The nut cracks and voices ringSeoul celebrates Christmas big time. Theaters are booked with concerts, recitals, plays and holiday extravaganzas. Hotels and restaurants are offering festive menus and getaway packages. Hip-hop clubs are flying in top-name deejays. And the entire downtown is ablaze with twinkling white lights.
Most cities have a ballet company staging "The Nutcracker." Seoul has two.
The Korean National Ballet is performing "The Nutcracker" for its 10th year. While the choreography and the lead change each year, Lee Won-guk always plays the Nutcracker prince. "The stage is where I feel closest to the audience," Mr. Lee says. "And every time feels like the first time."
This year, the Korean National Ballet's "Nutcracker" is being choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich, formerly the chief choreographer with the Bolshoi Ballet.
The Universal Ballet's "Nutcracker" takes the traditional approach, presenting Kirov Ballet choreographer Vasily Vainonen's 1934 classic. The lead roles change nightly, giving several members of the troupe a chance to showcase their talent.
Both productions feature Tchaikovsky's score, including the popular "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," "Waltz of the Flowers," "Dance of the Reed Flutes" and the spirited "Trepak."
Nutcracker, Korea National Ballet
Tomorrow through Dec. 29
For tickets, call 1588-7890 or (02) 587-6181, or check the Web site www.kballet.org.
Nutcracker, Universal Ballet
For tickets, call 1588-7890 or (02) 2204-1041, or check the Web site www.ticketlink.co.kr.
Other productions this week include:
In Soon-i, Christmas Dinner Show
Monday through Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Lotte Hotel in Jamsil
For tickets, call (02) 411-7980 or log on to www.ticketpark.com. Tickets cost 120,000 won to 150,000 won ($100-125).
One of Korea's long-time favorties, In Soon-i is embraced for her powerful renditions of pop songs and selections from musicals.
Kim Won-jung, Jazz Christmas Concert
Christmas Eve at 7 and 10 p.m. at Kumho Art Hall in central Seoul, Sejong-ro
For tickets, call (02) 776-2121 or (02) 6303-1919 or log on to www.musiana.com. Tickets cost 40,000 won.
Kim Won-jung, known for her performance as Queen Min in the musical "The Last Empress," will perform with the Ron Branton Trio. Kim will sing traditional Christmas songs as well as jazz.
Jung Kwak, classical harp and pop music
Sunday at 3 p.m., Kumho Art Hall
For tickets contact (02) 780-5054 or (02) 1588-7890 or www.ticketlink.co.kr. Tickets cost 20,000 won.
Jung Kwak, celebrated for poise, sense of drama and charisma, will play classical harp as well as pop tunes with an electric harp. Her performance will include the "Barber of Seville," "Esquisse," "Serenade for Wind Quintet" and "The Gift."
Kang Dong-Suck and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra
Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Concert Hall in Seoul Arts Center. For tickets, call (02) 580-1300 or log on to www.ticketlink.co.kr. Tickets cost 20,000 won to 50,000 won. Discounts available for groups of 20 people or more.
The violinist Kang Dong-suck will perform "Winter" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," as well as a Saint-Saens "Fantasy" and a selection of Christmas carols. Also featuring Chang Seung Ho on guitar and Na Hyun-sun on harp. The conductor is Chang Yoon-sung.
World Vision Children's Choir
Saturday at 5 p.m. at Ho-Am Art Center
For tickets, call (02) 1588-7890 or log on to www.ticketpark.com.
Tickets cost 20,000 won to 30,000 won.
The choir will perform sacred music, fun songs, Christmas carols and stories. World Vision, founded in 1960 by Dr. Bob Pierce to develop musical talent among orphans, has for the past 20 years recruited children from all walks of life. Its alma mater includes the celebrated soprano Hong Hye-kyung.
J-Week team: Joe Yong-hee,
Park Sung-ha, Julie Yoo and Jennifer Suh
Ice Rink Christmas Eve Package
Christmas Eve at the Grand Hyatt Seoul
For icy entertainment on Christmas Eve, try the Grand Hyatt Seoul's skating package. The 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. event includes an appetizer buffet at the snack bar, ice skating, a proposal game and a lucky draw. A limited number of tickets are now on sale; 55,000 won for adults and 44,000 won for children under 12. Skating from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas day costs 44,000 won for adults and 33,000 won for children; the buffet is not included.
Christmas Eve and Day at Vine in the Lotte Hotel Seoul
The Vine offers a pair of Christmas menus priced at 80,000 and 100,000 won. The 100,000-won menu includes turkey or roast beef, feta cheese salad with toasted brioche, chicken and vegetable soup and a salmon mousse with tomato and basil cream sauce, Italian bleu cheese, fruit, plus warm mince pies and coffee. The main course for the 80,000-won menu is a roast turkey or a broiled, herb-crusted salmon.
Romance on Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve at the Grand InterContinental Seoul
The "Romantic Christmas Package" includes a junior suite, one-bedroom suite or residential suite, a candlelight dinner, box of chocolates, bottle of wine or champagne, breakfast, a morning newspaper and two movie tickets at the Megabox Cineplex. The 450,000-won package also includes use of the sauna and fitness club and a 3 p.m. checkout, as well as discounts for skin-care programs, cosmetics at Swiss Perfect Beautymed and events in the area.
Christmas Eve and Day at Le Saint-Ex
The French bistro Le Saint-Ex in Itaewon has two- and three-course holiday menus for 50,000 and 60,000 won. Specials include pumpkin-and-scallop soup, foie gras with mushrooms, filet served with pumpkin puree and mushroom sauce, quail wrapped in bacon and three kinds of Christmas cakes.
Dec. 23-25 at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill
The Sheraton Grande Walkerhill offers one night in a deluxe room, an Origins Body gift set and breakfast in the room for 240,000 won. An upgrade to a tower suite, Christmas cake a bottle of champagne bottle are added to the package for 480,000 won. These packages are available for Korean citizens and residents only.
Surf, Turf and Jazz
Christmas Eve and Day at Once in a Blue Moon
The popular Cheongdam-dong jazz club features a 75,000 won ribeye dinner and a 80,000 filet mignon or lobster dinner, including appetizer, soup, salad, sherbet, dessert and coffee.
Chris Liberator at Seduce
Christmas Eve, 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., at Seduce, J.W. Marriott Hotel
Chris Liberator, a deejay from the United Kingdom, is spinning at a party hosted by Subsonic. Dave Benz, Akimate, Andy and Stu, Diong and Kidsonic are also on the line-up.
Early customers will receive gifts.
Christmas, Babalu Style
Tonight, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m, at Babalu, Grand Hilton
There's no cover for tonight's party that features a dance competition.
Christmas Eve with Santa
Christmas Eve from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Di Moda of J.W. Marriott Seoul
The Italian restaurant Di Moda hosts a party featuring the Australian band Roundabout and an appearance by Santa Claus. You can have your photo taken with St. Nick and compete in the dancing competition. There is a lucky draw for a night at the J.W. Marriott Seoul, complete with a bottle of wine. Cover is 20,000 won.
Shop for Charity
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in Cheongdam-dong
Shop for charity at a variety of stores, including Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgo Armani, Gucci, Jil Sander, Loro Piana, Luis Voitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada and Escada. Each store is donating a portion of Saturday's profits to local charities. The stores' receipts can also be cashed in for free drinks and desserts at several participating cafes and restaurants in the area.
by Special by the J-Week team