The World Championships of Magic, also known as FISM (named after the organising society: The Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques - International Federation of Magic Societies) are held every three years. This was my third FISM visit, after being at Blackpool in 2012 and Rimini, Italy in 2015.
It was South Korea's turn to host the convention. Only the third time it's been held in Asia since FISM was established in 1948, it was one of the best weeks of magic I've experienced. An amazing team taking care of the production, a great setting (with the beach just a few minutes away!), and most importantly, incredible performances.
Every evening, there was a big production show which seemed to get better every day! One of the stand-outs for me was the Magic Circus show, produced by Norbert Ferré. Hosted by Jorge Blass, this show featured not just world-class magic, including two past world champions, but also sensational variety artists, two of which I saw last December at the Hansa Theatre Variety Show in Hamburg - Katrin Weißensee creates beautiful stories with sand and David Burlet is a juggling hero! Avner the Eccentric's one-man show: 'Avner's Exceptions to Gravity' was a masterclass in taking the audience on a journey and creating magic from seemingly nothing.
The final show of the convention was 'Korean Night'. Featuring performers exclusively from Korea, this was really special. The show was hosted by the 2012 World Champion, Yu Ho-Jin, who is quite simply a star. Not only does he have one of the most beautiful magic acts, he proved he is just at home on stage without a pack of cards, hosting this show with humour and charm. Showcasing a range of Korean talents, from Han Seoul Hui, who I vividly remember seeing for the first time back in 2009 with his amazing CD magic, to Jordan K who made endless packets of crisps and sweets appear and Kim Young-Min performed his astonishing act, reminding us why he won 1st place at FISM 2015. It finished with Yu Ho-Jin taking centre stage, however his music cut out a minute or so into the act - unfazed, he finished his act in complete silence which turned out to be a true education, hearing every inhale and exhale of breath he took as the magic continued flawlessly around him. A perfect end to the shows, Korea have their own way of doing things and it's definitely a winning formula.
The main event of FISM is the competition and there were so many great magicians. The highlight for me was Miguel Munoz who performs a simple, beautiful act in which water is manipulated and transformed. I first saw Miguel five years ago at the International Convention in London and it was special then, but now Miguel's in a league of his own. I was delighted to see him crowned the overall World Champion of Stage Magic. So well deserved. The 2015 World Champion, Hector Mancha, is also from Spain, so after Korean magicians took stage magic to a new place with their creativity and incredible technical innovation, it seems that Spain are now pulling magic into a new artistic direction. I'm excited to see how things develop over the next three years! You can see the full results here.
The next FISM will be held in 2021 in Quebec. I've already registered and as there was no-one representing the UK in the competition this time, I'd like to help change that in 2021.
On my way to Korea, I had a flying visit to Beijing. With just a few hours to see the city, I managed to catch the flag lowering ceremony at Tiananmen Square and visited the Temple of Heaven. I'm so pleased I got to see these amazing sites :)