World-renowned performances: made in Korea
INon-verbal performances including <Nanta> and <Sachoom-Love dance> became symbolic products of Korea. Indeed, 15 percent of foreign tourists visiting Korea who watched those performances revisited to enjoy them again. The shows are attracting foreign audiences without the presence of Korean-wave celebrities or idols. Indeed, they visit Korea solely to watch these shows. This article analyzes the success factors behind these Korean non-verbal shows that are now evolving at a superhigh speed.
Korean-style martial arts, at the forefront of an evolving theater culture
In front of the UNESCO Hall performance theater in Myeongdong, many foreigners stand in line, looking forward to watching <Nanta>, a famous non-verbal show. 80 percent of the audience are foreigners: Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese, etc. Myeongdong has already become a must-visit shopping place for foreign tourists. At Myungbo Theater (Myungbo Art hall), <Drum cat> and <Drawing: Show Hero> are now showing. At the place where the Hollywood theater was previously located in Nagwon Arcade, there now stands an exclusive theater for <Sachoom-Love dance>. Cine-Core theater has now been replaced by exclusive theaters for <B Bab> and <Binari>. Seoul Cinema also has an exclusive hall for <Jump>. <Jump> has been performed in 56 cities in 40 countries. In 2011, a record 93 percent of tickets were sold in 13 cities. This year will show will be performed in Hamburg in Germany and Nagoya in Japan. In 1997, <Nanta> went to Broadway, a first for a show from Asia, and was introduced on the <Today Show> of NBC - long before the Korean singer “Psy” made his appearance on the show. Now, the Korean wave of non-verbal shows is all the rage.
Culture diplomats: Taekwondo and Bibimbab of Korea
Korea’s non-verbal shows have been able to become globally successful thanks to a variety of multimedia channels, the popularity of K-pop and a strong tourism industry, all of which have gained the attention of foreigners. Still, there was one more reason behind the success of these kinds of shows: “unique performance factors.” A case in point is <The TAL>, a non-verbal performance, which ran in Trelleborg in Sweden last year. After watching this fantastic show that includes “Arirang” -Korea’s famous folk song- and Taekwondo, audiences in Trelleborg gave a standing ovation and lingered in the performance hall for a while after the show. Some of those who got the autographs of the performers had driven for 9 hours to watch the show. <The TAL> was watched by 750,000 people in 18 countries. It was co-produced by the Korea Taekwondo Association in 2010 in order to promote Taekwondo as a permanent Olympic sport as well as to become a value-added, globalized and artistic product. Korea-representing Taekwondo athletes became actors in the performance, continuously demonstrating Taekwondo and percussion techniques as well as Korean traditional dance and B-boying. The striking images of oriental martial arts combined with other artistic genres have captivated foreign audiences and are playing a role similar to that of a cultural diplomat. <B Bab> was first created based on the fact that the most famous item of Korean culture for foreigners is “Bibimbab” The 3,000 seats for the performances in Singapore last year were all sold out. Now, the show is playing to adoring audiences in Taiwan, Macao and Indonesia. Audiences can place an order and try Bibimbab on stage.