Jeju Magic World, Jeju, South Korea
Attending a Chinese acrobatic circus may not be the first thing that springs to mind when considering tourist activities on Jeju, but it is not to be missed. The brilliant Magic World show includes acrobatics, a stunt motorcycle ring, and even kangaroo boxing! Between excited bites of popcorn, I was thrilled by the colourful costumes, sensational music, and the incredible skill and choreography of these performers.
Magic World opened on Jan 4th, 2007 and is one of two circuses on Jeju (the other is Happy Town by Saebyeol Oreum). There are 28 acrobatic performers in total, and they are all part of the same troupe that rotates acts on Jeju and to all corners of the world including Japan, England, and Germany. Most of the performers are from Deyang City, Sichuan Province in Southern China. Misha, a kangaroo boxer, is from Siberia, Russia but came over with the troupe after performing in China for 3 years. His partner Amga is from Mongolia.
I spoke with Misha and a Korean and Chinese translator/manager Jun Young Kang. When I asked how long he’d been performing in the circus for, Misha broke into a few bars of a My Chemical Romance song, “When I was a young boy, my father took me into the city to see a marching band…” before answering. I couldn’t blame him. As the only fluent English speaker on staff he’d been called out of bed early in the morning without warning (because of a miscommunication over translators) and he was kindly obliging us with an interview. Finally he answered, “half my life… [I was] 7 or 8 years old [but] I was on centre stage for the first time when I was 4 years old. My mother was a dancer.” He spent half his life performing in the circus doing a bit of everything: “I did acrobatics, clowning, fighting with kangaroo…” Misha has been part of the Magic World performance for the last 11 months. When I asked about the kangaroo boxing, I expressed my concern for the animal and he smiled: “He’s winning every time. I can’t hit him back because he’ll be like, ‘I don’t want to play anymore!’ For him, it’s just a game.”
The young kangaroo certainly looked like he was playing on-stage. Even so, the power and speed at which he boxed those cute little paws to Reel 2 Real’s “I Like to Move It” at times left the audience cringing in fear for Misha. While the kangaroo boxing is entertaining, each act stands on its own as worth the trip to Magic World. Men, women, and girls as young as 6 years old perform beautiful and impressive acrobatic feats on platforms, ladders and bicycles. With their skill, it’s not surprising to hear that they come from families of 2-3 generations of acrobatic artists, especially if you witness 12 people riding on one bicycle! Perhaps the most moving acrobatic act is the airborne acrobatics– where stunningly graceful men and women lift each other up 13 metres above the ground and swing over the audience in low-lit blue light. To top it all off, Magic World turns the lights down at the end for thrilling stunt-driving in the motorcycle ring by 6 motorcyclists.
There’s no bus to Magic World, but it’s an inexpensive cab ride from Jeju airport (it takes about 10 minutes). The address is 2137-1 Haean-dong, Jeju. The Magic World office phone number is 82-64-746-9005.
Admission is 12,000 won for adults, 10,000 won for teens, and 8,000 for kids (kids under the age of 5 are free). There are special rates for Jeju residents (so don’t forget to bring your ID): for adults the cost is 9,000 won, for teens it is 7,500 won, and for children over the age of 5 it costs 6,000 won.