Over the past two months Sound Diplomacy has travelled to Seoul in different capacities. We are always excited to come to Seoul, it truly lives up to its reputation as a 24 hour city. In Seoul, cultural activities, from performances to digital installations, are awaiting the curious mind around every corner.
Being invited to speak at Seoul Music Cities Connection, I traveled to Seoul to present some of our work and discuss best practice and policies for Music Cities with the local music industry, researchers and city representatives. The event took place at Platform 61, a three storey space built from shipping containers in the north-west of Seoul. Opened in 2016, the space includes recording studios, artist residencies and a concert venue. As part of the conference, there were also some music showcases. I was especially impressed by the performances around Hyewon Choi, Songhee Kwon and Seayool Kim, Songhee Pansori Lab, building on their traditional background in gugak music with more contemporary influences.
During my time in Seoul I managed to visit some other creative spaces. I was most impressed by the Oil Tank Culture Park, which opened a week before my visit and is close to the World Cup Stadium. The 140,000 m2 space hasn’t been open to the public for over 40 years. The whole area comprises of six oil tanks that have been renewed over the few last years and now offer indoor and outdoor concert spaces, exhibition spaces, a community center and much more. On Friday evening I visited Seoul Art Space Gumcheon, a former telephone factory that had been regenerated into a multi-functional arts space in 2009. They were hosting a special night with some of their local and international residents and other performers, including a great performance by Seoul artist KIRARA.
Mystik, one of my favorite clubs from my last visit had unfortunately closed, but the city is still bustling with lots of other venues and spaces. Since my last visit the owners of Cakeshop have expanded and grown their existing space with Contra, next to its smaller location called Pistil, offering a wider variety of musical styles. I was amazed by vurt and volnost, clubs that are hidden away in residential buildings behind seemingly hidden doors, soundproofed, offering a space for Korean and international artists.
If you are interested in diving deeper into Seoul’s electronic music scene, I recommend spending some time on Seoul Community Radio, who are operating out of a Itaewon. On my visit to their studio, I managed to catch a set by Disco Experience. I also recommend the hidden-away record store Clique Records. It wasn’t easy to find, but if you are lucky you will also be treated to a concert on their rooftop.
After mu:con last year, this was my second visit to Seoul. There are still many more places and areas I haven’t mentioned or didn’t get to visit. Thanks to the organisers of Seoul Music Cities Connection and all of the other people who showed me around during my visit to Seoul.