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Myeongdong Theater Lures Shoppers, Foreigners

2008/05/18 | 122 views | Permalink | Source

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter

Until the mid-1970s Myeongdong was synonymous with "street of culture", like the current Daehangno, in which artists and actors used to hang around.

But the district has now become one of Seoul's main shopping districts featuring mid-to high-priced retail stores and international brand outlets. It is even the center of major financial services.

To restore the old reputation, a handful of artists have made efforts to turn the district into the cultural epicenter again.

The Myeongdong Art Center opened its doors on May 15 with the successful donation campaigns of many celebrities and art lovers.

Prominent actors such as An Seong-gi and Cho Jae-hyun and comedian Lee Young-ja gave donations. Donators will have their names put on seats. According to the center, 272 out of 410 seats have already been taken.

The center, which was remodeled from the old Funky House, is now equipped with 410 seats located on the third to fifth floors in the UNESCO building.

The center puts a local play, "A Dwarf Who Loved Snow White" on stage as the opening work.

The play has attracted 500,000 viewers over the last eight years since 2001.

The play is a twist of the classic fairy tale, "Snow White" from the perspective of the seventh dwarf, "bandal". It's the story of a pure loving heart and the pain of an unrequited love.

Although it was originally made as a children's play, adults now take up 90 percent of the audience.

The center is expected to become a landmark theater in Myeongdong, and offer opportunities to foreign tourists to enjoy the Korean performing arts in this shopping frenzy area.

The center will provide subtitles for foreign visitors and develop various programs to promote diversity and excellence of Korean performances.

"We want to give more opportunities and reach the hearts of foreigners with good contents by promoting not only non-verbal performances but also high quality performances", an official of the center said.

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