New location, stunning new home for LG Art Center Seoul

LG Art Center Seoul in Magok, western Seoul, is designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It will open on Oct. 13. [BAE JIN-HUN, LG ARTS CENTER]

The LG Arts Center will reopen on Oct. 13 in a building designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

With a slightly modified name — LG Art Center Seoul — the center has twice as much space as in the GS Tower in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. It has two theaters – a 1,335-seat multipurpose hall and a black box – as well as two rehearsal rooms and three function rooms to hold programs.

But some fans of the old LG Arts Center aren’t happy with the fancy new digs. That’s because they are in Magok, a far western area of Seoul 10 minutes from Gimpo Airport. Fans of the old venue could make it to 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. performances on weeknights because it was right at Yeoksam Station, a busy business district. Now they will have to go to distant Magoknaru Station on line No. 9 and the Arex. Maybe they won't be able to attend the theater on workdays.

“I am so sad that I won’t be able to enjoy all those great performances provided by the arts center anymore,” said Kim Deok-hyeon, 40, who works as a statistician at a company located on Yeoksam-dong.

“I will try to go to Magok on weekends, but I know it won’t happen that often as I have to spend time with my daughter. Weeknight performances at the LG Arts Center after work were my stress-relief. I am just so sad I’m going to cry now.”

The old theater saw its final curtain on Feb. 27, a Korean production of the Broadway musical “Hadestown.” It was known for bringing great performances from overseas such as “The Fountain Head” by Belgium’s star theater director Ivo van Hove and German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch’s “Sweet Mambo” by her Tanztheater.

LG Art Center Seoul CEO Lee Hyun-jung [LG ARTS CENTER]

“Our main concern at the moment is how to bring all our regulars to the LG Arts Center to the new LG Art Center Seoul in Magok,” said Lee Hyun-jung, the CEO who was appointed last December. Lee said loyal visitors to the old venue will be specially invited so they’ll discover that “it’s not that difficult to visit once they try.”

In fact, Magok is emerging as a new cultural hotspot, with high-tech industry buildings designed by world-renowned architects as well as art museums like Space K and Seoul’s new Botanical Park. It’s “important for LG Art Center Seoul to establish itself as a cultural attraction in Seoul, and make sure people know that we are here,” said Lee.

Construction of the building took four years and six months and a whopping 250 billion won ($192.3 million). It has three floors below ground and four floors above on a 9,800-square meter-plot.

The main hall LG Signature has 1,335 seats. It can stage various performing arts genres as well as a full orchestra concert. [BAE JIN-HUN, LG ARTS CENTER]

The multipurpose theater can stage an opera, musical, ballet, play or even an orchestral concert. It's called LG Signature Hall and has 1,335 seats.

“The size of the stage is big enough to hold an opera,” said Lee. “We collaborated with Theatre Projects Consultants based in England, which took part in establishing the LA Disney Concert Hall, Opera House in Oslo, Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore, to create the acoustics to allow a full orchestra concert in here as well.”

The Yeoksam-dong center only had one hall with 1,100 seats.

The black box theater is called the U+ Stage and can seat 365 people.

The Tube inside the building acts as a 80-meter-long bridge. [BAE JIN-HUN, LG ARTS CENTER]

The building itself is a masterpiece. The glass walls in the lobby give visitors a great view of the Botanical Garden just outside. Tadao’s signature “smooth-as-silk” concrete walls and pillars create a sophisticated look. The highlight of the building is the Tube, an 80-meter bridge 10 meters above ground that's tilted about 15 degrees. The LG Art Center Seoul is Tadao’s second biggest arts center after the Poly Theatre in Shanghai.

“We hope to become an arts center that actively collaborates with artists from different genres to communicate with audience members of our time,” said Lee. “We will definitely fill this magnificent venue with great content. In addition to the art center’s already popular featured program called ‘CoMPAS,’ we will create several more featured programs like ‘Creator’s Box,’ ‘Void,’ and ‘Club Arc.’”

Maestro Simon Rattle will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra, accompanied by pianist Cho Seong-jin for the opening concert of the LG Art Center Seoul on Oct. 13. This file photo taken on Sept. 14, 2017 shows the London Symphony Orchestra playing a
Leenalchi, an alternative cross-genre pop band, performing at the LG Arts Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul, in 2020. [LG ARTS CENTER]
Pansori (Korean traditional narrative singing) singer Lee Jaram will perform "The Old Man and the Sea" on Dec. 9 and 10. [JOONGANG ILBO]

To celebrate its reopening after two years, the LG Art Center Seoul will hold a two-month festival showcasing 14 performances. On the day of the opening, Korea’s star pianist Cho Seong-jin will stage a performance with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Simon Rattle. Leenalchi, an alternative cross-genre pop band, will perform a new piece on Oct. 28 to 30, and pansori singer Lee Jaram will perform on Dec. 9 and 10. Akram Khan Company’s “Jungle Book Reimagined” will be performed on Nov. 18 and 19.

A package ticket for all 14 performances will go on sale from 2 p.m. on July 11. Individual performance tickets will go on sale at 2 p.m. on July 14 at the website