The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Lee Gyu-Seog
Lee Gyu-Seog
Born in Seoul in 1971, Lee Gyu-Seog dropped out of the Mass Communications course at Korea University in 1991. In 1997 he joined with other young artists in forming the Seoul Independent Arts Festival and eventually became its director. Known for such festival activities as a collaboration with the Chuncheon Mime Festival (2000 – 2001) programming the theater portion of the Gwangju Biennale (2002), and the Kachon Hamadang Festival Committee (2002 – present), Lee is also active internationally, participating in Japan’s Physical Theater Festival (2001) and Bangkok Fringe Festival (2002). He cooperates also in international exchanges at venues such as Singapore’s Asian Arts Market (2003) and the planning of the Seoul Focus Program of the Hong Kong City Festival (2005). Since January 2006 he has served as the director of the Korean Arts Management Service.
Korean Arts Management Service
Arts Organization of the Month
See also “Art Organization of the Month” (Korean Arts Management Service)
2006 Performing Arts Market in Seoul (PAMS 2006)
Dares: Oct. 11-14, 2006
Venue: The University Street area of Seoul (Arko Arts Theater, Art Center Arko and other venues in the area)
Organizer: PAMS 2006 Board of Directors
Direction: Korean Arts Management Service
Support: Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Korean Arts Council
Cooperation: Seoul International Performing Arts Festival, Seoul International Dance Festival, Korean BESETO Committee
Performing Arts Market in Seoul
Performing Arts Market in Seoul

(*1) Seoul Fringe Festival: The Seoul Independent Festival that arose in 1997 quite spontaneously from the activities of younger artists changed its name in 2002 to the Seoul Fringe Festival. In 2005, some 308 groups and companies participated and total audience reached 170,000. Emerging from this festival have been artists like the popular rock band “Crying Nut,” director Ryu Sunbon of the film Crying Fist and the theater company “Notre.”

(*2) Hongdae: This is the area of Seoul around the Hongik University. The area is known for its underground arts and their liberated atmosphere and as a center of youth culture where new culture is being born all the time.
Presenter Interview
Bringing Korean performing arts to the world scene 
The Performing Arts Market in Seoul (PAMS) that got its start in 2005 has quickly won the attention of presenters in the performing arts, not only in South Korea but around the world. The second holding of PAMS will be from October 11 to 14 this year. Managed by the Korean Arts Management Service (KAMS), which was just established this January under the umbrella of South Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, this is certain to be an event that will give Korean performing arts a larger presence in the international arts scene. To learn more about the coming 2006 market and the newly established Korean Arts Management Service, we spoke to Mr. Lee Gyu-Seog, who was recently appointed both head of KAMS and director of PAMS at the young age of 35.
(Interviewer: Noriko Kimura)

Isn’t it unusual for someone of your age (35) to be appointed director of the Korean Arts Management Service?
Yes. I was surprised myself when the offer came, and I actually declined to accept it at first. Until then I had been directing the Seoul Fringe Festival (*1) and had often been a critic of the arts establishment from that position. This new job meant that I now had to be not just a critic of the status quo but take the initiative in doing positive things from the inside. It is a tense situation for me because now I am in the position of designer of the arts programs and, thus, the target of criticism inevitably.

As a festival director you have been a spokesperson until now for young artists. What got you involved in the performing arts scene in the first place?
I was active in theater circles in high school and college, and my dream was to become a TV or film documentary director. After I finished my military service I intended to study film at a vocational school, but as it turned out I got involved with an amateur theater company named SKENE that my college friends had started. So I remained in the theater scene. At the time, we had a lot of trouble getting around the unique Korean social establishment that effectively made it impossible for artists of our generation to rent a theater to perform in without the backing of someone from the older generation. It was not only me but many young artists who were having trouble with this system. So, we got together with artists from the music, art, dance, film and theater arts who gathered in the Hongdae (*2) area and we organized our own “Seoul Independent Festival” in 1997 as a platform to present our works to the public.

Were you involved as the director from the beginning?
No. At first I participated as an artist in the film field. But I happened to be involved in the organizing of a Women’s Film Festival and a Women’s Theater Festival for a couple of years at the Post Theater in Hongdae and in that way I became involved in the administrative side. It turned out that the administrative work was taking up so much of my time that I no longer had the time to work on film projects of my own. That is how I came to become involved in my present line of work, against my will (laughs). The Seoul Independent Festival changed its name to the Seoul Fringe Festival in 2002 and it continues today. This will be its tenth year and during this time I have had the opportunity to meet many festival directors from overseas festivals such as Japan’s Physical Theater Festival, the Bangkok Fringe Festival and the Hong Kong City Festival and I have experienced and learned a lot from these encounters. I think the reason I was chosen to direct KAMS was this experience in foreign exchange and my connections with these international festivals.

Can you tell us about what kind of organization KAMS is and its role in the PAMS?
KAMS was launched in January of this year. It is an organization under the umbrella of the Arts Policy Team at Arts Bureau of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and it combines the Evaluation & Consulting Center for Certified Arts Organization, the Office of Asia Artplex and the Office of PAMS set up temporarily last year by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. As an organization it is divided into three parts, a Planning Support Team, a Foreign Programs Team and the Office of Asia Artplex. Our work includes providing support for overseas performances by Korean performing arts groups and evaluation of federal support programs.

I would like to ask you to describe the roles of these three parts of the organization in more detail. First of all could you tell us about your Planning Support Team?
Our Planning Support Team continues the work that was being performed by the former the Evaluation & Consulting Center for Certified Arts Organization, which involves granting certification to companies in the specialized arts and evaluation of federal support programs. It is also involved in compiling information in the arts management area and providing consulting services for groups in the arts. So there is a total of four functions it performs. To explain the new functions simply, the arts management information function involves research and information compilation, the consulting branch is involved in consulting services in the areas of arts company operations and management and the training of personnel.
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