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Thu,09 November, 2023

The Korean Embassy and Korean Cultural Center announce the 11th Korea Festival 2023: “Sustainable Culture: Flowing into the Future”

Abu Dhabi, UAE – The Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the UAE and the Korean Cultural Center are thrilled to present “the 11th Korea Festival 2023”, with the captivating theme of “Sustainable Culture: Flowing into the Future”.

This annual event, which began in 2013, will captivate audiences at Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi during a two-day celebration. The festival will showcase a diverse range of performances representing the dynamics of Korean culture. It will harmoniously blend traditional and contemporary facets, along with creative interpretations that breathe new life into traditions, firmly grounding them in the modern era.

On the first day, attendees can expect a captivating lineup of performances, including “K-Maestro” by the National Gugak Center, “Mut and Sinmeong: Elegance and the Divine Spirit” by the Namwon City Art Troupe, a Taekwondo demonstration by the ARK Unit, and a heart-pounding K-Pop performance by the K-pop sensation “DIOS”.

The second day’s lineup includes performances “K-Music, Soul” by the Chungbuk Cultural Foundation and the event’s highlight, a K-pop concert titled “KITE: K-POP in the Emirates”. Additionally, the screening of “ON THE K: TAEKWON” will also be featured. 

The visitors to the “Korea Festival 2023” will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Korean Culture Experience Zone, offering a glimpse of K-tourism, K-beauty, hanbok (traditional clothing), Korean traditional games, and traditional art workshops.

Mr. Yong Hee Lee, the Cultural Attaché of the Korean Embassy, emphasized the significance of sustainability as the UAE hosted COP28 in November and December, acknowledging the UAE government’s dedication to preserving its cultural heritage. The Korea Festival 2023 has been thoughtfully curated to introduce performances that revitalize traditional Korean dance and music, seamlessly fusing them with contemporary expression. Mr. Lee also hoped that these diverse efforts and innovative interpretations by the National Gugak Center, Namwon City Traditional Art Troupe, and Chungbuk Cultural Foundation will resonate with the local audience.

In addition to the two-day event at Umm Al Emarat Park, the Korea Festival extends its presence to The 7th UAE-Korea Friendship Taekwondo Championships (October 21, Sharjah Sports Club), the K-Maestro Exhibition (October 23-29, Korean Cultural Center), the 11th UAE Korean Speech Contest (October 29, Korean Cultural Center), and the Medical Korea 2023 seminar (October 31, Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi). To culminate the festivities, the Korean National Day Reception will be held at the St. Regis Hotel Abu Dhabi on October 31.

Entrance to all events is free of charge, with a 10-dirham park admission fee. For more information, please visit the Korean Cultural Center’s website at 

□ “K-maestro” at the National Gugak Center
-  Genre: Korean Traditional Music ‘Pansori and Sanjo’
-  Time: Friday, October 27th, 6 pm / Saturday, October 28th, 5 pm 

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the opening of the National Gugak Center in 2021, a convergence stage project of traditional music and crafts designed to expand the Korean traditional music stage will be presented during the Korea Festival 2023. Performances and exhibitions will be held together with Pansori and Sanjo performances.  

Pansori consists of a vocalist and a drummer called a ‘gosu’. “Pan” refers to ‘a place where an audience gathers’, and “sori” means ‘song’ or ‘sound’. Most of these songs express traditional Korean literary works or folktales through sound. It is an art genre enjoyed by both common people and the intellectual class. To convey a lengthy story through sound, a Pansori singer refines their vocal skills over an extended period.

Pansori was designated as Korea’s National Intangible Cultural Property No. 5 to preserve its unique culture, and in 2003, it was recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A new genre of Pansori, known as ‘creative Pansori’, featuring new stories, continues to emerge, thereby perpetuating the history of Pansori.

Sanjo, which means a disordered rhythm, is an instrumental solo music form known for its improvisation. It originated from gayageum performances and later evolved to include various musical ensembles, such as geomungo, daegeum, haegeum, ajaeng, tongso, danso, and piri. It begins with a slow rhythm and gradually speeds up.
□ Namwon City Traditional Art Troupe “Mut and Sinmeong: Elegance and the Divine Spirit” 
- Genre: Korean traditional performance ‘Heungtaryeong’, ‘Taepyeongmu’, ‘Samulnori’
- Time: Friday, October 27th, 7:40 pm 

In the southern part of Korea, where Namwon is located, three traditional performances stand out: “Heungtaryeong”, which portrays the melancholic aspects of life, love, and separation among ordinary people with mournful lyrics; “Taepyeongmu”, which conveys a wish for peace in the country; and “Samulnori”, the embodiment of village festivals where the entire community excitedly comes together. The Namwon City Traditional Art Troupe will showcase these traditional performances, reinterpreted with a more modern expression, to audiences in the UAE. Through these performances, they aim to convey the message of “peace and prosperity”, which has traditionally been embedded in these art forms.
□ Akh unit’s Taekwondo demonstration  
-  Genre: Taekwondo Demonstration 
-  Time: Friday, October 27th, 8:30 pm 

The Akh unit special forces, symbolizing the friendship between Korea and the UAE, will showcase basic Taekwondo forms (pumsae), the unique forms of the Ark unit, sparring demonstrations, and brick-breaking demonstrations to introduce traditional Korean martial arts to the audience. This is a truly unique opportunity to witness a Taekwondo demonstration with your own eyes.

□ K-pop band “DIOS” Performance 
-  Genre: K-Pop Performance 
-  Time: Friday, October 27th, 8:50 pm 

DIOS, a new boy band armed with solid skills, is set to hold its debut performance in Abu Dhabi. The band, whose name means ‘creator’ in Spanish, aims to take the forefront of K-pop with their challenging music and trending charisma. The four members -Loki, Jay, Woojung, Hyun - will connect with UAE fans for the first time, presenting their signature song ‘Whistle’, live performances of BTS songs, cover dances, and dynamic performances of Arab cover songs

□ Chungbuk Cultural Foundation, Sharing the Sound of Natural Garak “K-Music, Soul”
- Genre: Folk Music Ensemble Combining Korean Traditional and Western Instruments 
- Time: Saturday, October 28th, 6pm 

It maintains and preserves the legitimacy of Korean traditional music while presenting a modern reinterpretation of traditional music by incorporating modern instruments. Korean traditional instruments such as gayageum, taepyeongso, haegeum, piri, and the mouth organ (Korean harmonica), along with Western instruments like the cello and piano, are used in the performance. Familiar Korean folk songs, such as Chunhyangga and Heungbuga (The Story of Chunhyang and Heungbu), will be reinterpreted and performed in Western classical music and jazz styles, delivering a unique and mysterious tone to the audience, setting the perfect mood for a mid-Autumn night.

□ “ON THE K: TAEKWON” screening 
- Genres: Online Content Screening 
- Time: Saturday, October 28th, 7:30 pm 

The ON THE K: TAEKWON screening is a captivating online performance that provides an exciting experience to the audience by merging two essential elements of Korean culture: K-pop and the traditional martial art, Taekwondo. This show promises to deliver a unique delight as audiences immerse themselves in the collaborative spectacle of K-pop and Taekwondo, captured from all angles by 360-degree cameras.

□ KITE: K-POP in the Emirates 
- Genre: K-Pop Concert 
- Time: Saturday, October 28th, 8:00 pm 

This upcoming K-pop concert, titled “KITE: K-Pop in the Emirates”, is jointly organized by the Korea Creative Content Agency and the Korean Cultural Center. It will feature an electrifying collaboration between MustB and DIOS and is gearing up for its fourth edition this year, following its debut as an online performance in 2020.
The name ‘K-POP in the Emirates’ carries a profound dual meaning, symbolizing both hope and celebration. It has been captivating audiences and steadily gaining popularity year after year. 

MustB - Ihoo, Taegeon, Soohyun, Doha, And Wooyeon- burst onto the scene with their debut single, ‘i want u’, in 2019. They are actively engaged in a wide spectrum of domestic and international activities, offering an array of musical genres and captivating performances. Their participation is poised to be one of the concert’s most anticipated highlights.

□ Korean Culture Experience Zone: Tourism, Beauty, Hanbok and Traditional Crafts Workshops   
-  Korean Culture Experience Zone 
- Time: Saturday and Sunday, October 27th – 28th, 4 pm to 10 pm

In collaboration with the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), Korean Cultural Center will set up numerous workshops and information booths to offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in and acquire knowledge about various aspects of Korea, including tourism, beauty, traditional crafts, and cuisine during the event. The Korea Festival 2023 encourages visitors to attend and participate in our complimentary workshops to delve deeper into these K-culture experiences.

□ The 7th UAE-Korea Friendship Taekwondo Championships
- Taekwondo Championships
- Time: Saturday, October 21st
-  *Venue: Sharjah Sports Club 

The Taekwondo championship is co-organized by the Korean Embassy and UAE Taekwondo Federation to encourage youth to practice and showcase their Taekwondo skills. The championship is specifically organized to enhance friendly relations between Korea and the UAE.

□ The 11th UAE Korean Speech Contest
- Korean Language Speech Contest 
- Time: Sunday, October 29th, 4 pm
-  *Venue: Korean Cultural Center, Yas Island 

Emirati Korean language enthusiasts have an exciting opportunity to showcase their language skills. This unique competition invites Emirati nationals to deliver a speech on the theme, ‘A challenging time you have faced and how you have overcome it.’ This event marks the 11th edition of the contest and is a significant part of the Korea Festival, fostering friendship between Korea and the UAE.

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