Chicago Art Institute created Loop last year. In its short history, the alternative art space has featured works from Hong-ik University students to older Korean artists, and from the expatriate community within Korea to artists living abroad. The exhibits have ranged from performance art to experimental music to multi-media installations.

The layout of the stark room, on the second floor of the Junwon building, changes for each exhibit. Following a video exhibition that ended last Wednesday, the Loop geared up for a print exhibit, "Multi Print Media Exhibition," that opened Friday. The exhibit, which ends Dec. 15, displays works by students from the print department at Hong-ik University. From Jan. 6 to Feb. 6, there will be an exhibit that centers on the tango dance. For more information, call 02-3141-1377.

The Sanwoolim Theater is home to the Sanwoolim Troupe. The drama troupe began in 1969 with a version of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," and moved into the Sanwoolim Theater several years later. In its 15-years, the theater has become one of the primary cultural centers in the Hongdae district.

Currently on offer at the Sanwoolim Theater is "Na Hae-seok - Woman of Passion." The story is based on the life of Ms. Na, one of Korea's first female artists who painted in oils. Park Ho-young, a new face in theater, stars as Ms. Na. Performances are at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 02-334-5915.

The Hong-ik University Museum offers a mixture of academic research and art exhibits in a 2,800 square-meter space. Archeological art can be found on the second floor of the 26-year-old museum. The period covered starts from prehistoric times to the Chosun era. On exhibit are various stoneware artifacts, bronze tools, earthenware vessels and Buddhist images. The museum showcases famous paintings by Shim Sa-jung and landscape paintings by the Chosun-era artist, Chung Sun.

The third floor boasts works by more modern artists such as Lee Jung-seop, Park Soo-geun and Kim Hwan-ki.

The Hyundai Gallery on the fourth floor and is scheduled to hold several exhibitions. The museum is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and holidays. For more information, call 02-320-1322.

by Joe Yong-hee

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