Seoul’s N Tower or Namsan Tower is one of the top attractions of the city. The tower lies in a nice park, you can go up to the tower’s observation deck with views all around and it is The Place in Seoul to attach your Love Locks. I wrote about visiting N Seoul Tower, about the panoramic vistas and the sea of love locks here.
But that’s not all there is to see and do at N Seoul Tower. Every day (except on mondays) there are performances at the square at the foot of the tower, at 15.00 hrs. They are held open air and are free.
When we were there it was bitterly cold. Fortunately we were able to find ourselves a (standing) spot in the sunshine and out of the wind. Luckily for us, the sun shone on us during the whole performance, making it doable to stay and watch.
Most of the audience found a seating spot on the tribune, but as soon as the shadow fell over that area, people there were freezing their butts of! So if you happen to be there during winter, try to find yourself a sunny spot!
The performances we saw were 1. Korean Folk Dance, acrobatics and juggling, and 2. Ancient Martial Arts.
It started of with a Korean Folk Dance, named Nongak Dance. It is a Farmer’s Dance and Music performance, done by men in traditional costumes wearing Sangmo’s. A Sangmo is a hat with a long ribbon attached. The men dance, make acrobatic jumps, play instruments and spin their heads to make the ribbons twirl. Talking about multi-tasking and multi-talents;-).
I have to admit that at first watching these men made me a bit giggly. The costumes looked silly, with the big rosettes on the foreheads, the ballet-like footwear, the cheerful jumping and the weird head-wiggle. They looked like a bunch of naive, cheerful schoolgirls. Yes, girls I said, you heard me.
But with every minute, my admiration and enthusiasm grew.
They were totally devoted and did what they were doing so well.
At one point one of the guys started a solo performance. He made endless circles of sideway jump spins, while playing his instrument and keeping his ribbon in the air. Wow! That was acrobatic for sure!
After a while he went on stage and started entertaining the crowd on the tribune. Bit of acting (old man), comedy (everybody laughed, so I guess he was good, in Korean) and juggling with saucers on sticks. A born entertainer, succeeding to get the audience to participate. Quite fun, I must say.
After that it was time for the martial arts guys.
The actors/warriors are fully dressed in historic costumes, using traditional weapons. In fact, in this form of martial arts, the participants imitate ancient daily training as it was done in the army back in the days. They hold sword fights and cleave bamboo poles. (Yes, the swords and daggers are really super sharp!) And those bamboo poles were bad, real bad!!! They sure needed some serious decapitating! I guess…..
But first we had a young masked guy doing a solo. Or is it considered a threesome if you perform with two swords?
The show ended with various ‘corpses’ spread out all over the ‘battle-field’.
Now you may choose to discard these kind of performances as tacky, cliche tourist traps. And truth be told, in some cases I cannot make anything else from them. But most of the time I succeed to enjoy them and see the fun or beauty in shows like this. As I did that day at Namsam Tower in Seoul.
Visiting N Seoul Tower on a sunny day is a lovely outing and comes highly recommended.
What type of tourist are you? Do you avoid performances like this like the plague or can you appreciate them?