In their world, everything is wanderful

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In their world, everything is wanderful

Magic is a clash of wits between the magician and his audience. The magician lures the audience into a world of fantasy and the audience in turn tries to penetrate the aura of illusion created to uncover the mysteries hidden beneath. More often than not, the magician ends up the victor.

Magic defies even science. How then can we explain people floating in the air, or beautiful assistants being cut in half, only to be put together again with apparent ease? Everyone knows that there is no such thing as real magic (or, if there were, it would not exhibited by some guy in big hair and a heavily sequined tuxedo). But for unexplainable reasons, people willingly love to suspend their disbelief.

Meet Lee Eun-gyeol and Park Hye-seong. Lee Eun-gyeol, 22, is a young magician who recently received attention for winning World Magic contests in Nagoya, Japan, and Cape Town, South Africa, earning him the right to enter even more prestigious competitions in countries such as the United States, Italy and the Netherlands. He first dabbled with magic while in middle school, but because of his reserved nature and a good dose of stage fright he did not fully discover his passion for magic until his second year in high school.

Park Hae-seong, 32, has turned magic into an art literally. She declared that she would get rid of the exclusivity and prejudices surrounding the craft by incorporating tricks and enchantments into video art. She traveled to Canada to study with several magicians, in particular a prestidigitator known as Magic Mike. In her work, illusions abound, as she photographs herself and others levitating and undergoing all the usual mysterious staples.

After a short time, she won the Seoknam Magic Prize. She says that magic is her source of artistic inspiration and not just a tool. She is now in the spotlight, with her work featured in the art magazine "Fleshy Art," and she hopes to introduce her work to the world.

There are many strict rules in the archmages' world. Never reveal your secret. Never make mistakes. And never let the left hand know what the right one is doing. Mix these together and add bright lights, costumes, astounding dexterity and the applause of the confounded audience and you have all the ingredients to a great show.

But it is not as easy as it sounds. Success in magic is not determined just by your natural talent, but how much time and effort is spent. Mr. Lee's triumphant eight-minute show was the product of two years of work

Ms. Park is also well-aware of the hard work and dedication behind the glory, but her focus is on using magic to bring art closer to the public. It is her belief that art and magic have a lot in common perspective and optical illusions are essential to both.

Mr. Lee and Ms. Park are both interested in mainstream appeal and are making use of current events to achieve this. Mr. Lee is in the process of developing magic tricks that make use of the World Cup and its symbols, as well as messages of peace and the reunification of North and South Korea. Mr. Lee has been chosen as one of 11 promising, young Korean artists to take part in the "Eleven to Eleven" program, an exchange taking place from May to July in both Tokyo and Seoul.

They have one more fundamental belief in common: the power of magic to impact on people's lives. They both believe that there are no boundaries in the world of mystery and fantasy.

by Lee Sang-bok

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