In Seoul, a city full of youth culture, if you spend an evening in weekend to walk around Hongdae, it is not difficult to find plenty of street performances in the street areas. Dancers, singers, bands, rappers and even magicians perform their talents to the audience on the street. Sometimes you may also find some street painters or artists who are drawing and making their products to sell on the street, presenting their creativity and skills.
At about 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., it is the time for street performers to work. Performers, usually in their 20s or 30s, gather together with an amplifier, a microphone, or some instrument, preparing to start their show. When music is played from the amplifier, people start to stop by and form a U shape to watch their performance. Lots of students and young workers are the main audience of these street performances. The show starts!
The dance performers, who dress and look like idols, start dancing to some famous and hit K-pop songs to grab people’s attention. After performing the first song, usually one of the performers acts as the MC who introduces their performance team a little bit information of their performance. Then, the show continues and the streets bustle with music, people and performance.
For teenagers and youths, this culture is a brilliant platform for them to perform their interests and talents. In Korea, lots of teenagers are majoring in different performing arts, like dancing, singing and instruments. However, a lot of them do not always have plenty opportunity to perform to the public as they are still not a star or a professional performer.
Street performance gives a chance for all these youths not only to form a team with their friends, but also to build their performing skills and confidence. Some of the street performers make street performance as their full-time job or even career as they enjoy the freedom of being street performers rather than being trapped in a hierarchical system.
As an exchange student who likes dancing, I was so impressed by the street performance culture in Seoul. In the first month, I hung around in Hongdae nearly every night to watch performances. Compared to other cities, the street performance culture in Seoul is very popular, less restricted. What is the reason behind this?
In my belief, the reason of it is about the strong appreciation and emphasis on arts and culture in people mind set, not only on professional standard, but also on the standard of students and amateurs.
Sometimes, I have even tried to dance with the performers. It is surprising that people were so willing to take part in this “free jamming” sessions. People just keep clapping their hands and giving supports to all the performers, which impress me a lot that this is a city where culture and the arts are being emphasized.
People in this city are willing to give time, and money to support these performers, encouraging the street performing culture to keep growing in this city, rather than complaining about making noise disturbance or blocking the streets. If you have a talent and want to show it to others, then just feel free to work it out in the streets of Seoul. No matter it is professional or not, if you give your soul and heart while perform, you can gain respect and support from this city.
“The best way to refine an interpretation is getting out and performing,” said Joshua Bell, a Grammy Awards prized American violinist.
Performing on street is not an easy job, which I have tried before. Sometimes you have spent lots of effort and money on preparation, advertisement miserable as tools, but the result might be that you as to eat your three as in a convenience store for an entire week.
It is so impressive to see these cultures in Seoul, a modern city around the world, lots of people are still doing these street performance for seeking the desired life style and sharing their interpretation of life to others, and what is even more graceful is that people in this city appreciate this culture, which makes those beautiful scenes in Hongdae, Daehangno and Sinchon continue happening.