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[Well-curated] Hop on Swiss train, play gugak instruments and pose with teddy mascot

April 21, 2023 - 09:01 By Kim Hae-yeon By Hwang Dong-hee By Kim Da-sol
Swiss Spring Street Festival at the Gyeongui Line Book Street in Mapo district, western Seoul (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Swiss Spring Street Festival at the Gyeongui Line Book Street in Mapo district, western Seoul (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)

Hop on Swiss train

Imagine a quick train ride to some of the most popular sights and landmarks in Switzerland this weekend without having to leave Korea.

At the Gyeongui Line Book Street in Mapo district, western Seoul, an exhibition set up inside a spacious train replica takes visitors on a taster of Switzerland's Grand Train Tour, a panoramic 1,280-kilometer route across the country.

The Swiss Spring Street Festival, organized by Switzerland Tourism, showcases scenic tourist spots, from stunning glaciers to the vast alpine landscapes.

The festival promotes the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives visitors unlimited access on the Swiss Travel System network, including the Grand Train Tour. The pass also allows free admissions to some 480 museums and exhibitions.

The exhibition replicates the interior and seats that are similar to those found in a Swiss train.

Swiss Travel Pass holders have a chance to win extra tickets through May 14. Free T-shirts with logos of the Grand Train Tour and cultural performances will be available through May 8.

“Instruments Draw Sounds” at the Gugak Museum (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)
“Jongmyojeryeak, Sing for the Joseon Dynasty” at the Gugak Museum (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)

Immersive royal ritual, banquet at Gugak Museum

Take a dive into traditional Korean music at the new exhibitions at Gugak Museum, located at the National Gugak Center in Seocho-gu.

Launched in late March, the short film “Jongmyojeryeak, Sing for the Joseon Dynasty” takes Korea’s royal ancestral shrine music and reinterprets it into a seven-minute media art experience. Three screens come down from each wall every 30 minutes, and with 3D modeling technology paired with spatial sound, a comprehensive performance of music, dance and song that has been passed down for over 500 years will unfold right in front of your eyes.

Another exhibition, “Instruments Draw Sounds,” offers visitors an opportunity to experience traditional musical instruments against the backdrop of the changing scenery of Buyongji Pond at Changdeokgung.

As you jump from projections of one lotus flower to another floating on the floor, a coordinated instrument will play its unique sounds. The exhibition showcases seven large-size instruments used for court ceremonies, including “pyeonjong,” a series of 16 bronze bells hung on a wooden frame, and “eo” a tiger-shaped wooden percussion instrument.

It’s a rare opportunity to hear the distinct tonal colors of these instruments which are usually overshadowed by the sounds of the orchestra. If you would like to experience more of these sounds, head up to the permanent exhibition on the second floor, where you can even try playing the instruments yourself.

The museum dedicated to gugak offers a unique listening experience. Some rooms are designed to focus solely on the primordial sound of nature and life, such as windy bamboo forests or rain falling on a hanok. Also, the museum houses traditional musical scores, historical documents, and audio-visual archives of the country’s master musicians.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. Admission is free.

Amazing Bellygom at Jamsil Lotte World Tower (Lotte Home Shopping)
Amazing Bellygom at Jamsil Lotte World Tower (Lotte Home Shopping)

Amazing Bellygom returns

Bellygom, an 18-meter pink teddy bear, has returned this spring, celebrating its first birthday with a variety of programs prepared for visitors.

Started as a Lotte Home Shopping promotional mascot, the Bellygom was made 3 meters taller this year and is on display at the outdoor area in front of Jamsil Lotte World Tower until Sunday.

As part of the event, a 2-meter-tall Bellygom in a cake costume will be also exhibited. Visitors can take memorable snaps at a photo zone and enjoy a dance party with a Bellygom theme song.

But don’t worry about missing out if you cannot visit this weekend. A 7-meter-tall Bellygom will be installed next to the statue of Adm. Yi Sun-shin in Gwanghwamun Square from April 30 to May 7. Lotte Home Shopping said it will also hold another Amazing Bellygom exhibition at Dongdaemun Design Plaza next month in collaboration with young fashion designers.