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  • Writer's pictureWASBE 2024

[Local and Beyond] Gwangju, ceramic city in Gyeonggi, aims to become new center of classical music

Mayor Bang Se-hwan speaks to The Korea Herald at his office in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, on June 2. (Gwangju City)

GWANGJU, Gyeonggi Province -- Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, has long been a cultural hot spot.

Having been famous for its ceramic production since the Joseon era, it has now set a new course in aiming to become the global center of classical music, the mayor says.

“Gwangju will host the 2024 World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Conference next year for the first time in Korea," said Bang Se-hwan in an interview with The Korea Herald.

“In July last year, it competed with several cities, including Toronto, Canada, and Gwangju was selected as the final venue. At least 200,000 people are expected to gather in Gwangju during the event.”

Bang, who took office in July last year, hopes the biennial world-class music festival will raise Gwangju's cultural profile, beyond ceramics and the Namhansanseong fortress it is already famous for.

The music festival in previous years has drawn more than 200,000 musicians and visitors from more than 50 countries to enjoy performances, seminars and exhibitions over its five-day run.

Performances at historic sites including Namhansanseong and Paldang Lake, will give the audience the chance to enjoy music in beautiful natural surroundings during the conference, Bang says.

“Not many people in the world have heard of Gwangju. Many people would be confused with Gwangju Metropolitan City. However, Gwangju is one of the oldest cities in Korea with a history of 1,000 years, and has enough charm, including Namhansanseong and Joseon White Porcelain Kiln Site, to attract people from all over the world,” Bang said.

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