Arts, music, food, all in an afternoon

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Arts, music, food, all in an afternoon

If you work Monday through Friday, Saturday is probably your designated "culture day." If so, you should go to Seoul's palace district of Bukchon today.

In the afternoon and evening, the Bukchon area, between the Gyeongbok Palace complex and Changgdeok Palace, will offer visitors a variety of events showing how Korean traditional art is handed down and kept alive.

The day is scheduled around four main activities. The first will be a tour of Bukchon Village and its traditional houses, hanok, each of which encircles a small courtyard. Participants will also be able to see enchanting side streets and artisan's workshops while a tour guide describes the history of the area.

A visit will be made to one hanok that is being remodeled, at which a video will be shown on the history of the structures.

The next item on the agenda, and probably the gem of the whole event, will be visits with master artists. A tour guide will help the participants interact with artists and learn about traditional crafts from the masters themselves.

Participants can meet Cho Il-soon, who will teach the arts of dyeing and knotting. Yuen Byung-hoon, honored as a "human cultural asset" by the city of Seoul, will teach the basics of his bamboo art. His works will be displayed at a separate exhibition. Another master, Huh Soon-ja, will lead hanbok (traditional clothing) knot-tying classes. Participants can gain a better understanding of hanbok and try their hand at knot-tying, which is one of the most important aspects of hanbok. In addition, cultural classes on calligraphy, dado (tea ceremonies) and Chinese writing will be offered.

From 5 p.m., for about 40 minutes, a music performance by a local troupe will be given. The musicians, from the Kum Hyun Korean Folk Music Institute, include players of the 13-hole flute, the gayageum (12-stringed zither) and the komungo (6-stringed zither).

After the performance, a village party with a dinner buffet will be waiting.

While there is no admission fee, advanced registration is recommended because the tour groups will be scheduled in the order they sign up. Those without reservations will be grouped in order of arrival. There is no need for reservations for the performances and the village party. For more information, call 333-3910 or send an e-mail to swan006@orgio.net.

by Brian Lee

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