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Performing Arts in Korea

 


Throughout their long history, Koreans have had an outstanding love of music and dance.  In the distant past, villagers gathered to sing and dance to celebrate planting and harvesting, which was probably the origin of folk music and dance, still widely enjoyed and appreciated.  

Korean traditional music can be divided into two major types: chong-ak for the noble class and sogak for the common people.  

Chong-ak consists of music performed at court and tended to be slow and solemn with elaborate melodic lines.  Sogak included shaman and Buddhist music, folk songs and dramatic songs and was usually more colorful and vibrant, appealing to the emotions.

 

Western music was introduced at the end of the 19th century and gained rapid acceptance.  Today, there are a number of Korean musicians performing and competing internationally.  

Traditional Korean dance may be divided into court dance, folk dance, ritual dance and the dance of professional entertainers.  Court dances are slow, stately and elegant with restrained, balanced movement.  Folk dance includes farmers dance, mask dance-dramas and various group dances combining song and dance, often accompanying work.  Ritual dance included sedate Confucian dances more lively shaman and Buddhist dances and funeral dances.

 


Professional entertainers performed both court and folk dances.  Many of their dances combined features of the two.  Many traditional dances were forgotten during the colonial period and the chaotic early years of the Republic, but in the 1980s, interest in these long-forgotten dances revived and several were designated Intangible Cultural Properties by the Government with their performers being designated Human Cultural Treasures. 

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Performing Arts in Korea

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