Are Seoul Concert Halls Worth a Visit? Klinton Koechner Art, Entertainment Having studied classical piano and film scoring during my university years; one of the things that I miss most about attending school is the easy access I had to live music, be it going to classical performances every Tuesday or watching other students play on stage. No matter what music you listen to— classical, hip-hop, jazz, kpop, et cetera—you can’t deny that listening to music live makes for an entirely different experience. Actually witnessing musicians express emotions through their words, quarter notes, vibratos, or drum rudiments creates a much more personal experience than simply listening to a computer playlist. Today, I want to talk about some live music venues here in Seoul. But, to make it more interesting, I decided to call three theaters to see just how “foreigner friendly” these places were. Now, I didn’t call every performance hall in Seoul, and I didn’t call places that only offer traditional Korean events. I tried to pick the biggest halls in Seoul that offer the largest variety of performances. I even called at different times of the day every other day for a week. I wanted to give equal opportunity to each hall before making my final assessments. The places I’m talking about aren’t necessarily the cheapest, but I judged them as if I were a visitor to Korea and wanted to go to a concert. In such an instance, I would want to go with something more convenient rather than worry about expenses. 1. LG Arts Center Built 14 years ago, the LG Arts Center concert hall has a state of the art sound system and hosts a wide array of performances, from classical music concerts, dances, plays, and many others. Also, it’s really easy to get to, being directly connected to Seoul’s subway system at Yeoksam Station, Exit 7. This is actually the only theater that I’ve been to on the list. Their English website was very easy to navigate; in fact, that’s even how I bought my tickets when I went there before. The tickets usually range from 40,000-110,000won, so it’s a bit more on the expensive side—but it is a beautiful theater with a great variety of performances. I also called to see how much assistance they could provide in English, but I found that to be somewhat limited (although still better than some places, as you’ll find out). Best to try and work it out online, if possible, as I found their website to be very convenient. Address: 508, Nonhyeon-ro, Ganganam-Gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 논현로 508 (역삼동)) Call Center: +82-2-2005-0114 2. Charlotte Theater Charlotte Theater is the first theater in Korea dedicated to musicals. It has 1,000 seats and two floors. I’ve never been there personally, but I’ve had a few friends that went and really enjoyed it. However, I had a hard time getting on their English website and connecting with someone there who spoke English. The website wouldn’t work while I was researching my article, so I decided to call instead. This became an issue for me. I proceeded to call several times, each time getting hung up on as soon as I said, “Do you speak English” or “Is this the Charlotte Theater?” I would think that with this being one of the biggest (if not the biggest) musical theater in Korea, they would have at least someone on staff that could speak with a foreigner. If you still want to check it out, though, you can take the subway to Jamsil Station, Exit 3. It’s next to the Lotte Hotel. As for me, the poor service from the website and having people repeatedly hang up on the phone was a turn off for me. (Turn off) Address: 240, Olympic, Songpa-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 240 잠실동) Call Center: +82-1644-0078 3. Arko Arts Center The Arko art theater is a theater complex that has a slough of performance halls. The main types of performances held in this complex are dances and plays. The price ranges from 20,000 -70,000won depending on the particular event and where in the theater you sit. Their website was really helpful, but best of all was that when I called the theater, they actually had someone I could talk to! The woman was very informative and said that even though not everyone on staff speaks English, there is usually someone there who can. While I was on the phone with her, I also asked about the shows that are currently playing. She gave as good a detailed report as I would expect from a theater employee. Learning how English-friendly this theater is, I will definitely be checking it out really soon! You take the subway to Hyehwa Station, Exit 4. Walk towards Marronnier Park. Address: 17, Daehak-ro 10-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 대학로 10길 17 (동숭동)) Call Center: +82-2-3668-0007 Cover Photo: martabreijo Any Seoul concert halls you feel deserve their fair recognition? Let us know below.