Now that Spring has settled in Korea it’s time to get out and explore what the city has to offer. Here are SeoulSync’s top picks of things to do during the month of May; our list ranges from art exhibits, movies, concerts, to festivals. While this certainly does not encompass everything going on, you can’t go wrong checking out some of these events and attractions. When you have some free time, be sure to take advantage of the weather, take in the sights, and enjoy a show!

Notable Art Exhibits

Korea’s cultural economy is booming these days, especially with the recent spotlight on Seoul’s new MMCA (Modern Museum of Contemporary Art). Although a lot of attention is being focused on this gem, there are plenty of other options available to soak in some art. Here are some notable exhibits that are either currently running or being featured over the next few months.

Speaking of the MMCA…

MMCA Seoul, Shirin Neshat, 4.1 – 7.13
Part of the M.A.P. (MMCA Asia Project), this exhibit aims to propel the MMCA to the forefront of international modern and contemporary art world in Asia. Shirin Neshat is a renowned Iranian artist and filmmaker, and 2 series of photographs and several video installations will be featured here. Neshat primarily seeks to address the complexities of identity, gender, and power by expressing her perspective on the contrast between Islamic tradition and Western individuality.

Daelim Museum, Troika – Persistent Illusions, 4.10 – 10.12
Acclaimed UK artist collective, Troika, will have their new and existing work displayed here. They highlight the value of technology and philosophically connect its use by exploring the unknown that surrounds us, successfully bridging the gap between science and art. Utilizing light, movement, and sound through different forms and mediums, this is surely an exhibit worth visiting!

LEEUM Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Artspectrum, 5.1 – 6.29
In commemoration of LEEUM’s 10th anniversary, this exhibit is kicking off their year by showcasing diverse perspectives on contemporary art. With an emphasis on native Korean and young artists, this curated collection seeks to touch its audience in numerous ways.

KT&G Sangsangmadang Gallery, In love moments, 5.1 – 8.3
The gallery will feature famed French photographer Robert Doisneau’s famous works. You may recognize his most renowned image Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Town Hall), which is of a couple kissing in the busy streets of Paris. A pioneer of photojournalism along the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, he evokes a wide spectrum of emotions from his audience with his candid street photography.


The blockbusters of summer are almost here! May is going to be an excellent month for movie releases, and many of the big western releases are going to be arriving in Korea as well. Look for these movies this month:

1. Last Vegas – May 8th
Four old friends get back together to celebrate their friend’s bachelor party in the mother of all debaucherous cities: Las Vegas . Only problem is: they’re all almost pushing 70.

Usually films with a gang of old actors getting back together is nothing more than just that. Actors, being back together. But this movie seems to put more focus on the actual story, as the film focuses on the relationship between friends, it also jumps between flashbacks of their youth and the seemingly same situations they find themselves in the present as old men.

Starring Robert Deniro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline.

The Latest Trailer:

2. Godzilla – May 15th
It’s finally here! It’s been over 15 years since the last Godzilla film with Matthew Broderick was released. This time Godzilla is taking on “massive proportions,” as it is one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the summer. Newcomer director Gareth Edwards has a lot to prove, directing the remake of one of the most popular monster movies in cinema history. It will also be probably worth the little extra cash to see it in IMAX.

Starring Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, and Elizabeth Olsen.

The Latest Trailer:

3. Transcendence – May 15th
Wally Pfister (Christopher Nolan’s go-to cinematographer for his films) makes his directorial debut with Transcendence. With his strong reputation for movies such as ‘The Prestige,’ ‘The Dark Knight,’ ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ and ‘Inception,’ a lot of people have high hopes for this film.

In the film Dr. Will Caster is building the most advanced Artifical Intelligence the world has ever seen, but a radical anti-tech group ambushes one of his lectures and is shot. About to die, his colleagues decide to upload his brain into the Artificial Intelligence protocol he was creating.

Starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, and Morgan Freeman.

The Latest Trailer:

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past – May 22nd
This might be one of the most anticipated films of the year. Comic books fans that are getting fatigued by the other “Marvel” universe movies, are sure to get rejuvenated by a somewhat deeper and more emotionally-driven story. Bryan Singer the director of the first two X-Men movies (before the franchise was utterly f***ed up by Bret Ratner), returns to direct a film that takes places both in the future and the past as Wolverine goes back in time to try and stop a war that has almost destroyed all mutants as well as the human race.

Starring: Patrick Stuart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender

The Latest Trailer:

5. Oculus – May 29th
It has been a long time since the last western horror movie made it to South Korea. From the producers of Insideous and Paranormal Activity comes the latest in supernatural horror. A brother and sister try to prove that deaths occurring over multiple centuries was caused by a mirror that was seemingly passed on between families, taking the life of both their mother and father.

While you might not be a big fan of horror movies, I imagine seeing how the audience will react in the theater, which might be entertaining enough to go see it.

Starring: Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites

The Latest Trailer:


Lotus Lantern Festival 2014


Photo Cred: perdita

(April 25th – May 11th)
The Lotus Lantern Festival is currently taking place

The Lotus Lantern Festival is held annually to celebrate Buddha’s birthday, which this year falls on May 6th. The lighting of the lanterns has symbolic meaning in Buddhism, as lanterns bring light into the world, they are representative of wisdom. Thus, the festival is a celebration of respect for Buddha, as well as the principles of Buddhism. Below is a timetable of the upcoming events and where they will be located.

Date Title Time Venue
April 16 (Thu), 2014 Lighting Ceremony 19:00 Gwanghwamun Square
April 25 (Fri) – May 11 (Sun), 2014 Exhibition of Traditional Lanterns Cheonggyecheon Stream /Jogyesa Temple /Bongeunsa Temple
April 26 (Sat), 2014 Eoulim Madang (Buddhist Cheer Rally) 16:30-18:00 Sports Arena of Dongguk
Lantern Parade 19:00-21:30 Dongguk University →Dongdaemun Gate (Heunginjimun Gate) → Jogyesa Temple
Hoehyang Hanmadang (Post-Parade Celebration) 21:30-23:00 Jonggak Intersection
April 27 (Sun), 2014 Traditional Cultural Events 12:00-19:00 The main street in front of Jogyesa Temple
Stage Performances 12:00~18:00 The stage in front of Jogyesa Temple
(Final Celebration)
19:00~21:00 Insa-dong → Gongpyeong Intersection (the street in front of Jogyesa Temple)
May 6 (Tue), 2014 Buddha’s Birthday Dharma Service 10:00 Temples across the nation, including Jogyesa Temple
Lantern Lighting 19:00



John Mayer
The man who burst onto the music scene in 2003 with his hit “Your Body is a Wonderland”, comes to the city of Seoul, still going strong 11 years later.

When: May 6th, 2014
Where: Jamsil Student Gymnasium (Seoul)
Tickets can be purchased here.

Brian McKnight and K-Will
Brian Mcknight teams up with Korean star K-will to share the stage in a night that promises to full of R&B classics and new age love songs. Bring a date and prepare to be serenaded.

When: May 11th, 2014
Where: Jamsil Indoor Stadium (Seoul)
Tickets can be purchased here

Seoul Jazz Festival
The 8th annual Seoul Jazz Festival features artists such as Craig David and Sondre Lerch. This two day concert will be headlined by Damien Rice and James Cullum.

When: May 17th-18th, 2014
Where: Olympic Park (Seoul)
Tickets can be purchased here.

Paul McCartney
No introduction necessary here. Paul McCartney comes to deliver the old and the new to Korea. There is also a 20% discount for Hyundai Card members.

When: May 28th, 2014
Where: Jamsil Sports Complex Main Stadium
Tickets can be purchased here.

Cancelled or Postponed Events


World DJ Festival Korea and Spartan Race Korea have recently released public letters of postponement to their highly anticipated Spring events. This comes in the wake of the Sewol Ferry incident that occurred on April 16th, 2014. The tragedy has claimed the lives of over 100 high school students and counting as more are currently being searched for. Korea has unanimously declared cancellations or postponement to many festivals and media events. K-Pop song releases and comebacks are being pushed back, public school field trips are being cancelled, and more as the country mourns for their loved ones.  Below is the official statement that can be found on the WDJF Facebook page, as well as their webpage.


World DJ Festival will be postponed until August

World DJ Festival will be postponed until August

Source: World DJ Festival Facebook page

In summary World DJ Festival is greatly saddened by the loss of innocent lives and will be recognizing a time of mourning for those affected by the tragedy. The festival is to be rescheduled to August, in which World DJ Festival Summer 2014 will take place. The company asks for your understanding, as cancelling and booking both domestic and foreign talent on abrupt notice is no easy task. Tickets purchased will still hold their value for the summer event and all refund requests will be granted. The final date will be decided within a month.

Similarly, Spartan Race Korea has posted a Facebook message and sent out text messages to all those who have purchased tickets to their May 11th event, postponing it to June 15th.

Spartan Race Korea has been postponed until June 15th, 2014.

Spartan Race Korea has been postponed until June 15th, 2014.

Source: Spartan Race Korea Facebook

Here is a list of events that have been cancelled, postponed or modified due to the recent tragedy.

Busan Lotus Lantern Festival (Korean) ► Scaled-down programs

Daegu Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Festival (Korean) ► Postponed to October

Damyang Bamboo Festival ► Postponed to June

Evening Pungnyu performances at Deoksugung ► Postponed to start in June

Ganghwa Dolmen Culture Festival ► Scaled-down programs

Gwangalli Eobang Festival ► Postponed indefinitely

Lotus Lantern FestivalLantern lighting will proceed as scheduled

Traditional wedding ceremony recreation at Insa-dong (Korean) ► Postponed to start in June

Yeoju Ceramic Festival (Korean) ► Postponed indefinitely


Cover Photo Cred: traveloriented

Have any other suggestions on the best Seoul events for May 2014? Feel free to share with our community below!