Festivals & Exhibitions

The Pulse of Korean Performance Art


Venue Gwanghwamun Arts Hall, a Permanent traditional play theater
Date(s) 2008-09-09 ~ 2009-02-22
Price 5,000won~40,000won
Age Requirement 3
Date: through February 22, 2009
Weekdays PM 8:00/Weekends•Holidays PM 4:00 (Closed on every Monday)

Place: Gwanghwamun Arts Hall

Ticket price: Adult 40,000 won/Middle and High school students 30,000 won/
Elementary school students 20,000 won/Young children before school 5,000 won (Admission age: Over 4 years old)

Info: 02-722-3416, http://www.ghmarthall.co.kr/eng

‘Pan’ is a show done in the style of a Korean art movement created by founder Deok-Su Kim called Samulnori, or Four Instruments highlights some of the finest elements in Korean culture and arts. By striving for the essence of Korean traditional song, dance, and music, Mr. Kim’s new genre offers a message of peaceful co-existence and environmentalism. This message is at the center of Samulnori, and is the one that Mr. Kim has been promoting through his fifty years in the traditional Korean arts.

Pan was created to bring Korea’s native arts onto the world stage and give Korea’s culture a voice that it can share freely with the rest of the globe. It seeks to offer audiences a chance to connect to the flow and movement of Korean history, and celebrate the growth and development of its traditions. It is a performance that shows both where Korea has been, and where it is going in the future. It is broken into four sections, each addressing a particular element of Korean tradition.

Ilgohuarak/Drums in Harmony

The drum, or buk is one of the defining features of Korean culture. Traditional music uses several hundred different type of drum; all unique in shape, size and material composition. Their one common feature however, and one that helps make Korean percussion special, is that these drums are all oriented vertically. This allows for a sound that is powerful, and a display of showmanship that is equally dramatic.

Samdo/The Music of the Provincial Countryside

The four instruments of Samulnori includes the Ggoengguari, a type of small gong, the Jing, a larger kind of gong, the Janggu, or hourglass drum, and the Buk; a second type of rhythm drum. The music of Samdo invokes traditional cosmology and is meant to represent sound associated with heaven and earth. The energetic performances given by Samulnori musicians are considered by many to be expressive of the dynamism of the Korean people.

The play opens as Shim Bong-sa (Blind Shim) opens his eyes to the sound of the Pansori folk song Shimcheong. Shimcheong, or Shim’s tale, is one of the classics of Korean folk music. Shim Cheong is Blind Shim’s daughter and saves her father from blindness and starvation by selling herself in exchange for 300 units of rice. The piece climaxes as Blind Shim rises and opens his eyes thanks to the sacrifices of his daughter.

A Long Arirang

Arirang is perhaps the best known of Korea’s traditional songs. The name has no direct translation, but expresses the joys and sorrows of Korean life. A successful Pansori singer will create a line of emotional communication that expresses the modern and the historic drama of Korean life with his audience. This presentation of Arirang is delivered by singers and dancers.

Pan Ritual

The Pan Ritual is the climax of this Samulnori performance. The performer in a Sangmo hat complete with a long spinning tassel is emblematic of Korean music and dance. The performer leaps and spins, wildly playing his instrument as if invoking long forgotten spirits. All the while the tassel whirls about his head in a celebration of life and sound. The Sangmo performer opens the piece, and is joined by a group of hourglass drummers, a group of 12 additional Sangmo performers, and finally a troupe of Sogo dancers who whip the Pan Ritual up to its final and climactic finish.

Performance postscripts

- It had integrity without being presumptuous or superfluous, powerful. It’s hard to express properly, but I gave exclamations despite myself while I watched the performance.
- An expression of our traditional culture that makes people to say “excellent” without reservation...
- The rest of my day was made better and more enjoyable for having gone to this wonderful performance.
- I lost myself in sounds and scenes of this performance. I feel like all my stress has vanished.
- It was so interesting and exciting; I had a really good time.
- It was and amazing adventure of sight and sound.
- A strong feeling that ‘the world is one’ as well as the immortal value of music arose in me, but was truly an expression of Korea’s spirit and rhythm. I was touched.
- At the heart of Samulnori’s music is a rhythm that stirs your soul, but not your metronome.

[2009-01-22 13:51 Input / 2012-11-13 21:35 Modify]