A world of culture is coming to Gyeongju

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A world of culture is coming to Gyeongju

The 72-day voyage of the 2003 Gyeongju World Culture Expo will begin today with a seven-minute opening ceremony where men will pound clubs on flat rocks, followed by a performance entitled Emille ― A Millennium Sound.
According to a Shilla Dynasty legend, when Gyeongju was Korea’s capital, a baby was sacrificed to create the Emille bell (also known as the Divine Bell of King Seoungdeok, and dating to A.D. 771). For this reason, the bell is said to make the sound of a crying baby whenever it is rung. The performance, a musical about the bell’s creation, will feature a mixture of Korean percussion and modern instruments. The choreographer will integrate martial arts movements with modern dance moves.
The theme of this year’s festival is Dreams of the Flying Horse: Harmony in Diversity, based on a Korean myth in which a flying horse is believed to travel to both heaven and earth, guided by the purpose of bringing harmony.
This year’s expo is not Gyeongju’s first. The city, a UNESCO world heritage site, hosted cultural expos in 1998 and 2000.
According to organizers, roughly 50 events will unfold over the next 10 weeks. A selection of performances of the world’s folkloric and mythical tales are on tap, as well as a fashion show, a Russian circus performance and a medley of the world’s dances.
On the high-tech end will be a show of three-dimensional pictures that integrate computer-generated images.
A life-sized re-creation of a marketplace from old-time Korea, known as Najangteugi, will take visitors on a trip through time to experience the life of Shilla Dynasty commoners a millennium ago.
Children will be drawn to an animation exhibit, where they can have their photograph taken with their favorite cartoon characters, such as Dooly or Astro Boy, the Japanese robot. A cartoon museum, displaying characters from the 1950s to the 1970s, will also be in the vicinity.
Another not-to-be-missed show for children, the World Puppet Drama Festival, will take place with support from 11 companies from six countries. There are also a slew of events to keep visitors awake into the night, including dramas by a local acting troupe and musical performances by the National Center for Korean Traditional Performance Arts.
For visitors who are inspired by all this talent, the expo organizers have arranged a release: an amateur talent show.
One-day admission is 15,000 won ($13) for adults and 7,000 won for children. For more information go to www.culture expo.or.kr.

by Song Eui-ho
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