Magical Journeys

Well it’s already getting close to the end of August and what a month it has been here so far.

It all started on the first of the month with the Magic Department at Dong Busan College running their annual “Dream Camp”. This is a one day camp in which youths from all over the country can come and see firsthand what the Magic Entertainment degree offered at the college is all about. Not only is it an open house where the youths can see the department’s facilities, such as the Close-up room, Stage and practice rooms, but it also provides them with the opportunity to sit-in on a number of lectures, workshops, shows and a very special treat this year.

The following is a rundown of the day’s events. It all kicked off at 3pm with quick 10 minute opening ceremony then straight to the first lecture. The first lecture was giving my Kim Won-il who is an instructor in the department. His lecture introduced the basics of Children’s Magic. This is one of the subjects he teaches at the college and it was very well received. Children’s magic is one of the aspects of magic that is developing here and he did a wonderful job of giving an overview of how it is performed in other countries as compared to South Korea.

The next lecture was a fantastic chance for the participants to learn about a part of the history of magic in Asia. The lecture was given by Yuji Yasuda during which he explained about the role that Haruo Shimada played in the development of magic in Asia. It was at this point that the youths were in for a real surprise; the lecture room door opened and in walked Haruo Shimada himself. The youths were really excited to see him and were told he would have a special talk show later in the day where they were all encouraged to prepare question to ask him.

Next came two back to back workshops, one on card magic and the other on coin magic. The card magic workshop was led by Yoo Hyun-Min (Zeki Yoo). This workshop was filled with youths following along with their own cards and even some I saw taking notes on their iPods and cell phones. It was a great learning atmosphere for so many young magicians.

After the card workshop came the coin workshop and this was just as riveting. It was led by Kim Chi, one of Korea’s best coin magicians and an instructor at the college. His magic amazed them while his down to earth personality made the time just fly by.

The last lecture before dinner was given by Lee Young-woo. He is a talented and popular card manipulator in South Korea. His lecture was received very well as always by magicians of all ages.

After the dinner break came the special Haruo Shimada Talk Show were the youths got to field questions for Shimada and learn more about his magic, his views on the art and how his own personal thinking of what the art should be has developed over the years.

This was followed up with a stage show featuring a mix of seasoned professionals and students who are currently in their second year of the program at the college.

After the show the participants all gathered in the Stage Room for some chicken, snacks, drinks and a Q&A session. They were able to ask questions to any of the instructors or performers. Once this was wrapped up the Midnight Session kicked off. This went into the wee hours and gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and practice magic.

Oh one of the most amazing things was that all of this, including the dinner came at a ticket cost of $5.00. Yes, only $5.00!!

The second day of the month saw the start of the Busan International Magic Festival (BIMF). This festival is in its eighth year and going strong.  This year it was August 2nd to the 5th. Some of the acts who were featured were Netcheporenko from Russia, Nagisa Haruhiko from Japan, Juliana Chen and Andost from America, Tina Yu from Taiwan, David Stone from France, Alana from Germany, and a host of other magicians such as Zeki Yoo, Lee Young-woo, Yang, Jae-hyeock, Lee Hoon, Lukas, Choi Cheol-seung, Do, Ki-moon, Kim Chi, Lee, Chang-Min, Nicky Yang and more from South Korea.

As it does every year the festival began with an opening ceremony and Gala show on a large outdoor stage on the beach. It is always a great feeling to sit on the beach hearing the tide as you watch the show.

The festival also gave participants a variety of lectures, afternoon and night time Gala shows to attend and enjoy and of course there was also the Busan International Magic Competition to watch and find out who the next up and coming magicians are going to be. This competition has spring boarded the careers of performers such as An Ha Lim, Han Seol Hui, Yu Ho Jin, Lukas, Zeki Yoo, and many more.

This year saw the return of another very special performer from Japan. He is not a magician but he is a true entertainer. His name is Tempei and to say he is a juggler is a drastic understatement. Tempei is an extremely talented world class juggler how has built up an amazing reputation as a leading figure in the world of juggling here in Asia. I truly don’t have the proper words to accurately describe his performance. His skill as a juggler combined with his, creativity, timing, music and showmanship just compels you to inch up on the edge of your seat, move your hands with the beat and try so extremely hard not to blink as your heart pounds to the beat of the excitement and energy he creates with his performance on stage. By the end of his performance you find yourself springing up from your seat, clapping along with everyone else in the theater giving him a standing ovation as your are just astonished with what you have just witnessed. Tempei has been a guest performer at BIMF maybe three or four times now and with every performance I have never seen him not raise the excitement level in the theater and receive a standing ovation.

This year’s festival also brought with it the first time showing of a very special exhibition of the magic of Haruo Shimada. It was an excellent display of Shimada’s history as a performer through photos, awards, magazines, props and other treasures. The whole exhibition was put together so well that you got the feeling that you were browsing a gallery in a world-class museum. It was located in a separate but adjacent building to the main festival which provided a place of peaceful serenity in which to appreciate and gain an understanding of just how much this one man’s career helped to develop the art of magic in Asia.  I truly hope that this exhibition will not be a one time opportunity for it would really be a shame not to give more magicians throughout the world a chance to learn how much Shimada has done to enhance the art.

On another note, unfortunately two performers who were not able to perform due to unforeseen injuries were Charming Choi and Yu Ho Jin. Charming Choi was injured during a rehearsal and end up taking a four meter fall. He is recovering well and was able to attend the festival, as a participant, which for all was very good news. Over the years he has become a key performer at BIMF and was really missed this year on stage.

As for Yu Ho Jin he was unfortunately involved in a car accident and was in the hospital recovering during the festival. The astounding side note here was that even with the leg injury he had, which required surgery, he pushed himself to go to Magic Live in Las Vegas the following week, wheelchair and all, and perform. He is another performer that I feel fortunate to have had the chance to get to know over the years living here in South Korea. His skill, artistic vision, showmanship and humbling attitude for someone so young makes me really appreciate the time I spend here.

Until next posting I hope you all enjoy what’s left of these summer days.

Magically Yours,

Gregory Bracco




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